Nikon D780 Followup Report

I got my Nikon D780 in May as a birthday present for myself and explained my reasons for getting it (as opposed to a mirrorless camera) then. Today I archived the last couple of months worth of photos (roughly 2,000), and I thought it would be a good time to check in with how (and if!) I’m still enjoying my latest photographic purchase.

The short answer is: Yes! The new sensor is very good with colors and their gradients (I’ve noticed this particularly with my sunset pictures) and is otherwise superior to the one that I had in my previous camera, the D750. The battery life has been tremendous — I charged it when I got it, took 2,000 photos with it and was still at just under a half charge when I charged it today — and I can charge it now with a USB-C cord, which is pretty great. And while I usually compose photos through the eyepiece, the “quasi-mirrorless” option of taking pictures with the back screen has been very useful, particularly for when I want more control with focus. The camera is heavier than a mirrorless camera would be but it’s no more heavy than my previous camera, so I don’t really notice.

Complaints? A couple, mostly relating to the fact that I notice graininess more in my lower-light photos shot on auto than I did with the D750. I don’t know if that’s because of something with the sensor or the camera’s auto choices for ISO and shutter speed, or because the way the D780 processes RAW photos is different, or some combination. But it’s noticeable to me and I’ll have to look into that. With that said, this problem is generally fixable by turning on a light; I also have a faster prime lens which will likely make the problem if I ever fix it onto my camera. This is a long way of saying the problem here is probably the operator (waves). I’ll look into it more.

Overall, however, a very good camera and I have been delighted with the purchase. I plan to take lots and lots and lots of photos with it.

12 Comments on “Nikon D780 Followup Report”

  1. Gerry O'Brien – Brooklyn, NY – Gerry O’Brien is a writer/graphic designer/photographer who has been a political consultant and advertising creative professional for over 25 years. His first novel, 1901, is currently in search of a publisher. His chief tools are Adobe Photoshop, QuarkXPress, a Canon 5D Mark IV with various Canon lenses, and an iPhone 8 Plus. Gerry attributes his powerful imagination to a lifelong love of science fiction and comic books. His late father, an immigrant ironworker, often derided “that fakey stuff,” but with America's infrastructure crumbling and popular culture dominated by science fiction and comics ... who’s laughing now? He and his wife live in a brownstone in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn.
    Gerry O'Brien

    I hear good things about that camera (I’m a Canon guy, but Coke/Pepsi…). Are you using Adobe Camera RAW for processing?

  2. Back when I realized that Panasonic cameras were coming with Leica lenses, and I was getting tired of carrying around 2 or 3 lenses with the body/battery/stuff I decided to go with the Panasonic superzoom FZ1000. I’ve enjoyed it a lot, just the camera and a spare battery, easy to carry when on the road. 25mm-400mm effective. Arizona, Italy/Tuscany, around the farm here in WV. Total Eclipse of the Sun over in Ky, too… with filters.

  3. Dear John,

    First — totally off-topic — I wanted to thank you so much for the link to the Ukulele Orchestra’s “Love Cats.” It totally made my day, a ray of sunshine in the gloomy world. Sandy and I spent a happy hour last weekend wandering through UO’s videos.

    If you haven’t watched it, you must watch “Pinball Wizard.” A bit lacking in ukuleles, true, but Best Cover, Ever.


    Second, if noise is occasionally vexing you in your new camera’s photographs, don’t overlook noise reduction in Adobe Camera RAW. It’s been much improved over the years. Since ACR’s available as a filter in Photoshop you don’t have to apply it when you convert the file, you can do it at any stage in your process. The color noise slider does a good job of minimizing annoying noise in the shadows, since most of that is chroma noise (and colored sparkles are more intrusive than gray ones).

    If you want to go on the full offensive against noise, ya gotta look at Topaz Labs DeNoise AI. It’s parsecs beyond anything else out there for dealing with noise, a truly amazing piece of software (all their “AI” programs are amazing).

    – pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery. 
    — Digital Restorations. 

  4. I think it’s a good choice of camera, I personally got an used D810 for myself a while ago and that was a great step-up in image quality from the D300s.

    The ability to take a huge amount of pictures with a camera with a single battery charge is where I see the DSLRs are excellent. I did have a mirrorless camera once (a very early) and it consumed batteries like there was no tomorrow.

    What really I think is disturbing is that Nikon with their Z-series mirrorless cameras have a completely new set of lenses, so there’s no way to actually re-use the set of lenses that you have for your F-series. And as anyone doing photography knows – you end up with a number of lenses after a while.

  5. Hi John, thanks for the follow up on the D780. I’m currently looking for a camera to be used primarily for wildlife photography. How does the D780 compare to the D500 that many recommend. I realize the differences in frame sensor. Thank you.

  6. Bob Swett:

    I don’t use the D500 so I can’t say.


    Thanks for the recommendation re: Topez — I’m downloading now.

    Update: Holy shit. That noise reduction is amazing.

  7. I got a D850 about a year ago—what to do with my D750? My answer was to have it converted to an infrared camera. I was already familiar with infrared cameras, as I had a Canon 400D converted to IR. So that’s something you might think about, as the infrared images can be really cool. The conversion involves removing the built-in filter over the camera’s sensor and replacing with a filter that allows only infrared light, along with resetting the camera’s autofocus function, as infrared and visible light do not focus at the distance. I am sure that there are many places that can do it. I had both of mine done by a fellow who has many years of experience with all kinds of optical instruments.

  8. Dear John,

    Heh, not at all surprised by your reaction. It *is* pretty amazing. ‘Course, like any neural-net-trained program, it occasionally jumps the rails, and it’s useless in any area where it hasn’t been trained (e.g., film scans — of importance to me but likely not to you).

    You will very likely want to give Sharpen AI a try, as well. It’s great for dealing with those photographs which don’t quite cut it, because your focus was a little off or the subject (or you) moved. I suspect you’ve got quite a few live-performance photographs like that (I do). It’s occasionally spectacularly successful — I’ll email you a comparison image of the most astonishing fix it’s done for me.

    Not of so much interest to me, but possibly to you considering your fondness for “manipulated” images: Adjust AI. Never hurts to look.


    Dear Timothy,

    Oh, yes!

    I started doing digital black-and-white infrared about 10 years ago, got into it in a serious way five. Now it’s about half the photography I do. For a guy who’s serious work prior to that was 99% color, that’s quite a change. I never would’ve guessed I’d move in that direction.

    – pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery. 
    — Digital Restorations. 

  9. Thank you for sharing the photos – they are lovely

  10. Nikon person here too and been wanting to get the D780 so a bit jealous, but good to hear you’re enjoying it. Great picture of your wife; she and the image are both lovely.

    Off-topic follow-up: Kudos and thanks for the Interdependency trilogy. Maybe a little sad that there won’t be any more, but I really enjoyed the time I got to spend in that universe.

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