Nikon D750, a 2019 review: is the D750 still relevant?

This is a long review about the Nikon D750 that grew a little longer than I expected. If you want the short story: yes in 2019 the Nikon D750 still is a great camera that still has a lot of relevance in todays market. If you are looking for the best all-round Nikon you can buy today: this is it! If you want to know why, read my review:

Nikon D750 2019 review
Nikon D750 with Nikon AF-S 16-35mm F4 lens

A review about a camera that was introduced over 4 years ago? That doesn’t seem very interesting. But I think it is. Since its launch in 2014 the Nikon D750 has dropped in price quite a lot. A new one can be found for about 1600 euros in Europe and the second-hand ones start at about 1000 euros. So, it might just be the perfect way in to full frame photography (or a nice upgrade from one of the older full frame bodies).

The specs (in short)

Since you can find all about the specs of the Nikon D750 all over the internet I’m just going to give you the highlights:

  • 24-megapixel sensor with AA filter
  • Multicam 3500 mark II AF sensor with 51 AF-points and low light focusing up to –3 EV
  • Maximum shutter speed 1/4000th of a second
  • Maximum framerate 6,5 images per second
  • Built in Wi-Fi
  • Small, lightweight (760 grams) weather sealed body
  • Flippy screen

Still sounds like a reasonably modern camera doesn’t it? But in the current (2018) Nikon full frame and pro-body line-up, who’s it for?

Nikon D750 2019 review
Photo taken with the Nikon D750, Sigma 24-105 F4 ART and a PolarPro ND/PL filter.

If we look at the current prosumer and professional DSLR Nikon line-up I see the following camera’s and who they might fit best:

  • Nikon D500, a speed demon with great AF and crop sensor for action, wildlife or other scenarios that require speed and some extra reach (from the crop sensors 1,5x crop);
  • Nikon D610, entry level full frame with a more basic AF system but a very good 24-megapixel sensor that is about the same as the D750;
  • Nikon D810 / D850 (read my review of the older D8x0 camera, the D800 here) , high megapixel, big pro style bodies for the pro or demanding user that needs high resolution and tough-as-nails build quality and durability.
  • Nikon D5, working photographers’ tool. High speed, high ISO, tough enough to hammer in some nails while on a shoot, big and heavy do-it-all.
  • Nikon Df (read my review of the Nikon Df here), for people who like the quirky style, don’t need the high speed and fast AF system of the other high-end Nikons but do like the super sensitive 16-megapixel Nikon D4s sensor (the Df is still my favourite camera that I love despite all its shortcomings – read my review about it here).
Nikon D750 2019 review

And where does the Nikon D750 fit in? Well it’s a little of all of the above. It’s close to the entry level pricing of the D610, its quite speedy with a fast and reliable AF system that is just one step behind the D500/D850/D5, it’s got a sturdier body than the D610, but isn’t as though as the D500/D8xx/D5. So, if you are looking for a real all-round Nikon in 2018, the D750 might just be the perfect match for you.

If you factor in the new Z-series: the D750 is something like a Z6 with a mirror and fewer AF-points (but with better tracking than the Z6 if the reviews I read about the Z6 are correct).

Build quality and design

The Nikon D750 has got the same body style as the D610 and the higher-end crop sensor cameras like the D7200 and D7500. That means you’ve got quite some buttons to play with, but it isn’t on the same level as the D8xx and D5.  The Nikon D750 has got a PASM knob that gives you direct access to the PASM modes but also offers the memory banks for quickly adjusting your settings and gives you some ‘scene’ modes. That seems a little strange to me, I can’t imagine anyone who still needs or uses scene modes to take images buying an expensive full frame camera. But then again, maybe Nikon didn’t want to leave out the non-photographer with too much cash to spend.

Nikon D750 2019 review
Articulating screen on the back

On the back of the body you’ll find the flippy, or articulating, screen. The Nikon D750 was the first full frame Nikon to have such a screen and I love that it does. I’ve had several Sony camera’s like the A6000 (read my review of the Sony A6000 here) and A7 (and read my Sony A7 review here) and loved the extra flexibility of a tilting screen when shooting from low or high angles. Downside on the Nikon D750 is that the AF in live view is still quite crappy, but more on that later on.

Nikon D750 2019 review
Despite having extra moving parts the screen and mechanisme are built very well

Despite the body of the Nikon D750 looking almost identical to the Nikon D610 there are some differences, besides the flippy screen. Both the Nikon D610 and Nikon D750 have a magnesium alloy frame that covers the top, bottom and back of the camera. The front is a little different. The D610 has got a standard plastic front plate just like the D7200/ D7500. The Nikon D750 has got a front plate made of a carbon composite that is a little sturdier than the normal plastics used on the D610. That does make the body of the Nikon D750 feel just a little more durable. I’ve always wondered why Nikon didn’t give a semi high-end camera like the Nikon D750 a full magnesium body like the D8xx series. The only forgivable reason I could think of was the implementation of in body WI-FI. But it still feels like an artificial way to separate the Nikon D750 from the higher-end models.

Nikon D750 2019 review
The Nikon D750 isn’t a big camera. Pair it with a smaller lens and you can stick it in a small bag and forget you even brought it. Nikon D750 with Nikon AF-S 35mm F1.8 lens.

The Nikon D750 is weather sealed to the same standard as the Nikon D800-series is. That should keep it safe in rain or dusty environments. But as always, the weather sealing isn’t a guarantee and if your camera dies of water ingression it isn’t covered by your warranty. So if you plan to shoot in a typhoon I’d take a decent rain cover to protect it (or cancel your shoot, I don’t see the fun in taking photos in the pouring rain!).

Buttons and ergonomics

When it comes to the button layout I’m kind of bummed that Nikon has used the prosumer style body on the D750 instead of the Nikon D8X0 body as I really enjoy using those cameras. But on the other hand, the Nikon D750-layout isn’t that bad in day to day use. The thing that irritates me the most is that there isn’t an AF-on button on the back. If you don’t use back button focus that isn’t going to be a problem for you. There is an AE-L/ AF-L button that you can reprogram to use for back button focusing, but it is just too far to the left to be really comfortable to use. So, I’m disappointed that Nikon chose to not give the Nikon D750 a dedicated AF-on button, but I’m irritated that they put the reprogrammable button so far to the left. When holding the Nikon D750 with both hands I can reach the AE-L/ AF-L button just fine with my big hands. But if I have a heavier lens on the camera and I’m holding it with just one and I need my thumb to keep the camera stable and then I just can’t use the button in a comfortable way. Your experience might be different, as this problem is related to hand size. I’ve got medium to big hands and this is my take on it, and if you have smaller hands this may be a bigger problem for you.

Nikon D750 2019 review
The backs layout is the same as the D610 and smaller Nikons.

Because of the smaller size of the camera Nikon decided to use a smaller top screen, that gives u just a little less information than the ones found on the D8xx or D610. That isn’t a big problem for me as I’m used to the tiny screen of the Nikon Df and only use the top screen the check exposure and aperture settings. One thing that does bother me is that the Nikon D750 doesn’t light up the back screen when you adjust settings like the AF-mode. On the Df it does that automatically because the top screen is too small to show any AF information and I really like that. The Nikon D750 doesn’t do that and expects you to check the smaller top screen. Maybe it is a setting somewhere, but I haven’t found it yet.

Nikon D750 2019 review
The top gives you access to the most important controls and the smaller screen.

Grip

The grip on the camera is great. It is big, deep and padded with grippy rubber to give you a secure grip. When I’m using one of my heavier lenses like the Sigma 24-105mm F4 ART or my Nikon AFS 105mm F2.8 Micro I’ll automatically grab my D750 over my Df, just because the grip is so much better for handling heavy lenses. Despite being the smallest Full Frame Nikon I think the grip is even more comfortable than the one on the Nikon D800/ D810.

Nikon D750 2019 review
The grip is very deep for a smaller camera. Perfect for holding it with bigger lenses.

Viewfinder

Because Nikon used the prosumer body-style on the Nikon D750 they’ve also used the standard square(ish) viewfinder instead of the round one the pro-bodies have. In practise this isn’t a problem as the viewfinder is exactly as big as on the more expensive cameras (0.71x enlargement). One thing others have mentioned is that they tend to lose the eye-pieces as the are just clicked on instead of screwed in like the round ones. Haven’t experienced that myself, and have used cameras like the D50 and D7000 for years that have the same eye-piece and have never lost one on those either. If you are a little less careful with your gear that may be a problem for you.

The viewfinder on the D750 doesn’t have a built in screen to close it like the round eyepieces have. That can be a problem with (very) long exposures as some light might get in the camera via the eyepiece. Nikon does put a small plastic clip in the box you can clip on instead of the regular eyepiece to keep the light out. Downside is that you can loose it and you may not have it with you when you need it.

Card slots

The D750 has got a double SD-card slot that allows for use of two SDXC cards. It only supports UHS-I, so buying expensive UHS-II isn’t going to make a difference for the D750. Dual slots are great for extra security, you can set the camera to use the second slot as a back-up, overflow or send RAW to one card and JPEG to the other. You can also use one slot for photos and the second for video. Professional photographers may like or need the extra security knowing that a corrupt SD-card doesn’t mean losing images.

Nikon D750 2019 review
The Nikon D750 offers a dual cardslot.

Autofocus

The Nikon D750 uses the same type 51-point AF system as many other Nikons like the D810, D700, D4 and D3. It is a newer version of the system, it’s called MultiCam 3500 II. It has got the same modes like the D810 and D4s that offer things like group AF which is really handy for action shooting. But unlike the D810 and D4s the D750 can focus in even lower light. Where the D810 and D4s go down to –2 EV the Nikon D750 can even focus in light as low a –3 EV. I can’t tell you how much or how little light that is, but I can tell you the D750 will keep focussing in light where you can barely make out your subject with your own eyes. Compared to my Nikon Df that uses the older 39-point AF system that is rated to –1 EV it is a night and day difference (pun intended). The Nikon D750 does come with a stupid AF-assist light, but I’ve turned that off on the day I got the camera. I hate having a small light on the front of my camera lighting up on its own, and because of the great lowlight focusing on the camera it doesn’t even need that light (The Df could use something like that, but that doesn’t have one. Go figure!).

Nikon D750 2019 review
I have a lot of love for my Nikon D750

The Nikon D750 has got a new AF-A mode, that automatically switches between AF-S and AF-C if it detects movement. That is a nice option for people who focus using the shutter button and don’t want to worry about switching between continuous and single AF.

Focus points are grouped together in the centre of the image like they are on all full frame cameras. When you upgrade from a high-end APS-C sensor camera that may be a little disappointing. In practice the spread of the focus points is a little smaller than on the D800/D810 but covers enough of the frame for most situations. I haven’t had any trouble with it. Bonus is that all the focus points seem to be just as accurate as the centre ones. On other Nikons like the D800 that was a real problem sometimes.

When it comes to shooting with enough light the Nikon 51-point AF system is more than quick enough to tackle any situation. Comparing to my Df the D750 is just a little faster, but it is much more accurate. Especially when shooting in continuous mode. The Df has got a continuous mode that gives you 5 FPS, the D750 goes all the way up to 6,5 FPS. That doesn’t seem like a big difference, but in fast paced shooting it can be just the little extra you need. When it comes to accuracy in continuous mode the Nikon D750 blows away my Df or any other Nikons I’ve had before like the D800 and D700. Where my Df takes 5 photo’s per second most of the time only the first one is in focus and after that it’s a 50/50 deal. The Nikon D750 rattles away at 6,5 frames and manages to get at least 90% in focus.

AF in live view

Sucks… I could just leave it at that but that isn’t really fair to the camera. It sucks because it is s…l…o…w… Just like all other Nikon DSLR’s the D750 can only use contrast detection in live view mode. Contrast detection focuses by trying to maximise contrast in the image, that way it knows your image is in focus. The problem with that is that the camera has to rack the focus back and forth to asses where the sharpest point is. That is something normal AF-S lenses don’t do so well, so it takes the camera a while to get the focus right. But when it (finally) does the focus is always spot on! There are mirrorless cameras that only use contrast detection to focus that are quite a lot faster, but that is because the lenses and the whole system is built to be used like that. Nikon lenses use focus motors that aren’t designed to work well with contrast detection as they were meant to be used with phase detection AF that the camera uses when focusing trough the viewfinder.

Nikon D750 2019 review
Photo taken with the Nikon D750, Sigma 24-105 F4 ART and a PolarPro ND/PL filter.

So, it kind of sucks. It is slow but accurate. Just don’t try to use it to focus on anything that moves and it is fine.

Video

I don’t really do video. But I’ve read the Nikon D750 does have all that it needs to be a quite good camera for shooting video. When shooting video you can only use the contrast detection AF and as I’ve explained that is slow. And the hunting for focus looks annoying on a big screen. So if you are looking for a DSLR or mirrorless camera to shoot video with and use AF just forget about the D750 and buy a Sony A7-series (or Canon something). They will be much better. For shooting the occasional video the D750 will do a nice job and if you never use AF in your videos it will also be very good. Files look great, with nice colours and noise levels are low even when shooting at high ISO’s.

Spec-wise you do get 1080p up to 60 fps, so that is nice. There is a flat image profile allowing for some advanced grading in postprocessing making it possible to get the most out of you videos. And there are video-minded tools like zebra, microphone- and headphone jack and HDMI out.

Speed

At 6,5 frames per second the Nikon D750 is a relatively fast camera. It will do good job for some action- and sports photography. If you are looking for a dedicated camera for action and sports you may want to look at something like a D4(s), D500 or D5. It’s not only the extra FPS those camera’s offer you but it is about the buffer! The buffer on the D750 is just too small to keep up with the 6,5 FPS frame rate, or at least for continuous shooting. When using a fast Transcend UHS I SDXC card with a write speed of 85 MB/s I get about 3, maybe 4 seconds of full speed shooting in 14 bit lossless compressed RAW. After that it slows down to about 2-3 FPS or something like that. That is more than enough for most situations, but for serious action and sports photography it might just be a little too limited. It does clear the buffer quite quickly, so after a few seconds you’ll be back up to speed again.

Overall speed of the Nikon D750 is very good. It navigates menu’s quickly, it starts up in an instant and reviewing images is quite quick. It does take just a tad longer when zooming to review an image than my Df does, but since the files are a little bigger that is acceptable. It isn’t nearly as slow as my D800 was for instance.

Image quality

Probably the part you’ve been waiting for. Or at least it should be! Well: rest assured, the image quality is fantastic!

The Nikon D750 uses a 24 megapixel sensor. There are quite some cameras that offer more pixels, like the D810 with 36 megapixel, the D850 with 45 megapixel and even some Canons with 50 megapixels. But it is quite telling that even in 2018 new cameras are introduced with 24 megapixel. Nikon just announced the Nikon Z6 with 24 megapixel, and Sony’s new all-round model the A7 III also offers 24 megapixel. 24 megapixel just seems like a good midway. Its more than enough for normal landscape and portrait photography, and not too much making the files too big.

But besides the pixel-count there are two other things I think are really important in a good camera: dynamic range and high iso performance (and of course colour reproduction, but that has never been an issue with any of my Nikons). Luckily the Nikon D750 performs very well in both categories.

High iso performance

Let’s start off with the high iso performance. If the lights get low it is great if you can just crank up the ISO without having to worry about noise. The standard ISO-range of the Nikon D750 is ISO100 up to ISO 12800, and I have no problem using it throughout the whole range. As a matter of fact I’ve got the auto-ISO setup to go all the way up to ISO 12800. I’d rather have a sharp images with some noise than lose it completely because of motion blur. Noise can be toned down in post processing, motion blur cant.

Nikon D750 2019 review
Photo taken with the Nikon D750, Sigma 24-105 F4 ART.

Since this is a modern camera I won’t even talk about the performance up to ISO 3200. That is just fine, clean and low noise. At ISO 6400 images have some light noise but I don’t mind and can use most of them without even applying noise reduction. Performance is just a little behind my Nikon Df with the great D4 sensor. At ISO 12800 the noise is quite visible, but using some noise reduction in postprocessing will give you a perfectly usable photo (if you don’t plan to blow it up to wall covering-sizes). The Nikon Df does do a little better, but the difference is small if you downsize the Nikon D750 to the 16 megapixel size of the Df. When shooting in these low light situations the thing that impresses me most is the accurate AF. Images shot with my Df may have just a little less noise, but they tend to be out of focus where the D750 keeps nailing it!

All in all the Nikon D750 is about 1/3 stop behind my Nikon Df, but it is a good full stop better than the Sony A7 I used to have. When comparing that to APS-C cameras the Nikon D750 is about 1 to maybe 1,5 stops better than a Sony A6000. In practice that means that on a A6000 my normal maximum ISO was ISO3200 with ISO 6400 for extreme situations. On the Nikon D750 ISO 6400 is my normal max, and ISO 12800 is acceptable for extreme lowlight shooting.  

Dynamic Range

Having a good and usable dynamic range allows you to capture demanding scenes with bright light and deep and dark shadows in one shot. It allows you to shoot underexposed to preserve your highlights and lift the shadows in post processing. The Nikon D750 is built for that kind of photography. It even had a special metering mode for that, called highlight weighted metering. If you activate that mode (looks like spot metering with a small Asterix added to it) the camera will meter for the brightest point in your scene. When reviewing images you’ll notice that your shadows will turn very dark and lose a lot of detail. But you can easily recover that in post processing.

Dynamic range is measured mostly at base ISO, being ISO 100 in the Nikon D750. DXO measured dynamic range and the Nikon D750 scores a very impressive 14,5 Evs of dynamic range. To compare that, the Nikon D810 and D850 are probably up there with the best landscape cameras you can buy. And with their low base ISO’s of 64 they have a dynamic range of 14,8 Evs. So the difference is really small, I’d even say that in most situations you wouldn’t see that difference in your photos. To compare that: Canons 5D Mark IV manages 13,6 Evs, Sony’s A7 III scores 14,7 Evs and something older like the Nikon D700 scores 12,2 Evs. Not to bash Canon, but a Canon 6D Mark II that is newer and still a lot more expensive than the D750 only manages 11,9 Evs. By the way, having a camera with a lower dynamic range doesn’t mean that you can’t take good landscape photos with it. It just means you may need to use HDR to achieve a look that a high dynamic range camera can achieve in one photo or that you have to take a little more care when shooting not to blow out you highlights or shadows.

How does that translate to actual images? Well, the image below is shot with the ‘highlight weighted’ metering activated and I lifted the shadows in post-processing in Lightroom. As you can see there is more than enough detail in the shadows, and I’ve managed to keep the bright sky from blowing out (and if I say I did that: It really was the camera doing all the work). This photo was taken at ISO 450, so I didn’t have the full dynamic range available for this photo. The second photo below is shot at ISO 100 and I’ve set the shadow slider in Lightroom to +100. This isn’t particularly pretty but does show what is possible with the D750.

Nikon D750 2019 review
Photo taken with the Nikon D750, Sigma 24-105 F4 ART (ISO450)

In the image above I’ve pushed the shadows to +100 on the right. Not pretty, but it gives you an idea of what the D750 is capable of.

Wi-Fi

The Nikon D750 is my first Nikon that has Wi-Fi. Unfortunately it isn’t the new Snapbridge system that combines both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for the best and fastest user experience, but it still is nice to have. The system works with the Nikon WMU app that is available for both Android and Apple phones. You have to manually connect your phone to the cameras WI-FI network and then you can either control the camera to take photos or you can download images from your camera to your phone.

Nikon D750 2019 review
Photo taken with the Nikon D750, Sigma 24-105 F4 ART.

When using the phone as a remote the options are limited. You can only tap to set a focus point and use the phone to take a photo. You can’t change any of the settings. After you’ve taken a photo a small copy of the image is downloaded to your phone. You can also use the app to view the images on your camera and download them to your phone. When downloading you can choose to download a VGA-size small copy, a recommended size (about 2 MP) or a full size image.

Using the WI-FI isn’t nearly as easy as it is on a Sony camera that allows you to connect your phone via NFC, but it does offer most of the options you would need. And on the upside, the Nikon system has been stable. Something I can’t really say about my Sony’s.

The Nikon D750 in day to day use

Using the Nikon D750 is a real joy. In almost everything you can feel that Nikon has put years of experience building cameras and specifically digital cameras in one small but sturdy body. It feels like a professional tool that just works. It is a bit like a Toyota car. It isn’t all that sexy or cool, but you can trust on it to get you where you need to be. It hammers out perfectly sharp, pleasing images without any drama but also without any emotion (in the process of making the image, not in the image itself as they look great). If I compare it to my Nikon Df, that camera is more of a joy to use because it feels like you have to work a little harder to get the most out of it. The Nikon D750 just works. So if I want to make sure I get the shot I take my Nikon D750, if I want to enjoy the process and the end result isn’t my main concern I’ll take my Df.

Nikon D750 2019 review

When using the Nikon D750 the battery life is very good. When u use Nikon lenses that don’t have stabilisation and don’t use the screen too much it just keeps on going on one charge for days. My Sigma ART lens keeps the image stabilisation on all the time, so that uses a little more juice draining the battery faster. I also tend to keep WI-FI off until I need it, because that will also use quite some power. The Nikon D750 uses the same EN-EL15 batteries found in a lot of other Nikon cameras, so if you have some of those lying around you can keep using them. I use the original from Nikon and have bought a replacement battery from Hähnel. One of those orange ‘Extreme’ batteries. That offers 100 mAh more power than the original and is a little cheaper. I’ve been using those Hähnel Extreme batteries in all my cameras, and they have never let me down. And it also works like a charm in the Nikon D750.

Nikon D750 2019 review
Image taken with the Nikon D750

The tilting screen is great for taking images from low or high standpoints. You do have to remember that the AF in live view is Nikon-slow. It focuses and it is very accurate but just not fast enough for anything moving faster than a turtle. Still, I love having a tilting screen as I’ve been missing that ever since I’ve sold my Sony A7.

Although the Nikon D750 lacks the really nice feel of a pro-body like the D810 it still feels great in hand. The body feels strong and the big grip gives you a secure and stable feeling, even when using bulky lenses. Button wise I still miss my AF-ON button, but managed to get used to the AE-L/ AF-L button. I do like that you can set the ‘video-record’ button that is next to the shutter button to change ISO settings. That way you can adjust your ISO with just your right hand and without even taking the camera off your eye. Holding the ‘record’ button opens the ISO setting and the front and rear wheel allow you to change between Auto- and Manual ISO and change the ISO value. I also love that you can use the ‘OK’ button on the back to zoom in to your images when reviewing them. You can set the desired zoom from 50% to 100 and even 200%. I’ve got it set to 50% as that zooms in enough to check if your image in is focus and allows you to see the rest of the image as well.

Nikon D750 2019 review

Things I don’t really care for but don’t mind either are the dual cardslot, as I’m not a professional that would loose money over a corrupt SD card. The pop-up flash, as those are useless for taking photos (but do work to trigger other speedlights using Nikon CLS). I don’t really care for the PASM wheel as it looks like the one on a cheap camera. The D810 button setup is much nicer to look at. But in use the wheel just works fine and gets the job done.

Conclusion

As you may have read I’m quite happy with the Nikon D750, as an all-round performer I think it is one of the nicest (Nikon-)cameras you can buy. No matter what you throw at it. AF performance isn’t the best in the world anymore. But that isn’t because the Nikon D750 isn’t good, but more because there are newer cameras that have even more sophisticated systems like the D500/D850 and D5. But since those are in another price range it still is class leading. The same goes for image quality. So, all in all, I can’t think of any other camera you can buy new for the same amount of money as the Nikon D750 that offers such great balance in image quality, usability and features. So if you are a Nikon shooter that wants to upgrade or switch within the F-mount system I’d say the Nikon D750 is a great contender that certainly deserves your attention, even though it has got a few years of experience under its belt.

Nikon D750 2019 review
The Nikon D750 may be old, but it isn’t dead yet! Image taken with D750.
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