Untitled photo

Thoughts on the Nikon D750 - Dynamic Range

Back in April I sold my trusty Nikon D80 to a friend and immediately felt a little loss. Noisy high-ISO performance, low dynamic range, and cropped sensor aside, I'd come to love that camera.

That said, it was starting to collect dust – on the way out the door, more often than not, I’d pick up my film bodies or just get snapping with the excellent camera on my phone. It was time to say goodbye.

But something was missing. Having a full-frame body - an idea I'd toyed with since the D700 came out in 2008 - started to make more sense. My lenses – all full frame - would look the same on film and digital bodies! Instant gratification! Modern sensors and construction! I needed a full frame body.

After a bit of deliberation between the D610, D750 and D810, I took the plunge and bought the middle of the three. Better autofocus, dynamic range and a tilt/swivel rear screen the reviews told me. With one crying wallet and two days of waiting, my shiny new D750 arrived in the mail. Excited to give it a spin, I attached the lovely Nikon 24mm f/2.8 AF-D lens and set off to Trinity Groves:

With the metering mode set to “Highlight Priority” and the picture control set to “Flat,” I steadied the camera on the side of the pedestrian bridge and took the above shot. On-screen, it looked…well, flat. A little underwhelmed, returned home to do some editing.

It was only after I fired up Lightroom that I realized what an amazing camera this is – the amount of detail you can pull from the shadows is astounding. You can literally shoot four stops below a standard exposure and recover almost all details from the shadows, with minimal noise and artifacts.

This ability to capture trouble-free shadow details is what gives the D750 such a great dynamic range. When I see a high-contrast scene, I find myself deliberately underexposing the photo and recovering the shadows in post. Who needs HDR processing?

In summary, the D750 surpassed my expectations. Familiar Nikon controls, great build quality and amazing high-ISO performance are all well and good, but what keeps me smiling is just how much latitude the RAW files have.

It makes editing feel like magic – taking dark, flat images and creating something beautiful.

Adam Simmons

December 25, 2015