Nikon D750 Image Quality


Saturation & Hue Accuracy
Fairly vibrant colors with slightly below average hue accuracy.

ISO Sensitivity
100 400
1600 6400
In the diagram above, the squares show the original color, and the circles show the color that the camera captured. More saturated colors are located toward the periphery of the graph. Hue changes as you travel around the center. Thus, hue-accurate, highly saturated colors appear as lines radiating from the center. Mouse over the links above to compare ISOs, and click to load a larger version.

Saturation. The Nikon D750 pumps dark blues a lot, dark greens moderately, quite a few colors slightly, but actually undersaturates yellow, light green, aqua and cyan tones. Overall, mean saturation levels are just a little higher than average at 11.7% oversaturated at ISO 100. The D750's default mean saturation is fairly consistent across ISOs, ranging from a minimum of 107.5% at ISO 12,800 to 113.7% at extended low ISO 50. Most consumer digital cameras produce color that's more highly saturated (more intense) than found in the original subjects. This is simply because most people like their color a bit brighter than life.

Skin tones. The Nikon D750's rendering of Caucasian skin tones looked a little too warm and yellow in our "sunlit" outdoor lighting test when using auto white balance. (Likely in part because the camera doesn't pump reds as much as most.) Manual white balance produced more healthier-looking pinkish skin tones. Where oversaturation is most problematic is on Caucasian skin tones, as it's very easy for these "memory colors" to be seen as too bright, too pink, too yellow, etc.

Hue. As with most cameras, the Nikon D750 produces a few color shifts relative to the mathematically precise translation of colors in its subjects. Reds are shifted slightly toward orange, light orange toward yellow and cyan toward blue, but there are only very slight shifts in yellow, green and purple. (The cyan to blue shift is very common among the digital cameras we test; we think it's a deliberate choice by camera engineers to produce better-looking sky colors.) Mean "delta-C" color error at base ISO was 6.19 after correction for saturation, which is a little higher than average (lower numbers are better), but still considered good, and remained below 7 across the ISO range. Hue is "what color" the color is.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images


Exposure and White Balance

Indoors, incandescent lighting
Warm results with Auto and Incandescent white balance, though excellent color balance with Manual white balance. About average exposure compensation required.

Auto White Balance
+0.3 EV
Incandescent White Balance
+0.3 EV
Manual White Balance
+0.3 EV

Indoors, in common incandescent lighting, color balance is warm and reddish with the Auto white balance setting. The Incandescent setting is also warm, but with a strong yellow tint. (Some users may prefer this look, though, as being more representative of the original lighting.) The Manual white balance setting produced accurate results, just a touch cool. The D750 required +0.3 EV exposure compensation, which is about average for this shot. Our test lighting for this shot is a mixture of 60 and 100 watt household incandescent bulbs, a pretty yellow light source, but a very common one in typical home settings here in the U.S.

Outdoors, daylight
Vibrant color, but with mixed exposure accuracy. Options like Active D-Lighting and contrast adjustment would help when faced with harsh lighting conditions like these.

Manual White Balance
+1.0 EV
Auto White Balance,
0 EV

The Nikon D750 handled tough outdoor lighting under harsh sunlight fairly well in terms of color, but it struggled a bit with exposure. We found skin tones a touch too yellow in our "Sunlit" Portrait shot with Auto white balance, preferring results with Manual WB. The D750 also underxposed our standard "Sunlit" Portrait shot more than most cameras, and even with +1.0 EV exposure compensation, the mannequin's eyes are a bit dim due to relatively high default contrast. (Most cameras need about +0.7 EV for this shot, so the Nikon is below average here). On the plus side, even with +1.0 EV compensation, few highlights were clipped in the mannequin's white shirt, while dark shadows are very detailed and relatively clean. The Far-field image on the right was just slightly overexposed with a few clipped highlights in very bright white areas (and in specular highlights where you'd expect). Again, detail in the shadows is excellent, and shadow noise is remarkably low. Color here with Auto white balance is very pleasing and vibrant.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Very high resolution, ~2,850 to ~2,900 lines of strong detail.

Strong detail to
~2,900 lines horizontal
Camera JPEG
Strong detail to
~2,850 lines vertical
Camera JPEG
Strong detail to
~2,900 lines horizontal
ACR processed RAW
Strong detail to
~2,850 lines vertical
ACR processed RAW

Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 2,900 lines per picture height in the horizontal direction in JPEGs, and perhaps a touch less in the vertical direction, at about 2,850 lines per picture height. Complete extinction of the pattern didn't occur before the 4,000 line limit of a chart. We weren't able to extract any more resolution with RAW files processed through Adobe Camera Raw 8.7, though complete extinction of the pattern was extended somewhat, and the ACR conversion showed stronger color moiré. Use these numbers to compare with other cameras of similar resolution, or use them to see just what higher resolution can mean in terms of potential detail.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Sharpness & Detail
Very good sharpness and detail, though default sharpening and contrast are a bit high. Minimal noise suppression artifacts at base ISO.

Very good definition of
high-contrast elements,
but with some evidence of
edge enhancement.
Subtle detail: Hair
Noise suppression tends to blur
detail in areas of subtle contrast,
though detail remains strong in
the darker parts of the model's hair here.

Sharpness. The Nikon D750 produces very sharp and detailed images at default settings, though edge enhancement artifacts are more visible compared to previous generations around high-contrast subjects, such as the sharpening halos around the lines and lettering in the crop above left. Default sharpening is a little higher than we're used to seeing for a prosumer Nikon DSLR, but you can always turn it down if you prefer. (And you can always adjust sharpening to your liking.) Edge enhancement creates the illusion of sharpness by enhancing color and tonal differences right at the edge of a rapid transition in color or tone.

Detail. The crop above right shows only minimal detail loss due to noise suppression, as the darker areas of the mannequin's hair show a lot of detail. Individual strands are still distinguishable even in the lighter shadows, though some begin to merge as shadows deepen, and in places where the tone and color of adjacent strands is very close. The hair is also virtually free from chroma noise, which is often not the case. An excellent performance here. Noise-suppression systems in digital cameras tend to flatten-out detail in areas of subtle contrast. The effects can often be seen in shots of human hair, where the individual strands are lost and an almost "watercolor" look appears.

Nikon D750, ACR RAW conversion,
no sharpening, no noise reduction
Sony A99, ACR RAW conversion,
no sharpening, no noise reduction

Aliasing Artifacts. As mentioned previously the Nikon D750 captures sharp, detailed images thanks to its high resolution and weak optical low pass filter, but that means it's also susceptible to moiré and other aliasing artifacts when used with a sharp lens.

As you can see in our Still Life shots, moiré patterns can for instance be seen in the red-leaf fabric. Compared to another 24-megapixel full-frame camera with a stronger anti-alias filter (the Sony A99 in the table above for example, though its transmissive mirror may also be contributing a slight low-pass filter effect), you'll immediately notice the D750's crop contains aliasing artifacts in the form of a wavy moiré pattern that the A99's crop does not contain (both images are at ISO 100 taken with our very sharp Sigma 70mm f/2.8 Macro lenses at f/8).

With the increasing trend of using either a very weak or no optical low pass filter, quite a few cameras produce similar artifacts these days, and the Nikon D750's JPEG processing engine actually does a good job at suppressing aliasing-related false colors in our Resolution target. But it's not fool proof, and luminance moiré is much more difficult to deal with. That's something to be aware of especially if you shoot a lot of man-made subjects with repeating patterns, such as buildings, fabrics, etc. Techniques than can be used to reduce aliasing include shooting at a smaller aperture so that lens diffraction acts as an anti-alias filter, defocusing slightly, shooting at higher ISOs, and post-processing particularly with RAW files.

RAW vs In-Camera JPEGs
As noted above, the Nikon D750 does a great job at capturing lots of fine detail in its JPEGs. Let's see how a RAW conversion using our standard converter (Adobe Camera Raw) at base ISO does:

Base ISO (100)
Camera JPEG, defaults
RAW via Adobe Camera Raw

In the table above, we compare an in-camera JPEG taken at base ISO using default noise reduction and sharpening (on the left) to the matching RAW file converted with Adobe Camera Raw 8.7 using default noise reduction with some fairly strong but tight unsharp mask sharpening applied in Photoshop (300%, radius of 0.3 pixels, and a threshold of 0).

Here, we can see that Adobe Camera Raw combined with sharpening in Photoshop delivers slightly finer detail than the camera JPEG, with fewer sharpening halos around high-contrast edges. It's also able to resolve some of the individual thread pattern in the red-leaf pattern that the JPEG engine partially obscures. Note that you can however see the moiré pattern in the red-leaf fabric mentioned earlier in both the camera JPEG and the ACR conversion.

Bottom line: the D750's in-camera JPEGs at default settings contain excellent detail and crispness at base ISO, though as is usually the case, you can extract even more detail without obvious sharpening artifacts with careful processing of RAW files.

ISO & Noise Performance
Very good detail versus noise up to ISO 6400.

Noise Reduction = Default
ISO 50 ISO 100 ISO 200
ISO 400 ISO 800 ISO 1600
ISO 3200 ISO 6400 ISO 12,800
ISO 25,600 ISO 51,200

Nikon D750 JPEG images are very clean at lower ISOs, and show a nice, very gradual increase in luminance noise as ISO rises with minimal drop-off in image quality up to ISO 1600 (except in low-contrast reds which show more significant blurring -- see our High ISO NR crop page for more). ISO 3200 shows some stronger blurring due to noise reduction, but luminance noise is very fine-grained and detail is still very good with continued low chroma noise. ISO 6400 shows another small decline in image quality, but fine detail is still pretty good and noise well-controlled. Image quality drops off more rapidly at ISO 12,800 and above, though, with stronger blurring and more obvious luminance noise, while chroma noise finally starts to become an issue with fairly obvious yellow and purple blotching by the time ISO 51,200 is reached. Still, excellent high ISO performance overall.

Of course, the impact of noise and detail loss are highly dependent on the size the photos are printed at, and pixel-peeping on-screen has surprisingly little relationship to how the images look when printed: See the Print Quality section below for recommended maximum print sizes at each ISO.

A note about focus for this shot: We shoot this image at f/4, using one of three very sharp reference lenses. To insure that the hair detail we use for making critical judgements about camera noise processing and detail rendering is in sharp focus at the relatively wide aperture we're shooting at, the focus target at the center of the scene is on a movable stand. This lets us compensate for front- or back-focus by different camera bodies, even those that lack micro-focus adjustments. This does mean, though, that the focus target itself may appear soft or slightly out of focus for bodies that front- or back-focused with the reference lens. If you click to view the full-size image for one of these shots and notice that the focus target is fuzzy, you don't need to email and tell us about it; we already know it. :-) The focus target position will simply have been adjusted to insure that the rest of the scene is focused properly.

Extremes: Sunlit, dynamic range and low light tests
Very high resolution with high default contrast, though excellent dynamic range. Excellent low-light performance, capable of capturing bright images in near complete darkness.

+0.3 EV +0.7 EV +1.0 EV

Tthe Nikon D750 required +1.0 EV exposure compensation to keep the mannequin's face reasonably bright, but even then her eyes are a bit dim. Pros would likely prefer that, though, or even the +0.7 EV exposure to preserve all highlights and then balance the image in post (or just shoot RAW). Apart from the underexposure, performance here was excellent with only a few highlights clipped even at +1.0 EV, while shadows are very detailed but do contain some noise, though it's fairly low and very fine-grained. (We prefer this to no noise at the cost of smudged detail.) Note that these shots were captured with the Nikon D750's Active D-Lighting control set to its default of "Off." See below for how Active D-Lighting helps with hot highlights and deep shadows.

Face Detection
0 EV
Auto mode
0 EV
Live View
with Face-priority AF
0 EV

Here, we can see the effect of the Nikon D750's full Auto mode as well as face detection enabled in Live View mode. As you can see from the shots above, full Auto did a much better job than Aperture-priority, selecting Portrait Scene mode which produced a well-exposed subject and background by boosting ISO to 400 and using an aperture of f/5.0 with a shutter speed of 1/400s. It also enabled Active D-Lighting (Auto mode) which reduced overall contrast. In Live View mode using Aperture-priority, Face-priority AF mode also dramatically improved the exposure versus Aperture-priority with the optical viewfinder, selecting a slower shutter speed of 1/40s versus 1/100s (since the other two exposure variables of aperture and ISO were fixed) to better expose for the face. Excellent results here.

Because digital cameras are more like slide film than negative film (in that they tend to have a more limited tonal range), we test them in the harshest situations to see how they handle scenes with bright highlights and dark shadows, as well as what kind of sensitivity they have in low light. The shot above is designed to mimic the very harsh, contrasty effect of direct noonday sunlight, a very tough challenge for most digital cameras. (You can read details of this test here. In actual shooting conditions, be sure to use fill flash in situations like the one shown here; it's better to shoot in open shade whenever possible.)

Active D-Lighting
Active D-Lighting attempts to preserve detail in both highlights and shadows in high-contrast situations, while maintaining moderate levels of contrast. The series of shots below show the effect of the various Active D-Lighting settings (Off (default), Low, Normal, High, Extra High and Auto) available on the Nikon D750 on our high-contrast "Sunlit" Portrait scene.

Note that Active D-Lighting is different from the Retouch menu's D-Lighting, as it is performed during image capture instead of after. (It does affect only JPEG images, though, Nikon very properly doesn't apply tonal adjustments like this to RAW file data. NEF files are however tagged so that Nikon software can automatically apply the effect when converted.)

"Sunlit" Portrait Active D-Lighting (+0.7 EV)
ADL Settings:






Extra High

Mouse over the links to see how the various levels of Active D-Lighting affects our "Sunlit" Portrait shot with +0.7 EV exposure compensation, and click on any link to get to the full-res image. (Active D-Lighting's effect can be a little subtle in shots like those above, so we decided to use a mouse-over with matching histograms to better show how each setting compares. However as mentioned previously, default exposure was too dim and even +0.7 EV isn't enough of a boost to really show Active D-Lighting's effectiveness at highlight protection.)

As you can see from the thumbnail images and histograms above, the Auto setting did a good job, booting shadows and midtones without clipping highlights. And you can see the manual settings did progressively boost shadows and tone-down highlights as the strength was increased. It's also interesting to note that the default ADL setting for the D750 is Off for most exposure modes (with some scene modes being exceptions), while in more consumer-oriented models, the default setting is Auto.

Far-field Active D-Lighting (0 EV)

Here are the results with our Far-field shot. As you can see, Active D-Lighting reduced highlights while boosting or maintaining shadows. The Auto setting did a pretty good job here.

HDR Mode
Like other recent Nikon DSLRs, the D750 offers an in-camera high-dynamic-range imaging function. When enabled, the D750 captures two images with one push of the shutter button -- one underexposed and one overexposed -- and combines them in-camera to produce a high-dynamic-range JPEG. (RAW format is not supported.) Unlike some other recent high-end Nikon bodies like the D810, though, there are no exposure differential or smoothing options on the D750. There are just Low, Normal, High, Extra High and Auto settings. You can however still elect to do a series of HDR shots without having to re-enable the mode each time, or select a Single Photo option.

Far-field HDR mode

Mouse over the links to see how the available settings affect our Far-field shot at default exposure. Click on a link to get to the full-res image.

Obviously moving subjects should be avoided, as you can see from the ghosting in the leaves and branches in some of HDR shots above. But aside from the noticeable halos and "glowing" caused by the High and Extra High settings, we think Nikon D750's in-camera HDR is one of the better implementations, though it would have been nice to have included the smoothing strength options some other Nikon bodies have, as well as the option to combine more exposures than just two.

Dynamic Range Analysis (RAW mode)
While we once performed our own dynamic range measurements based on in-camera JPEGs as well as converted RAW images (when the camera was supported by Adobe Camera Raw), we've switched to using DxO Labs' results from their DxOMark website. As technology advanced, the dynamic range of modern high-end cameras in some cases exceeded the range of the Stouffer T4110 density scale that we used for our own measurements. DxO's approach based on RAW data before demosaicing is also more revealing, because it measures the fundamental dynamic range of the sensor, irrespective of whatever processing is applied to JPEGs, or to RAW data by off-the-shelf conversion software.

In the following, we use DxO's "Print" dynamic range results, which are scaled based on camera resolution. As the name suggests, this scaling corresponds to the situation in which you print at a given size, regardless of how many megapixels the camera might have. (In other words, if you've decided to make a 13x19 inch print, that's the size you're printing, whether the camera's resolution is 16 or 300 megapixels.) For the technically-minded, you can find a discussion of the reasoning behind this here on the DxOMark website. Also note that DxO Labs uses a signal-to-noise (SNR) threshold of 1 when defining the lower boundary of acceptable luminance noise in their dynamic range measurements, which corresponds to the "Low Quality" threshold of the Imatest software we used to use for this measurement.

Here, we compare the Nikon D750's dynamic range to the Canon 5D Mark III and Sony A99, all full-frame interchangeable cameras with similar resolution and in the same ballpark in terms of pricing at time of writing.

As you can see from the above graph (click for a larger image), the D750's dynamic range is almost a full stop better than the Sony A99 at their ISO 100 settings (14.53 vs 13.65 EV), and the Nikon D750 continues to have an advantage that varies between 1/3 stop to about 1-1/3 stop depending on the sensitivity.

The D750's dynamic range is almost a whopping 3 stops better than the Canon 5D III's at their lowest ISOs (14.53 vs 11.74 EV) but the 5D III almost catches up at about ISO 1600 and offers essentially the same dynamic range as the D750 at higher ISOs. Comparing the D750 to a camera with a more recent and very similar sensor, the Sony A7, we see its dynamic range results are more similar, with the Nikon edging out the A7 at most ISOs with up to about a 2/3 stop advantage, while producing practically the same DR at a couple of ISOs.

Click here to visit the DxOMark page for the Nikon D750 for more of their test results and additional comparisons.

  1 fc
11 lux
1/16 fc
0.67 lux

2 s

30 s

30 s

1/15 s

1 s

1 s

1/250 s

1/15 s

1/15 s

Low Light. The Nikon D750 performed very well here, able to capture usable images down to our lowest 1/16 foot-candle light level (about 1/16 as bright as average city street lighting at night) at even the base ISO of 100. However 1/16 fc would likely be a bit dim below ISO 100 because of the 30 second shutter speed limit (Bulb mode is required for longer exposures).

Color balance with Auto white balance is fairly neutral at one foot-candle, just a touch cool, but took on a strong magenta cast at 1/16 foot-candle, as we've seen with other Nikon DSLRs.

Noise isn't an issue at ISO 100 even with NR minimized, and is well-controlled at ISO 3200 though some fine-grained luminance noise as well as chroma noise is visible when NR is turned down to a minimum (right-most column). The top ISO of 51,200 on the other hand is rather noisy and soft, and is probably best avoided except for very small prints or web images.

Some very minor horizontal banding (pattern noise) is visible at ISO 51,200, and there's also a slight reddish tint emanating from the bottom of the frame at the top ISO, indicating some heat blooming. Longer exposures at lower ISOs may show similar heat-blooming discoloration. We didn't notice any issues with hot pixels.

The camera's phase-detection autofocus system was able to focus on our test subject down to below the 1/16 foot-candle light level unassisted with an f/2.8 lens, which is excellent, and in total darkness with the built-in AF illuminator enabled. In Live View mode, the D750's contrast-detect autofocus was able to focus down to just above the 1/4 foot-candle, which is fair.

(Keep in mind that the longer shutter speeds here demand the use of a tripod to prevent any blurring from camera movement. A useful trick is to just prop the camera on a convenient surface, and use its self-timer to release the shutter. This avoids any jiggling from your finger pressing the shutter button, and can work quite well when you don't have a tripod handy.)

How bright is this? The one foot-candle light level that this test begins at roughly corresponds to the brightness of typical city street-lighting at night. Cameras performing well at that level should be able to snap good-looking photos of street-lit scenes.

NOTE: This low light test is conducted with a stationary subject, and the camera mounted on a sturdy tripod. Most digital cameras will fail miserably when faced with a moving subject in dim lighting. (For example, a child's ballet recital or a holiday pageant in a gymnasium.) Digital SLRs like the Nikon D750 do much better than point & shoots, but you still shouldn't expect a quick autofocus lock with moving subjects.

Flash Test Results

Exposure and Range
A fairly powerful pop-up flash. Less than average exposure compensation required.

Normal Flash,
f/4, 1/60s, +0.3 EV
Slow-Sync Mode
f/4, 1/13s, 0 EV

Exposure. When it came to exposure, the D750's built-in flash underexposed our Indoor Portrait subject slightly at its default setting, requiring +0.3 EV flash exposure compensation (which is actually less than the average of +0.7 EV required for this shot). The camera's Slow-Sync flash mode produced a bright exposure without flash exposure compensation (0 EV), though with a strong orange cast from the background incandescent lighting.

Manufacturer-Specified Flash Range

7 feet
ISO 100

Manufacturer Specified Flash Range. The Nikon D750's flash is rated with a Guide Number of 12/39 (m/ft) at ISO 100. That works out to about 7 feet at f/5.6. As you can see in the flash range test shot above, the Nikon D750 produced a slightly dim exposure (about -0.5 EV lower than ideal), indicating the flash output rating is reasonably accurate.

Note: Here we shoot with manufacturer-specified camera settings, at the range the company claims for the camera, to assess the validity of the specific claims. The specified range has been calculated for the lens and aperture used in the test shot above.

Output Quality

Print Quality

Excellent prints at 30 x 40 inches and above for all ISOs up to 400; an impressively large 24 x 36 inches at ISO 800; and acceptable prints are viable at all ISOs with ISO 51,200 topping out at 4 x 6 inches.

ISO 50 through 400 images easily allow for prints at 30 x 40 inches or larger. Despite the range of ISOs here, the prints all look practically indistinguishable and all display crisp, sharp detail and excellent colors.

ISO 800 prints safely top out at 24 x 36 inches. We saw a very slight drop in fine detail when looking really closely. Prints at 30 x 40 could work in certain situations, especially for wall display. Noise at this ISO is very low, even in the shadow areas.

ISO 1600 images look practically identical to ISO 800 shots, only with a subtle increase in some shadow noise, but with the similar excellent level of fine detail and color rendition. Therefore, we’re calling 20 x 30 inch prints the size limit at this ISO, but a 24 x 36 inch print would certainly do for wall display.

ISO 3200 prints at sizes larger than 16 x 20 begin to make noise visible. However at 16 x 20 inches, noise is practically imperceptible and the prints at this size display excellent colors and fine detail.

ISO 6400 images are slightly noisier, but overall very well-controlled for this ISO level and therefore can make prints up to 13 x 19 quite easily. A 16 x 20 inch print could be usable for less critical applications.

ISO 12,800 prints can go as large as 8 x 10 inches easily. Very fine detail is becoming reduced by noise and noise reduction processing. Colors are still vibrant and pleasing, though.

ISO 25,600 images are still impressively capable at producing usable prints up to 5 x 7 inches, and perhaps even 8 x 10 inches for less critical applications. Noise and lack of detail prevents anything larger, however.

ISO 51,200 prints max out at 4 x 6 inches, which is nonetheless very impressive, as noise itself appears quite well controlled. Fine detail is a bit lacking and "mushy" preventing us from recommending larger prints sizes.

The latest full-frame Nikon DSLR certainly does not disappoint in the printing department. All the way up to ISO 400, images from the Nikon D750 are practically noise-free and full of crisp, sharp fine detail and great colors, which allow for prints up to 30 x 40 inches, or higher -- depending on how comfortable you’re willing to push the resolution limits of the 24.3-megapixel sensor. At the mid-range to higher ISOs, prints remain very pleasing to the eye with minimal noise. ISO 800 images can print as large as 24 x 36 inches, and even ISO 6400 files produce a nice 13 x 19 inch print. At the extreme end of the ISO scale, the D750 still manages acceptable prints with a 4 x 6 print at ISO 51,200.


The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Nikon D750 Photo Gallery .

Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Nikon D750 with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!

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