All the Right Parts: Nikon D780

By Talicia Marie Stewart

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — Nikon’s new full-frame DSLR D780, set to release on January 23, offers a new and improved replacement for the D750. But at double the price, you can see why some may be hesitant to buy. In terms of specs, improvements and new features, the D780 shows promise in allowing enthusiasts and semi-professional photographers to experiment with a wide range of new features not seen in a DLSR before.

To start, its battery life is insane. The D780s predecessor, the D750, was formerly the longest-lasting Nikon camera in terms of battery life, allowing for roughly 1230 shots per charge. But the D780 is said to surpass that by almost double. Users can expect to shoot roughly 2020 shots on just one charge, perfect for long photoshoots and travel photography. Also exceeding the D750, the D780 has two SD card slots installed. Typically, with both Canon and Nikon cameras, two slots would be available; one for an SD card and one for a CF or faster card slot. But two SD cards slots allows for multiple storage locations, shooting RAW images to one card and JPEGs to another or using one for backup in case the other gets lost.

In terms of new features, there is a lot to talk about. The D780 effectively implements the same sensor and chip phase detection as the Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera. This means that when focussing via the optical viewfinder, users get the same 51-point autofocus with 15 cross-type points as the D750 and when in Live view, users get 273-point phase-detection autofocus. This is the first time Nikon has used their AF system for Live View, from one of their mirrorless models, on a DSLR.

The thing that most people can’t seem to get enough of is the prolonged shutter speed. With the ability to extend the exposure to 900 seconds you can believe astrophotographers will be out all-night shooting stars. This means that you could potentially take a photo exposed for fifteen minutes long. The previous D750 could only go as long as 30 seconds and as quick as 1/4000s. On the other end, the D780 can photograph images at 1/8000s of a second, allowing the capture of subjects at incredible speeds whilst still retaining high quality.

The new and improved hybrid AF system “supports Eye-detection AF, which automatically detects human eyes with still photography, greatly increasing flexibility with portrait photography.” It is also the first Nikon DSLR to utilize focal-plane phase-detection AF. This changes the game for video capture. One reviewer even commented that “this is, so far, the best focusing Nikon DSLR in live view that has ever been made.”

Because it has those focusing sensors on the imaging sensors itself, the performance in live view is going to be drastically improved. This is something Nikon has never done with its DSLR’s before. Tracking, facial tracking, and eye detection are all included in this camera and will be better than ever.

In silent live view mode, the FPS can go up to 12 frames per second with auto-focus and full auto-exposure, as opposed to the D750 which can only manage 6.5. It is now capable of 4K recording at 30FPS using the full width of the sensor. In Full HD it can shoot up to 120FPS which is great for people that want to experiment with slow-motion shooting.

The ISO is also something to admire. It has a ridiculous range (equivalent to) ISO 50 to ISO 204800, the latter allowing for incredibly low light shooting. While, in other cheaper cameras, such a high ISO would render the image blurry and incredibly pixilated, the D780 is equipped with focal-plane phase-detection auto-focus (AF) pixels. When this is utilised with the EXPEED 6 image-processing engine, “even at higher sensitivity settings, noise is effectively reduced to preserve sharp and clear images.”

The D780 is a DSLR with all the right parts of a mirrorless camera. It borrows Z series mirrorless tech and turns in into a new kind of DLSR that has never been seen before. There are parts of it that are familiar to the D750 and the Z6, and there are parts that are completely new. Do not be mistaken, this camera is aimed at photographers that want to buy a DSLR and are enthusiastic enough to try all is new features. But if you can spare the bucks, it’s definitely worth looking into when it arrives.

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