Video

The Nikon D780 is a compelling video machine, capable of excellent 4K and 1080p video, the latter at up to 120 fps for a slow-motion effect. Video autofocus works well and though there's no in-body stabilization, electronic stabilization works fairly well when shooting hand-held. But it does come with a slight crop.

Key Takeaways:

  • The D780 captures excellent oversampled 4K footage
  • Autofocus works well during video capture, face detect is especially effective
  • Electronic stabilization is surprisingly effective for hand-held shooting, but comes with a slight 1.1x crop
  • You can capture 1080/120p video for slow-motion
  • The camera can output 10-bit Log footage to an external recorder
  • Headphone and microphone ports
  • Choice over whether video settings are carried over, or distinct from, stills settings

Video basics

The Nikon D780 shoots high-quality 4K video (24, 25 and 30p), a huge improvement over the D750's maximum 1080/60p footage. The camera can also shoot 1080p video at up 120 fps. In addition, an APS-C crop mode can be used when shooting 4K or 1080p footage (except 120p) for more reach (or to control rolling shutter, more on that later). And perhaps most importantly, the output from all of these modes is excellent (see below).

The D780 also gets on-sensor phase detect resulting in superior video autofocus compared to the D750's contrast detect-based system. Autofocus in video behaves similar to when shooting stills in live view. There's no eye detect but face detect works quite well as long as the subject(s) fill a decent portion of the frame, and users can easily jump between detected faces by tapping the screen or using the D-pad. That said, we found the standard tap-to-track AF less reliable than face detect (though adjusting the AF sensitivity, g4 in the Custom menu, may help in some scenarios).

The D780 has microphone, headphone and HDMI ports.

To further dial in video AF settings, users can adjust the camera's AF speed based on an 11-point scale. It's also worth noting that the camera has an additional AF mode called AF-F (in addition to AF-C and AF-S). This mode offers full-time autofocus, regardless of whether the shutter is half depressed or not (which is the case when using AF-C in video on the D780).

Users can decide whether the camera carries over settings from sills shooting to video mode or whether each is set up distinctly. There's also a dedicated 12-slot video quick-access menu than can be customized to one's liking.

Video features

The D780 gets almost all the same fabulous video features as the Nikon Z6, including but not limited to: a flat picture profile, time code options, a wind noise filter, focus peaking, zebra warnings and electronic image stabilization. However one key feature missing is in-body image stabilization. While the D780's electronic stabilization is surprisingly effective at smoothing hand-held shots, it's not as effective as the Z6's in-body stabilization. It also comes with a slight 1.1x crop.

For the aspiring Scorsese, the Z6 can also output 10-bit footage over HDMI. Users can choose between the highly-gradable N-log format or the ready-to-view Hybrid-log gamma format. If you chose the former, a 'view assist' function can be used to correct the preview while you roll.

Video quality

4K

The Nikon D780's oversampled 4K looks the same as the Nikon Z6's, which is to say, excellent. Both cameras are using large-radius sharpening which results in a punchy out-of-camera look. The D780 is capturing an impressive amount of detail here similar to the Panasonic S1 and the Sony's a7 III, though the Sony seems to have the smartest processing. And D780's 4K also completely smokes that from the Canon EOS R.

4K cropped footage looks quite similar to standard 4K, though perhaps with slightly more sharpening. The crop footage is also a bit noisier.

1080p

The D780's 1080/24p footage also looks impressive (again mirroring that of the Z6), with far more detail captured than the Sony a7 III, the Canon EOS R, or the Panasonic S1. It's also no real surprise the D780's 1080p footage looks better than the D750's.

The camera's 1080/120p footage also outshines that of the Sony a7 III. As does its 1080/24p APS-C footage.

Rolling shutter

When panning, there is some noticeable rolling shutter in the D780's 4K full-frame footage. Switching the camera into the DX crop mode helps improve this a bit. And rolling shutter is even less noticeable when shooting 1080p.

Video Mode Shutter rate
4K FF 30 / 24 20.1 ms
4K APS-C 30 / 24 13 ms
1080 60/30/24p 6.5 ms
1080 120p 5.1 ms