Is it right for you?

Depending on your needs and expectations, the Nikon D780 may be the perfect camera for you. On the other hand, there may be a better option out there with your name on it. Use our handy guide below to see if the Nikon D780 is a good fit based on what you like to shoot.


Travel

Raw converted in ACR.
ISO 100 | 1/250 sec | F2.8 | Nikon 50mm F1.8 D
Photo: Dan Bracaglia

When on the road, there's often little room for error when it comes to gear hiccups so a reliable camera is key. The D780 certainly meets this requirement: comprehensive weather-sealing, excellent battery life and USB-charging all make for a trusted companion. Plus, its out-of-camera JPEGs look great, meaning they're ready to share to your smartphone and then the world, via Nikon's handy SnapBridge app. Just be aware, there are smaller, lighter Full-frame options available and much smaller, lighter non Full-frame choices too.

Pros:

  • Rugged, weather-sealed body
  • Very good JPEGs, flexible Raw files
  • Easy wireless sharing
  • Good battery life compared to mirrorless counterpart
  • USB battery charging (with EN-EL15b batteries)

Cons:

  • There are smaller, lighter options available
  • Default JPEG noise reduction a tad strong at upper ISOs

[Back to top]


Video

The D780 is a compelling video package thanks to oversampled 4K video with no crop, excellent video AF with face detect, 1080/120p slow motion capture and a laundry list of features and tools to assist with movie-making. The only key thing missing is in-body image stabilization. Those with Nikon glass who're interested in video would probably be better off getting a stabilized Nikon Z6 with an adapter. That said, the D780's electronic video stabilization does make hand-held shooting possible, but there is a small crop.

Pros:

  • Excellent oversampled 4K video
  • Good video AF
  • Effective electronic video stabilization, but with a crop
  • 1080/120p for slow-motion video
  • Separate exposure settings for stills and video
  • 10-bit Log output to external recorder
  • Focus peaking and zebra warnings
  • Headphone and mic sockets

Cons:

  • No in-body stabilization
  • A fully-articulating screen would be nice

[Back to top]


Family and moments

Out of camera JPEG.
ISO 5000 | 1/160 sec | F2.8 | Nikon 35mm F2 D
Photo: Dan Bracaglia

Any camera tasked with documenting those you love has to just work, plain and simple. A missed shot is a missed moment in the story of life. Whether shooting through the finder or using live view, the D780 offers reliable autofocus that's not too likely to let you down. When shooting with the latter, face and eye detect make capturing a sharp image of that special someone(s) a breeze. And nice JPEGs and easy sharing mean you can send that keeper of Aunt Betty laughing uncontrollably to her phone while the tears are still streaming down her face. There are of course, smaller, lighter cameras some may find more convenient.

Pros:

  • Very good JPEGs, flexible Raw files
  • Face detect identifies subjects with ease
  • Eye detect in live view
  • Good focus tracking through the finder
  • Easy wireless sharing

Cons:

  • No eye detect when shooting through the finder
  • Default JPEG noise reduction a tad strong at upper ISOs
  • There are smaller, lighter options available

[Back to top]


Landscape

Raw converted in ACR.
ISO 5600 | 1/160 sec | F5.6 | Nikon 35mm F2 D
Photo: Dan Bracaglia

Like a good travel camera, a solid landscape camera needs to be reliable, meaning good battery life and resistance to the elements. Beyond that, resolution, sensor size and dynamic range are king. While the D780's 24MP full-frame chip isn't the highest resolution in town, it still offers excellent detail capture and great dynamic range. And some may find the in-camera focus stacking mode handy.

Pros:

  • Rugged and weather-sealed body
  • Very good JPEGs, flexible Raw files
  • Articulating touchscreen display
  • Good battery life
  • Focus stacking mode
  • Good low light AF

Cons:

  • Lacks resolution of some competitors
  • No high-resolution mode
  • Some shutter shock at slower shutter speeds when using long focal lengths, use the 'Quiet shutter-release' mode + electronic first-curtain shutter for best results

[Back to top]


Portraits

Raw converted in ACR.
ISO 100 | 1/320 sec | F5.6 | Nikon 50mm F1.8 D
Photo: Dan Bracaglia

A plethora of good portrait lenses, an ability to render pleasing skin tones and accurate autofocus make the D780 an excellent choice for those wishing to capture the essence of others. That being said, there are cameras with both face and eye detect when shooting through the finder, not just the former.

Pros:

  • Attractive JPEG skin tones
  • Lots of portraits lenses for the system
  • Face detect identifies subjects with ease
  • Eye detect in live view
  • Good focus tracking through the finder

Cons:

  • No eye detect when shooting through the finder

[Back to top]


Lifestyle and people

Raw converted in ACR.
ISO 3200 | 1/250 sec | F1.4| Tamron 35mm F1.4
Photo: Dan Bracaglia

For the Instagram savvy, a good lifestyle camera needs to offer image quality substantially better than that of a smartphone and the D780 does. You want real bokeh, baby, you got real bokeh, baby. It also needs to, well, fit into one's life. To that regard, the D780 is chunkier than other options and it lacks trendy retro-chic stylings. Still it's got what matters in terms of capability.

Pros:

  • Very good JPEGs, flexible Raw files
  • Face detect identifies subjects with ease
  • Eye detect in live view
  • Good focus tracking through the finder
  • Good low light AF
  • Easy wireless sharing

Cons:

  • No eye detect when shooting through the finder
  • Default JPEG noise reduction a tad strong at upper ISOs
  • There are smaller, lighter options available

[Back to top]


Candid and street

Raw converted in ACR.
ISO 250 | 1/160 sec | F2.5 | Nikon 35mm F1.8 G
Photo: Dan Bracaglia

Street photographers cherish the subtle, the quiet, the discreet, the cool. Though the D780 offers a quiet shooting mode, it's not the most subtle camera. Still, a responsive tilting touchscreen makes for easy shooting-from-the-hip. And JPEGs can easily be shared with subjects you meet, on the fly.

Pros:

  • Silent shooting options
  • Tilting touchscreen
  • Face detect identifies subjects with ease
  • Very good JPEGs, flexible Raw files
  • Easy wireless sharing

Cons:

  • Size-wise this is not the most discreet camera
  • Default JPEG noise reduction a tad strong at upper ISOs

[Back to top]


Sport, action and wildlife

Raw converted in ACR.
ISO 25600 | 1/640 sec | F2.8 | Nikon 70-200mm F2.8 E @ 100mm
Photo: Dan Bracaglia

The D700-series has historically been well-suited for a wide variety of photographic disciplines and the D780 carries over that tradition. Its 7 fps through the finder burst rate isn't jaw-dropping, but it's fast enough to capture most sports and action. Plus the camera's autofocus is incredibly reliable, even if the point spread feels somewhat limited by modern standards. And a 100 frame buffer is plenty deep, not to mention fast to clear.

Pros:

  • 7 fps mechanical burst with deep buffer
  • Good AF-C and AF tracking performance through the finder
  • Very good JPEGs, flexible Raw files
  • Rugged, weather-sealed body
  • Good battery life
  • Dual UHS-II SD card slots
  • Lots of telephoto glass available for the system

Cons:

  • Through the finder AF point spread limited to center portion of frame
  • No AF joystick or Touchpad AF when shooting through the finder
  • Default JPEG noise reduction a tad strong at upper ISOs

[Back to top]


Weddings and events

Out of camera JPEG.
ISO 14400 | 1/320 sec | F2.8 | Nikon 85mm F1.8 G
Photo: Dan Bracaglia

Again, anyone familiar with the D700-series knows they've long been favored by wedding and event photographers because they're well-rounded cameras. And the D780 is no exception. Good autofocus, image quality, battery life and lens selection make it an excellent option for anyone in this field. Not to mention, dual card slots and silent shooting options add to its appeal.

Pros:

  • Very good JPEGs, flexible Raw files
  • Face detect identifies subjects with ease
  • Eye detect in live view
  • Good focus tracking through the finder
  • Good low light AF
  • Silent shooting mode
  • Tilting touchscreen
  • Focus stacking mode
  • Good battery life
  • Dual UHS-II SD card slots

Cons:

  • No eye detect when shooting through the finder
  • Live view tracking not as accurate/reliable as through the finder
  • Some shutter shock at slower shutter speeds when using long focal lengths, use the 'Quiet shutter-release' mode + electronic first-curtain shutter for best results

[Back to top]