The general trend of miniaturizing cameras in all classes encompassed classic DSLRs of the medium class as well. The Nikon D750 follows the same politics, while this time the stress was not laid on a simple decrease in the final volume, yet on the overall comfort that the camera offers to the user. Basically, the D750 brings a couple of essential ergonomic improvements; however, some of them will not be welcomed very warmly by certain users. Orthogonal projections will cast only a little light on some changes in the design:
The dimensions of the D750 are very similar to those of the D610 – 141 x 113 x 78 mm – and despite the evidently shallower depth (78mm, in comparison to 82mm on the D610), the new camera is appreciably more comfortable to hold, with more space for fingers between the grip and the mount. In this way, one aspect of the camera’s ergonomics has been significantly improved, and in practice that will result in an ability to work longer without one’s hands getting tired. The rubber cover is one of the items that we have already seen. It is pleasant to touch and it effectively prevents slipping even after hours of holding the camera, although many prefer a somewhat harder lining than the one Nikon offers on its cameras.
When it comes to its construction, the Nikon D750 applies the techniques that were introduced with the D7000, which includes combining magnesium alloy with a sort of plastic. This time the ABS plastic gave way to carbon fiber as a far more solid form of nonmetal structure, and the very fact that this is a composite material speaks in favor of the claim that, with this move, neither sealing nor the firmness of the entire frame were sacrificed. Since we have mentioned the sealing on the D750, it is at the level that we have already seen in this Nikon class, which means that the body is able to withstand being continuously exposed to poor weather conditions for a shorter period of time. If truth be told, we should say that no manufacturer (of course, Nikon included) states in practice the level of sealing in the form of the standardized values, defined by the IP scale (Ingress Protection Marking; standard IEC60529) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IP_Code); therefore, nobody knows for sure what a particular body can withstand until he/she is in a situation to try it out, of their own or somebody else’s free will. What we can claim for certain is that no camera with interchangeable lenses, which proudly wear the label of ‘sealing’, is able to withstand any dipping in liquid without additional equipment. If we would interpret our own findings concerning this issue, we would say that the majority of the sealed cameras meet the IP5 standards (some even the IP6) when it comes to dust, or the IP4 when it comes to liquid.
Let's take a look at the official image of the bare body of the new camera so that it would be clearer which parts of it are metal, and which are made of carbon fiber:
Magnesium-composite body of the Nikon D750*
The sealed joints can be seen in the following diagram:
Schematic diagram of the sealed points on the D750*
The curtain is estimated at respectable 150,000 actuations and even though the declaration does not mean a guarantee, we have no doubt that the majority of the shots will be successful, and even exceed this number. If its durability reaches at least a quarter of what the famous D700 managed to pull through in some cases (several hundred thousand actuations without changing the curtain!), the rated life will be entirely irrelevant as information.
The Nikon’s endurance concerning its compatibility with all F-mount lenses is what this company frequently prides itself on. However, sometimes such insistence leads to certain confusion about certain combinations, so for body-lens combinations it is necessary to consult the original manual (available on the final page of the review). A simple enumeration would not be purposeful here, whereas embarking on a more detailed discussion of this issue greatly exceeds the limits of this review. As well as all other Nikon FF DSLRs, the D750, too, features internal electromechanical support for autofocus on older lenses without their own motor in the form of a micro-motor and the so-called screwdriver, by means of which the focus mechanism is driven, which results in an ability to use very old autofocus lenses.
SENSOR, PROCESSOR, AND A FEW MORE THINGS
The sensor is the greatest improvement for those that have remained with the D700, and resisted the Nikon D600 and its twin D610. If somebody asked us how we imagined the successor to the D700, without reluctance we would assume that the sensor was taken from the Nikon Df, which is known as ‘the king of darkness’. Nonetheless, we assume that that sensor would bring the D750 closer to the D4s, and that would be contrary to the interests of the company, due to obvious reasons. We expected the removal of the AA/LP (Anti-Aliasing/Low-Pass) filter without much pomp, bearing in mind that almost all the classes of Nikon DSLRs, aside from the D610, had extracted this filter from the list. This is why we were surprised to encounter the information that the Nikon D750 has the AA filter after all, which suggests that improvement is not uniform for all classes, but adjusted to the target audience.
The resolution of this CMOS sensor, which undoubtedly stems from Sony, is 24MP. More precisely: 6016 x 4016 pixels. Its precise dimensions are 35.9 x 24 mm, and the FOV (Field-Of-View) is 1.0x factor, which means that the lenses mounted on this camera have exactly the same focal length and projection width as it was intended to be, i.e. stated in their specifications.
Another revision – 24MP Sony CMOS*
The native ISO range of the new camera goes from the base ISO 100 to the maximum 12800, while the expanded level by means of the software is available in the lower L value (ISO 50) and several values higher than the nominal range – H0.3 (ISO 16000), H0.7 (ISO 25600), and H2.0 (ISO 51200). The increase of the entire range by one stop suggests that something has been changed on the sensor, so we are looking forward to the practical part of the review with growing impatience.
The current processor from Nikon’s offer, Expeed 4, took its place on the list of the elements that comprise the D750, as expected, and the reasons for this are not only the improved performances in relation to the D610, but a better video mode as well. Of course, the job of the central processor by no means boils down only to these two items, so it takes the credit for the entire operating of the camera and the coordination of its subsystems as well. Since the new camera also brought some innovations concerning metering and the focus system, the support in the form of the processor is more than welcome.
Brains of the system - Nikon Expeed4*
The dust reduction system, which has been present for years in Nikon DSLRs, has taken form of the technology labeled Integrated Dust Reduction System. It functions in a similar way as configurations implemented into cameras of other manufacturers, and it includes a combination of oppositely charged surfaces and a low-pass filter, from which dust is shaken off by means of piezoelectric vibrations. Nikon’s performance vibrates at four different frequencies, by which it effectively influences dust particles of different shapes and sizes. Unless set differently, cleaning is activated whenever the camera is turned on/off. Moreover, it can be activated additionally at will while the camera is being used. The long-time presence of the self-cleaning system, in more or less all contemporary DSLRs, indicates that this system helps in keeping the sensor clean, and not only the sensor, while it can also be combined with the option of removing dust by means of software, labeled Image Dust-off, which, with the help of the Nikon Capture NX2 application, maps the remaining dust particles and removes them from photographs.
Proven to be effective – Nikon Integrated Dust Reduction System*
The light metering sensor has been improved both in relation to the D700 and the newer D600/D610. As a matter of fact, it is identical to the light metering sensor that we have recently seen on the D810 by all aspects. It totals as many as 91,000 pixels, capable of interpreting information through all the three RGB color channels, thus metering, aside from the degree of illumination, color balance and tonality as well. At the same time, priority will be given to skin tones, which guarantees significantly more accurate metering in critical conditions. The internal communication of the light metering system with the autofocus system is key for the already noted capability of tracking the subject within the frame, by giving priority based on the color identification. The same sensor is also in charge of metering the needed flash power in the i-TTL operating mode. In relation to the earlier metering systems, the new module boasts a more accurate exposure evaluation, while special attention is devoted to giving priority to the human skin and faces, which even in inadequately selected modes, such as Matrix, compensate for potential errors and provide proper metering.
As far as the modes of metering are concerned, there are four of them, just as in the case of the D810, and the most used one (undoubtedly) is still the 3D Color Matrix metering II. This mode performs metering via all the three color channels, by sampling input light from the entire sensor, after which it works out the average, taking into account tonality and presence of colors, while in combination with D and G lenses, the distance at which the light is metered as well, by which the desired part of the frame is placed in charge of determining correct exposure. Giving priority to faces inside the frame is still present (outside the LV mode!), and it seems that now it functions even better. The main effect of this algorithm lies in the ability of the light meter to balance exposure in such a way that it takes into consideration the faces inside the frame, despite the fact that the metering mode is such that it performs metering of the average value of the entire scene. In this way, we easily avoid a situation in which a more strongly lit background takes priority when taking photo of individual or group portraits. Nevertheless, if this way of work causes a disturbance, the dedicated Face-Detection option (paragraph B4 in the Custom section) enables that the 3D Color Matrix metering functions in the classical way. In combination with the so-called non-CPU lenses (lenses without accompanying electronics), this metering is possible to use only in its basic version (without the prefix 3D) and provided that you input relevant information about the mounted lens.
The Center-weighted metering also meters the entire scene, but dedicates 75% of its attention to the central part of the frame, because of which it is favorite when it comes to capturing portraits. For complete functionality, it also demands using more modern lenses, when the metering zone diameter can be adjusted to one’s needs (ø8, ø12, ø15 and ø20mm; or the average value of the entire frame), and if old lenses without electronics are used, the default metering zone diameter is 12mm.
The Spot metering lays stress on a very small circle, the diameter of which is only 4mm (1.5% of the frame surface), with the center in a currently selected focus point, which is why it is used in situations when it is necessary to determine a specific exposure length of the focused subject, regardless of the exposure of the rest of the frame. When it is used with non-CPU lenses, it functions only in the central point.
A completely new metering mode is labeled Highlight-weighted and we have recently seen it on the D810. It is available only with G, D and E lenses. With other lenses, it functions like the classic Center-weighted mode. When compatible lenses are on one’s disposal, this metering mode gives priority to preserving the lightest parts of images, at the expense of the rest of the scene. In combination with an exceptionally wide dynamic range that characterizes the sensor of the D750, in processing it is possible to achieve more than a positive result. The point is that the dynamic range is not symmetrical on the scale of illumination, yet underexposed images ‘suit’ it better. As more strongly lit parts are prone to be overexposed, the idea is that the details inside them should be preserved by shorter exposures, and afterwards, the rest of the image be lighted additionally in post-processing. No matter how trivial it may look, such metering can be more than useful, although it is pointless unless the RAW format is used.
The Nikon D750 as well, as many cameras of the middle and the higher class of this manufacturer, offers the Fine tune optimal exposure option in the Custom functions, by which additional calibration of the light meter can be performed, in accordance with one’s needs - what is more, for each metering mode separately, in steps of 1/6. After such a correction, by which the obtained meterings are constantly corrected for a certain value, and which should not be mistaken for regular exposure compensation, metering is permanently ‘moved’ for a desired value so that it is neither recorded in the EXIF structure, nor canceled with a systemic restart. Of course, one can return to the default value at any moment, should there be a need for that. This is a very convenient option, especially if Nikon’s view of correct metering does not suit you.
Known from previous models - TTL 91k-pixel RGB light metering sensor*
The usual function of Nikon DSLR’s of the higher class, Virtual Horizon, is available on this model as well. This is a function intended to realign the camera more easily to the horizon, and thus avoid a centuries-old problem of a huge number of photographers – ‘photo leakage’. The advantage of this function in relation to ‘by-hook-or-by-crook’ methods, in the form of various levels and other systems of leveling, lies in permanent presence in front of a photographer’s eyes, both when watching through the viewfinder and through the main display. The function of the Virtual Horizon is implemented into both axes, yet in the viewfinder it is possible to view only the horizontal one, regardless of the fact whether the camera is in the classical or portrait position, while the view in the Live View mode (hereafter, LV) equally presents the leveling of the azimuth, which is an angle that the horizontal axis of the lens forms in relation to the horizon. Despite the fact that many will be bothered by this flaw, we believe that it affects the overall functionality very little, since the matter of leveling is critical only for the horizontal axis, as it is very rare that a situation will demand from the photographer to realign the camera vertically and thus ‘cut’ the frame ‘in two’, which is in most cases regarded unacceptable, except for some specific situations. Besides, the middle class had to be separated from the higher class in some way, so this was probably one of the methods, seen through the eyes of the manufacturer.
Virtual Horizon, a function of realigning the camera, in action - inside the viewfinder (left) and on the main screen (right)
Even though the old D700 featured the AF system with the same number and arrangement of points, in the meantime it evolved and brought us the arrangement that we have recently had a chance to see on the D810, which turned out to be better in some key segments in relation to the old iteration. We rightfully expected this AF system on the D750 as well, and we got something even better – a completely new AF system, whose label is expected – Multi-CAM3500 II. It is also a TTL phase sensor with 51 AF points, 15 of which are cross-type, and they are concentrated in the center of the focus area. The crucial difference in relation to the AF system that we saw on the D810, and especially in relation to the one from the D700, has to do with its ability to operate in low-light conditions, so the new AF system can fulfill its function it the range from -3 to + 19 EV, with which Nikon managed to catch up with one of the record holders from the rival camps – the Canon EOS 6D. This piece of information, although it may seem like another insignificant number, significantly affects the efficiency of the autofocus system, and how this is reflected on work in real-life conditions, we will check in the practical part of the review.
Multi-CAM3500 II TTL, a new AF module with 51 points, 15 of which are cross-type*
51 points cover a substantial part of the frame, while the focus area can be limited to only 11 points. The arrangement of the autofocus points, the arrangement of those among them that are cross-type, as well as their availability in relation to the maximum aperture, can be seen in the following illustration:
Arrangement of the AF points, as well as sensitivity in relation to the aperture
(red – cross-type points, black – regular points; white – inactive points)
There are three modes of focus and they are standard for Nikon cameras: the AF-S (Single-Servo AF) is the most used mode, by which focusing is conducted in a one-shot manner, with one point or a set of points assigned in advance, whereas the AF-C (Continuous-Servo AF) is used for tracking a moving subject, with continuous adjustments of the focal distance in relation to the chosen subject. The third mode, which is rarely seen on Nikon cameras of the higher class, is intended for situations in which we do not know if we will need tracking or not. In that case, the AF-A mode will first confirm the focus in the identical way as the AF-S, whereas in case of the distance change, it will react by automatically switching to the servo mode of tracking. The focus on the central 11 points is active at f/8 and higher stops, which is marked improvement in relation to the D700 and quite usable in almost all combinations that involve using a teleconverter.
The choice of AF-point-selection methods has not changed for quite some time with Nikon cameras, while the D750, together with the D810, is an exception here. First, let's deal with those methods we are already familiar with. The Single-point AF is probably the most frequently used method, and it is characteristic because focus is limited to one point, selected in advance, but with the maximum accuracy control. On this account, this method is a good choice when we are not sure in what conditions the action will take place. It is suitable both for single-shot and continuous focusing:
Single-point AF, focusing with one selected point
The second mode, Dynamic-area AF, is a form of focusing that is primarily aimed at tracking a moving subject, when the center of focus is maintained on the previously selected point, and the surrounding ones help in recognizing and maintaining the focus on the chosen subject. It should be used in the Continuous-Servo focus mode (AF-C), while in the Single-Servo mode (AF-S) it is not available. Depending on the conditions, that is to say on the complexity of the subject’s movement, three subvariants are at one’s disposal. They include the option of selecting automatic focus by using all the points (51), by reducing their number to 21 points, or to only 9, respectively. The group of 9 points should be used when it is harder to maintain one focus point (with the Single-point method) on, usually, a small subject, which moves relatively fast, yet whose movement can be predicted:
Dynamic-area AF, focus area with 9 AF points
The 21 points will be more convenient for tracking the movement of a subject that is less predictable, yet with poorer accuracy, since the AF system will not always be able to estimate accurately the needed distance:
Dynamic-area AF, focus area with 21 AF points
The 51-point variant is intended for situations in which it is necessary to track remarkably fast subjects, which are difficult to keep in the same part of the frame:
Dynamic-area AF, focus area with 51 AF points
The new method is named Group-area AF; it was taken over from the D4s, a top model from Nikon’s collection, and it represents a zone consisting of 5 points that, in contrast to dynamic methods, where the central one is primary, share the same priority and complement one another in order to maintain the maximum accuracy and reliability, even when the subject inside the frame prevents accurate tracking. When more points of the selected zone cover different distances, priority is given to the one to which the subject is closest. In the viewfinder, this method is seen as four AF points, although there are five of them in fact (including the central one):
Group-area AF, focus area with 5 AF points
The 3D-Tracking is systemically the most complex of all forms of autofocus since it includes the maximum ‘concentration’ of two key systems in the camera - the autofocus system and the metering system. This is a focus mdoe by which, after initially determining the subject, that subject is tracked dynamically (along all the three axes) within the frame, with an automatic change of the active AF point, as long as the subject is kept within the marked focus area. The coordination is permanently conducted between the AF sensor and the light metering sensor, which analyzes the tonality, color and illumination of the selected subject, so based on the obtained data, it informs the AF system about the subject position and predicts its movement. If the subject, owing to an untimely reaction on the photographer’s part, temporarily ‘leaves’ the focus area, all that needs to be done is to choose a subject once again. As expected, the 3D-Tracking is available only in the Continuous-Servo mode (AF-C):
3D-tracking, automatic tracking of the subject in space by dynamically changing the points
As many times so far, it has turned out that the 3D-Tracking very often manages to maintain focus on the chosen subject, which in certain cases can mean significantly greater compositional freedom, which is usually rather limited when it comes to action photography. The main difference between this method and the one with a 51-point dynamic zone mentioned earlier is that the 3D-Tracking mode does not have the ‘primary’ point. The subject is chosen at the beginning, and after that, all the AF points are completely equal and they give priority to each other, in accordance with the movement of the subject inside the frame. In other words, classical point-selection methods mean that the selection of points is performed by the photographer, while the 3D-Tracking features automatic point selection in reference to the position of the chosen subject. That is why the 3D-Tracking enables tracking with tremendously less effort, since it is enough to maintain the subject inside the focus area. Anyway, the 3D-Tracking mode is not omnipotent and should be avoided in almost all situations where the subject does not clearly stand out from the background, i.e. when the background is either too close, or too confusing, so the light meter may have some problems recognizing the subject that is being tracked.
The Auto-area AF method gives primacy to beginners, and manufacturers emphasize it as the default one, without any apparent reason. It is true that it requires least experience, yet at the same time it provides very little control over the final result. Since this is a method that determines focus priority on its own, it is very probable that its choice will not match the photographer’s since it carries out an evaluation primarily in relation to the distance of the subject, whereby priority is given only to the subjects closest to the camera, providing that they are covered with the focus area. If the light meter registers the skin tone, it will give priority to it. It is available in all the focus modes. In the Auto-Servo mode, it firstly sets focus in relation to the subject selected on its own, and after a potential change of the distance, it transforms into a certain form of the 3D-Tracking; however, the tracked subject usually does not have anything to do with the photographer’s wishes:
Auto-area AF, completely automatic selection by using all the AF points
A group of options that have to do with the autofocus offers a set of regular options, among which is the AF Fine Tune, a function by which fine focus calibration is conducted. Calibration can now be conducted for 20 lenses in total, in ±20 steps, with each lens separately, or globally, at the level of the camera. It is a convenient possibility, which is relatively rarely used, but which can be worth its weight in gold in case there are some minor problems with the focus – if that happens, it will free the owner from visiting a service. The only condition is that the 'misfiring' of the focus is constant, regardless of the focal length, since there are no separate settings for different parts of the length.
Another option for additional adjusting of the AF to the needs of the photographer is the Focus Tracking with Lock-On. In five steps, it adjusts the AF system reaction speed to the distance changes of the chosen subject, when the AF-C focus mode has been selected. The highest level (5) makes the longest delay between two adjustments of the focus (e.g. in case you are tracking the subject in whose direction unwanted objects frequently appear, and which the AF should ignore), while the lowest (1) carries out very frequent distance adjustments. This option can be completely shut down, when adjustments are conducted instantaneously, without delay, which will be used most frequently while capturing very dynamic scenes, when updated adjustments are key to good results. This also brings with itself certain negative consequences, such as, for instance, an unwanted and exaggerated reaction of the AF system to obstructive elements within the frame, like, for example, lamp posts while capturing a car in motion. It is precisely for those situations that this option is the most useful, since sudden changes of the distance in front of the selected AF point will be simply ignored.
The usual companion of the AF system on Nikon cameras is a solid AF-Assist lamp, whose additional lighting improves sharpening in low-light conditions. Its intensity and output cannot be compared to the AF-Assist lamp of a flashgun, yet it will be enough for the majority of situations that the camera can cover without additional lighting – at least until you stick to the AF-S focus mode of the central AF point, since the AF-Assist lamp covers only the said point, owing to a very narrow beam of light that it sends.
As with all cameras with a more complex autofocus system, it is advisable to carefully study its way of work, in particular each mode separately, even if you do not need some of them. Such an approach does not guarantee complete success, but at least it frees you from aimlessly roaming through the menus while trying to find the cause of a poorly focused image, and it can drastically shorten the period of getting acquainted with the new body.
One of serious criticisms directed at the Nikon D700 was a lack of 100% view in the viewfinder. The D750, just as all currently popular FF Nikon cameras, features a 100% viewfinder, based on pentaprism of great power of permeability, which guarantees light projection and excellent visibility even in low-light conditions. The magnification rate is 0.70x, while the greatest distance of the eye from the viewfinder from which it is possible to encompass the entire view (the so-called eyepoint) is 21mm, which is more than appropriate, so using the viewfinder with one’s glasses on is relatively convenient as well. The diopter can be set in the range of -3 to +1, via a small control dial on the right side of the viewfinder.
For years, the view inside the viewfinder has been accompanied by Nikon’s standard solution, a transparent LCD film, by which AF points are projected onto the visor with reference to the selected number or the focus mode. There is also a framing grid, as well as boundary lines of the frame, for each of the predefined formats (aside from the standard 36x24 with the 3:2 aspect ratio, there is also 1.2x and 1.5x crop (DX), both with the aspect ratio 3:2). As we mentioned for several times in the past, we prefer if it was possible in formats smaller than the full (36x24) to shade a part of the projection that had been chopped off since in that way framing would have been far easier. As we mentioned earlier, accurate markers of electronic alignment are projected in the visor itself, yet exclusively for the horizontal axis (regardless of the camera orientation). In order for a user to have an insight into the azimuth of the camera in relation to the horizon, he/she must use the main screen and the LV function.
Inseparable part of the frame are all necessary parameters of shooting, located in the usual position, under the frame projection. As in the case of D810, this part of the viewfinder on this camera as well is realized by using the more modern OLED (Organic LED) technology, instead of the fixed LCD segmented matrix. The fundamental differences are only ‘under the hood’ (mostly preserving energy and the ability to use more colors), while in practice the view differs for now only according to a slightly different color shade in contrast to the green that we are already familiar with. What it all looks like you can see in the following illustration:
Nikon D750's viewfinder
The available parameters comprise a wide array of information, which will take turns in some cases since they cannot be shown simultaneously. From left to right, there are: a focus confirmation indicator with rangefinder markers; a currently selected metering mode indicator; a locked metering indicator AE-Lock; an indicator of locked metering of the flashgun FV-Lock; a locked exposure indicator; a Flexible-program indicator; a flash synchronization indicator; exposure duration; a locked aperture indicator; aperture and an indicator of the presence of Non-CPU lenses; a light meter scale with the range of ±2EV; a flash compensation indicator; an exposure compensation indicator; a low battery indicator; Active D-Lighting and bracketing indicators; an ISO value and Auto-ISO indicator; the number of remaining shots; and a flash readiness indicator. Apart from these, the information that will take turns inside the viewfinder are the buffer availability, the current format of photographing, focus mode, etc, while some of them will appear in the very visor of the viewfinder. Such indicators are a low battery indicator, a memory card absence indicator, but also a warning that a monochrome color profile or special effects are activated.
CONTROLS AND OTHER DETAILS
The Nikon D750 follows the same design as the majority of popular DSLRs of this manufacturer, which means that the controls do not differ too much from the regular pattern, except in some rare cases. Unfortunately, that does not mean that they are ideal, which users who hoped for a thoroughbred successor to the D700 will definitely have a chance to see. The look from the front displays the standard arrangement. The central position is occupied by a Nikon F-mount. To its left (looking from the front) is a grip covered with rubber, on top of which are a front control dial and Nikon’s stylistic seal – the well-known ‘eyebrow’. Without too much hesitation, we will assess the grip as the best so far in Nikon’s camp. Due to a very shallow profile of the base of the body, the space between the grip and the mount is now more than deep enough, so that even large hands do not have any problems when working for a long time! This is a major change, and even though it may seem trivial to you, you will probably have a change of heart when you find yourself in a situation to work with the camera for a longer period of time. The aforesaid front control dial performs a multiple role. It is usually aimed at direct control of basic parameters, such as aperture or exposure duration (depending on the currently selected mode), while indirectly, in combination with other controls, it can be used to control various other functions and parameters.
The space between the grip and the mount is used for some more elements. On the very top is a light emitting diode (LED), by which the camera signals the process of postponed releasing, removes the red-eye effect when shooting with a flash or it functions as an AF-assist to help with focusing when the conditions require so. Next to it is the right channel of the built-in stereo microphone, which is used while recording videos. A little lower, next to the mount, two more buttons are placed, and both of them are programmable. The upper (Pv, preview) is originally intended for the DOF-preview control, by which the aperture is temporarily locked at a selected value, so that the photographer could have an insight into how much the depth of field expands, while the lower one can be programmed so that it carries out various functions from the list of predefined ones. To the right from the mount are a couple of more elements. On the top is a button for electronic lifting of the built-in flash, which afterwards carries out the function of flash power compensation setting and the settings of various other parameters. We will notice here another inconsistency on Nikon’s part when it comes to price classes – while the Nikon D750 features an electronic activation of the built-in flash, the much more expensive D810 exhibits only an average, mechanical one. Even when the label of the camera is taken into consideration, this inexplicable inconsistency can be spotted. Although neither of these things represents something that can affect the camera efficiency at any moment, we consider them, to say the least, odd. Not far from the mentioned control is the left channel of the built-in microphone, and there is also the front IR receiver, which is used for remote control of releasing by means of compatible infrared shutters. Next to the mount is a large button for detaching a lens so that it would be removed from the body, and lower is a lever for choosing between the automatic and manual focus mode. In the middle of the lever is a button for choosing a servo mode, as well as a method of choosing focus points, and it is used in combination with the front and the rear control dials.
The situation on the upper side is closer to the one with the D610 than with the D810. The middle part of the upper side is occupied by a pentaprism housing, while on top of it are a built-in flash and an ISO-518 hot shoe. To the left we see the standard mode selector with 10 positions, while at its base is a special ring for the release mode selection. Before turning, the mode selector must be unlocked by pressing the button in its center, and in addition to the four standard creative modes – Manual (M), Aperture Priority (A), Shutter Priority (S), and Program AE (P) – the D750 exhibits several more. The Full-Auto mode, marked in green, is intended for absolute beginners, so it provides almost no option for controlling the parameters. The No-Flash works in a similar way, but with suppressing the need for flash at all costs, while the positions Effects and Scene are also aimed at less experienced users that want instant results. The Effects position will provide them with various special effects that are applied in real time, whereas the Scene position groups as many as 16 scene modes, intended for a wide spectrum of situations. In the end, there are two remaining positions, U1 and U2, which are favorite positions of advanced users, and they enable detailed adjustment of the camera to specific needs and an instant access to those settings, by simply choosing one of the two user modes. The user modes memorize the shooting mode (one of the 4 creative ones), exposure duration, aperture, exposure compensation and the flash power, the focus points, light metering, bracketing settings, as well as the settings within the Shooting and Custom Setting compartments in the menu system.
The situation from the pentaprism to the right hides certain flaws, which, frankly, we did not expect. With the aim of reducing the camera’s dimensions, Nikon sacrificed a part considered by many as a significant ergonomic element – the status display. Namely, it is additionally minimized and its preview is significantly impoverished in relation to the status display on the Nikon D610, which is not exactly tremendous either. A multitude of parameters known from before are missing, among which are the flash working mode, the selected video recording quality, the focus mode and the point-selection method, as well as the gimmicks such as the Active D-Lighting indicator, etc. However, not everything is black – at least the light metering scale is present, and that is something that the D610 did not feature. The other parameters are reduced to exposure duration, aperture, the metering mode, the battery indicator, the Auto-ISO indicator and ISO values, the number of remaining shots, the bracketing indicator, the multi-exposure indicator, the memory card status, as well as the Wi-Fi indicator. Not a very praiseworthy change for a camera of the higher category.
Status display of the D750
In front of the status display are several buttons. All the way to the front, protruding from the top of the grip, is a three-level rotary switch, which is used for switching the camera on/off and activating the background light of the status display, while in its center is perhaps the crucial control of the camera – a two-level shutter button. Between it and the status display are three more controls. The conspicuously smallest button among them is marked with a red dot and guess what – it is used for starting and stopping video recording. Fortunately, Nikon sculpted this with style even on the previously introduced model, D810, and we are happy to state that that trend continued with the D750, so this control can be undisturbedly mapped and assigned some other function, in case recording videos is not (too) important for you. It is highly convenient that, from the list of predefined functions, the ISO function can be selected, which is positioned pretty poorly on Nikon DSLRs, aside from (paradoxically) cameras of the lowest class. The top panel also features the controls for selecting the light metering mode, as well as exposure compensation.
The rear side of the camera is very similar to what we had a chance to see on the D610, except for the fact that now the display cannot be rotated – if such movement can be called rotation at all. Above the display is an optical viewfinder; on its right side is the well-known control dial for regulating the diopter. To the right from the viewfinder is an AE-L/AF-L control for locking either measured exposure duration, or the flash power, while in the far right corner of the body is the rear control dial, whose function (just as in the case of the front one) is changeable, and it has to do mostly with controlling the most significant parameters. To the left from the viewfinder are two buttons. One is intended for switching to images preview mode, while the other is used for deleting those images, or for formatting memory cards – when it is pressed in combination with the button carrying the same label located on the upper side of the camera.
A little lower, to the left from the main display, is a sequence of 5 controls. The top one is Menu, which is used to open the menu system, and below it are three multifunctional controls. The first is used to change white balance (White Balance; WB) while shooting, whereas in the preview mode, images can be locked and thus be protected from involuntary deletion. The same button is also used to activate the interactive help system, which informs the user in the form of text how the currently selected option from the menu is functioning. The next control (Qual) is used for setting the quality of an image or zooming in the view, depending on the current mode of work. Lower is the ISO control, whose unintuitive position we have always criticized, as it requires that you take the camera off your face and search the location of this control by using your fingers. Fortunately, the Nikon D750 offers, just as we have mentioned above, a highly efficient solution to this problem. The same button is also used for minimizing the view, as well as for resetting the camera to its default settings, if it is pressed with the identically labeled button on the upper side of the camera. The last control is marked with the letter i, and it is used for activating additional options, such as the interactive change of parameters in the regular and the LV mode, but also for switching to the retouching mode, which is a mode of basic processing of the existing images.
What all the controls have in common is a fairly unfavorable organization because of which, when pressing any of them, the main display is activated and it offers an interactive system of change by means of the control dials. This system of work is not very problematic in the LV mode, yet it is extremely troublesome when one works with the optical viewfinder. If we remember the story about the status display, such an organization is actually quite expected, since the user has no other way to control the selected parameters. We believe that this flaw is not enough to spoil the pleasure of shooting, but one should be aware of that if they plan to make a purchase, and they are not ready to give up their old habits.
To the right from the display are a couple of more known controls. Close to the top of the display is the Info control, by which the Information Display is activated; this is Nikon’s version of interactive control of basic parameters, which considerably facilitates work at the moments when there is no action and when you can take your time and adjust the camera to your needs. Below it is an eight-way ‘teeter-totter’ button, which conducts navigation on all levels – from controlling the parameters, to moving through the menu system. Apart from that, that is a direct access to the selection of the active AF point. In its center is an OK button, whose function is self-evident, while at the base of the ‘teeter-totter’ is a rotary switch, by which the currently selected AF point can be locked. Another similar switch, only a little smaller, is located all the way down, and it is used for switching from the shooting mode to the video mode, and vice versa. In its center is a control for activating the live-view mode. Between them is a miniature mono speaker, which emits signal sounds, as well as the audio recording from videos, and there is also a green LE diode, which signals that the memory controller is busy due to work with the memory cards. A little further is the rear IR receiver, which receives the commands of a wireless shutter release. This is one of the items on Nikon’s cameras that we love to praise, without exception, even though not all models exhibit them. Namely, to have one IR receiver is great, but to have two – well, that is exceptional! This does not make the manufacturer poorer (bearing in mind the price of this element), and it can make the user very happy.
The position reserved for memory slots remained in the same place, at the right side of the camera, behind the big door. Under it are two identical Secure Digital (SD) slots. While such a conception used to be an exception some time ago, nowadays this is a standard on Nikon’s cameras of the middle and higher class, whose usefulness should not be doubted. The D750 accepts all SD memory cards, and this includes the oldest SD cards, slightly newer SDHC and SDXC ones, as well as the latest UHS-I cards, which provide maximum transfer speeds. Aside from them, support is also provided for the increasingly popular Eye-Fi cards, by means of which the written material can be wirelessly transferred to compatible Wi-Fi devices. The memory slots are identical and completely equal. They can be used sequentially (when the first card (the upper slot) is full, the process of writing automatically switches to the second one (the lower slot)), as back-up (in this situation the written material is automatically copied onto the other card as well, which leads to redundancy), or they can be separated according to the type of writing (for instance, the first one records only the RAW, while the second one only the JPEG format, or on the second card only videos are recorded). The possibilities are endless, while the modality of use is limited only to users’ needs.
SD memory slots
The memory requirements of the latest Nikon should be within the limits of what we saw on the D610, and the specifications confirm this assumption. The card with the capacity of 8GB can store on average: 270 RAW, 530 JPEG or 190 RAW+JPEG images, in the maximum quality (14-bit lossless RAW + JPEG L/Fine). Of course, variations are possible depending on noise reduction (the less the noise, the smaller the files), on the amount of images at higher ISO values (they take up more space on average), as well as on the content (images with mostly uniform areas take up less space).
When we talk about the video segment, the situation here has not changed much either, so an 8GB card will be enough for about 40-50 minutes of material in the Full HD quality (1920 x 1080 @ 30 fps, with sound); however, since it is possible now to record this resolution even at 60 fps, we get fewer minutes on the same space, ranging from 25 to 30. Of course, the listed values are not 100% strict, and in practice they will depend on the conditions in which recording videos takes place, whereby low-light conditions naturally demand more memory space.
We are familiar with the battery this time as well, which we consider good news. It is labeled EN-EL15, and we first saw it when the APS-C model D7000 was announced. This means that these batteries are not a rarity, which is very positive in case there is a need for a replacement battery or for a battery grip. It is a Li-Ion battery with the 1900 mAh capacity and 7V voltage, while the smart characteristics signify the presence of accompanying electronics by which the battery is identified inside the camera and its life is tracked. Tracking its state from one recharge to another encompasses the representation of its current level of charge expressed as a percentage, as well as the representation in six levels on the status display of the camera.
MH-25a charger with the EN-EL15 Li-Ion smart battery
The battery autonomy according to the CIPA (Camera & Imaging Products Association) standards provides exceptional 1230 shots, with the usual use of the display and sporadic use of the pop-up flash. In real-life use, which includes using the camera in the most diverse temperatures and light conditions, a combined use of the LV and plenty of navigation through the menus, as well as attaching lenses with or without stabilization, with or without their own AF motor, the battery manages to provide that rated number of shots. In controlled conditions (moderate use of the display and the LV mode, as well as of the built-in flash), the battery autonomy can increase to more than 1500 shots! In the video mode, the situation is a little more complex, primarily owing to the intensive use of the main display, but the sensor as well, since it is permanently active. If optical stabilization of the lens is active, too, this cuts down on the autonomy. In practice, with intensive use, the battery will manage to pull off around an hour of video recording, which is a positive result.
All the connectors are situated on the left side of the camera, under three separate rubber lids. In the first compartment (from the top) is only a dedicated connector for additions, such as a remote shutter or the GPS mode. In the middle one is a pair of 3.5mm connectors. One is a stereo input for the external microphone, whereas the other is a stereo jack intended for the headphones for monitoring audio recording in the video mode. Below the third lid are a USB and an HDMI connector. The former is used to connect the camera to a computer with the aim of remote controlling or transferring images, and the camera can also connect to a compatible printer in order for the images to be printed directly. Via the latter, the camera can connect to a TV or a similar device, which enables the LV or viewing the recorded images, and even recording videos by means of external devices.
Connectors: combined GPS/remote, stereo microphone input and headphone jack, USB, and HDMI
The display has undergone several important changes, although, at first sight, they boil down to its ability to rotate. Its diagonal is identical to the one on a couple of previous models (3.2”, i.e. 8cm), and the aspect ratio is 4:3, so this time as well the use of the screen surface could be better. The overall resolution is 1,228,800 dots, which, translated into the understandable dimensions, is 640 x 480 pixels. The angle of view is 170̊, which is very good, while the option of setting the color balance has obviously become standard for Nikon DSLRs, as the D750 features it, too. Its ability to rotate makes this display stand out from the rest of FF Nikon models; however, we do have a few criticisms regarding this innovation. The first is its mobility – namely, the display is limited only to mobility in relation to the vertical axis, which means that it is possible to tilt it up to 180̊, while in relation to the horizontal axis, there is no movement whatsoever. This significantly limits its mobility in comparison to earlier organizations (especially if we compare it with Nikon models from the D5xxx series), yet (to tell the truth) in most situations it is quite enough. Its mobility has to do with another, in our opinion perhaps more serious criticism – a joint that represents a mechanical part of the rotary system is unnecessarily complicated, too rigid, and, in a way, it conveys the impression of lacking resistance to potential mechanical challenges. If we add to that a by-all-accounts illogical way of ‘opening’ and rotating, it is not hard to notice that that could have been realized much better.
Now we move on to the second part of the story. Technically speaking, the TFT screen has undergone changes that do not make any striking difference concerning the quality of the view, and that is the case until we pay attention to one tiny detail – a new TFT screen uses the RGBW instead of the conventional RGB matrix, which results in significant energy saving, and, in turn, in greater autonomy of the battery! Namely, in contrast to the classic RGB matrix, which forms the view by using three basic color components (R-G-B; red, green, and blue), the RGBW introduces another component into the equation – white (W), which directly improves control of lighting, without the need for all the three channels to emit values at their maximum (intensity 255 on all the channels), which is a precondition for achieving white pixels on RGB matrices. This is where great energy saving comes from, which, as we have mentioned above, brings tangible savings in practice as well!
The Information Display, being a larger surrogate for the status screen, plays a fundamental role on the D750 since the amount of information considerably narrowed on the latter, so for a great number of parameters it is simply necessary to consult the main display. All the exhibited options can be accessed interactively or by means of direct controls, and what it all looks like in practice, we can see in the following illustration:
View of the basic parameters on the Information Display, in day and night conditions
The Live View mode (hereafter, LV) that we are familiar with from most of other cameras, including the Nikon Df and the D610 (not to mention the APS-C class), which is, however, accompanied by a series of major flaws that affect general usability, is something completely unknown to the D750. Finally we have got a camera outside the category of the two most expensive ones, the D4s and the D810, that received an LV worthy of the price category that it belongs to. Although in most cases relativized as an important function, in the last few years the LV mode has turned out to be quite useful in photography, and virtually irreplaceable when it comes to the video mode. While in the case of photographing, a user can still rely on the optical viewfinder (which the majority still does), when it comes to the video mode, the situation is pretty clear – any contact with the video requires switching to the LV mode. On this account, improvements in this area are of vital importance.
If we remember the performances of the D610 and more affordable cameras, we know that the LV is, first of all, limited regarding the parameters control, which does not take place in real time, yet, what is more, it requires that the LV mode is switched off and then reactivated, so that the previously adjusted aperture and exposure settings would be active. Now, this injustice has been corrected, and the D750 offers complete control over all the aspects of photographing and/or video recording. All the parameters are constantly available, and each change can be seen right away. A condition for the selected parameters to be completely manifested on the screen is activating the Exposure Preview option, which, despite the fact that it is a little tucked away in the menu system, exists nonetheless. It is accessed by pressing the i control while the LV mode is active, and by selecting the option with the same name among the set of available options.
In order for the story about better control not to end at operations that other manufacturers have offered for years, Nikon made an effort by implementing the Power Aperture function, by which the aperture control (once again for the sake of the video mode) is raised to a new level, and it is realized in the form of fluid movement of the diaphragm, so that a change during video recording would be possible, yet without visual side effects that are caused by classic, abrupt changes. We saw this improvement for the first time on the recently announced D810, so we were a little taken aback by the information that the same level control is possible in the new, much more affordable camera.
What has not been changed, and thus not improved in any aspect, is autofocus. While the phase autofocus system excels in all directions, the parallel contrast focus system (Contrast Detection AutoFocus; CDAF), which the LV mode is limited to, has not brought any innovations, so its performances in the continuous mode are – to say the least – insufficiently good. The reasons for the dissonance of autofocus in the classic shooting mode in relation to the LV and the CDAF boil down to the manner of sharpening. Namely, due to the presence of a mirror on the path of the light from the lens to the sensor, the LV on DSLRs works in a significantly different manner in comparison to the phase system, so in order for the preview on the screen to be possible, the mirror mechanism needs to be raised from its usual position so that it would make room on the path to the sensor; as a result, framing through the viewfinder is out of the question, and more importantly, the phase AF sensor cannot be used any more since, in order for it to operate, the mirror has to be in its lower position. On this account, the LV mode is limited to the CDAF, at least until Nikon implements a hybrid solution, modeled on its rivals, which feature phase focal points on the main sensor as well. Nevertheless, despite the fact that it does not stand out from other models regarding performances as well, the Nikon D750’s CDAF is quite good in the static, Single-Servo AF mode, when it manages to confirm positive sharpening relatively fast.
There are two focus modes at one’s disposal: the Single-Servo AF (AF-S), for stationary subjects, when focusing takes place on a single basis, as with the phase focus, and the Full-time-Servo AF (AF-F), which makes focus corrections permanently, reacting to any change in the distance of the subject that is under the selected focus area. We learned from all the previous reviews of Nikon DSLRs that not much should be expected from this focus mode, and as we have already said, the situation today is not better either. Archaic hopping of the focus area whenever it occurs to it that something has moved (although it often has not) is an utterly unacceptable way of work for anything but occasional fun. Nonetheless, in other cases, when continuous tracking of the subject is not a priority, users will be able to use some of the contrast focus modes that the camera offers: the Normal-Area AF is a classic CDAF mode, whose focus area has very narrow dimensions, and it can move along the frame by using the eight-way joystick (‘teeter-totter’); the Wide-Area AF is similar to the previous mode regarding its way of operating, yet the dimensions of its focus area are considerably wider, so, as such, it is suitable for the frames that do not abound in subjects at a short distance; the Face-Priority AF is an imitation of the focus system with the same name, found on compact cameras, which, based on the form and color, ‘looks for’ faces within the frame and does its best to keep the focus on them; the last mode is the Subject-Tracking AF, which is an LV version of the continuous focus, and it operates in such a way that a subject that has once been initiated is tracked continuously along the frame, which thus makes it visually very similar to the 3D-Tracking focus in the phase system mode. ‘Constantly’ is a category that is much more descriptive than it really has to do with constancy. Moreover, you will often wonder “Where is the focus going?” even though there is absolutely no need for correction.
A special delicacy of the LV mode is exceptionally accurate manual focusing, when the view can be magnified by as much as 23 times:
Magnification in the LV mode
The LV mode is also equipped with the view of the standard parameters in the photo and video mode, which can be toggled off if needed:
View of the parameters in the LV mode
There is also a framing grid, as well as the Virtual Horizon, for accurate leveling of the camera in relation to the horizon:
Framing grid and view of the Virtual Horizon in the LV mode
Maybe this time as well we would waste an entire paragraph on a tirade about a lack of initiative of Nikon in improving the CDAF and the parameters control if Nikon had not checkmated us this time with a great surprise, and even there where we did not expect it. Of course, this organization of the LV can be criticized as well, but this time we will not attach much importance to that. What should be said is that the only thing that has remained on the ‘cull’ list is the weaker fluidity of the view when it is zoomed in and when light conditions are poorer than ideal. Then the view turns from the liquid state into a fast slide-show, which we believe is not suitable for serious cameras, where undoubtedly the D750 belongs to.
Step by step, for years Nikon has been diligently working on improving video segments of its cameras. Since, in contrast to some other subsystems within the camera, the video has somehow been equally developed and relatively uniformly implemented in all the categories of DSLRs of this manufacturer, we were not too surprised when we realized that the D750 boasts an almost identical video mode as the recently introduced D810. The differences in relation to the D610 are not dramatic, but we can call them good evolutionary progress that Nikon places better and better on the map of serious video systems.
The video recording is available in two resolutions with the aspect ratio 16:9 and several frame rates. The 1920 x 1080 (1080p, Full HD) can be recorded along the entire range of frame rates, from 24, through 25, 30, all the way to 50 and 60 fps, depending on the selected standard (PAL/NTSC) and needs. The lower one 1280 x 720 (720p) operates at the frame rates of 50 or 60 fps. All versions are recorded solely in the progressive mode, and the quality is offered in two levels – high and normal. Many will notice that the ever popular support for the 4K resolution has been left out, yet this should not be surprising because, as the D750 can really offer plenty to photographers, it is to be expected that the video is not a priority, no matter how important it is.
The video encoding takes place in the MPEG-4 AVC (H.264) format and is placed in the MOV container. The video recording is once again limited with the FAT32 standard, which requires a memory controller, so in the maximum quality (1080p/60fps) the video recording will be limited to 10 minutes, while at lower resolution or sampling rate, the length of the recording will reach around 20 minutes. If the compression is increased (Normal quality), the video recording will manage to achieve a considerable length of 30 minutes. The bit rate at the maximum resolution and speed is about 42 Mbps, whereas a lower speed or resolution reduce the flow rate to around 24 Mbps. A lower compression quality secures a drastically lower flow rate - around 12 Mbps. The ability to send the view to an external device has not been canceled, so, just like the D810, the new camera offers a clear, uncompressed HDMI output, so the material can be directly sent to 8-bit external recorders that operate in the 4:2:2 format at 60 fps progressive, whereby simultaneous writing on a memory card is enabled as well!
The audio recording is 16-bit, at 44 KHz, and it is written uncompressed in the Linear PCM format. The audio recording can be switched off or entrusted to the built-in stereo microphone, whose input signal (sensitivity) and frequent range can be adjusted. Using the microphone situated in the camera housing, in which and around which a whole series of mechanical processes takes place, results in plenty ‘parasitic’ sounds, which are undesirable in the video recording. On this account, when there is a need for higher quality audio recording, the external microphone, with the aid of the connector that is located at the side of the camera, will provide much higher quality recording, and the present connector for headphones will also enable control over the audio segment in real time!
The previously mentioned unrestrictedness of the parameters control (which also includes the video mode) is also felt in the improved video mode. In order to bring the camera closer to the serious video production, Nikon included a couple of more things, which we (once again) saw on the D810. Firstly, there is the so-called ‘zebra’ option (in the menu labeled Highlight Display), which is used in the LV to highlight parts whose value of color information is close to the undesirable 255, 255, 255 on RGB channels. This means that when determining the needed duration of the exposure and other parameters, such as the aperture or the ISO values, all overexposed areas will be highlighted by means of special black-and-white diagonal lines, which will prevent the raw video recording from ruining; the raw video recording cannot be corrected in post-processing. No matter how trivial this option may sound, it belongs to the group of the basic ones when the video mode is taken into account, so this innovation should be saluted! The new color style (Flat) has also been introduced for the needs of videographers, yet the entire section of the color settings offers plenty for photographers, too, which will be discussed in more detail later. We have already mentioned the Powered Aperture; it draws its use value precisely from the video mode, since it enables a continuous change of aperture during video recording, without characteristic ‘blinking’ due to the abrupt opening/closing of the diaphragm blades.
The autofocus... is still average. Special in no way, yet quite good if you stick to the Single-Servo mode. The continuous focus in the video mode is obviously not on the list of priorities of this manufacturer, so it is useless to waste any more words on that problem. At the same time, as the level of improvement of the video segment deserves more than praise, we are ready to turn a blind eye to that once again. It will be better, hopefully. Until then, we can console ourselves that a great amount of carefully prepared material is obtained by means of the manual focus.
The guide number of the built-in flash is 12 at ISO 100, and the maximum synchronization speed is 1/200s. On some occasions, with reduced power, the camera can carry out the synchronization with the exposure speed of 1/250s as well. For the moment of releasing the shutter, either the first or the second curtain can be selected (i.e. the flash at the beginning or at the end of the exposure, so that the exposure process would gather as much ambient light as possible). The reduction of red eyes is, of course, an inseparable part of this flash mode, as well as the so-called ‘slow-sync’, when the stress is laid on longer exposure so that more ambient light would be gathered.
Four operating modes of the built-in flash are offered. The primary is the i-TTL, which, with the help of the light meter, meters the light ‘through the lens’ and thus enables the most accurate metering of the flash power. The i-TTL is the most frequently used mode of flash control since it achieves excellent results with relatively little effort. Its power can be compensated from -3EV to +1EV, if there is need for that. The manual mode, as its name says, is entirely controlled by the user, and the flash power is adjusted from the maximum 1/1 to the minimum 1/128 of the entire power. Since the flash is triggered with predefined power, there is no metering, so there is no so-called pre-flash, by which the TTL algorithm measures the needed flash power; therefore, in this mode it is possible to trigger external lighting, which is activated by the photo-cell (Nikon flashguns with the SU-4 mode, older flashes with photo-cells or studio lighting). The Repeating flash is an option that can often be seen among the options for controlling flashes of today’s DSLRs, although it is rarely used. It enables shooting of the flash in accordance with the previously programmed scenario, in a series that can be adjusted with the power, number and frequency of flashes, and it can be used when, for instance, a trajectory of a subject needs to be marked. The final mode is what Nikon has been famous for for a long time, and that is the well-known Commander mode – a mode with which, by means of the built-in flash, single flashguns or groups of flashguns are controlled, in one of the three modes.
The Commander mode can control up to two groups of flashes (A and B), along with the built-in flash, and each of them can be set to work in the TTL, Manual or Auto-aperture (AA) control mode, if there is support for it; in addition, it enables the flash to determine on its own the needed power, at the same time exchanging information with the camera concerning the aperture. Each of the groups, as well as the built-in flash, can be switched off, whereby the pop-up will send only the pre-flash, by which it activates wireless triggering, without any particular emission of light. Of course, the TTL and manual modes will be used mostly, as they are by far the most usable ones. On the other hand, except regarding the groups, Nikon does not state the limitations regarding the overall number of controlled flashes, except that the optimal number is three, without fear of any problems that may come up with mutual interference. The recognition of flashes is carried out with the identical setting of the Commander (built-in flash) and flashguns, with the channels from 1 to 4 (3 is default).
The support for flashguns is not limited to the i-TTL, but it is clear that, if one aims to achieve the maximum flexibility of use, without excessive effort, using Nikon’s modern or 3rd-party i-TTL compatible flashes is more than desirable. Furthermore, when shopping, one should also pay attention to support for wireless control by using the Commander mode, since it would be a pity not to use it. The attention with which Nikon designed the i-TTL algorithm perhaps can be best seen in the way flashguns behave when operating in the bounce position of the flash head (the position in which the head is turned towards a reflective surface, instead of the subjects within the frame), when it is capable of automatically determining the needed flash compensation, so that the exposure would be appropriate. What is more, in situations that usually confuse the majority of TTL algorithms, such as shooting when there are multitudinous reflective surfaces (e.g. mirrors or glass), Nikon’s algorithm will deal with it superbly and prevent underexposure quite efficiently.
Since the Nikon D750 does not feature a PC-Sync connector for triggering the studio lighting via a synchronizing cable, it can be controlled by an optional AS-15 addition, or a wireless trigger for that purpose.
A new design naturally requires a completely new vertical grip. Although the full name is MB-D16 Multi-Power Battery Grip, it does not belong to classical battery grips since, like with other Nikon camera, it provides room for only one EN-EL15 Li-Ion battery, while the other is supposed to be located inside the body, which quite efficiently prevents quick and easy handling of the camera and forces the user to detach the grip completely any time the battery inside the camera needs to be recharged, in order to reach that battery. This archaic construction has been exploited by Nikon for years, and during those very same years we have been staring in wonder, yet it is not likely that the engineers of this manufacturer will ever comprehend that the whole construction can be made more practical, even though the dimensions of the grip are so large that the grip can comfortably take two standard batteries inside it. Nonetheless, in addition to the enclosed MS-D16 battery holder, 6 AA batteries can be placed inside the MB-D16, which, in a critical moment, can help in overcoming the problem of low battery, where charging cannot be performed. This possibility, however, should not be considered a particularly usable solution since the rated battery autonomy with 6 AA batteries is estimated at only 430 shots. We did not have a chance to try this estimation in practice, but we believe it is close to reality.
What the Nikon D700 aficionados will definitely miss is the possibility to use an EN-EL18, a battery of higher capacity from the most prestigious camera that Nikon has to offer (D4s), since the camera’s dimensions are not large enough to support the battery.
Nikon MB-D16 Multi-Power Battery Pack, vertical grip*
The design organization of the grip is very similar to earlier models. This means that the grip is mainly made of magnesium alloy; what is more, it is harmoniously shaped, so it makes a seemingly inseparable whole with the body and features double controls that are necessary for complete vertical functionality. Aside from a switch by which the grip’s functions can be toggled off if needed, and in the center of which is a copy of the two-level shutter button, the MB-D16 also sports both dials, as well as the AE-L/AF-L control for locking exposure. In order for general usability in the vertical position to be equal, the grip also features an eight-way joystick as a substitute for an eight-way cursor control, which is used in the process of AF points selection, as well as navigating through the menu system.
The implementation of the Wi-Fi function is old news on Nikon as well, ever since the D5300 was the first to offer it internally, so it was only a matter of time when it would appear in an FF body. That honor was ‘bestowed upon’ the Nikon D750, so in this way there was no more need for the WU-1a dedicated Wi-Fi adapter, although, officially, it can be still used. It should be noted that the standard Nikon D750 features this function, while some markets whose legislation does not allow this type of radio control offer a special model labeled Nikon D750 (K), which DOES NOT FEATURE a wireless module.
Unfortunately, contrary to the chief rival Canon, which laid all their cards on the table with their implementation of Wi-Fi, Nikon in this case as well approached the issue ‘slightly’ more reservedly, so it still provides nothing more than what was at one’s disposal with the external Wi-Fi adapter. And that is, believe us, very little.
The main idea has to do with exchanging photographs with compatible devices and with remote control of the camera. After the Wi-Fi function has been activated, all additional settings are adjusted via an application on a smart device, which is a little unusual. First, one must install a free Wireless Mobile Utility application for Android (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.nikon.wu.wmau&hl=en) or Apple iOS (https://itunes.apple.com/en/app/id554157010), and after connecting the device to a wireless network emitted by the camera with generic parameters, it is possible to change parameters of the safety network, encryption, etc. via a phone or tablet. Inside the camera it is not possible to change neither the SSID emitter within the camera, nor the accessing parameters, which we consider pretty odd.
The connection with smart phones is primarily used for exchanging photographs with connected smart devices or using those devices as remote controls. Unfortunately, that is where the whole story ends – at least when the original Nikon application comes into question. Images from the camera can be viewed on Android/iOS devices, transferred to a smart device, or sent to a web service. The primary functionality has to do with Nikon Image Space (http://nikonimagespace.com/). That is a web service that provides for every registered Nikon user 20GB of free space for storing images, organizing and cataloging them, sharing them with friends and acquaintances, etc. Since in order to use this web service one needs nothing more than a qualified Nikon product (and to be registered), we believe that many will find it useful as free space for storing the most precious images. As this option does not have to do solely with Nikon’s service, sending is provided for Twitter, Facebook and Instagram services.
When it comes to remote control of the camera, we must admit that we are still taken aback by its rudimentariness. In spite of the fact that Nikon had its first ‘journey’ in this direction with the D5300, until today literally no improvement has been achieved regarding this field. Not even the Wireless Mobile Utility application exudes stability, although there was plenty of time to boost it. The application provides LV on a screen of smart devices, but this is where everything virtually finishes, since managing it is reduced to placing the focus area in an arbitrary position, focusing and releasing. Even though the most basic parameters (aperture and exposure duration) can be seen on the screen, they cannot be changed, so wireless interaction will remain mostly unusable, and they need to be adjusted directly on the camera. Luckily, for mobile platforms, there are commercial applications that bring an almost perfect control system, and we hope that Nikon, too, will realize that it should provide its users with the use value of a subsystem that is frequent in marketing campaigns, but not in practice.
An ability of remote control from a computer has not been implemented either, although we impatiently waited for it and considered it practically definite. The commercial solution that Nikon has provided for a while is not offered in a simpler, free version, so for all more advanced forms of wireless control and managing images, users will have to refer to independent sources on their own. Since all the listed problems and limitations do not have to do with the hardware aspect of the camera, yet only with the software, we hope that Nikon will show more understanding, and that in the near future it will offer an integrated solution by which the full potential of this function will be at one’s disposal. And, yes, one more criticism (a minor one, taking everything into consideration) – Nikon’s interactive system of help and information will inform you in case a memory card is missing that “the camera cannot enable Wi-Fi in the current state”, but it will not tell you precisely why, so you will have to find it out by yourself. Although this limitation is mentioned in the official manual, we think that there simply had to be room for a couple of more words.