Full disclosure before I start; I did not pay for the Nikon D750 so you are free to think that I am biased. I might be. Nevertheless, I am not going to try to sell you anything. This is also not going to be a statistical comparison or a technical review of the pixels and marvel of the Nikon D750. What it will be is an account of my personal experience with this new camera after decades of working with various Nikon cameras, for whatever it is worth. For the math I encourage you to check out Ken Rockwell‘s review that will surely give you a dose of statistics and more.
I have been a Nikon shooter for many, many years and have never really considered any other option. I am not a war photographer and have always opted for the slightly lighter option when selecting a camera body. This is why I never really considered the D4S or the like. It is simply too big and bulky for me. In the last six years I have been shooting with the Nikon D700 which is probably one of the best cameras Nikon have ever made. However, in the last year or so I started feeling the itch for the upgrade. When the D800 came out it was a huge disappointment for me. It promised everything but not what I needed it to give me. So much so that I have practically left Nikon for the lighter Fujifilm X series cameras. I am so happy with this move that I almost stopped using the DSLR all together. It took some adjustments but I got used to it.
How do I know if I like this girl or not?
How do I know which camera is for me? I actually think of my camera as a girlfriend. I met some gorgeous looking women in my life that did not make me blink. I also met some very average looking women that I found extremely attractive. I don’t care about blond hair, big assets or long legs. It has to be emotional. Engage me in a meaningful conversation, make me laugh and I’m hooked. (Best of course is if she is gorgeous and makes me laugh). I never cared about the D4S in a red sexy dress but I found the D700 with her brown eyes and blue jeans to be super sexy. The D810 can be a great girlfriend for some but me? I don’t fall for this girl. I don’t like the way she laughs and her Harvard education never impressed me. This is of course very subjective. If you like tall blond girls with long legs and big assets than you might as well stop reading right now. I have no quarrel with you. I am glad the world has a lot of options to offer. I want to be attracted to my camera. I want to want to hold her. She needs to know what I like and how to make me laugh. The Nikon F100 knew that and we had a great relationship. The D200 was amazing at the time, and I will never forget the good times I had with the D700. My new camera needs to be very specific in this sense and I don’t care about the size of her bra or how many megapixels she has under the hood.
Nikon D750 vs Nikon D700
So the D750 has it. It easily passed that first test and is sweet as can be. Dimples and all. She is gorgeous and she makes me laugh. However, it is a whole new camera and is not really the direct successor of the D700. It is more like a half-breed between the D810 and the D610. It is not as sturdy as the D700 but seems strong enough for me not be at all concerned about it. I am sure technology will render this camera obsolete long before it wears out. It is light as the small D610 but has some new features which are high up there in terms of AF, file quality and speed. With the AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4 it feels fantastic in my hand. The next, next generation actually.
No AF-ON button
The first thing I did was try to make it behave like my D700. I use my thumb for focus so first was to disable the AF from activating when I press the shutter and set the AF ON button to operate the lens but not take a picture. Oops, no AF ON button on the D750. I had to use the AE-L/AF-L to be the focus button. I can live with this. The metering setting button was also moved to the top instead of the back where it was. I change the metering from matrix to spot and back all the time and placing it on top of the camera seems a bit less convenient. Instead I assigned the FN button to switch to spot metering when pressed.
Another button that moved is the ISO selection that is now placed on the left of the LCD. This basically means that I have to look at the back of the camera for the right button and cannot do this with my eye on the eye piece (although if you can find the button without looking you will see the ISO change through the eye piece). An annoying issue is that changing the ISO activates the LCD light and there is no option to disable this. The AF area mode selector is also not in the same place as I got so used to. It is now operated with the left hand in the front of the camera near the lens. The camera AF system has been taken to a whole new level and is now a lot more advanced and subject specific. If it was up to me I’d probably leave the buttons in the same place but I guess that once you learn where the controls are and the meanings of all the new options it is can become easy to use. Nikon usually does a good job with the ergonomics so I will allow myself to try to get used to the new buttons.
I was very excited about the flipping LCD and live view. I could already imagine myself using it to shoot through the fire at the next Indian wedding without hurting my neck. Using the live view mode is simple and it was all very promising. However, it seems it will probably be more helpful for video as when used with stills is takes a while to be ready for the next shot after a shot is taken. Use it when you have to but don’t think this is going to replace the eye piece. If you do not shoot video it will come in handy every now and then but not more than that.
There are many new features in this camera that are obviously aimed at photographers who do not shoot RAW and do not post produce their images in Lightroom as a part of their workflow. Certain filters for JPG for example that I find completely redundant. The option to use wifi to share images with the iPhone is very cool but is of course only for JPG so if you wish to use it you will have to shoot JPGs along with the RAW and use valuable card space.
Talking about card space; the camera has a 24mp file that is very heavy compared to the D700 but you can choose to shoot a 13.6mp file or even a 6mp file if you do not need the full 24mp. The NEF files are still not supported by Adobe Lightroom so you need to first convert the files to DNG using Adobe DNG converter 8.7 and only then import into LR. A bit cumbersome but will surely be resolved soon.
Low light performance
What I was looking for in a new camera to replace my D700 was an enhanced low light performance and the D750 delivers this and more. High ISO of up to 12,800 has practically as little noise as an ISO 100 image. Focus speed at incredibly low light conditions is nothing less than spectacular.
Nikon’s speedlight system has always been super awesome. I rarely work with a flash but I had a real need to do so at a recent wedding reception I shot in Tamil Nadu as there was NOTHING to make the dances look interesting other than long exposure with flash. The room was just a white space with no DJ or special light. Using the TTL mode with an on-camera flash (SB900) was awesome. It will not be an exaggeration to say that 100% of the shots where super sharp, in focus and well exposed. Quite amazing actually.
Would I have bought it?
The Nikon D750 is an incredible camera. If you are a professional photographer be prepared for many things you do not need in a body that will certainly deliver the quality that you require, or more. If you are a wedding photographer looking for your kick-ass full frame camera and not concerned about the next guy who will show off with a D4S (that he does not need) than this is your camera. Do not expect the “pro” feel of the D700 as you will not find it. It is a light camera body but has fantastic AF performance and image quality. (This body anyway has the same autofocus and metering technology as the D4S and the D810, or maybe even better as it has a newer AF module).The 24 megapixel file gives stunning resolution and low light performance. ISO 12,800 has almost no noise at all! Add to this the 6.5 FPS, built in Wi-Fi and some cool video goodies (STEREO microphone!) and you have a camera packed to the brim with stuff previously only available with much, MUCH more expensive cameras, if at all.
Go grab it.
* I will be posting more images from this Tamil Brahmin wedding in Mahabalipuram on the blog very soon.