Initial impressions

The D750 impressed us hugely when it was first launched: it was the first full-frame camera in the $2000-ish price range that felt full-featured, rather than being obviously cut-down to hit the price point (and prevent cannibalization of sales of more expensive models). The result was a do-everything enthusiast camera in the mold of the D300, and one that we could still comfortably recommend, five years later, albeit at a lower price.

Which leaves the D780 with big boots to fill. We have to assume that stocks of D750 will dwindle in the coming months, so it won't have to directly face-off against its much marked-down older brother, but it still has to square up to the likes of Sony's a7 III (and its massively discounted but more overtly limited predecessors).

The D780 also has to live up to Nikon's own, less expensive, Z6 model with which it shares a lot of its underlying technology. And it's this comparison that reveals what is perhaps the D780's most compelling feature: the Nikon F-mount.

Quite simply, if you're starting without a commitment to a full-frame system, then it probably makes more sense to buy a Z6, rather than a Z6 in a (very well-refined) DSLR body. But if you already have a selection of F-mount lenses, then the D780 is a very attractive proposition indeed.

We haven't yet used it enough to get a full sense of how much better it is than the D750, but Nikon has tweaked, polished and improved just about every feature on the camera. But, having used the Z6 extensively, it's clear that the D780 will offer a much more satisfying live view experience than the D750 did.

When you press the live view button, whether for stills or video, the D780 retains its composure and remains the fast, competent camera it is in viewfinder mode (something that couldn't be said of its forebear). We suspect a fair number of people will buy the D780 with the intention of using it as a conventional DSLR but may get seduced by the experience they have with the mirror flipped up.

In this respect, the D780 is a way to provide all Nikon's latest feature developments to the F-mount invested audience that could end up functioning as a gateway drug to its mirrorless Z system. There's a chance that our irritations with the live view AF interface will seem even more stark, in such direct contrast with Nikon's slick through-the-viewfinder AF system, but we'll wait 'till we've spent more time shooting, before drawing any such conclusions.