The Nikon D750 Etc.

Yet another gear post, oh my god. I shoot Nikon cameras, it’s no secret, rather than being the quintessential Nikon Guy I’m more of a camera brand agnostic. You want proof? I have a Ricoh GR vs a Nikon Coolpix A. Since I rant and rave and talk about what particular camera I happen to be using at any point in time I talk about Nikon cameras a lot — mostly about cameras I actually own and use rather than ones I don’t. Hell, even when I went off into left field regarding some of the committee bullshit about the Nikon Df I went out of my way to use one to confirm my opinions. Turns out I was way off. So far off I plopped down my own cash to get one and love shooting it. That brings us to today’s point — The brand spanking new Nikon D750.

Disclaimer: I obviously don’t have one. I haven’t seen one in person, I haven’t used one. I have talked about it a lot over the last few days because dozens of people have asked me about it. I thought I would share a few thoughts with you that summarizes those conversations as well mix in a dose of gear acquisition thought process. Of course there are tangents I’ll go off on, possibly even some ranting. Here goes…

Cutting to the chase. What exactly is the D750? Well… as far as I can tell with the utmost due diligence, it’s a D610 with the incrementally upgraded Expeed-y-er 4 chip, less hobbled firmware, and the non-crappy AF system the Vice President of cheapness and committee design bullshit decided was absolutely required so all of us idiots wouldn’t buy it and push us to the D800/D810. The MSRP price point is really foolish because it completely obliterates the market for the D600/D610 as well as flushes all of that hard work the cheapness VP and product positioning committee did right down the toilet. Oh yea it has a tilt-y wonky screen thing.

Here’s the real deal the D750 isn’t really a D700 that’s updated it more like a D650. Now I’m not a Nikon Guy so that’s not a bad thing — it’s a good thing. I really don’t know where the Nikon guy community will fall on this considering it’s not the fully-pro-pro setup that’s exactly like the D4 just in a smaller package. That’s still the D800 style body. For me I have no problems at all with the packaging or the fact that the D750 is really more like a D650. The only thing the newly formed cheapness/product positioning committee got their way on was the camera badge.

So what does all this mean and why do I call the price point foolish etc, etc.? Let’s pretend you’re in the market for a two thousand dollar-ish full-frame camera and Nikon happens to be on your list of stuff you’re looking at. Let’s see we have the D610 at and MSRP of $1999.95 with a current $200 back instant rebate. Then we have the D750 at $2200 which is pretty much a D600/D610 without the committee hobbling process that’s completely artificial. As an added bonus I get the Expeed-y-er chip which adds a tiny nit to the “speed” and gives me another ISO setting which isn’t really good for anything but it’s there and the tilt-y screen that has a few more pixels to brag about as well. The biggest thing is that you will have a name badge that says D750 which just screams far far more pro than the D610 for sure. I mean come on nobody would go for a D650 it feels too much like an amateur camera. Now a D750, that’s the ticket, it’s exactly the same as an upgraded D700. Then again so is the D600/D610 but this time it’s got the badge to prove it.

If you’re in that two grand market there’s no way in hell you’re going to go with the D610 to save a couple hundred bucks. You must be an idiot. Now you might have to live with your current hunk of crap camera for a couple months while the even bigger idiots buy up D750’s for more than MSRP but that’s not long. Especially the D600/D610 users that absolutely require an upgrade immediately. Once those guys are out of your way it will be smooth sailing for what has to be the best-est Nikon camera to buy at this very moment for normal people all things being equal. Unless of course you need a D4s or a couple of more pixels.

All that sounds very negative so let’s put that in a positive light. We could have had this camera two years ago at the same entry price as the D600. There’s nothing new in this release it’s all the same stuff Nikon has had for quite a while. Well except of course the expeed-y-er 4 chip which doesn’t do a whole lot compared to the expeed-y-not-so-much 3 chip. Here’s how this will pan out; The D750 will sooner than you imagine hit D610 price levels which probably means the D600/D610 is either going away or will be considerably reduced in price and so will the D650 if there ever is one. I expect the D600 line will either be dropped because of the bad karma of the internet lynch mob or Nikon is creating a new full frame entry level price point with the D600 line that will be at or less than the mirrorless full-frame Sony entry price. That’s good for us OVF lovers for sure.

So what should you do? It depends of course. You have a few options that are not wildly different. Let’s go through them.

  • You want to get into Nikon FX for dirt cheap: Wait about 5 minutes and you’ll see D600’s that are perfect, barely used, and completely capable of producing the exact results as the D750 for way less than $1000. Same goes for the D610 with better auto-WB in terms of price plummeting for barely used ones now that half of the current owners will absolutely need to upgrade. Get one of those. Unless of course…
  • You shoot movies more than anything else in which case you now have un-hobbled firmware that adds a few niceties but no game-changers like changing Aperture on G lenses while in LV/movie mode and some other nits. If you do movies at the level where any of this counts sure go ahead the D750 is your deal but then again most people that actually will have any real world difference in use have way more invested in video/movie crap than the meager $2000 for a DSLR body.
  • You shoot long lenses at long distances of things that move a lot where the better AF point spread really really does a great job and makes a world of difference. Then again the D7100 is a good plan for that too… hmmm. If you theoretically think it will make a world of difference think twice.

Bottom line; If you’re going to drop $2000-ish on a new camera like right now the D750 is the way to go. If you are open to waiting and see where the D610 really lands in Nikon’s pricing scheme or are okay with a used one you can save yourself a shit ton on a D600/D610 instead, make the same pictures, and have pretty much anything that really counts for anything including the same sensor.

I’ve heard crap that could be considered hallucinatory when it comes to D750 specific wonder-ments on the interwebs. Some of it comes from Nikon other stuff seems to be made up or the result of a mental disorder. Here’s one from Nikon… ”A newly developed 24 megapixel sensor”, yea right. Same sensor that’s in D600/D610/A7/RX1/etc. for absolutely sure. Here’s one that DP review somehow came up with while smoking crack or sniffing glue… ”A completely different build that’s like the D4 that uses metal everywhere unlike the crappy D600/D610 that’s all plastic. Really? Really really? Ummmm… Nikon did change some of the market speak for the hybrid construction they’ve been using (which is fantastic by the way) but when I translate that to normal-people speak it’s pretty much the same thing. Hell if you cannot tell that it’s the same basic body as the D600/D610 except for the flippy screen you must be having some issues yourself. In any case, no matter what word play the marketing guys used I will assure you the most breakable thing in terms of construction is definitely the flippy screen. The construction is great but it’s the same hybrid construction as the D600/D610/D7000/D7100.

Let’s wrap this up. Snarky, sarcastic, ranting aside about things past and all the lunatic stuff from people that sell cameras for a living the D750 is a fantastic camera by all accounts. It’s pretty much as I said a non-hobbled D600 at around the $2000 mark. What’s to complain about? Nothing. Then again at the fire-sale prices of D600’s and soon to be falling D610’s new or otherwise if you are on a budget and are not a big movie guy that’s the smart ticket. Especially if the minor advantages of the real FX focusing pattern are not going to make one iota of difference in what you shoot.

Knowing what you shoot, how you shoot it, what makes any difference and what doesn’t is really the answer in knowing what’s the best bang for your buck. Even more important is knowing what you actually like in terms of camera gear and how it really plays in use. For me EVF’s are a no go. I don’t care about the difference between the 39 point focus system and the 51 point system nor do I care that much about AF. I like cameras about the shape and size of an old Nikon F3. I don’t like any lag in any of the operation of cameras. Hence I love my Nikon Df. If it breaks, I wear it out, or there’s a significant change in real dynamic range I might upgrade to something similar if Nikon continues to make that.

Let’s take the AF system example which for the most part is the biggest material difference in shooting stills between the D600/D610 and the D750. For me it is no different. For most people it really isn’t much difference in practice. I shoot people at wide to normal-ish focal lengths. I use manual focus most of the time. If I happen to use AF it a lot more like a convenient manual focus than it is using a big point spread and focus tracking and auto point shifting and all the other stuff that is so very slightly better between the two systems. I have the focus decoupled from the shutter button with back-button focus. I don’t reacquire focus every shot — waste of time. I shoot the same 90% of the time no matter if I am using my 50mm G lens w/ back-button focus or my 28mm AIS. I acquire focus, I compose, I make a few shots.

The screen shot at the top is an example — random from some crap I shot with Lori fooling around while not doing much else at the Baltimore location over the weekend. It’s a 100% view (open in a new window and blow it up to see all the pixels) of a 3/4 length shot using a 28mm AIS manual focus lens on my Nikon Df. Hand held, human at normal fluid motion speeds, my typical M.O. If you take a look at the framing you can clearly see that focus coverage of either system does not cover my focus point. Rarely does for what I shoot. Even if it did I would probably shoot the same way I do now for a bunch of reasons based on trying everything and understanding how human subjects moving at normal human speeds play at around 3 feet away. Different story at 10 feet or 20 feet for sure. Not my thing.

Here’s one using the 50mm G on the D600 really really close up and back-button focus but same way of shooting.

We can only hope Lori doesn’t kill me for showing un-retouched stuff of her skin under a microscope. A fluke? Not really, just a few random images that are representative of the whole session.

Another:

And another:

A change of venue:

Another…

How about one outside…

And one more…

Enough, actually too many. Did I blow a few? Sure but I shoot like I do because I get a better hit rate not because I get a worse hit rate. Probably about 90% or better if I’m paying attention. My far far bigger issue is shooting indoors at the shutter speeds called for and subject motion. The point is that if you can get yourself off the upgrade treadmill that’s certainly designed by committee or we would have seen the D600 as the D750 now exists when it came out you can focus on what actually matters based on what you shoot. For some people the D750 represents the best camera out there at the moment. It’s a great setup for just about anyone. For other people a used D600/D610 will produce the exact same results in practice with no difference at all for far, far less money. Know yourself, your subject, and how you work before you let anything else influence your requirements.

RB

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