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DSLR cameras are wonderful gadgets. You click a button and you capture millions of pixels that can almost recreate what your eyes saw. It is magical. And in the last one decade or so, these cameras have become very powerful and efficient. Nikon and Canon - the two companies that rule the DSLR camera market - have become so good at making them that even the cheapest of these cameras are capable of clicking magical images.
While this has been good for consumers, for camera makers it has posed a challenge. When a user can click awesome images with a camera he bought in 2008, how do you sell him a new one in 2012 or in 2014?
In the last few years, Nikon has tried to address this problem by expanding the pie: It is aggressively courting new DSLR camera users by bringing down the prices of its products across the line-up. It is also wringing out every bit of performance it can from the existing (almost a decade old) DSLR camera technology until something new, something radically new, comes out.
Nikon D750, launched a few months ago, is a camera epitome of this strategy. And it is so good that for many photographers it could be the last camera they buy. Curious? Let's introduce you to the Nikon D750.
What is it?
The D750 is a full-frame DSLR camera. In other words, this means it uses a full-frame image sensor (35.9mm x 24mm) just like other full frame cameras. To put it in perspective, this image sensor is almost 50 times bigger than the one in a mobile like the iPhone 5S. Even compared to what cameras like the Nikon D7100 and Canon 70D have, this image sensor is almost two times bigger. In theory, bigger image sensor means better images (among other things) but we will talk about that in a while.
Full-frame cameras are big. And bulky. Compared to a small camera (or even something like the Nikon D3100, which is an entry level DSLR camera), the D750 is big. But compared to other full-frame cameras, it is pleasantly compact. It weighs around 800 grams, which is lighter than the 1kg Nikon D810 or almost 1.2kg Nikon D4S, and is relatively shorter.
The D750 uses a body made of magnesium alloy and carbon fibre. Nikon says it's more durable than the D610 and we can tell you that it feels like that. It is also weather-sealed just like almost all other full-frame cameras.
The Nikon D750 is a fully-loaded camera. In terms of position on the basis of its price, it sits between Nikon D610 and Nikon D810. And to justify its position, it borrows from both the D610 and the D810. The image sensor can pump out 24-megapixel images. Actually, this is the same (or may be slightly tweaked) image sensor that is inside the D610. In other aspects, the D750, at least on paper, is closer to the D810. It has 91K RGB metering found in the D810 and Nikon D4S. It has the 51-point AF system that is similar to the one in the D810. Nikon calls the AF system in the D750 MultiCam 3500FX II while the AF system in D810 is dubbed MultiCam 3500FX. Out of the 51 points, 15 points in the middle of the frame are cross type. Or in other words, these 15 points are much more sensitive and should focus faster.
The D750 has an ISO range of 100-12800 along with one low and two high modes. The high modes bump ISO to 25600 and 51200 while the low can mode can be used to drop it down to 50, if required. The maximum shutter speed is 1/4000 and the shutter is rated for 1,50,000 releases.
The camera shoots 6.5 frames per second in continuous high mode, making it the fastest full-frame DSLR camera short of the D4S and Canon 1DX. It can save images in two SD cards and it can shoot videos in up to 1080p/60FPS.
Two unique features of the D750 are its screen, which can be tilted, and in-built support for Wi-Fi. The Wi-Fi sensor also allows a user to connect and (partially control the camera) with an Android or iOS app.
In terms of features and specifications, the D750 is one of the most well-rounded cameras. It offers an incredible amount of power, features and customisations in a relatively compact body and at a pretty good price. This alone helps it stand out in the market.
But what about the performance? Let's first talk about where the D750 excels:
Deep grip: In a bid to reduce the size, Nikon redesigned its full-frame DSLR body for the D750. While it is still more or less similar to the D610 and the D810, the big difference among these bodies is that the D750 has a deeper grip. And this grip makes holding and using D750 such a joy, especially compared to the D610. It just feels more comfortable and ergonomically more sound. Combined with slightly reduced size and weight, it is one the most comfortable-to-carry full-frame camera from Nikon. You can carry it in your hand whole day and you won't mind it.
Excellent image quality: As we said earlier, both Nikon and Canon have perfected DSLR cameras up to an extent where image quality is no longer a concern. This is particularly true of Nikon, which is using some amazing Sony image sensors for great effect in its cameras in the last two years. The images that D750 clicks are excellent. They are in the "as good as it gets" zone. The colours that D750 captures have great contrast. The level of detail is astounding. The dynamic range, something where Nikon has big lead over Canon, is truly spectacular. Whether you shoot RAW or JPEGs, the D750 will offer you enough in terms of image quality to amaze you.
It can see and shoot in dark: This is the area where the D750 starts to pull ahead of its competitors. Nikon says that the AF system in the D750 is sensitive to -3EV. This means it can lock focus in scenes with extremely dim light. While we did not measure the light in scenes that we shot, but we can confirm that D750 can almost see in the dark. Paired with a decent lens, it can focus in virtual darkness if there is something to focus on.
But what about shooting in dimly lit scenes? Here again, the D750 excels because of its stellar high ISO performance. In our use we found that even at 12800 ISO, which is enough to click properly exposed images in extremely dark scenes, the amount of noise in images was low enough to produce usable images! This is spectacular.
It tracks anything that moves: The 51-point focus system in the D750 is the best, or at least pretty close to the best, that Nikon offers in the D4S, which is professional camera with a price of over Rs.4 lakh. The D750 is fast in acquiring focus. But even mid-range DSLR cameras can do. Where the D750 pulls ahead of others is in tracking. Combined with the AF-C and 3D or Group mode available in Nikon DSLR cameras, the AF system in the D750 tracks moving subjects, like a bike rider or a dog chasing after a ball, with uncanny accuracy.
From what D750 can do, it is clear that this is an amazing camera. But it is not without its faults.
There are areas where it falls short. For example:
Handling: While we like the deep grip in the D750, we don't like button layout that Nikon has used in this camera. This button layout is similar to that of the D7100 and the D610, which is not as intuitive as the one used in Nikon's professional DSLR cameras like the D810. In particular, lack of the ISO button and the AF-ON button is a major gripe. While there are other buttons that can be assigned for ISO and AF-ON, we feel that in a camera like the D750 these should have been standard. Similarly, we don't like the square viewfinder. On cameras like the D810, Nikon uses a round viewfinder that is nicer to use, especially for those who wear glasses.
Loud shutter noise: Compared to the D810, which sounds utterly sweet, the shutter on the D750 makes the clank clank sound. It would have been alright a few years ago but now that we know silent DSLR cameras can be made, a more silent D750 would have been better. In fact, the shutter mechanism is one of the major differences between the D750 and the D810, which is not fair to consumers because Nikon doesn't have resort to such artificial limitations to separate cameras. Unlike the shutter in the D810 that has the fastest speed of 1/8000 and a release rating of 2 lakh clicks, the D750 has a slower speed of 1/4000 and a release rating of 1.5 lakh.
Head-to-head vs other top shooters
If you are ought in the market shopping for a DSLR camera with a budget of between Rs.1 lakh to Rs.1.5 lakh, you have a number of choices. So how does, the D750 compares to these? Let's see:
Nikon D750 vs Canon 6D: The D750 is a much better camera in almost every aspect. If you are not invested in the Canon ecosystem, which means you don't already have Canon lenses etc, go for the Nikon D750. Canon 6D is cheaper by around Rs.15,000 but considering what the D750 offers in terms of auto-focus performance and image quality, the Canon camera is overpriced.
Nikon D750 vs Nikon D610: In India, the price difference between these two cameras is less than Rs.10,000 in market. In terms of image quality, both the D610 and the D750 are almost same. But in our aspects, like AF tracking and ISO performance the D750 is better and worth the premium.
Nikon D750 vs Nikon D7100: The D7100 is a DX aka APS-C camera. It terms of image quality, AF performance, ISO performance, the D750 beats the D7100 silly. But the D7100 gives you more reach. This means if you like to shoot birds and don't want to spend lakhs of rupees on expensive telephoto lenses, the D7100 is a better bet.
Nikon D750 vs Canon 5D Mark III: The D750 outclasses or matches the 5D Mark III in almost every aspect. The only area where the Mark III is better is in durability and ergonomics. The Canon camera has a full metal body and a button layout that is much more sensible. But it also costs almost Rs.70,000 more than the D750 in India. Not worth its price. Not at all.
Nikon D750 vs Nikon 810: This camera is the D750's biggest competitor. The D750 has slightly faster AF system and is lighter but the D810 has a full metal body, more sensible button layout and an image sensor that captures wonderful 36-megapixel images. If you want absolutely best image quality and a pro body, go for the D810. Though you will spend almost Rs.60,000 more compared to what you will pay for the D750 and that makes the D750 a better value.
Nikon D750 vs Canon 7D II: The 7D Mark II, released just months ago, is an APS-C camera just like the D7100. But while the D7100 is aimed at enthusiasts, the 7D Mark II is a professional body, with top notch autofocus. It is a camera made to shoot action. In terms of image quality, the D750 is much better. But if are going to mostly shoot sports or wildlife, the 7D Mark II is a beast with its 10 frames per second shooting speed and top class auto-focus.
Should you buy Nikon D750