Friday, July 3, 2015

Nikon D750 Review


Introduction:

Nikon introduced their first general purpose full frame DSLR in 2008, the Nikon D700, and upon that release full frame DSLR cameras became accessible to more F-mount users. Over four years later the D800 and D800E were released, to a mix of jubilation, from many who sought a camera with high resolution, and distress from those who felt that 36MP was too much for them. There was also a feeling that the camera was too slow for action photography. While some of those reservations proved be false, see my D800 review, they were not totally wrong either. The D800/E, and the D810 are by no means sports cameras. In that respect neither fit the role as a general purpose camera.

In September 2012 Nikon introduced the first lower cost FX camera in the form of the D600, with a 24MP sensor and a decent balance of speed and performance. Sadly that camera came with a sensor riddled with oil spot issues, which Nikon eventually fixed, but the stigma attached to the camera was hard to overcome. Nikon dealt with this, and made some other improvements with the release of the D610 in October 2013, but clearly felt there was still something missing.

In October 2014 Nikon took the next step and released the D750, a camera that provides something that many users have felt was missing from the lineup since the release of the D800 and D800E in 2012, a balanced general purpose FX camera that doesn't cost over $2999 USD. While the D750 still lacks the higher end controls and full magnesium alloy body of the D810, it does have many features from it. So the question is, does the Nikon D750 capture the spirit of the D700? By that, does it offer a good balance of speed, resolution, build quality, and value for the dollar? To find out, let us take a closer look at the D750.

For Those who do not have time to read the all the details, a video is also available at the end of there review.

Review based on use with firmware C 1.02 (Available as of late May 2015)



Body Design, Build Quality and Handling:


Build Quality
In most respects the body of the D750 has more in common with the D600 and D610 than the D810, at least in terms of design and controls. That similarly to the D6x0 bodies is somewhat desirable, because unlike the full magnesium alloy body D810, which weighs 880g, the D750 is a more compact, and lighter weight coming it at 755g. While that is not a huge decrease in weight (125g), it is the lightest full frame body in Nikon's DSLR lineup. To achieve this lighter weight Nikon uses a mix of magnesium alloy, in the back and top plates, and carbon fibre infused plastics for the rest of the body.

The lens mount is a standard brass F-mount, which is fitted into the carbon fibre infused plastics in the front of the body. While the full rigidity of this carbon fibre infused plastic is still unknown, it is unwise to mount larger lenses, that ship with a tripod collar, on a tripod via the camera, since the torque could damage the mount of the lens and or the camera (this is true for all Nikon cameras, even the D4s). Reports from users, on sites like Dpreview, have noted that the D750's mount is rather tough, and lenses are not causing mount breaks when short drops occur (at least not as often as the D600/D610). I don't intend to test this myself to find out.

The D750, like most prosumer Nikon bodies(D7x00, D6x0, D750), features dust and water resistant (not proof) seals to help ward off undesirable moisture and dust from entering the camera body. Of course the weak point of the system is the lens mount, so a similarly equipped lens is required to complete the seal. For full water and dust protection a rain cover or underwater housing is required.

Dust/Weather Resistant Seals, From the back of the camera

Rear LCD mount and assembly
The multi-angle LCD on the D750 is mounted via a metal jointed system, similar to the built in flash on most Nikon DSLR cameras. The quality of this mounting system seems far strong than that of the popup flash though, and the parts are stiff. The only possible weak point is the data ribbon cable that hangs under the screen and moves with it. It is not an immediate concern, since the cable is tight, and held in place by series of metal guides and retainers. My suspicion is that this design is still far more rigid than the one found on the D5xxx series of upper entry level DSLRs. While I doubt the screen would survive a drop of any significant height, it's not likely to break or become loose just from extensive use.

Handling
In terms of handling the D750 has a comfortable feel to it, in my semi-average sized male hands. The body seems to be tightly assembled, although there are some points that could be better. The buttons and dials do not feel cheap, but not as nice as the likes of the D300/D700/D800/D810; the difference is subtle, but it is there. If you happen to be moving from a camera like the D700/D800, one of the first things that stands out is that the buttons are all smaller, like the consumer/entry level bodies. While this is not a big deal, it is something to keep in mind if you have big fingers. In addition, the placement of some buttons, namely the Fn button, could easily be improved by moving it inline with the Pv button, rather than tucking slightly under the lens mount. The button is reachable with a pinky finger, but it is a bit of a stretch. Why Nikon continues to use this awkward placement of the Fn button on prosumer bodies, first seen on the D70 in 2004, we'll never know.

The rubber grips on the camera body are not the same type found on the higher end bodies either, in that they are not as soft, but that could be a good thing. The rubber on the recent D8xx series bodies is soft, but also seems to wear out quickly, so the slightly harder rubber of the D750 might just have a longer life span.

The D750 has newly designed, thinner, but deeper grip that separates it from the otherwise similar D600 and D610 bodies. It very much reminds me of the change Nikon made to the grip of the D3100, over the D3000, in that the deepness makes the camera more comfortable for single handed operation. While single handed operation is never ideal for a DSLR, the D750's grip is more comfortable than earlier prosumer Nikon cameras. That being said, there are times when it would be nice if Nikon would maintain a type of grip style across all the prosumer and semi-pro bodies, rather than having each camera be so radically different. Like the D810 before it the D750 also gains a rubber grip on the card slot door, which also makes the camera just a little bit nicer to handle.

Since this section covers build quality, I'd also like to touch briefly on the mirror flare issue, that affected some of the early D750 production units (Sold between October 2014 and March 2015).


If a D750 has a black dot in the tripod socket, it means it was affected and repaired by Nikon. If there is a black dot on the outside of the box, see image above, you have nothing to worry about. The black dot, which is a sticker on the box means it was made after the fix was issued by Nikon Japan, and sent flare issue free from the factory in Thailand. No further comments on this, since my camera came trouble free from the factory.

Controls:

The controls of the Nikon D750 are very similar to that of the D600, D610 and the DX counter parts, the D7100 and D7200. The camera is equipped with what many would consider the prosumer grade mode dial. Personally the use of the physical dial vs a button is meaningless. While this feature might seem tacky, to some, on a camera with an MSRP of over $2000, there are some benefits to this mode dial. The shooting mode dial offers a wide range of options, it has full Auto mode, Scene mode, Effects mode, Flash disabled mode (still full auto), along with the more traditional, P (Program Auto), S (Shutter Priority), A (Aperture Priority) and M (Manual). On top of those modes the camera also has two user programable modes, U1 and U2. In the modes you can take a group of settings, save them, and recall them whenever desirable. The good thing about this is that if settings are changed while shooting it is easy to return to the saved settings by simply moving the mode dial to a different position, and back to the desired user U1 or U2 mode (or by turning the camera off and then back on again). The mode dial has a lock button, on top, to prevent the accidental change of modes. To change modes simply press the button and turn the dial to the desired position.


Below the mode dial is the the drive mode dial. The drive mode dial controls the following settings, single frame release (S), continuous frames low, 3FPS by default (CL), continuous frame high, 6.5FPS (CH), Quiet (Q), Quiet Continuous, 3FPS (QC), Self Timer, and Mirror-lockup (MUP) which is useful for long exposures, while shooting on a tripod.



On right upper side of the camera there is the On/Off/top LCD illumination switch, that surrounds the shutter button. Next up is the Exposure Compensation (+/-) button, which can select +3EV to -3EV via the command dial, the video recording button (user customizable in still photo mode), and the Metering Mode button. The metering mode button allows you to switch between Matrix Metering, centre weighted average, spot and highlight weighted metering modes.

Also in this area you will find the top information display, which can be backlit. This panel is one of the smallest found on a Nikon DSLR (that has one), with only the one on the Nikon Df being smaller. The D4 series, D8xx, D6xx and D7xxxx all feature a slightly larger panel. The smaller panel on the D750 means that the information is compressed, and in some cases just not there. Image quality settings, and white balance are not displayed, unless the buttons on the back of the camera are pressed. In any case all the basic shooting information the user could need is displayed on the top panel, such as shutter speed, the set F-stop, the metered reading (manual mode), the set metering mode, ISO sensitivity settings,  the number of shots remaining on the currently in use SDHC/SDXC card slots, and the active SDHC/SDXC card slot(s). The active card slot(s) will be displayed with a small number, this will depend on user selected settings. More on that later.


On the front right side (from the front) there are several buttons just below the popup flash. First the flash exposure compensation/popup button. This button allows the user to manually popup the flash (only when the camera is turned on), and set flash exposure compensation settings (+/- 3EV), via the front sub-command dial. The flash mode (on, redeye reduction, rear sync, and off) can be changed by pressing the button and turning the rear command dial. Below the flash button is the BKT or bracketing button, which allows the user to take between 3-9 exposures while the camera automatically adjusts exposure (9 frame, by +/- 0.3ev, 0.7ev, 1ev, or 5 frames at +/- 2ev or 3ev steps), which can be used to create HDR (high dynamic range) images, or simply to make sure you get the right exposure for your image without too much fussing around. Under the BKT button you'll find the lens release button.


Near the bottom of the camera on the same side is the location of the AF mode button and switch. When using modern AF-S, or equivalent third party focus motor equipped lenses, this switch can be left in the AF position at all times (just use the A/M switch on the lens) to enable or disable auto focus. While using older AF or AF-D lenses use this switch to change between auto focus and manual focus. Attempting to manual focus AF and AF-D lenses - lenses without AF-I or AF-S focusing motor - while leaving the camera in AF mode could damage the auto focus drive in the camera and/or the lens.

Pressing the button in the middle of the AF selector switch allows you to change focusing modes. Pressing the button and turning the rear command dial changes between AF-A, which automatically chooses if a subject is still or moving, AF-Single (AF-S) and AF-Continous (AF-C). Pressing the button and turning the front sub-command dial changes the number of active focus points, between Auto (the camera chooses the closest subject), S - Single, Dynamic - 9 points (D9), 21 points (D21), 51 points (D51), 3D Colour Tracking (3D), and Group (GrP). More on these different settings later, while discussing the auto focus system performance.


On the front left of the body (from the front), there are two buttons beside the lens mount. The first (PV) is used to provide exposure preview, or depth of field preview, in the viewfinder (the lens aperture is stopped down and the viewfinder will get darker depending on the set F-stop). This button can be programmed by the user for other functions, if so desired. At the bottom is the location of the Fn (Function) button, which can be programmed to user desired settings. By default it actives the crop mode (FX 1.0x, 1:2 1.2x or DX 1.5x) selector. Just below the shutter button, near the top of the grip, is the location of the front sub-command dial which is used to change various settings and the F-stop (aperture value) in Aperture Priority and Manual shooting modes (by default).



The back of the camera hosts the usual array of consumer level controls found on Nikon DSLR's (D7xxx, D6xx and now the D750), start from the top left side: Playback, for reviewing images and the Trash button for deleting images (also works in combination with the Metering button to format memory cards in camera).

Moving Down the left side of the LCD there are five buttons, Menu (self explanatory),  The ?/Lock/WB button. In the menu system the button provides basic information about selectable options, in image review the button locks images from being deleted (but not from formatting), and in shooting mode the button allows the user to change the various white balance settings. Next is the + magnification/QUAL button: In playback mode this button will magnify the selected image, while in shooting mode it can be used to change image capture settings, such as RAW and JPEG along with image size and quality (jpegs only). Next is the - magnification/ISO button. In playback mode this button will decrease the magnification of the selected image, while in shooting mode it allows for the change of ISO values, and to disable or enable auto ISO. This button also works in combination with the exposure compensation button (+/-) on the top plate to reset the given shooting mode to default settings.

The last button on the left is the "i" button which brings up a quick settings menu. This button gives the user quick access to; Image Area, Picture Controls, Active D-Lighting, in Camera HDR, Wireless remote (optional ML-L3), Function button, Preview button and AE-L/AF-L button settings, along with Long Exposure Noise Reduction and High ISO Noise Reduction settings.

Towards the top, to the upper right of the optical viewfinder is the location of the eyepiece adjustment  dial, which allows the viewfinder focus to be adjusted for your eyes. Further to the right, just above the LCD is the location of the AE-L/AF-L button. By default this button will lock focus and the exposure value, for use with the focus and recompose technique. This button can also be set to lock one or the other of those settings, function as an AF-ON button (decoupling auto focus from the shutter button), and to lock in a set flash exposure value. To the right is the rear command dial, which is used to change shutter speed in Shutter Priority and Manual shooting modes. In Program Auto this dial will make adjustments to the set exposure.

Down and to the left of the LCD you will find the info button, which brings up shooting information (as seen in the picture of the rear of the camera above). One press turns the screen on, and anther turns it off. Under the info button is the multi-selector and okay button. The multi-selector is used for navigating the menu system, and selecting the desired auto focus points in shooting mode. The OK button in the middle of the multi-selector is used for choosing options within the menu, and resets the auto focus point to the middle in shooting mode. One of the most helpful features is that it can be set to bring image magnification to 100%, to check focus in playback mode (this is not the default). Around the multi-selector is a dial which can lock the position of the auto focus system to a single point or area, to prevent accidental change of the desired focus point.

Beneath the multi-selector is the LV (Liveview) mode dial and LV activation/deactivation button. The LV mode dial allows the user to choose still photography shooting mode, or video recording mode. The camera will display relevant framing, and information based on the mode selected.

Features:

The Nikon D750 has a combination of mid-range and pro features in one package, making it a great general purpose camera. First of all the camera is equipped with a high quality FX (35mm film frame equivalent size) 24.2 Megapixel Image Sensor. This Nikon designed, and Sony made, sensor provides a excellent balance of resolution, and low light shooting performance in one package. The sensor has a native ISO range of 100-12,800 (expandable to via Lo and Hi settings to ISO 50-51,200). As with most cameras it is recommend to stay within the native ISO range for the best possible performance.

The D750's auto focus system got a big bump, over the similar D600/D610, in that it received the higher end 51 point auto focus system, with 15 cross type sensors, rather than the 39 point AF system (with 9 cross type). The advantage of the 51 point auto focus system is twofold, first it provides larger frame coverage, and secondly improved peformance. On top of that, the D750 received the newest Multi-cam 3500 FX II AF sensor, which the higher spec'd D4s and D810 do not have. This second generation sensor is sensitive down to -3ev, which basically means if there is candle light on the subject, the camera should be able to focus (with the central 15 cross type sensors at least).

The D750 has the same 100% frame coverage optical viewfinder, with the square eye relief, as found on the earlier D600 and D610. It would have been nice if Nikon had included the round eye relief, with the built in shutter curtain, of the higher end bodies (D4s/D8xx) at this price point, but the included viewfinder is still big and bright. Like the D4s and D810 the camera features the newer OLED HUD in the viewfinder, which displays shooting information at the bottom edge. The LED lights are blue, vs the green seen in most earlier Nikon DSLR's (excluding the D4s and D810). Like the D4s and D810 the brightness of the shooting information adjusts according to the brightness of the scene. In low light situations it will dim, to prevent night blindness and gets brighter when shooting in full daylight.



The D750 has two SDHC/SDXC card slots, located on the right grip side of the body. The slots are rated to work with high speed UHS-1 SDHC* cards to ensure high speed writing of data, which will prove useful for anyone shooting action or recording high resolution video files. Thankfully Nikon opted to maintain dual SD slots from the D6xx cameras, rather than mixing SD and CF, as with the D8xx models.  This means that only one type of cards needs to be managed to take full advantage of the slots abilities. Speaking of the abilities, like all Nikon DSLR's with dual card slots the camera can be set to handle this setup several ways, first being that the camera will automatically switch which card is in use when the other is full (known as overflow). The second option is backup, where the camera will write the same picture to each card at the same time. The third option is RAW (NEF) to one card and JPEG format to the other.

Storage capacity per SD card will very, and the numbers shown by the camera are very conservative at best. A newly formatted 16GB card will display around 293 frame (14bit Loss Less Compressed NEF), but actual storage capacity often will exceed that. There are many variables that lead to those numbers, such as file type, bit rate (NEF), compression, ISO rating, and in camera processing (Active D-Lighting, Vignetting Control, Noise Reduction, in camera HDR). For example, I have a 16GB card loaded in the D750, filled with a mix of video files and stills and the current frame count (images taken) is over 400. Space remaining being shown on the top plate/viewfinder is still 48 frames.

While the D750 is rated to fire 6.5FPS, the question from many photographer today is, how long can the camera sustain that speed? The buffer of the D750 is displayed, on camera, as 12 frames (14bit Lossless Compressed RAW), 16 (12bit Lossless Compressed RAW) and 23 frames (Large Fine jpeg) when all in camera processing such as Active D-Lighting, Vignetting Control and Noise Reduction are turned off. In practice these numbers are slightly low, but that will depend on the SD cards in use. Faster cards will give the camera more working room, while slower cards will likely give no more than the displayed numbers.

The D750 was tested with 16GB Lexar Professional 400x USH-1 cards, that I have owned for about three years now. While these cards are by no means top of the line, they are not overly slow either. With the 400x (30MB/s write, 60MB/s read) Lexar cards, shooting 14bit Lossless compressed I can shoot for 2 seconds at 6.5FPS before the buffer fills, and the frame rate drops to about 1FPS. In this case the rated numbers are almost dead on, since I ended up with 13 frame before it slowed to a crawl. With the cards in question it took the buffer 12 seconds to clear, at approximately 1 frame per second. If you are looking to shoot fast action, where extended bursts are required, faster cards might be something to look into. The average file size of a 14bit Lossless Compressed NEF (RAW) file is 25.5MBs.

Faster 633x (45MB/S write, 95MB/s read) and 1000x (75MB/s write, 150MB/s read) cards would likely give more breathing room.

* UHS-2 rated cards will work, but will not be able to read/write at full rated speed.



The left side of the body hosts the data ports for accessories or a PC/Mac. From the top down, a connector for a wired remote or a compatible external GPS unit (such as the Nikon GP-1A). Next down, ports for an external microphone (recommended for any serious work, since the internal stereo microphones pick up handling and camera operation noise), and a headphone jack for monitoring audio during video recording and playback. On the bottom row are micro USB2.0 and HDMI ports. Why Nikon is still choosing to use USB2.0 ports is somewhat of a mystery, but one can assume it is cost saving measure.


The addition of WiFi on the D750 is a first for a Nikon FX DSLR, making it a great choice for anyone who needs the ability to take photos and quickly email smallish sized jpegs off quickly. Nikon's WMU (Wireless Mobile Utility) is rather limited in features, which is a little disappointing, but it does give the user some options. First, if you have a iOS or Android device you no longer need to remember to bring along the pesky little ML-L3 infrared remote as a wireless shutter.  While the interface of the WMU does not give the user the ability to change camera settings like shutter speed, aperture, or ISO, it does allow the user to focus and take photos via liveview on your devices screen. Beyond the photography function it can also transfer jpeg files to a connected iOS or Android device for sharing online. Direct transfer of files to a connected Mac or PC via WiFi is not possible, at least not without third party software, which is a little disappointing.


One of the other headline features of the D750 is the tilt-able 3.2" rear LCD. The screen itself is the same one found on the D810, featuring 1.2 million dots and provides 100% frame coverage for stills and video. The screen itself is crisp and offers a lot of detail, nothing special these days, but it's nice to see that Nikon did not cheap out here and put a 900k dot screen on this body. Viewing angles are on par with the screens of other similar Nikon bodies. Sadly the D750 does not have the auto brightness sensor found on the higher end Nikon D4s and D810 bodies, so you have to manually adjust the monitor brightness for the given shooting conditions.


In terms of the variable angle use of the rear LCD, it does have some usefulness, primarily for video recording and liveview image making. Shooting at odd angles is now possible, which is useful for low angle or overhead video recording, and many types of photography. I've found the screen helpful for low angle macro photography for example, so you no longer have to lay in the mud to get that shot of a flower or insect. Thanks to the tilt-able rear LCD you no longer need to buy an expensive, and bulky, right angle viewfinder attachment to achieve this.



The bottom of the camera features a standard tripod socket, and a port for the optional MB-D16 battery grip. Also on the bottom of the camera is the location of the battery bay, which accepts the Nikon EN-EL15 battery found in all but entry level, and the D4s, Nikon DSLRs. The EN-EL15 Battery is rated for over 1000 shots per charge in the D750, but just keep in mind that the figure is based on heavy use, not causal use. For casual still photography use I found between 550-600 shots per charge is to be normal. By causal I mean, taking 50-200 shots one day, having the camera sit for 4-6 days unused, then repeat several times. As a result, having a spare battery, or two, around is a good idea. Even throwing in the recording of short video clips, 2-5 minutes occasionally, will not be overly departmental to battery life. Recording longer clips, 10+ minutes, will start to significantly affect how many still shots per change can be achieved.

Bottom of the D750 with the battery bay open and grip connector exposed.
Unlike most mid-range, and higher and Nikon DSLR's, the battery placement is slightly different on the D750, due to the shape of the grip. Not a big change, but it does take time to get used to. Even after several months of use I still find myself fiddling with the battery to put it in without picking up the camera and looking at the battery slot. Of course the long battery life of the EN-EL15 in the D750 only extenuates this, since you do not need to swap batteries very often (I've swapped batteries only 8 times in the last 2 1/2 months).

Auto Focus System:

The performance of a cameras auto focus system can mean the difference between getting the shot or not. Does the auto focus system of the D750 deliver? That depends on a number of factors, including, but not limited to, the lens used and the experience of the person behind the camera. In the hands of an experienced Nikon photographer, it is an extremely capable auto focus system. The D750's system easily matches or exceeds that of other semi-pro modern Nikon cameras (D800 series cameras). Focus speed and accuracy is a big step up from the likes of the D300, D700 and the original D3. There are also accuracy improvements over the D800 and D4, thanks to the D750's ability to focus at -3ev vs -2ev for former two. The difference in performance is less pronounced in normal lighting conditions (daylight).

The D600 and D610's 39 point AF system is simply inferior, by virtue of having fewer auto focus point choices and lower sensitivity in low light. Not to say those cameras do not offer a good auto focus system, but they are not in the same league as cameras with the 51 point system.

The auto focus system in the D750 handles most subject matter very well, and the only times I've found that it has trouble are situations that just about any other DSLR would struggle. I'm referring to situations such as, extremely low light, or extremely low contrast subjects. For general purpose shooting, like photographing kids running around, portraits, and landscapes the auto focus system is among the best found in a Nikon FX DSLR, as of early summer of 2015.

Users familiar with the 51 point auto focus system (FX) will notice that the AF points on the D750 are slightly more compact than the traditional one found in cameras like the D4s and D810. That is not your mind playing tricks on you, the auto focus points are more tightly packed into the middle of the frame. The difference is small, being inset about 1-2mm compared to the D810 and D4s. From a practical standpoint this is a little frustrating, as it limits your composition flexibility when working with moving subjects. Nikon says that this was done in order to improve performance of the system, and it is likely that all Nikon FX cameras will see a similar change when they move to the Multi-cam 3500 FX II in the next iteration (unless of course Nikon introduces an entirely new AF system with the D4s and D810 replacements, which is likely).

Now onto the nitty gritty details. If you are familiar with Nikon's auto focus system you can skip this section of the review.

Auto Focus Settings:

There are different modes, and focus types, and each will be touched on briefly, while others on a deeper level. Keep in mind that each setting below is affected by the combination of both Auto Focus Modes and Auto Focus Area Modes.

Auto Focus Modes: Changed by pressing the AF mode button rotating the rear command dial on the camera.

AF-A: In this mode the camera automatically decides to use single or continuous focus depending on whether the sensor detects subject movement or not. This mode is best suited for beginners or for situations where the movement of the subject matter is variable. Example, there is a group of runners that you want to photograph, at the start of the race they are standing still and you want some shots. In that situation AF-S mode is the best. Great, but when they start to run seconds later AF-C mode is the best. AF-A is a workaround that lets the user quickly transition without having to change settings. Unfortunately the sensor does not always pick the right focusing mode, so it's a little hit and miss.

AF-S: In this mode the camera locks onto the given subject matter and stops focusing once focus is achieved. This mode is best suited for still subjects, such as landscapes, posed portraits, and still life.

AF-C: In this mode the camera will continue to focus as long as you half press the shutter button (or as long as you press the AF-L/AE-L button, if it is programmed for AF-ON). This auto focus mode is best suited for moving subjects, like a person who is running (sports), flying birds, moving vehicles and more.

Auto Focus Area Modes: These are changed by pressing the AF mode button and rotating the front dial on the camera.

Single Point AF: In this area mode the camera will only use one auto focus point to focus on. The point of choice can be selected using the rear multi-selector pad. This mode is best used when the area you want to focus on is clear, such as a persons eye, or another point of interest in the frame.

Dynamic-area AF: Dynamic-area mode only works with AF-A or AF-C focus modes. In this mode the camera uses a number of points, 9, 21 or 51 points (determined by the user), to help the camera track a given subject.  How this works is that the auto focus system looks as the selected auto focus point, and gives it priority for focus. Should the subject leave that point the camera will attempt to require focus using the surround (9, 21 or 51) points.

Keep in mind that the more points are active, the less likely that focus will fall on the area of the subject you desire. Example, targeting a flying bird with 51 points may keep focus on the bird, but focus may fall into the near wing, rather than the eye as desired.

3D Tracking: This mode works only with AF-A and AF-C modes. In this mode the camera uses all 51 auto focus points to track a given subject, but it does so based on colour. This mode is generally useful as a focus and recompose tool, rather than as an ongoing method of tracking a moving subject. Due to the emphasis on the colour of the subject the system has a tendency to loose focus on subjects that are actually moving through the frame. This loss of focus happens because the system is easily fooled by objects with similar colours.

Group-area AF: This mode uses the selected focus point, and the four points immediately around it in order to achieve focus. Unlikely earlier mentioned dynamic-area mode all the selected points are given equal weight, but priority is given to the subject closest to the camera. In AF-S mode the AF system will give priority to human faces.

Auto-area AF: As suggested by the name of this mode, the camera automatically chooses what to focus on, using a number of focus points. Priority is given to the closest subject to the camera. Like Group-area AF human faces are given priority if detected.

Other Important Auto Focus Settings:
In the Custom Settings Menu there are additional auto focus settings, this section of the review will focus on just a few of them.

a1 AF-C Priority: Release (will take photos even if focus is not confirmed) or Focus (will only release the shutter if focus is locked).
a2 AF-S priority: Release or Focus. The same as AF-C.
a3 Focus tracking with lock-on: Set the length of time the camera will delay before adjusting focus on a moving subject (affects AF-C/AF-A). The idea is that the camera will not refocus should something get in the way, such as when a person briefly being obscured by a tree branch while jogging. The scale is from 1-5, with 5 giving the longest delay. The delay can also be turned off.

a7 Number of focus points: This getting allows you to choose between 51 or 11 selectable points. While the AF system itself can still access all 51 points (for dynamic, group, 3D etc) the user can choose to limit the number of selectable points to 51 or 11. Using fewer points can be helpful if your subject moves from one side of the frame to another quickly.


Metering:
To be brief, the metering of the D750 seems to be normal for a camera of this class. The Matrix metering mode does seem more intelligent than pervious generation Nikon models, since it likely has more sample images to compare a scene against, but otherwise it's behaviour is normal. Centre Weighted and Spot metering modes also behave as expected.

Like the D810 before it, the D750 has the newish highlight weighted metering mode, which can help bring a more balanced exposure for some scenes. General behaviour of this metering mode is to expose for the brightest part of the scene and underexpose everything else. Sometimes the meter does not seem able to identify the brightest part of a scene, and you end up with the same exposure as Matrix metering mode. If you do not intend to shoot RAW images highlight weighted metering may not be an ideal mode to shoot with, at least not for anything important. That is with the prevision being that you have not become familiar with the modes tendencies.

Example of a Matrix Metered Mode


Example of Highlight Weighted Metering Mode


Image Quality:

Image quality is the most important aspect of a camera's capabilities, bar none, so how does the D750 fair against other Nikon cameras? Compared to older cameras like the D3 and D700 the D750 is in a difference league in terms of resolution, colour and noise performance. The D750 offers nearly two stops better low light performance, and far more dynamic range (the difference between light and dark tones). Vs the D3s, D4/D4s/Df the D750 is as good or better in terms of low light performance, at least compared to samples from said cameras that I've seen. Vs the D800/D810? The D750 has an edge in low light, but down sampled shots from the 36MP beasts are not bad either.

Resolution wise the D800 series cameras trample the D750, but not by as big a margin as some would have you believe. To notice the difference you would need to a) view the images at full size on a super high resolution monitor or b) print very large. By large, we are talking about large poster or billboard sized prints.

What about dynamic range? The D750 is no slouch in the area of dynamic range, being at least as good as the D800/D810 in practical use. Below is a single shot, not a multi-shot HDR image, edited in Adobe Lightroom CC, demonstrating what is possible at ISO 100. I exposed for the sky and pulled out the shadow details in post for this very reason. Of course like all cameras dynamic range becomes smaller as you raise the ISO and the D750 is no different. At ISO ratings above 3200 noise in recovered shadows can be a problem and a great deal of detail starts to get lost anyway.

Dynamic Range Sample: ISO 100
It is safe to say that the images that can be produced by the D750 are more than good enough for any type of photography.

For more image samples, check the gallery link below: EXIF Data Embedded

D750 Image Sample Gallery

Noise Performance: (Click Images To see Full 24.2MP Images)

ISO 100


ISO 200


ISO 400


ISO 800


ISO 1600


ISO 3200


ISO 6400


ISO 12,800


ISO 25,600 (H.1)


ISO 51,200 (H.2)


Video:

While video is not an area that I have a great deal of experience with, I will touch on the subject briefly based on the limited video shooting I have done. The D750 is currently one of the most capable Nikon DSLR's for shooting video, thanks in part of a dedicated video settings menu, and in camera shooting information. The D750 provides live feedback for exposure in terms of monitor output, and a live histogram.

Like the D810 the D750 allows for the use of auto ISO, which helps to keep exposure even while working in variable lighting conditions. Full control of shutter speed, ISO and aperture are available before and during video recording. In addition there is an option to use zebras, which show areas of highlight clipping, and is displayed before and during recording.

The built in stereo microphones are not the worst to be found in a camera of this type, but they are not great either. The microphones still suffer from the same problems that any internal microphones on a video camera have, camera handling and function noise. Thankfully Nikon provides an external microphone port, allowing for the use of a superior microphone. In addition the camera features headphone input, so that audio can be monitored during recording.

Sadly there are two areas where the D750 falls short. The first is auto focus, since unlike the mirrorless competition and some Canon cameras, the Nikon body does not have hybrid auto focus in liveview. Secondly, the lack of focus peaking, which would at least make manual focus an simpler task, considering the weakness of auto focus in this area.

Conclusion:

The Nikon D750 is a great general purpose photography tool, and there is no doubting that. In my mind the D750 takes the place of the D700 in that regard, something that the D800 cameras have yet to truly capture, in part due to the higher resolution sensor. The D750 features a combination of speed, resolution, high ISO performance, expansive dynamic range (nearly on pair with the D800), and excellent battery life all in one package. This camera nearly captures the essence of the D700, and it makes up for areas that it lacks vs the latter camera in other ways. What does the D750 lack that the D800 series and D700 have? The all metal internal shell, a round relief, the built in eyepiece shutter, and the AF-ON button. Yes, that is all.

How does the D750 make up for what it lacks compared to the D700? First of all, it offers all that it does in a smaller, lighter weight package. Second it has a sensor that trounces the D700 in every regard. To put it in simple terms, the D750 offers the ability to take images that match the best out there. Thirdly, the vary-angle LCD opens up shooting possibilities that the D700 is not even capable of. Fourth, better battery life, and finally superior user programable modes (U1 and U2). In terms of functionality, from settings to programable controls, the D750 is on par or in some cases better than the D700/D800 series bodies. It might not have the resolution of the D810, or the speed of the D4s, but the D750 offers a nice middle ground.

The D750's Wifi capabilities leave a little to be desired, but it does open up new possibilities for remote operation. Namely, you no longer need to buy Nikon's IR remote to trigger the camera, since the Wifi app on your iOS or Android device can do it. Secondly you can share, jpegs, from the camera to your phone for sharing right away, if there is a need to do so.

All in all the D750 is a good camera, enabling photographers to unleash their abilities as artists and moment keepers. Is the D750 the greatest DSLR in the world as of July 2015? That depends on the needs of the photographer and what one considers greatness.




Pros:
  • Reasonably quick camera, with great responsiveness
  • Plenty of resolution for all but the largest prints, and heavy cropping
  • Excellent high ISO performance (Still and Video)
  • High performance auto focus system
  • Dual SDHC/SDXC card slots for overflow or backup
  • User programable modes (U1 and U2) superior to "Banks" on higher end bodies
  • Wifi replaces the need for an IR remote and can be used to share images via a iOS or Android phone or tablet (the ML-L3 IR remote is still compatible for those using a Windows Phone, or still using dumb phones).
  • Battery life is great. You can shoot all day without a problem, memory cards will likely be full before the battery dies (stills).
  • Reasonably compact, and light weight for a (FX) full frame DSLR.
  • Vari-angle LCD great for high or low shooting angles (stills and video)
  • Likely the best Nikon FX DSLR for Video (As July 2015)

Cons:
  • Some settings changes force the rear LCD to turn on, it would be nice if this was optional
  • No built in curtain to block the viewfinder for long exposures
  • Buffer is smallish (12 frames 14bit RAW). It is adequate, but not big.
  • No uncompressed RAW files (only a semi-con, lossless compressed files are very good)
  • The "Fn" button, located just below the F mount, is awkwardly placed.
  • Wifi app is too limited, cannot control basic camera functions (ISO, Shutter, speed etc)
  • No LCD screen protector included (seems to be a the case with all of the newer Nikon bodies). 
  • Auto Focus for video/liveview is still not very good, like other Nikon DSRL's.
  • 1/4000s maximum shutter could limit the ability to use large apertures (F1.8/F1.4) in bright conditions. An ND filter on the lens in use can rectify the problem.