Nikon D750 First Impressions

I’ve had my new Nikon D750 for a couple of days now, which is enough time to offer up my first impressions of it for those of you who have an interest in such things.

Not entirely surprisingly, I like it a lot. It’s a definite improvement over my previous DSLR, the Nikon 5100, which, to be clear, is a perfectly capable camera, which is why I gifted it to Athena. But the D750 offers a larger and more sensitive sensor and also 50% more resolution, among other improvements including wider effective ISO range and a faster shutter. What I notice mostly after a few days with the camera is that it’s more responsive in low light than the 5100, which is great because I hate using flash, and that the sensor picks up more data so its easier to tease out a useful picture. As an example, see the pictures above; the first one was the picture as it came out of the camera; the second was what what I was able to pull out of it using Photoshop on the RAW format file. That’s not bad!

I noted that I decided against the “kit” lens for the D750 and instead bought a 50mm f/1.8 prime lens, as well as a 28-300mm f/3.5 – 5.6 zoom lens with vibration control. Of the two the zoom lens is the easier one for me to use so far because it’s operable like the kit lens on the 5100 and also offers a lot of flexibility, in terms of being able to zoom in on a subject, and the vibration control means somewhat fewer fuzzy pictures. The prime lens is a little bit tricker for me, at least right now — you pretty much have to take it on its own terms. The photos I’m getting from it are great, but I’m also having to take a lot more pictures to get to that one great one. This is not a complaint, just a recognition there’s a learning curve going on with that lens.

And with the camera generally, I have to say. The D750 is more camera than I necessarily know what to do with yet, which is, mind you, one of the reasons I bought it; I want to be able to explore its capabilities. That said, most of the time what I end up doing with DSLRs is setting them to take pictures in RAW format and then use Photoshop and other software to do what other photographers do in camera, through settings. I don’t think this is a problem — the camera doesn’t care, and I’m not worried about impressing other photographers — but I am constantly reminded that the camera offers more than I use, and it’s up to me to follow up on that.

All told, however, I’m very pleased with my purchase. I’ll probably take it along with me to the next couple of conventions I’m at, so if I see you there, come over and take a look.

23 Comments on “Nikon D750 First Impressions”

  1. Good work with the editing, John. If I may venture an opinion, you might try easing off a little bit on the saturation.

  2. I’m sure you already know about them, but I’m going to put in a plug for, a company that will be happy to rent you any sort of pricey exotic lens that you’d like to sample. I used them to audition a new Micro 4/3 camera before dropping the cash. They have almost every lens Nikon makes, as well as the Zeiss Otus primes and other exotics.

    One of the big advantages of owning a Nikon or Canon is the availability of rentals. $800 is a lot to find out whether you like that 20mm/1.8. For fifty bucks you can find out if it’s something you’ll use daily…or not. Or rent that giant 400mm lens for a birdwatching trip.

    Enjoy the 50mm. There’s a learning curve with primes but it’s worth it.

  3. I highly recommend using Lightroom as a photo management tool. Particularly if you like shooting raw and altering your exposure and curves – loading up the now-beast that is Photoshop just to alter those bits is overkill. I find I can do my tweaks and even some spot fixes in LR 99% of the time, and it makes opening up into Photoshop fairly painless when I need more oomph.

  4. russkirk:

    Already downloaded and being used!

    Don Whiteside:

    I have Lightroom but I don’t like it much. On the flipside I’ve been using Photoshop for the better part of two decades now and am used to it in terms of workflow, so it’s what I go with. I have a monster desktop, so it’s not unwieldy for me to use.

  5. It’s my belief that cameras are moving in the direction of not so much capturing images as gathering a great deal of data from which a variety of images can be processed/assembled. It seems to me that you’re doing that with RAW format and Photoshop. My example is always the Light Field camera, though it’s not clear it has been a success.

  6. Canon seems to do more for me. I take wildlife photos and Canon seems to work better for action work. The thing that I wish most for is greater depth in the colors that digital photography has. I have a purple orchid whose color just is not reproducible with any digital camera.

  7. I remember a brief exchange we had regarding your previous camera after you posted a very nice Scamperbeast closeup image:

    RJ says:
    JANUARY 13, 2016 AT 5:18 PM
    Well, you never know when or to what your spouse may be paying attention. I suggested to my wife that all these beautiful Scamperbeasts shots were *probably* taken with a Nikon D750 or D810 and that it would be nice if I could upgrade from my D7100. Her reply: “Oh, did you just sign a multi-year $3.5M book deal too?” Curse you, Scalzi!

    John Scalzi says:

    JANUARY 13, 2016 AT 5:50 PM 


    In fact they were taken with a Nikon D5100 with the kit lens, so your camera is actually nicer than mine. But I applaud the effort (and also, I’m kind of lusting after the D5, which to be clear is faaaaaar out of my league).

    I’d like to think maybe I planted the D750 seed in your head! Me? I chose to deflect and instead convinced my wife a new cabinet saw (professional grade table saw) for my woodshop would be more practical (besides, I already own a sweet Nikon), and the price was about the same. Plus, she’s getting a new Mission/Craftsman style dining set I designed for her, so it was much easier bargaining. Win-win!

    Congratulations and enjoy your new toy!

  8. Just out of curiosity, is this the first time you’ve used a prime lens?

  9. Congrats on the new camera. You made a good choice, though I’m a Canon owner. I encourage you to give Lightroom another look. Photoshop is a great editing tool, but it’s terrible at organizing. That’s where Lightroom comes in.

    Also, don’t be afraid of flash. At some point I recommend you get an external flash. There’s so much you can do with off camera flash. It will take work to learn it, but it is worth it when you are ready.

  10. John, I’m kinda your opposite. I LOVE Lightroom. I don’t mind the price I paid for it. I’ve used it to make pictures out of files I would normally have deleted. Full Photoshop for me is overkill. Had a co-worker who also does professional photography on the side who pointed me toward Lightroom.

    As for saturation, go nuts if it is your thing. I like some vivid pictures myself, although I tend to aim for more natural colors, or even toning things down to not quite monochrome.

    I’m glad you like the new camera. The pics make me want one for myself, although the price makes my bank account pitch a screaming fit. LOL.

  11. That said, most of the time what I end up doing with DSLRs is setting them to take pictures in RAW format and then use Photoshop and other software to do what other photographers do in camera, through settings.

    Glad I’m not the only one. ;-) Just curious, how large (file size) are the typical RAW files that come out of such a camera. And what size cards did you buy for it (e.g. 32 or 64 Mb)?

  12. +1 on the suggestion. I used to try out my Pentax before buying it. I was glad that I did.

    +1 on the Lightroom suggestion as well. Lightroom is an excellent photo cataloging program as well as a photo editing program. You can filter your photos using various forms of metadata. You can even use the Map feature to geotag your photos to remember where you took them. Tim Grey has an excellent video on YouTube he did with B&H Photo on using the features of Lightroom.

    If your looking for a good second camera to bring to a convention, I would recommend something like a Sony RX1 or Fujifilm X100T. Both are smaller than the D750, and have similar dynamic range and low light performance to the D750.

    As a suggestion for which settings to play with first, look at changing the metering modes on the camera. The camera would have read the scene above very differently if you were in spot metering or center-weighted metering. You may have to put the camera in “P” or “A” mode to even have access to the different metering modes.

  13. Can’t comment much on the pic as I don’t do photography at all, so all I can say is that It Looks Good. But I will say that I have never seen so neatly-posed a cat before!

  14. I apologize if you’re already well aware of this, but figuring out how to separate metering, focus, and composition with your camera would help a lot in getting better shots out-of-camera in the situation above, without getting into priority modes. It would give more for the RAWs to work from, too.

    Great to see your work, though…fantastic eye for composition.

  15. My photog philosophy is opposite of yours, John. I prefer to get as much as possible in the photo done the way I want it in camera, rather than spending lots of times tweaking RAW files with photo editing programs. Me, I mostly use Photoshop Elements rather than the full Photoshop program. Like you and Photoshop, I’ve used Elements for years and am comfortable using it. It does pretty much everything I want and for a lot less than the full Photoshop program.

    I’ve tried both Canon and Nikon. While I started out with a Canon, when Canon came out with their new digital cameras (and the new film ones as well) a decade or so back, they changed the lens mounts so you couldn’t use old Canon lenses with the newer Canon cameras. (Nikon on the other hand left the mounts alone so you can use older Nikon lenses with newer cameras.) So when I decided to try a digital SLR, I tried both Nikon and Canon cameras and lenses. I find Canon cameras a bit lighter and smaller, which felt better in my hands. I also prefer to have the image stabilization in the lens rather than in camera. Just personal preference; most tests of IS in various brands of camera seem to indicate that while in-lens IS tends to work better, the difference is so small it’s only evident when you really blow up the images to huge sizes; I don’t normally make posters out of my images so… Both my late father and my sister, who also started out with Canons (my first Canon SLR was a birthday gift from my Dad; an A-1 in the 1970s) switched to Nikons when digital SLRs priced for consumers rather than professionals started to come out.

    Over time I’ve decided that it isn ‘t really the brand, the cost, the quality of the camera equipment that makes for good photos; it is the eye behind the lens. A great photog can take wonderful pictures with a little point and shoot camera; a poor photographer may own a $10,000 camera with a $2,000 lens and never produce a photo worth showing to other people. Knowing the rules of composition can help, but that’s not the total answer; knowing when to tweak or break those rules is important as well. It’s pretty evident from your photos that you have ‘the eye’ as I sometimes call it….

  16. A search on YouTube for “Nikon D750 settings” resulted in several videos that might be of help to you. I don’t own a DSLR (though my daughter does, different brand) so I didn’t actually watch the videos, but even with all the crap on YouTube, quite often I find useful information from people who are both smart and passionate about their subject. Your mileage may vary.

  17. Hey, Craig, I have a Canon too (G15). It doesn’t do purple colors either! They come out a very nice shade of blue. And yes, I’ve fussed with the color balance ten ways from Tuesday.

    I thought it was just me. If it’s a general Canon problem, I’m looking into something else for my next camera.

  18. As a D750 shooter, I’ll say welcome to the awesomeness of that camera! I’ll add another plug for Lightroom – organization and image management. While you may not care to find the cat photo in five years, you probably will want to be able to find the shots of your daughter and your wife from that trip to that cool place. With Lightroom, it can and will always be easy to find, no matter how many other shots you have. (And I’ll argue that editing in LR when you use it for image management is way faster than hopping over to PS). All of that aside, check out Santa Fe Workshops for incredible photo workshops and check out if you want to see the awesomeness of learning off camera flash and how to do it (David Hobby, the man behind Strobist, is kind of the photo version of you in my mind…which is a good thing).

  19. I think the D750 is just the upgraded D700 which is what I really wanted (and it came out about 3 months after I bought my D300). It has a full frame sensor if I remember correctly and this is a HUGE advantage in photography. My D300 sadly does not. You have a very nice camera body. The lenses are far more important than the body, but you picked a very good one to start with.

    Does the D750 do video? Some of the newer Nikons I’ve heard do. That could be fun to play with as well. Probably stunning.

  20. Pat is right. You want to do as much as you can in camera and try to do less on your desktop. You’ll get better photos.

  21. I like and use Lightroom as well, but haven’t really learned it well. Great program. So is Photoshop.

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