Image Quality

If you've been reading the previous pages of this review then you already know that the D750 has a lot going for it. That's also true for image quality, which is exceptional.

ISO 100, 1/4000 sec, f/1.8, 20mm, Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED lens

As the above photo illustrates very well, the D750's photos feature vibrant color and pleasing skin tones. You can see that the camera (along with Nikon's recently announced 20mm f/1.8G ED lens) resolves fine detail with ease.

ISO 450, 1/25 sec, f/4, 24mm, Nikkor 24-120mm f/4G ED lens

If you're looking for noise, you certainly won't find it in the photo above, which is taken in low light (in case you didn't notice) at ISO 450. You will notice some chromatic aberration here, which is an issue related to the so-so 24-120mm f/4G lens used here. The D750 handled the white balance admirably in this scene.

Let's see what happens when the ISO increases even more:

ISO 4000, 1/250 sec, f/4, 120mm, Nikkor 24-120mm F4G ED lens  (Download Raw conversion)

You will see some noise and lost detail (due to noise reduction) at ISO 4000, but it still looks pretty darn good. We grabbed the Raw version of the image and did some retouching, and the results are impressive in our opinion.

The one issue that we had related to image quality - which was touched upon on the Shooting Experience page - is the D750's tendency to overexpose by about a third of a stop. That's not a lot, but overexposure is still not desirable, as you'll never get those highlights best. In our time with the D750 we usually kept the exposure compensation down -1/3EV. One other feature offered by the D750 is to 'bias' the metering in 1/6EV increments. In other words, you can set up the camera so when 0EV is display, it's taking the bias into account.

Raw Improvements

Potential D750 buyers don't need an explanation about why Raw is great, so let's cut to the chase with another example. The photo below is taken in dim light at ISO 25600 with noise reduction set to low and, as you can see, has both smudged detail and false color.

Spending some time with Adobe Camera Raw we managed to reduce both of those issues and produce what we think is a more pleasing image. The adjustments we made are: sharpening 51 with a radius of 1.0, luminance NR 40, and saturation +19.

The D750 has a built-in Raw converter which allows you to adjust white balance, exposure comp, Picture Control, noise reduction, color space, vignette control, and D-Lighting. D-Lighting in playback mode is different than Active D-Lighting that produces a more desirable exposure at the point of capture.

Raw Dynamic Range

In recent years, the advances we've seen in sensor development effectively manifest themselves as greater Raw dynamic range, which is perhaps most easily understood as 'processing latitude.' For the most part, these differences in sensor performance are rarely visible in the cameras JPEGs - it's when you start to process the Raws that you see the difference.

On the Shooting Experience page you saw an example of how you can push the shadows without adding noise. Below is another example which was exposed for the highlights and converted in ACR with the exposure pushed 3 stops.

Original JPEG Converted from Raw

The image above shows exactly what the D750's sensor is capable of. Despite a 3 -stop increase in exposure, there's virtually no noise or loss of detail. The highlights at the center of the photo are perfectly preserved.

This next example is heavily retouched by again illustrates how much is saved in those NEF Raw files.

Original JPEG
Retouched Raw
Download original

When the photo was taken my colleague Rishi metered on the highlights, with everything else hidden in the dark. While it looks like there's nothing in the black areas of the shot, the opposite is true: the camera has captured all of the detail and stuffed it into the Raw file. By doing some pretty hardcore Raw editing, we were able to turn darkness into detail while keeping the model and back wall properly exposed.

For those who are curious, these are all of the settings that were adjusted in ACR and Lightroom: White Balance: Tint = +10 | Exposure: +0.75 | Highlights: -37 | Shadows: +100 | Whites: -100 | Tone Curve: Highlights = +31, Lights = +45, Darks = -31. Custom +2 EV gradient from upper left to bottom right and -2 EV gradient from right to left of image applied in Lightroom.

Raw Files for Download