Thursday, October 30, 2014

REVIEW: Nikon D750–Yeah, it’s better than my 5D Mark III (Part II of II)

In the first part of my review, I expressed how impressed I was with this camera. Despite being crippled by a mediocre kit lens for this review, I’ve been very pleased with image quality and dynamic range for the shots I’ve taken with it.

In this final installment of my review, I’ll focus more on some of the technical aspects of this camera and discuss how I feel it compares to some of the other cameras I’ve tested.

Mug Shot Test


f/8 @ 120 mm, 1/200, ISO 100

Unedited in-camera JPEG – click for the full size

Knowing that this camera has great dynamic range, I decided to put it to the torture test using a model with dark eyes and a black background just to see how many tones it could capture. As you can clearly see from above, the D750 knocked this one out of the park.

I can clearly distinguish the pupil from the iris in the eye as well as all the shades in the models hair. Even the black background shows a buttery smooth series of tones.

While this is certainly no Otus 85mm lens, I was plenty satisfied with the detail captured on the skin (sorry Julia!) and the eyelashes.

In short, this camera nailed the mugs shot test, so one could only hope the DMV will start using these – or maybe not!

Bookshelf Test


f/5.6 @ 50 mm, 1/13, ISO 12800, No Flash

Click for the original to fully appreciate the high ISO performance

Overall my testing revealed that image quality and tonal range are fantastic in the ISO 100-12,800 range. When you go into the high modes of 25,600 and 51,200 the dynamic range begins to suffer, but even with in-camera noise reduction results in a usable image.


f/5.6 @ 50 mm, 13s, ISO 100, No Flash

This is the sweet spot of the lens that I tested,
so click for the original to see the best image I could get with the kit lens

Unlike a lot of Nikon’s I’ve tested which tend to have either overly bright or dark metering, I found this camera to have a nice happy medium. With that said, I did get some unexplainable shifts in brightness and color when using auto white balance and matrix metering during my bookshelf testing. This is really my only complaint with this camera, and hopefully this is something that will sort itself out with a future firmware update.

Compared to the 5D Mark III

I own and love the Canon 5D Mark III, and without question it’s definitely one of the best Canon’s ever made. However, it is not without flaws. Do I think the Nikon has leapfrogged the 5D Mark III? YES! The overall dynamic range offered by this camera creates a wide spectrum of natural tones that is more true to life straight out of the camera than what I get out of my 5DM3. While I still prefer many features and characteristics of the Canon, for now this is the new defacto standard for parents, event and travel photographers who really want the best image quality possible.

While personally I don’t give a hoot about video from a DSLR, I still think the movie industry support around Canon probably gives it an advantage. However, I can’t imagine any D750 user being disappointed with the video performance with a sensor that is this good.

What should a 5D Mark III owner do? My advice is to save your money. Inevitably Canon will have a response and for now you have a great camera that’s not worth taking a big loss on – especially if you’ve got a good investment in lenses. Think of it a bit like you are driving the 2013 version of your dream car and your neighbor gets the 2014 model which has some nice new bells and whistles. While it sucks not to have the best product possible, you probably wouldn’t sell your car just to upgrade. I think the same philosophy applies here, so enjoy what you have and spend your money elsewhere – God knows there’s a lot of other ways to spend your money on photography gear and software, so don’t waste your money trying to keep up with the latest camera.

Skip the Kit Lens


Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR Lens

My favorite “cheap” zoom lens for starter kits

I wasn’t a big fan of the kit lens, so I’d advise to go body only and get something else. I definitely liked the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR Lens that I tested with the D600 – it was surprisingly good (and cheap). The AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G ED is the lens to have if you can afford it, so if you are just starting out I’d consider either of those as better choices over the 24-120mm.

Conclusion

If you have an investment in Nikon lenses and are wondering if it is time to upgrade your camera body, I’d say it depends. While I personally wouldn’t take a loss on a perfectly good D600/D610, I’d certainly upgrade any other Nikon besides the D800/D810 and D4/D4s up to this one – if you’ve already bought all of the high quality lenses you are ever going to buy. Great lenses make the most of any camera body, so I always recommend spending extra funds on glass before camera bodies.

With that disclaimer out of the way, owners who do upgrade are going to be delighted. Those frustrated by some of the limitations of the D600/D610 might also find it a worthwhile upgrade, despite that being an excellent camera in its own right.  I can definitely say that as a fan boy of the D600/D610, I found myself very excited to see that my minor quibbles about those cameras had been addressed leaving me with a camera that I’d probably buy if I didn’t have an investment in Canon lenses.

For those who believe DXOMark sensor scores are the word of God (and I don’t), they ranked the D750 as #6 under the D800E, D800, D600 & D610. While I’m sure in their own scientific way this makes sense to them, I can say that to my eyes in real world scenarios I find the D750 to be a overall better performer at higher ISO’s than the D800’s and about the same as the D600/D610.  As a result, I continue to say these sensor scores are non-sense in the real world so take them with a grain of salt. The D750 is a fantastic camera that will definitely not disappoint, so without reservation I highly recommend it.

Where to order

Click here to learn more or order the D750 on the B&H web site.

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11 comments:

Prudhvi Mitra said...

Hey Ron, I haven't invested highly in either systems which one would reco- d750 or 5d mark3?

Demme91 said...

Hi Ron! I have intention to buy the D750, what can you say about it`s AF accuracy and AF Speed?
I will shoot most if the time Landscapes but even a lot of Event's like MTB-races, car meeting (people and not moving cars)and even some Wildlife, so that`s the reason why the AF performance interests me

Ron Martinsen said...

Prudhivi,

While I prefer Canon lenses for many reasons, Nikon definitely offers the better camera body right now. If I were buying based on camera body performance, I'd choose the D750.

Demme91,

THe AF accuracy is very good - the speed depends on the lens, and that's something Canon is much better at than Nikon. With that said, the accuracy is much better with Nikon at this point in time so you'll be very happy with the AF performance of the D750. You'll also enjoy the new 200-500M for automotive and wildlife

Demme91 said...

Hi Ron, now I am even a little stuck between some good Sports & Landscape Tele 70-200 F2,8... While lots of Tests say the Tamron with VC is nearly equal or even better in some points, the Nikon is the original one and slightly better... Now I'm not sure about them, Tamron is nearly half the cost of Nikon, but would the Nikon be worth the high cost?

Ron Martinsen said...

Demme91,

Lenses can vary from unit to unit even from the same model and maker, but what I find is that the consistency of the OEM lenses from Nikon are above average. I haven't compared the Tamron to the Nikon so it isn't fair for me to comment as to which is better than the other, but if I were spending my own money I'd go for the Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 VR II. This is just one of those money lenses that performs well and gets the shot time and time again, so I can't see you being disappointed with your decision after you get it. With a lot more user data, I see that the Nikon has a higher reader rating than the Tamron on SLRGear.com, which is a lens site that I trust.

In this particular case, YES I think the Nikon is definitely worth the high cost. If you feel like you need to save the money, then get the f/4 as it's arguably just as sharp and lighter.

Ron

Demme91 said...

Hi Ron,

That`s intresting for me to know, as a lot of Nikon Pro`s I know told me even same but haven't tried out the Tamron one... My wishlist would be the D750 with it`s 24-120 F4 just as travel lens and walking around, the Nikon 14-24 F2,8 for steady cars, for intresting sport pics and as 2,8 even not bad as nightscape lens... don't know if i would use it for Landscapes too but might be... And a good 70-200 F2,8 even for Sports, cars and maybe some portraits and if sharp enough at maybe F8 as Landscape detail lens... Every of those has a similar Tamron lens that in most cases cost less or even only half...I was just thinking a lot because it's lot of money for me and if i spend it, it should be worth it...I would do some smaller event's in the future so I need a photogearset to can trust on it and I'll get payed for those so costs will be ok if the photogear works good

Demme91 said...

Hi Ron,

I just saw that in comparison between Tamron & Nikon the Tamron has sometimes better sharpness but AF is better on Nikon... Spending the money would be ok because I'll get some smaller events with cars or sports events... I just need an affordable equipment...

Ferdinand Schinagl said...

... in addition to Ron's comments the D750 is lighter, has a built-in flash (handy but no substitute for an external one of course) and already costs less than the 5DM3. Just go to bhphoto and compare to compare technical features of the two cameras side by side. Aside from other aspects I wonder about focus tracking and ergonomics and what tactics (price another camera model) Canon will pull to respond.

Dave Voda said...

Honestly man, go with the D750. It's a better camera overall. And, as a bonus, it's slightly less expensive.

Shawn said...

Great review. I find it interesting that you don't recommend the 24-120 lens, yet the pics you took for this review with that lens look spectacular. I've been doing a lot of reading up on the 24-120 lens and I can understand the hesitation. Thing is I am pretty sure that the excellent resolving power of the sensor is going to allow you to bury any lens issues deep inside your prints. My guess is we won't see them until we start printing at 24"x36".

The other thing I've noticed about the 24-120 is there are definitely some bad copies out there. For every lousy review or negative comment I seem to find 2-3 glowing reviews or comments.

The challenge for folks like me is moving to FX leads to needing a new standard zoom, and none of the good options are cheap and what is cheap isn't that great (either sharpness or limited focal length). I'm eyeing the Sigma 24-105 as I believe this is what Nikon should have designed in the first place, but it is actually more expensive now than the 24-120 when kitted with the D750. The more I read and see from the 24-120, the more I feel it will perform well enough.

Ron Martinsen said...

Shawn,

One challenge I face is that I get to review a lot of equipment and get to use a lot of phenomenal lenses. I know this causes my bar to be higher than average as a result. I wouldn't say it's a terrible lens, but I have used better. I know my friend Vincent Versace loves it and he's making some great work with it, so if you like the results you see here then you'll definitely be happy with this lens.

Ron