The Nikon D750 – A D700 Successor, or D600 Damage Control?
Better not return that D810 after all, wedding photojournalists and “lifestyle” photographers! The Nikon D750, in all its (numerically implied) D700-successor glory, has arrived.
Okay, maybe it’s not a Nikon D810 with a D4s sensor or D610 sensor. However, if you’re not doing a double-take about this new FX (full-frame) Nikon DSLR, you should be! Yes, it’s one part over-clocked D610 and two parts full-frame D7100, but to those with an open mind, this could be the mythical D700 replacement that thousands of photographers worldwide have
demanded whined about for years now. Let’s have a look at the specs!
- 24.3 megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor
- ISO 100-12,800 Natively (ISO 50 in LO and up to H-2 51,200)
- 6.5 fps at full resolution
- 51-piont AF system, with group area AF borrowed from D4s
- Dual SD cards
- EXPEED 4 Image Processor
- 1080p, 60fps Video
- Manual control of aperture during live view and video recording
- Uncompressed HDMI output / recording
- Flat profile picture, and new picture control settings
- 91K pixel RGB meter, with face-detect in-viewfinder
- Advanced Scene Recognition System
- Built-in Wi-Fi!
- Tilt-able LCD screen
- Size: 5.5 “x 4.4” x 3.1 “(139.7 x 111.76 x 78.74mm)
- Weight: 1 lb 10.5 oz (751.26g)
- Price: $2299 body only, $3596 in a 24-120 kit
Commentary on Features by Matthew Saville
Similar body design to the D610 / D7100?
Clearly, this camera should have been named the D650, or even just the D620, but Nikon wanted to send a clear message to all the folks wondering about a “true” D700 replacement: it’s time to stop wondering/wishing.
The camera’s body has almost nothing to do with the D810 (nor the hall-of-famed D700), it is entirely the offspring of a D610 and D7100. This is a very good thing in the eyes of any D610 user or D7100 user who has grown used to the controls, but yearns for more performance.
However, not so much for any D800, D700, or even D300 user, who will be used to a slightly more robust feel and control layout. To a hard-working professional, the “feel” of a camera is very important, and very subjective. And just by looking at it, you can tell that the grip areas of this camera are clearly going to feel smaller in the hand, which for some is a show-stopper. (Not me, personally).
..But with an articulated LCD Screen?
Actually, I’m happy that Nikon is offering this feature on such a high-end DSLR. I had feared they might never go down this road, sort of like how Canon has been terrified of putting a pop-up flash on a full-frame body.
As long as the “flippy” connection is robust, I don’t see any reason to complain about this. The LCD is big and beautiful like the D810’s, and has color cast correction as well. I used to scoff at articulated LCDs too, but once I tried the D5300 on a few landscape photography and other shots, I fell in love. I almost miss the feature when I grab my D800E…
Dual SD Memory Cards
Oh boy, this is going to earn Nikon even more hate comments than the articulated LCD! Again however, I’m fine with dual SD cards. They are the card of the future, even for professional use. The Sony A7 series uses SD cards, and doesn’t even have dual card slots. So, to this I say, *shrug*…
Is it the D610 sensor, or is it something truly re-designed like Nikon says it is? We’ll have to wait and see. The main surprise to me is, unlike almost every other camera in Nikon’s lineup, that this camera’s sensor still has an AA filter. (In fact, the D610 sensor and the D4s / Df sensors are the ONLY sensors left in Nikon’s lineup to include an AA filter!)
Considering that Canon has sat at the 20-22 megapixel mark for many years now, it seems that 24 megapixels is a perfect balance these days. Room to crop, but not so excessive as to consume your memory card space at an eye-popping rate.
Personally, I was really hoping that a true D700 replacement would use the D4s‘ 16 megapixel sensor, and go to town with some truly absurd high ISO quality (and higher FPS), but I suppose 16 megapixels is a little too underwhelming these days.
6.5 FPS natively, No word of more FPS using DX crop
Many D700 lovers were expecting to see 8 FPS natively, or at least with a battery grip. While this may be a deal-breaker for some, it shouldn’t stop 90% of photographers in this camera’s market from clicking “buy” in my opinion. Wedding photojournalism, which is one thing this camera is best suited for, certainly doesn’t demand more than 5-6 FPS. Ask any grip-less Nikon D700 owner or Canon 5D Mark III shooter, and they’ll tell you!
As of yet, it is difficult to tell whether or not the MB-D16 can increase the shooting speed of the D750, but from Nikon’s literature, it seems decidedly incapable of any “over-clocking”…
51 Point Pro Autofocus (Borrowed from Flagship D4s)
One of the main things that all Nikon D610 shooters wished for was better AF, and the D750 delivers the goods. Having personally reviewed the Nikon D810 (coming soon!), I gotta say the new AF system from Nikon is very impressive.
I still wish they had improved the phase-detect AF system’s overall spread in the viewfinder, and re-arranged the cross-type AF points to get closer to the rule of thirds areas, but that’s clearly just not in the cards for Nikon in this generation.
As always, the proof will be in the pudding. With regards to ISO’s, usually you can write off those “H-1” and “H-2” settings as borderline useless, and the highest native ISO should be quite acceptable to most real-world users. If so, this puts the D750 roughly on par with the Nikon D4s and Df, which are champions of low-light image quality.
However, unfortunately this will leave a lot to be desired for any video shooters who were hoping to see a camera that even remotely competed with the A7s’ impressive clean ISO 204,800 video footage. (A whole two stops past Nikon’s highest ISO and probably 3-4 stops beyond “usable”…)
All in all though, the image quality is guaranteed to be a stunner when it comes to image quality.
1080p / 60fps video
This is becoming quite standard on Nikons, (D3300, D5300, D810, D4s) but keep in mind that no Canon DSLR offers this yet, the last time checked. It may still not be enough to satisfy the video shooting crowd who clamors for 4K video nowadays. Personally, I think it is far better to have killer quality video at 1080p, period. (And apparently, so does a major broadcasting company!)
Last but not least, we get to the most important bit of info to most people, the price. At $2300, this camera is clearly aimed at folks who are looking for more than the D610 offers, but don’t necessarily need the “behemoth” that is the D810. Despite not being a “D4s lite”, it is an amazing and tempting price for such a camera.
Simply put, Nikon has decided that this camera would sell better at $2300 than a D810+D4s lovechild for $3300. People will definitely buy it.
The question is, can this camera compete with the likes of the Sony A7 and A7r, which offer equal or better resolution in a smaller, lighter, and in some cases a more affordable package. That’s another discussion that we’ll get into later, of course.
Accessory: MB-D16 Battery Grip
Since this new camera follows no previous form-factor (D610, D810, etc.), it apparently gets its own new battery grip.
As mentioned, this is an “ordinary” battery grip as far as Nikon BG’s go, in that it doesn’t over-clock the D750‘s frame rate. It is, however, highly weather sealed and probably rock-solid as many Nikon BG owners in the past have noted. Even off-brand Nikon battery grips that are made of metal seem to have connectivity issues that cause a short-out of camera power when one of the batteries gets low and the grip attempts to seamlessly switch power sources.
Personally, I do think it’s a bit too pricey, especially considering that it can’t help the D750 achieve 8 FPS in FX mode. Then again, these things always come down in price eventually.
Obviously, if FPS are just that important to you compared to anything else, then go for it. Keep in mind though that the D810 can pull off 7 FPS if you use a vertical grip with AA batteries or D4 batteries, and offers 16 megapixels at 1.5x crop, which might be more useful to you if you’re a wildlife shooter who needs more reach than megapixels.
Honestly though, if you’re not a speed freak, the D810 (or for ~$2300, a used D800) …are the way to go for any serious pro who is in need of all the advanced functionality that its lineage has stood for. Even in Nikon’s own press release video “demo”, they refer to it quite freely as a backup, a second camera, or a b-roll video camera for serious pros.
Speed differences aside, there’s a very good chance that the D750 will noticeably surpass the D810’s sensor at low-light, high ISO performance. The question is, how much better is it?
I’ll guess (and remember this is only a hypothesis) that the D750‘s ISO will be within ~1 stop or so of the D4s / Df. If it does this, my personal standards would mean that ISO 12800 is pretty darn usable, with ISO 6400 being so freely usable that I’d shoot official family formals with it in a dimly lit church if I had to.
D750 vs D700: Low Light Performance
Anyone still clutching to their scratched-up old D700’s will be able to go from highly usable IS0 3200, to decently usable ISO 12800. That’s my wishy-washy way of saying that while it may not be exactly 2 stops better, it’ll be close enough. Add or subtract a stop, based on your own personal standards.
Last, but not least, one thing that wedding and sports / wildlife photographers in particular have been whining about for years now is the behemoth size of 36 megapixel raw files. Not only did it consume memory cards at an alarming rate, it also choked the D800‘s frame rate and buffer.
As a 24 MP camera, you’ll theoretically save 33% in hard drive / memory card expenses each year. This might not mean a lot to the casual shooter, but some wedding photographers, for example, might rack up a half-million images each year if they’re shooting as a team of 5-10+ people. That can go from “oh shut up, memory cards are just a few bucks” to “I can’t afford to spend an extra few thousand dollars to completely overhaul my workflow” pretty quick.
My opinion? The D800‘s / D810’s 1.2x crop mode works pretty well when you’re interested in saving file size, and it offers (surprise, surprise) ~24 megapixels!
That, plus there’s always 12-bit lossy compression, instead of 14-bit un-compressed or lossless compression, and that can save a TON of space for a high-volume shooter.
So as a general photojournalist, I could see it going both ways. Personally, I’m not gonna dump my D800E just to save a few bucks each year on hard drives, nor to gain a few FPS for action shooting. However, I totally understand if others decide this is the right path for them. I’d buy the D750 in a heartbeat as a lightweight travel camera, or an astro-landscape camera. It simply has everything to do with the volume you shoot and your annual budget for storage solutions.
Don’t Count (Nikon) Chickens Before They Hatch
Okay seriously, folks, don’t return that D810 or sell off your D800 / D610 / D700 / D7100, not yet. Unless, of course, you have a whole lot of faith in Nikon’s ability to, well, not drop the ball. The D810’s white dot issue wasn’t bad at all, but the dirty sensor fiasco on the D600 was quite a skeleton in the closet.
So, wait at least a week or two after this camera hits shelves, then make your decisions. Personally, I do have high hopes, and if I weren’t foolishly eyeing used Df‘s right now, I’d pre-order a D750 immediately.
What About Canon?
I’m sure Canon users are rolling their eyes and saying “Finally, Nikon got around to competing with the 5D mk3, when the 5D mk4 is just around the corner for us!”
This is indeed partly true, with regards to competing against the 5D mk3’s low-light capability and shooting speed. The D800 series did fall short while the 5D mk3 claimed the title of “ultimate wedding shooter camera.” I must admit, I’m very jealous of the mk3’s overall performance.
Still, I can’t resist shaking my head when it comes down to the one thing that Canon used to brag about, especially from the early 2000’s to ~2008: image quality. Across the board, Nikon’s sensors (admittedly, now made almost entirely by Sony) are noticeably superior to what Canon offers. Even Nikon’s affordable DX sensor, offering 24 megapixels, has way more dynamic range (at ISO 100) than the flagship 1DX.
But that is a dead horse that has been beaten for years now, so I’ll just leave it at that. Or this…
What about Sony?
As well-spec’d and affordable as the D750 is, I’m sure there will be lots of nasty remarks along the lines of “oh boy, yet another underwhelming DSLR update that is just the same as all the others, Nikon is asleep at the wheel, I can’t believe this isn’t a mirrorless camera to compete with the Sony A7-series!”
Touche. Except not quite yet, in my opinion. What the D750 represents is still a superior option (for certain types of shooters) compared to the Sony A7, A7r, or A7s. This camera is a workhorse for pro and advanced photographers, low-light wedding photojournalists, etc.
Sony is probably still 1-2 generations away from matching or beating the flagship autofocus performance of traditional phase-detect systems. Until then, I don’t think Nikon is going to suffer by offering the D750 in the meantime.
(Hopefully, in the next year or so, Nikon will in fact debut a mirrorless camera that trounces everything Sony has worked so hard to offer recently!)
What Do You Think?
Is this camera going to be a huge success, or an utter failure? Plenty of people will see it as one or the other, and in my opinion, the sales will be decently high for this camera. Not like the FX-starved craze of D700 buyers, but at least on par with D800 sales, or better. We’ll see!