D750: The Verdict

1543_D750_leftI’ve had my D750 for a few weeks now and have taken about 2000 photos with it. If I didn’t like it I would have had to send it back when I was home this past weekend. Luckily I didn’t have to do that; it’s a keeper. After spending a considerable amount of time shooting a variety of subjects – plants, people, landscapes, architecture, objects, indoors, outdoors, good light, bad light, high ISO, low ISO – and reading reviews and experiences of others I can confidently say I’m satisfied. It takes phenomenal photos, autofocus is fast and accurate, and I’m comfortable with the button layout. Coming from Canon, I have a deeper appreciation of the differences, advantages, and disadvantages of each system. Both are good; for me it boils down to what meets my needs at the time.

I’m really impressed with the image quality of D750’s images. They are detailed and crisp. High ISO performance is impressive, especially at ISOs between 6400 and 9000. Default noise reduction in Lightroom results in surprisingly clean results. I’ve tapped into the extended dynamic range that the D750 provides, increasing exposure, boosting shadows, and pulling details from highlights more than I have in the past. The larger sensor provides standard lens magnification, which allows for more working room. It makes indoor photos with tight space easier and allows for slightly wider landscapes. The larger sensor provides shallower depth of field than a crop camera, which adds more background blur to make the subject stand out. I love with background blur so this is a good thing.

Autofocus is very accurate, more so than my 7D, and it’s fast as well. I compared the Nikon and the Canon at one of the boys’ swim lessons, using the Canon to photograph Adam and the Nikon for Zach. The D750’s 3D focus tracking captured many more focused photos than continuous focus did on the Canon. I find myself switch between 51 point, group, and 3D modes depending on the situation. I like that Nikon allows the shutter to fire even the lens is not focused – this lets me use the manual focus ring on the lens and immediately take the shot. Canon requires the AF cancellation button to be held on the back of the camera while the shutter button is pressed or that back button focus is enabled. I’m not very good at either.

My two lenses complement the Nikon’s autofocus with their sharpness and speed. The 70 – 200mm is very similar to my Canon version – no elements extend during zoom and all focus happens internally. It’s sharper than my Canon (which is already fantastic) and has Vibration Reduction. Build quality is similar, though my Canon has more metal in it. I am very impressed with this lens. It focuses quickly, accurately, and quietly; and the images are crisp with nice contrast. The 24 – 120mm is not as sharp as the 70 – 200mm but it’s still impressive. It’s noticeably sharper than my Canon 17 – 55mm and far sharper than my Canon 24 – 105mm (which has had a focus issue since I bought it). The Canon 17 – 55mm lens provides an equivalent 27 – 88mm range, which is narrower and shorter than Nikon’s 24 – 120mm. I find myself changing lenses less often as a result.

While Canon still has the best ergonomics I’ve become used to the feel of the D750 and I’m comfortable with it. I like the location of many of the buttons and I’ve customized them to my liking. I can do more on my Nikon without taking my eye away from the viewfinder that I can on my Canon. I really like the customization it provides and I’ve taken full advantage of it. I’ve also used the articulated screen on several occasions to compose images that were difficult through the viewfinder. It’s officially not a gimmick!

While I’m very satisfied overall, everything isn’t perfect.  I’m still struggling to remember which way to unscrew the lens (it’s opposite from Canon) and I’m still worried that I’m going to break the aperture lever off. I prefer Canon’s lens system which is completely electronic and contained; nothing pokes out. I also keep getting the lens caps stuck on the back of the lens! Speaking of lenses, Nikon’s glass is more expensive than Canon’s by 10 – 20% and there are fewer refurbished models available. While Nikon maintains compatibility with older lenses than Canon, many of those lenses are manual focus. The autofocus lenses use a louder and slower screw-style system instead of an internal motor, so many of them are off the table anyway.

My biggest issues are with the shutter sound and battery life. I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to the sound of the shutter. It is so much louder than my Canon. It may sound trivial, but a loud shutter can make it more difficult to get candids because the camera sound is very obvious. There is a quiet shutter mode but it reduces the maximum burst speed and uses more energy. Battery life continues to disappoint, even when I don’t fiddle with settings and review images as much. Luckily I purchased an extra battery to keep in my camera bag.

Outside of those concerns, I’m very happy. No camera is perfect but the D750 meets all of my major criteria. It should easily last me another 6 years.

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