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Nikon D750 Review

Nikon D750 Review
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Review / 03/03/2015
Author: Photoleet avatarPhotoleet
recommendations 1, rating 4


 

SOFTWARE

 

The usual menu system is still here, but now another section has been added, so there are six in total: Playback, Photo Shooting, Movie Shooting, Custom Setting, Setup, and Retouch, as it can be seen from the following illustrations:

 

  

  

Basic menu pages: groups Playback, Photo Shooting, Movie Shooting, Custom Setting, Setup, and Retouch

 

SHOOTING RESOLUTION

 

The images can be saved in the JPEG or RAW format, as well as in the RAW+JPEG combined. Defining the image quality can be performed independently for the RAW and JPEG formats. The RAW image quality (which is a version of the Nikon NEF) has two levels. One defines the color space ‘depth’, and it can be 12-bit or 14-bit, while the other determines the compression level. The Nikon D750 offers the ability to store the RAW format in the so-called lossless compressed and compressed quality. The lossless compressed, although constricted, delivers an image without any losses concerning quality, since the reverse compression algorithm has been used. The obtained file is thus minimized by around 30% (in relation to the sensor material), and the quality has been preserved. The other aspect of the compression does not include the reverse algorithm, so a tiny fraction of quality has been irretrievably lost, yet with the obtained file being smaller by 40-55%. Unfortunately, contrary to the D810, which brought the Small RAW, the D750 features only the maximum resolution RAW. The only way to obtain the Small RAW is by using the 1.2x or the DX (APS-C) format. The NEF resolution in the FX format is 24.3MP (6016 x 4016), in the 1.2x is 16.7MP (5008 x 3336), while in the DX, it is 10.3MP (3936 x 2624). We expected the uncompressed NEF format as well, yet it has been left out this time.

The JPEG is much more flexible regarding resolution and quality. It is offered in both formats, with three resolutions and compression levels each. In the FX format: Large is 24.3MP (6016 x 4016); Medium is 13.5MP (4512 x 3008); and Small is 6MP (3008 x 2008). In the 1.2x crop format: Large is 16.7MP (5008 x 3336); Medium is 9.4MP (3752 x 2504); and Small is 4.1MP (2503 x 1664). In the DX format: Large is 10.3MP (3936 x 2624); Medium is 5.6MP (2944 x 1968); and Small is 2.6MP (1968 x 1312). The other level of JPEG quality control is in compression priority, which can be the Optimal quality, when the emphasis is on higher quality, regardless of the size of an output file, or the Size priority, when the emphasis is on the size of a file, at the expense of quality. There are three defined compression levels: Fine (compression level 1:4), Normal (1:8), and Basic (1:16).

 

OPTICAL ANOMALIES CORRECTION

 

The best effect of the correction of optical anomalies with lenses is obtained by processing RAW images in specialized applications. However, for quite a while processors have been at the level at which they can cope with a huge amount of material in real time, so the D750, as well as most DSLRs, demonstrates an ability to correct optical and/or geometric imperfections with lenses in real time. Of course, only in the JPEG format. For years, Nikon has been famous for high quality algorithms for correction, which includes corrections of ‘barrel’ geometric distortions (recommended for G and D lenses), as well as chromatic aberrations. The chromatic aberrations correction functions pretty good, so even lenses that display this phenomenon excessively are corrected superbly. In post-processing, chromatic aberrations can be removed somewhat more accurately and with fewer losses in the contour sharpness; however, since such processing is recommended solely for the RAW format (which, by the way, is not affected by corrections), the automatic correction is more than welcome.

 

ACTIVE D-LIGHTING

 

The Active D-Lighting algorithm is one of the first attempts to compensate for the weak dynamic range of the digital sensor with a real-time software correction inside the camera while shooting, without the user having to intervene, aside from defining the level of the action. The Active D-Lighting (hereafter, ADL) is very similar to the Shadows/Highlights option in graphic applications, where a narrow dynamic range is compensated for by lighting shadows, while more strongly exposed parts of images are darkened – thus achieving balance. Too strong contrast is reduced, but without negative consequences, such as usual bringing the contrast below zero. On the recommendation of Nikon, the ADL is most effective when it is used in combination with the Matrix mode of light metering. There are four levels of correction, and apart from them, there is the Auto mode as well, by means of which the needed level is automatically determined, immediately before releasing the shutter (except in the manual photo mode, when the Auto mode acts as the Normal level). In the following example, we can see the four levels in comparison to an image without turning the ADL on:

 

Demonstrating the Active D-Lighting option, from left to right: switched off, Low, Normal, High, and Extra-high intensity

 

In the image above, it is easy to see the effect of this algorithm on the entire tonality, and the balance of the shadows and lighted parts. Its effect will not be seen in this measure in all situations, and it is noticeable only when strong contrasts dominate the scene. There are situations in which it is not advisable to emphasize the use of the ADL since a strong intensity of lighting the shadows can be negatively manifested – in the form of color noise and deformed colors in the darker parts of an image. The same problems occur with images captured at higher ISO values, so the use of the ADL is disabled at the values above the ISO 12800 (all software Hx.x values). Moreover, we noticed that in certain situations, just as in the case of the ALO algorithm on Canon cameras, the ADL can be counterproductive, since it causes odd color reproduction, to say the least, so its use is recommended in the cases when the RAW+JPEG format is used, because disturbed color is easier to recover in that situation. In some cases, one can give bracketing a try, since it is offered in combination with the ADL as well. Therefore, the ADL Bracketing will enable shooting a series of photographs, whereby each of them will be characterized with a different level of the ADL.

Although we have no doubts that a certain number of users will still find this function interesting, we must point out that it has become surplus in the last couple of years since the dynamic range of Sony sensors that Nikon employs has widened so much that far more effective results can be achieved with simple post-processing. Nonetheless, if one needs instant results, the ADL will serve its purpose.

 

RETOUCH MENU

 

One whole page in the menu has been dedicated to retouch options of already captured photographs. The D750 offers as many as 20 different options, 16 of which are various sorts of processing. Aside from geometric/optical corrections, such as: Straighten, Distortion Control, Fisheye and Perspective Control, basic graphic processing offers some color filters, but also some graphically more complex ones. Those are: Red-eye Correction, Trim, Monochrome, Filter Effects, Color Balance, Image Overlay, Resize, D-Lighting, Color Outline, Color Sketch, Quick Retouch, Selective Color, and Miniature Effect. Except for the said ones, there is also the NEF (RAW) Processing, by which a conversion of the RAW into the JPEG is carried out, with the parameters set by the user himself/herself, and they are equivalent to those that the camera makes use of while photographing. If there is a need to compare the obtained result with the existing image, there is an option Side-by-side comparison. As for the Edit Movie option, it is aimed at the most basic processing of the video material – trimming. It is not Adobe Photoshop, but it is a quite decent collection of various tools for basic processing, by which impressive effects can be produced, without the need for a video to leave the camera.

 

CUSTOM SETTING

 

A constituent part of all the Nikon DSLRs of the higher class is a separate Custom Setting section, which combines options specific for a particular part of operations. There are seven subsections inside it, and they are divided according to letters and colors: Autofocus (a), Metering/Exposure (b), Timers/AE-Lock (c), Shooting/Display (d), Bracketing/Flash (e), Controls (f), and Movie (g). They include virtually everything that you may ever need, while as with everything else, by pressing the Help control (while in the menu), you can get a short description of each single option, which deserves nothing but praise. We direct criticism only to the slightly confusing organization, due to which you will constantly look for some options at a wrong location, which is also contributed to by an insufficiently clear separation of certain subsections. In this way, it is possible to open the subsection Shooting/Display (d) and end up in the Timers/AE Lock (c) options, since the scroll is infinite and cyclically lists the offered options of all the subsections together. Please have a brief gaze at the available options in the following screenshots from the display:

 

   

  

Seven subsections of the Custom Settings section

 

The use of lenses that do not feature their own electronics (and for this reason they do not provide the camera with feedback on the current aperture and focal length (which is why the camera either is not able to carry out metering)) is greatly facilitated thanks to this option. It is allowed to input parameters for nine lenses in total, and the inputs of the focal length and the maximum aperture are also taken into account. By inputting information about the focal length, the flashgun will be able to adjust zoom to the current focal length and thus optimize the angle covered by the flash. In addition, the information about the focal length will be written in the EXIF, and thus will be available in the preview mode as well. If the maximum aperture is listed as a piece of information, it will be available in the list of parameters in the viewfinder, and the flash power will be adjusted, too. In case both parameters are available, metering will be useable, whereby it is recommended to use the Center-weighted or Spot metering. If zoom lenses come into question, the input will be invalid with a change of the focal length, so it is necessary to adjust it or write it down under a different number.

 

 

SPEED

 

Since the Nikon D750 was given a not entirely pleasant role of a successor to an action camera dominant in the budget category, the brilliant D700, which had been welcomed greatly at the time, a glance at the aspect of speed will now be a little different than we usually do it at this stage of the review. Endangering a leading model somehow seems too high an ambition, but it also seems that the performances of the D700 are not really so weak that the new model could outrun them just like that.

The new processor brought greater theoretical speed, while how much it is left for the user to organize depends more on the marketing than on the possibilities of the project team. The controls are agile, maybe even one of the best so far regarding the camera’s response, the readiness of the camera for action after switching on is almost immediately, while the new autofocus system, with all the familiar flaws, is definitely at the highest level that this manufacturer can offer. When the contrast focus (CDAF) in the LV is taken into account, the situation is a little bit different since it witnessed practically no visible improvement, so waiting and wavering in bad conditions remains the same.

The arrangement of the memory controller and the buffer, unfortunately, has been improved only partially, so it seems that this aspect is perhaps a little underestimated on the list of needed improvements and differences in relation to current models – particularly because the improvements within this domain can be interpreted as rather negligible in relation to the D610, which should be a camera of a lower category in this case (or perhaps not?). The continuous shooting speed has been increased to 6.5 fps. For the majority of less demanding professionals and almost all enthusiasts, this is more than enough, but it offers only half the pleasure to owners of the noted D700. The mentioned camera nominally reached 5 fps, but this speed could be exceeded by using a vertical grip and an EN-EL4a battery, when the speed would increase to the then exceptional 8 fps. These accelerating abilities are now gone, but at least the initial speed is decent. A glance at the D610 once again provokes odd reactions since its 6 fps are not radically weaker than the 6.5 fps of the new camera.

The situation with the memory buffer is a little bit simpler, although not entirely favorable for the new camera. The declared capacity of the memory buffer indicates that it has been expanded only minimally, and that greater speed was not a goal by any means, when positioning of this camera comes into question. The RAW allows a sequence of 15 images until slowing down, when the speed is reduced to (still respected) 4 fps. The JPEG is almost completely unconstrained, and its maximum 87 images in a row without slowing down are hard to outstrip. The combined RAW+JPEG intake slightly complicates the situation, so the buffer is able to provide up to 9 images without slowing down, whereas when it is filled, the RAW+JPEG goes on to shoot really slowly (around 2.5 fps). Of course, it is understood that in order to reach the best possible speed results, it is necessary to provide sufficiently fast memory cards. What does not fit the rest of the performances is writing data on a card in combination with active noise reduction. In such a situation, after taking an image, the camera gets almost blocked for a couple of seconds, so it is impossible to access any of its functions. Why this is organized in this way we have no idea, yet we do know that the same thing occurs on some other Nikon models as well. Obviously, part of the team in charge of software did not optimize the algorithm adequately, so this directly affects this aspect of work.