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Nikon D750 review: Nikon D750 isn't cheap, but offers a great full-frame value

The release-mode dial contains a full set of choices: single, continuous low and high, quiet single and continuous, mirror up, and a self-timer with options for multiple shots at various intervals.

The left top includes the power switch around the shutter button, and the metering and exposure compensation buttons. There's also a tiny, hard-to-find-by-feel record button near the power switch and the usual status LCD.

On the back you'll find the excellent viewfinder and a large tilting LCD. While I prefer a fully articulated display, this one does a full 90-degree angle facing both up and down. Down the left side of the LCD are the menu, white balance, image quality, and ISO sensitivity buttons, along with Nikon's i button. The latter provides access to context-sensitive semifrequently needed settings.

nikon-d750-product-photos08.jpg
It incorporates a tilting LCD. Sarah Tew/CNET

Don't confuse the i button with the info button on the right, a non-interactive view of all the current settings. A combo AE-L/AF-L button is reachable via your right thumb. There's one big issue here: you have the ability to program the function of the button as well as to assign the AF-L function to another button on the camera, just like you can on higher-end models like the D810. Unfortunately, if you reassign that button -- I like to make it AE-L only -- then you lose the ability to focus via the shutter button. That's how it works on the D810, but that camera has separate AE-L and AF-L buttons so it's not as big an issue.

The camera also has the same lockable multicontroller with center OK button as the D610. I find it as uncomfortable to use on this camera as every other Nikon that uses it. And at the bottom right is a Live View/Movie toggle switch with a Live View button to initiate it.

You'll also find a solid complement of ports on the left side: an accessory terminal for remotes and Nikon GPS unit, HDMI (supporting clean output), mic and headphone jacks and a USB 3.0 port. And on the right there are two SD card slots, which are great to have.

As for features, the D750 provides all the essentials, plus highlights like multiple exposure, intervalometer and time-lapse with exposure smoothing; orientation-linked focus points; selectable spot size for centerweighted metering plus the ability to set a permanent exposure bias for each metering mode (matrix, center-weighted, spot and highlight-weighted) in 1/6-stop steps up to 1; and 50/60Hz flicker reduction.

In addition to clean HDMI out, the D750 includes the same movie-shooting specific menu as the D810, where you can choose default Picture Control, noise reduction and ISO sensitivity settings for movies. I really wish it let you set a default shutter speed and aperture as well; two custom settings slots aren't enough to handle both still and video needs.

The camera also supports Nikon's power aperture, which lets you change the aperture via the up/down buttons on the multicontroller while recording. Power aperture does not mean silent aperture, though. I also hate that you can't change other settings while shooting. For instance, if I realize that I've got the wrong ISO sensitivity set, I don't like having to stop and jump out, possibly missing something; I'd rather change it while recording and toss the transition portion of the clip later if necessary. I also miss an autofocus sensitivity setting, a feature that Canon debuted with the 7D Mark II , to make the autofocus more usable in video.

The D750 incorporates Wi-Fi connectivity. Unfortunately, the Wi-Fi implementation is pretty weak, at least until Nikon improves its app. In its current incarnation, the app is basically a glorified remote shutter -- effectively all you can do is press the capture icon -- and utility to geotag and transfer photos to a mobile device or share them via the connectors installed on the device. (While Canon's EOS Remote software has more shooting flexibiility, at least Nikon's WMU can directly upload via installed services.)

While the software issue is resolvable, the hardware awkwardness isn't. There's no quick way to enable Wi-Fi in the camera; you have to go into the setup menu to do so, and you can't program another button as a shortcut.

For a complete overview of the D750's features and operation, download the manual.

Conclusion

Thus far, the D750 seems like the best overall value in the price segment between $1,800 and $3,000 (£1,300 to £2,300/AU$2,000 to $3,400); it's not cheap, but delivers the best combination of performance, image quality, features for the money.

Compared to a more expensive model like the D810, the D750 has only a few shortcomings. Its image quality isn't quite as good and the resolution isn't as high, but both may suffice for a lot of people. It also maxes out at one stop slower shutter speed (1/4,000 sec. vs. 1/8,000 sec.), and it has a lower flash sync of 1/200 vs. 1/250 sec.

But the D750 has advantages over the D810, including an updated, more low-light sensitive autofocus system (I haven't yet run performance tests on the D810) and slightly better continuous-shooting performance; built-in Wi-Fi; a tilting LCD; longer battery life; and it's smaller and lighter. It also has feature advantages over the Canon 5D Mark III, like the tilting LCD, built-in flash and Wi-Fi. (I haven't had a chance to retest the 5D Mark III for performance and image-quality comparison, however.)

The D610 currently runs about $400 (£400/AU$300) less than the D750, but that premium buys you better photo quality, newer autofocus and metering systems, slightly faster continuous shooting, 1080/60p video and clean HDMI out, a tilting LCD, built-in Wi-Fi, USB 3.0 support and better battery life. And, in fact, with a few minor exceptions it has the same body design as the D610. That's a lot more camera for a fairly modest price differential.

The Sony A99 remains a compelling alternative, especially at its lower price, but aside from being old, it doesn't have the continuous-shooting performance, and some people prefer an optical viewfinder to the Sony's electronic viewfinder. And Sony's mirrorless full-frame alternatives -- the A7 series -- just don't offer the performance of a dSLR.

Comparative specifications

Canon EOS 6D Nikon D610 Nikon D750 Nikon D810 Sony Alpha SLT-A99
Sensor effective resolution 20.2MP CMOS
n/a
14-bit
24.3MP CMOS
n/a
14-bit
24.3MP CMOS
n/a
14-bit
36.3MP CMOS
12-channel readout
14-bit
24.3mp Exmor CMOS
n/a
14-bit
Sensor size 35.8 x 23.9mm 35.8 x 24mm 35.9 x 24mm 35.9 mm x 24mm 35.8 x 23.9mm
Focal-length multiplier 1.0x 1.0x 1.0x 1.0x 1.0x
OLPF Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Sensitivity range ISO 100 - ISO 25600/102,400 (exp) ISO 50 (exp)/100 - ISO 6400/ 25600 (exp) ISO 50 (exp)/100 - ISO 12800/51200 (exp) ISO 32 (exp)/64 - ISO 12800/51200 (exp) ISO 50 (exp)/ISO 100 - ISO 51200/ISO 102400 (exp,
via multishot NR)
Burst shooting 4.5fps
15 raw/unlimited JPEG
6fps
n/a
6.5fps
n/a
5fps
n/a
(6fps in DX mode, 7fps with battery grip)
6fps
13 raw/14 JPEG
Viewfinder
(mag/ effective mag)
Optical
97% coverage
0.71x/0.71x
Optical
100% coverage
0.70x/0.7x
Optical
100% coverage
0.70x/0.70x
Optical
100% coverage
0.70x/0.70x
OLED EVF
0.5-inch
2.4 million dots
100% coverage
0.71x/0.71x
Hot shoe Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Autofocus 11-pt AF
1 center cross type
39-pt
9 cross type
(Multi-CAM 4800-FX)
51-pt
15 cross type
11 cross type to f8
(Multi-CAM 3500-FX II)
51-pt
15 cross type
11 cross type to f8
(Multi-CAM 3500-FX)
Dual phase-detection system
19pt
11 cross type;
102pt focal plane
AF sensitivity
(at center point)
-3 - 18 EV -1 - 19 EV -3 - 19 EV -2 - 19 EV -1 - 18 EV
Shutter speed 1/4,000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/180 sec x-sync 1/4,000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/200 sec x-sync 1/4,000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/200 sec x-sync 1/8,000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/250 sec x-sync 1/8,000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/250 sec x-sync
Shutter durability 100,000 cycles 150,000 cycles 150,000 cycles 200,000 cycles 200,000 cycles
Metering 63-area iFCL 2,016-pixel RGB 3D Color Matrix Metering II 91,000-pixel RGB 3D Color Matrix Metering III 91,000-pixel RGB 3D Color Matrix Metering III 1,200 zones
Metering sensitivity 0 - 20 EV 0 - 20 EV 0 - 20 EV 0 - 20 EV -2 - 17 EV
Best video H.264 QuickTime MOV
1080/30p, 25p, 24p; 720/60p, 50p
H.264 Quicktime MOV
1080/30p, 25p, 24p; 720/60p, 50p, 25p, 24p
H.264 Quicktime MOV
1080/60p, 50p, 30p, 25p, 24p
H.264 QuickTime MOV 1080/60p, 50p @ 42Mbps, 1080/30p, 25p, 24p @ 24Mbps AVCHD 1080/60p @ 28Mbps, 1080/24p @ 24MBps
Audio mono; mic input mono; mic input; headphone jack stereo; mic input; headphone jack stereo; mic input; headphone jack stereo; mic input; headphone jack
Manual aperture and shutter in video Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Maximum best-quality recording time 29m, 59s 20 minutes 20 minutes 20 minutes internal
40 minutes (with external pack)
n/a
Clean HDMI out No No Yes Yes Yes
IS Optical Optical Optical Optical Sensor shift
LCD 3 in/7.5 cm
Fixed
1.04m dots
3.2 in/8 cm
Fixed
921,000 dots
3.2 in/8cm
Tilting
921,000 dots
RGBW
3.2 in/8 cm
Fixed
921,000 dots
RGBW
3 in/7.5 cm
Articulated
921,000 dots
RGBW
Memory slots 1 x SDXC 2 x SDXC 2 x SDXC 1 x CF (UDMA mode 7), 1 x SDXC 2 x SDXC
Wireless connection Wi-Fi Via optional WU-1b Wireless Mobile Adapter Wi-Fi Optional
(WT-4A Wireless transmitter or UT-1 Communication Unit with WT-5A)
None
Flash Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Wireless flash No Yes Yes Yes No
Battery life (CIPA rating) 1,090
(1,800mAh)
900 shots
(1,900 mAh)
1,230 shots
(1,900 mAh)
1,200 shots
(1,800 mAh)
410 shots
(1,650mAh)
Size (WHD) 5.7 x 4.4 x 2.8 in
144.8 x 111.8 x 71.1 mm
5.5 x 4.5 x 3.2 in
140.0 x 114.3 x 81.3 mm
5.6 x 4.5 x 3.1 in
140.5 x 113 x 78 mm
5.8 x 4.9 x 3.3 in
146 x 123 x 81.5 mm
5.9 x 4.5 x 3.1 in
147 x 111.2 x 78.4 mm
Body operating weight 27.2 oz.
771.1 g
30.1 oz.
853.3 g
29.6 oz.
840 g
34.6 oz.
980 g
29.2 oz.
827.8
Mfr. price
(body only)
$1,900
£1,300 (est.)
AU$2,200
$1,800
£1,330 (est.)
AU$2,300
$2300
£1,800
AU$2,600 (est)
$3,300
£2,700
AU$4,000
$2,000
£2,000
AU$2,800
Release date December 2012 October 2013 September 2014 July 2014 October 2012

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