Nikon D750 Review

October 2, 2014 | Mark Goldstein | |

Introduction

The Nikon D750 is a full-frame DSLR camera with a brand new 24.3-megapixel FX format sensor with an OLPF / anti-aliasing filter, a lightweight weather-sealed monocoque body, an ISO range of 50-51,200, Full HD (1080p) movies at 50p/60p, latest Expeed 4 image processing engine, new Multi-CAM 3500II FX 51-point auto-focus system that is sensitive down to -3 EV, new Group Area AF mode, 6.5fps burst shooting at full resolution, built-in Wi-Fi connectivity and a 3.2-inch tilt-screen LCD monitor with 1229k-dots. Other highlights include 1,230 shot battery life, microphone and headphone jacks, dual SD memory card slots, a kevlar/carbon fiber–composite shutter unit rated for 150,000 actuations, in-camera time-lapse function and HDR exposure blending. The Nikon D750 is available body-only for £1799.99 / €2149.00 /$2,299.95. In Europe there are two kits available, £2249.99 / €2679.00 with the 24-85mm VR lens, and £2249.99 / €2679.00 with the 24-120mm lens.

Ease of Use

The Nikon D750 has a very similar external design to the cheaper D610 model, feeling very well made and significantly smaller and lighter (just 750g) than the D810 camera that sits above it in the ever-expanding Nikon DSLR range. The lower weight has mainly to do with the body material - the Nikon D750 has a monocoque body shell whose rear and top plates are made of metal but the front plate is carbon fibre. That doesn't make it any less sturdy - in fact, the D750 boasts the exact same level of weatherproofing as the D810. The right-hand grip is deeper than the D610's and more comfortable, especially when using the camera for an extended period of time.

The Nikon D750 features a shooting mode dial located on the left shoulder of the camera body when viewed from behind. A centred locking pin prevents users from inadvertently changing the shooting mode. The dial offers almost the same choices as the D610 - P, A, S, M, U1, U2, Scene, Auto and Auto with Flash Off. The U1 and U2 positions allow easy retrieval of complete sets of camera settings, a much better solution than the D810's separate Shooting Menu Banks and Custom Settings Banks. The only gripe we have about this is that there are only two of them - as far as we're concerned the green Auto and Auto with Flash-Off options could have been omitted to make room for additional and much more useful U3 and U4 positions.

Nikon D750
Front of the Nikon D750

The newly introduced Effects shooting mode, first introduced on the D5000-series, provides 7 different filters that can be applied to both still images and movies. The Night Vision effect is particularly worth of mention, pushing the camera's sensitivity to a whopping ISO 102,400, although a monochrome rather than colour image is recorded. For stills, you can enter Live View mode to preview the effect or simply use the optical viewfinder. For movies, the recording is slowed down (dependent upon the chosen effect) as the camera uses a lot of processing power to apply the effect, leading to footage that can have a rather staccato feel. Note also that the camera sets virtually everything in the Effects mode - exposure, shutter speed, white balance, ISO, file type and quality - so its only creative in terms of the arty effect that's applied. Several of the same effects can be applied to an image or movie that you've taken, though, so you can have the best of both worlds (albeit without the luxury of a preview).

Underneath the shooting mode dial is the so-called Release Mode Dial, which has also been carried over from the Nikon D610. The release mode options include Single-frame, Continuous Low, Continuous High (now 6 frames per second, which is 0.5fps faster than the D600), Quiet (delays mirror return until the user lets go of the shutter release), the Quiet and Quiet Continuous (3fps) modes, Self-timer, and Mirror lock-up. The last of these is really only useful if you purchase the optional MC-DC2 cable release - while you can use the shutter release button in Mirror lock-up mode, the very act of pressing it can cause more vibration than the mirror itself, defeating the point. Do note however that the Remote control mode option in the main menu also has a “Remote mirror up” option, which you can activate via the shooting menu if you have the ML-L3 infrared remote control but not the MC-DC2 cable release. If neither is to hand, the Nikon D750 offers a user configurable Exposure Delay Mode, in which the mirror is raised when you press the shutter release, and the actual exposure takes place automatically with a one-, two- or three-second delay depending on what you've set in Custom Function d10.) As you would expect, this dial also has a locking pin.

Nikon D750
Rear of the Nikon D750

With 0.7x magnification (using a 50mm lens focussed at infinity), the Nikon D750's viewfinder image isn't the biggest in the market - however, those stepping up from an APS-C model will still find it positively huge. The 100% frame coverage is a bonus, and a clear sign that Nikon has intended the D750 to be a serious proposition for serious photographers. The viewfinder eyepiece differs from that of the D810 so it cannot take the same accessories. The camera comes with an outstanding 51-point phase-detect AF system. The D750 features an upgraded version of the venerable Multi-CAM 3500FX auto focus module, which boasts improved sensitivity (now down to -3EV) and support for lens-teleconverter combinations as slow as f/8. In use, we found the system to be highly capable, even in low-light situations. Under normal light levels and with the right lens mounted, the speed of the auto focus system is blazingly fast, meaning you can capture even the fastest-moving subjects with ease. Borroed from the D810 is the Group Area AF mode, which lets you assign 5 AF points that can be moved across the 51-point array as the subject demands, making it easier to track smaller moving subjects.

Similarly to the D610, the Nikon D750 has a two-position (AF-M) focus mode selector on the front. Cycling through the available options (single, 9-, 21- and 51-point dynamic, 3D tracking, auto area and group area) is done in a similar vein as on the D810. To wit, the focus mode switch has a small button at its hub. You can toggle between AF-S and AF-C modes by holding down this button, with the switch in the ‘AF' position, and turning the rear control wheel. To cycle through the available AF Area modes, use the sub command dial instead. The settings are displayed in the viewfinder and the top-mounted status LCD. Also borrowed from the D810 is the Group Area AF mode, which lets you assign 5 AF points that can be moved across the 51-point array as the subject demands, making it easier to track smaller moving subjects. Face Detect AF can also now be toggled on or off while shooting through the viewfinder.

Nikon D750
Top of the Nikon D750

To the left of the rear screen, the Nikon D750 has five buttons arranged in a vertical row. These include Menu, White Balance, Quality, ISO and the new "i" button, the middle three of which double as Retouch, Help / Lock, Zoom-in (+) and Zoom-out (-) buttons respectively when the camera is in Playback mode. Above this row of buttons are two more side-by-side for the self-explanatory Playback and Delete functions.

Just like the D610, the Nikon D750 has a Live View button encircled by a two-way Live View mode selector. This lever can be set to either “live view photography” or “movie live view”, each of which is denoted by a little, self-explanatory icon. As with other Live View enabled Nikon dSLRs, there is a red rectangle that you can position anywhere within the frame, so you can focus precisely on the part of your subject that you want to appear sharpest in the resulting photo. On the Nikon D750, Live View auto focus is actually quite fast for a traditional dSLR camera. That isn't to say it's fast in absolute terms - the latest generation of compact system cameras still run circles around it - but at least it doesn't feel sluggish. (When you aren't using Live View, focus speeds are naturally much faster.) As far as manual focus is concerned, the Nikon D750 still has no focus peaking feature but you can at least magnify into the live view feed for accurate focussing.

“Movie live view” enables you to accurately preview framing for videos, which have an aspect ratio of 16:9 rather than 3:2. The Nikon D750 offers Full HD movie capture at five different frame rates (24/25/30/50/60fps) and two quality levels with a built-in stereo microphone. Additionally, 720p is also available at 25, 30, 50 and 60fps; and again at two quality settings, High and Normal. For movies, you can also choose from two crop modes, 1.1x and 1.5x; referred to as “FX-based” and “DX-based” movie formats in the manual. The maximum length of a clip is generally 29 minutes and 59 seconds for Normal and 20 minutes for High quality videos, unless you're using an external recorder hooked up to the camera by way of an HDMI cable. New to the D750 is a 'flat' Picture Control mode for producing the greatest dynamic range possible, and Zebra strips for checking blown highlights.

Nikon D750
Tilting LCD Screen

Manual exposure adjustment is available for movies - note that ISO and shutter speed are only adjustable in 'M' mode, while the aperture can be set in both 'A' and 'M' modes. The Nikon D750 features a built-in microphone but for professional-grade audio recording you'll definitely want to use an external one. In order to monitor the audio during movie capture, you can also connect a pair of headphones to the camera. As is now the norm for virtually every digital camera, from compacts to CSCs to DSLRs, there's a dedicated red movie-record button on the D750, located right next to the shutter release. I personally found this button a bit too small for my tastes - your mileage may of course vary. The depth-of-field preview button found on the front panel of the camera can be used to add indices to specific frames during recording so that they are easier to locate in the editing phase.

At the heart of the Nikon D750's live view and movie live view experience is an upgraded 3.2” LCD screen. Its resolution of 1299K dots is up from the 921K dots of the older 3” panel found on the D610, and it now has an RGBW panel for brighter reproduction plus customizable color. It features a design that incorporates a gel resin between the cover glass and the screen itself to combat the fogging that may result from sudden changes of temperature, and also makes use of a light sensor to allow for automatic adjustment of the screen's brightness, contrast, gamma and colour saturation. The D750 is the first full-frame Nikon DSLR to feature a tilting LCD screen, which swings open and tilts up to 90º, and down to 75º, very hand for shooting from more unusual angles, although it's a shame that it doens't also rotate out to the side.

The D750 is the second Nikon DSLR to offer both built-in wi-fi and GPS connectivity, instead of relying on optional accessories like all previous models (with the exception ofthe D5300). The wi-fi function essentially pairs the D750 with an iOS or Android smartphone or other smart device, and allows you to eidt and share images directly to social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. It also makes it possible to control the D750 remotely via a smart device using the free Wireless Mobile Utility app, and set the focus point using the smart device's touchscreen.

Nikon D750
Front of the Nikon D750

Like every other Nikon digital SLR camera except the professional series (D1 through D4x), the Nikon D750 features a pop-up flash, which can also act as a master controlling up to two groups of wirelessly slaved system flashes. This built-in speedlight has a guide number of 12 in metres at ISO100/21°. In addition, the D750 has a standard Nikon hot-shoe for external flashguns - but no Prontor-Compur flash sync terminal. The D750 has already come in for some criticism for its limited X-sync speed of 1/200th second, which is the same as the D610. In FP mode, most Nikon Speedlights can be used at any shutter speed up to the camera's top speed of 1/4000th of a second but that of course entails a loss of flash power and range.

The Nikon D750 inherits a few interesting features from the D610. Among these is the ability to automatically create Full HD time-lapse movies based on an interval and shooting time selected by the photographer. The maximum shooting time is 9,999 shots. whilst the maximum length for movies recorded using time-lapse photography is 20 minutes. Another D610 feature that has made its way up to the D750 is intelligent auto ISO control. With auto ISO enabled, you can have the camera determine the minimum shutter speed based on the focal length of the lens in use. This means that the camera may raise the ISO sensitivity if the shutter speed drops below 1/200 second when using a 200mm lens but leave it unchanged down to 1/50 second if a 50mm lens is attached (this can be fine-tuned by the user).

Also on the Nikon D750 is a Quiet release mode, in which mirror return is delayed until you let go of the shutter release, useful whenever a greater degree of discretion is required than usual. Still on the topic of release/drive modes, the Nikon D750 offers a maximum continuous shooting speed of 6.5fps in FX mode for up to 15 14-bit RAW files and 87 Large/Fine JPEGs. The RAW buffer is disappointing compared to the D810, which despite its bigger 36-megapixel files can record up to 28 RAW files at once, while the cheaper D610 has a 14 RAW shot buffer.

Nikon D750
Side of the Nikon D750

The dual-axis virtual horizon of the D610 has found its way to the D750 too, which is very good new for architectural and product photographers. Also worth mentioning is the fact that just like the D810, D7100 and other mid-range models, the Nikon D750 can auto focus with pretty much any AF lens you can mount on it, including those that do not have a built-in Silent Wave Motor, and can provide matrix metering with any AI lens including those that do not feature a CPU. Do note however that F-mount lenses dating back to the 1959-1977 period ought not to be attached to the camera unless they have been professionally AI converted.

The dual SD memory card slots have been carried over from the Nikon D610. The implementation of the two-card system is exemplary: you can tell the camera to record every image simultaneously on both cards for instant backup, designate one card to store raw files and the other JPEGs, use the secondary card for overflow - you name it.

On the left hand flank, if viewing the camera from the back, we find three commendably firm, hinged rubber doors that are well-behaved enough to stay open until you close them. Sheltered behind these doors is an array of connection ports including microphone and headphone jacks, a mini HDMI connector, a USB 3.0 port, just like on the D810 - and an accessory terminal for the optional MC-DC2 cable release and GP-1 GPS unit. The camera is also compatible with the WU-1b Wireless Mobile Adapter. Power is supplied by the venerable EN-EL15 battery that also powers the Nikon 1 V1, D7100 and D810 cameras, but Nikon have somehow managed to boost the life to an amazing 1,230 still images and up to 55 minutes of movie footage.