Review: Nikon D750
October 12, 2014
A couple of weeks ago, I went out and picked up the new Nikon D750. It's a "pro-sumer" body, as many people like to call it, but I'll get back to that later. The new addition to Nikon's lineup boasts the same 24.3-Megapixels as the D600 and D610 that preceded it, but the 750 brings some new tools to the table.
The native ISO range of the D750 is now 100-12800, with a full stop of extra light sensitivity over the D610, which tops out at 6400. I can also say that I'm able to notice cleaner images and more pleasant noise from the D750 in comparison to the D600, which is what I was using previously.
Also of note is the inclusion of a light meter reading in the top LCD. This was always a pain point for me on cameras like the D7000 and D600, but I always assumed that the screen didn't have a meter because there wasn't enough space for it when compared to the screens of the D800 and D4. Imagine my surprise when I found out that the top LCD of the D750 is actually smaller than the one on the D600/610! That makes the omission of a meter on the earlier models even more peculiar. The reconfiguration has come at a cost, however. With the smaller screen and light meter present , there is no room to display things like the white balance and flash modes. These are now displayed on the rear LCD. This is definitely something that takes getting used to if you aren't expecting it, and may be disorienting for people used to the norm.
The body of the camera is very similar to that of the 600/610, but Nikon actually managed to shave a few millimeters from the frame and reduce the weight by 10 grams. Getting back to the pro-sumer remark from earlier, I know that there is a camp of photographers out there who are still clinging to their D700, and every time a new camera is released, they complain because it is not the "true" follow up to the D700 that they were expecting. Usually these complaints stem from the 700 having the pro body that you'd find on the D800 and 810. Honestly, this photographer is sick of the whining. If you want a "pro" body because you use the connectors found on that particular form factor, then pick up a D800 or 810—or stick with your D700, which is still an excellent camera. Just don't dismiss perfectly good options for arbitrary reasons. Many of these complainers are only upset because the newer cameras don't adhere to rules that the community seems to have created. Last I checked, the camera manufacturer makes the rules. No, the D750 does not have the same connectors that the D700 has, but it is certainly an advancement over that camera in several ways. The 750 is what the 600 should have been two years ago. Cameras have been making tons of advancements in the past few years, and to deny yourself the benefits of these advancements based on form factor is absurd.
As this crude cellphone photo shows, the D750 has an articulating screen. This is a first for Nikon, as they have never put an articulating screen on a full frame body before. This screen makes low and high-angle composition easy. It's nice to be able to get your camera close to the ground without having to guess about your composition or put yourself in compromising positions.
More welcome changes from the D6xx series are better screen pixel density and a color balancing option. The auto brightness from these earlier models is missing, but I found the auto brightness to be unreliable, so I doubt it will be missed. The D750 now shoots 6.5 frames per second and can do 1080p recording at 60fps. I am not a videographer, however, so I won't be commenting on the video capabilities, or lack thereof.
A welcome feature is the addition of WiFi. With Nikon's Wireless Mobile Utility, you can create an ad-hoc connection between the D750 and your smartphone. Once connected, you can share images between the camera and phone. This can be set to happen automatically as you use the camera, or you can flag images to be sent to the device at a later time. You can also synchronize the clock with your phone, which I think is a great feature for people who travel frequently between time zones. You can embed GPS coordinates from the phone into the images you transfer to the device. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like you can pass that information on to the images on the camera.
The app also allows you to use your phone's screen as a live view monitor and remote trigger. A drawback is that all the settings must be done on the camera. If you are shooting from a distance, and need to make adjustments to your settings between shots, you will have to go over to the camera each time. I don't think this is a dealbreaker, considering the fact that you can't adjust camera settings on the dedicated wireless or wired remotes either, but it would have been a nice feature to have. A smartphone is a much more sophisticated device than a simple remote, so it would have been nice to see Nikon put a little more effort into the app in that aspect.
Images sent to the device will be in jpeg format, and it really comes in handy for quickly sharing images across social media platforms as you take them.
I took the D750 out to a concert I was shooting at Irving Plaza in NYC. It was really nice to go in, shoot the first 3 songs, then select a photo to send to the phone before sharing it on Instagram, as you can see in the screenshot to the left. You can easily post process your work in any number of photo apps before moving along to social media, but this particular example was unedited, aside from the square crop selection for Instagram.
Being able to share this image while the band was still performing felt great, and it affords you image quality that you just wouldn't be able to get on a cameraphone. There have been reports about the D750s WiFi being unsecured. This is true, but it is not a bad thing. The WiFi is not secured by default, but you can very easily configure to have password protection. The key to remember is this: set up security before using WiFi! Only one device may be connected to the camera at at time. I have yet to test the Wireless Mobile Utility with my Nexus 7, but it is worth noting that there is no iPad version of the app, so it will not scale full-screen if you plan on using it with an iPad or iPad Mini.
So, I guess you're wondering how well it performs? In a word: very.
I find that the D750 has an easier time focusing in low light conditions. It's able to find focus in challenging situations, such as the concert lighting scenario above, without incident most of the time. Situations where the 600/610 would seek for focus, the 750 snaps on easily. It isn't a miracle worker, but it will manage to lock focus in darker situations than I'm used to. It also has 51 focus points, up from 39 on previous models, but the focus area itself is about the same as previous models, so I kind of see it as a moot point. The camera also features the new group focusing, which allows you to move your focus points in groups of 4, arranged in a crosshair fashion. I haven't found any practical use for this, and I personally prefer using the dynamic area focus assist from previous models. I'll have to give group focus a more thorough test to see how it works.
There is also a new metering mode, which is highlight-weighted spot. It meters off the point you choose, but also considers the brightest spot in the scene, and is meant to prevent highlight clipping. When shooting landscapes, I found that following this metering mode did in fact gave a more accurate reading than matrix when the scene had high contrast. It can lead to underexposure in scenes that are flatter, and it has its own learning curve, just like every other metering mode, but it's a welcome addition and could prove useful in challenging lighting situations.
The D750 supports USB 3.0, but Nikon decided to use what appears to be a proprietary connector to the camera. Why they didn't opt for the same standard connector that you find on the D800 is beyond me. If anyone has any information on the type of connector being used, please let me know. The supplied cable is on the short side, so if the cable adheres to any standard, I'm sure a lot of people would like to get a longer cord.
If you own a D610, you'll have to decide whether the added features are worth the $500 price difference. If you are a first time buyer and your decision is the 610 or the 750, I think the 750 is the superior camera, but they are both a great value for the money. I certainly don't regret my purchase.
Something to keep in mind with any camera purchase, is that it is the photographer who makes the photograph, and not the gear. I'll leave you with an image that I took this past weekend in Roxbury, NY.