Thoughts on the D750

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Always a tuff pill to swallow, I had quite a few notes over time I took and entered into Draft status in my Blog that Godaddy.com lost and could not recover.  I’ll do my best to try to remember them all, however, I am certain that this loss will impact the quality of this journal entry.

I bought the D750 to cover my daughter’s wedding that I get to shoot this fall. Wile I use my DF most, its not what I wanted to use for a wedding. I originally got a D810 for this purpose, however I sold it and came back around to a D750 as a compromise.

To try and capture my thoughts in the best way, I am going to organize my thoughts into some sections, provide my impressions, relative comparison thoughts and summary conclusions.

Nikkor 16mm Fishey AI-s

Body

The body is what I refer to as prosumer, it’s not quite as substantial or refined as the D810.  On the flip side its lighter and has really nice battery life.  I have used several Nikon bodies and a few Fuji and Canon bodies and so my thoughts come from my experience across a wide variety of usage. 

The D750 does not feel quite as good in the hands as the D810.  The D810 was actually a nice leap in many ways over the D700 which I owned and used for several years.  A worn out debate, however, the D750 would have more adequately been named the D650.  It seemingly has more in common with that camera than to the D700 by a longshot. Perhaps the best linkage to the D700 is value where one does get quite a bit of bang for their buck with the D750.  Other than the plastic feeling one gets, the D750 easily disappears in the hands when one gets used to it, adapts and focuses on making pictures.

In general I am finding that the newer Nikon bodies seem more susceptible to scratches.  This is likely associated with the type plastic they are using and I suspect that it may be a trade-off for weight.  In general I highly suggest using a nice wrap around the camera to help protect its aesthetics if resale value is an important consideration for you.

Probably the coolest new feature that the D750 has over the D810 is the flip screen.  This is fabulous for hanging your camera in the air away from your eye in Live View mode to capture shots out of your normal eye to camera view finder reach.  This is very nice and a very welcomed feature and advantage for the D750 for event shooting.  It’s also handy for the drive by in truck type shooting I do thus allowing me to hang the camera out my window to get passed the vehicle side mirrors on wider lenses.

Controls Menu System

The menus are both familiar and a bit different.  This is probably mostly a perception more than anything else and a matter of getting used to them on different cameras.  Everything is there if you look and so there is not much to say other than again, it sports the typical Nikon menus and features.  I don’t recall having not found something yet that I have previously had on all my other cameras.

Part of it is that the world moves on and sometimes we as photographers take a bit of time to catch-up.  Change doesn’t have to equate to bad, it’s just different.  The menus and controls are just a bit nicer on the D810.

Matrix Metering for example on the D750 is set by a button on top verses a flip switch on the back like older cameras.  I liked the flip switch because it was a one finger flick type action verses a two control setting now on the D750.  This of course only applies if you were changing modes with the switch verses alternative methods.

Capabilities and Image Quality

Apart from wanting a body with state of the art autofocus, the second lure for me on the D750 is of course dynamic range.  I was once labeled the D Ranger on a forum many years ago for my comments about the topic and use of descriptions such as “rich creamy images”, so as you might guess Dynamic Range and how a camera renders images with respect to the topic is of great interest.  My days with the Fuji S3 and Fuji S5 definitely spoiled me early on in my DSLR adventures. 

One thing folks often fail to do when buying a camera and switching from another is to give the camera and oneself enough time to play and adapt to it to get past the learning curve.  Many people fail to acknowledge that there is even a learning curve and rapidly declare a camera bad.  I had to remember this myself with the D750 as the images really process differently that I expected they would.  Having seen the learning curve on the jump from a D700 and DF to D810 I expected the experience with the D750 to fall somewhere in the middle.

D810 images are these monstrous lush files that you can make bold setting changes in LightRoom and Photoshop and barely see the visual needles move.  DF and D700 files in stark comparison have significant changes with small pushes on the settings.  You don’t notice this until you process to radically different raw files such as described above.

As you can imagine that’s quite a paradigm change for processing between the two extremes because to make radical color and shadow/highlight changes, one must do a lot of pushing on a D810 file verses the others.

Enter the D750, one would think it sits in between a DF and a D810.  Well, processing turned out to just be different all together for the habits and tendencies I lean to in adjusting images for deeper dynamic range and richer colors.

To be honest, I am just starting to get what I want out of these files and learning to record the images to get the results I desire as well.  Here is an example.  Normally I like to lift the shadows and lower the highlights.  These usually lead to a semi HDR toning quality to the images when the colors are subsequently balanced.  I do a lot of shooting in bright light as well which often leads to deeper contrast between the highlights and shadows in landscape shooting.  The D750 just didn’t respond favorably to my normal processing routine, even with attempts to adapt to the RAW files.

As an experiment on my last outing shooting into the sun, I decided to over expose rather than under expose and meter the brightest part of the scene, the sun, with AE Lock before recomposing the framing and shooting.  This apparently was the ticket to what I was looking for and seemingly counter intuitive.  Granted I am using matrix metering more with the D750 as opposed to spot metering that I normally use, so I may be doing more work to trick the metering to my liking than I am the files.  Regardless, after a month of very limited shooting I have started finding my way with the D750 files and am satisfied it can produce some really great images.  I have also recently acquired a 4K display that I can see already will create a whole new level of processing and appreciation of the higher resolution offerings.

How does the D750 stack up?       

  • Dynamic range is on Par with the D810, so far I have had to tap into it it’s range in a different way.  I am still evaluating this, however, overall it has great DR with very nice tonality.
  • Detail & File Size; the file size is not cumbersome like the D810 was, 24MP seems very adequate to the task of my hobbyist pursuit of photography.
  • Battery life seems very good!
  • Shooting experience is Prosumer to Semi-professional.
  • The camera has few limits to producing excellent images with 1/4000 being its main limiter.  This can cause the user to stop down more to get bright photography into shutter speed tolerances and lead to diffraction limits degrading the images.  It’s not a huge big deal and one can’t expect to have everything now, can they?
  • I have not had to fine tune any AF lenses I use, mostly the Tamron’s have been on this body.
  • Works well with the many Manual Focus Lenses I have and use.
  • I have not tried it with the Sigma’s yet or the one remaining Nikon AF lens I have (105VR)
  • Shooting speed and buffer have not caused me pause or limited me yet

Overall I am very pleased with this purchase, the D750 is a fun and very dynamic camera to shoot with.  I find the camera to be a tremendous value justified by a rich basic feature set, top rated Auto Focus and its flexibility (Tilt Screen and Video).  One shouldn’t hesitate to pick up one of these if the differences between it and the D810 don’t because you pause.   If you want higher acuity and richer files, so far the D810 would be still the king.  The D750 is a lighter more flexible camera overall and tremendous value at $2000 US.

Even my daughter can take pictures with the D750! 🙂

This entry was posted in Talking Photography.