After over ten years of shooting Canon cameras and lenses, I have officially jumped ship and joined the Nikon camp. The reason? The Nikon D750. This was a long, strung out decision that I did not take likely. Having to buy and sell nearly $15,000 worth of equipment isn't easy. But after seeing firsthand the amazing image quality of the D750 compared to my Canon 5D Mark III, I could not resist.
The biggest selling point for me of the D750 is the incredible dynamic range captured by the sensor. Dynamic range is the sensor's ability to capture a spectrum of details in shadows and highlights (blacks and whites); it's the difference between the darkest and lightest portions of an image. In practical shooting terms, dynamic range effects the extent to which an image's exposure can be adjusted up or down in post processing. The higher the dynamic range the more latitude a photographer has to manipulate exposure, shadows and highlights without losing image quality and without introducing image noise.
The Nikon D750 dominates the Canon 5D Mark III in this category. There are two reasons for this: 1) the 5D Mark III is an older camera due for an upgrade; and 2) Nikon outsources their sensor development to Sony while Canon produces their sensors in-house. I believe Sony is more advanced in this field than Canon.
High ISO Performance
I was pleasantly pleased with the 5D Mark III's ISO performance, but I am thrilled to see how well the D750 performs. I am now pushing my ISO as high as 8,000 (and sometimes 10,000!) with confidence that my image will look clean with minimal post processing noise reduction. This, again, is a result of where Sony is leading Canon in sensor technology.
Dynamic range also plays a role in ISO. The higher the ISO setting in an image, the more important it is to nail your exposure accurately - the reason being that a high ISO image will have less flexibility in post processing exposure adjustments before noise becomes apparent. The D750's superb dynamic range increases a photographer's margin of error even in high ISO.
Low Light Autofocus
Although the 5D Mark III has 61-focus points vs the D750's 51, my in-the-field experience has found the Nikon to be faster and more accurate in low light situations. As a wedding photographer, this is especially important during the reception or a darker, indoor ceremony. I am also finding the D750's continuous focus mode to be more accurate than Canon's AI-Servo. I can't describe this quantitatively, but going through images of my last few weddings I am noticing more keepers than before. I have read other photographers claiming the same thing.
What I Miss in the 5D Mark III
The three characteristics above were enough for me to make the switch - improved dynamic range, great ISO performance, and better low light autofocus. Done deal. But, there are a few things I miss in the 5D III.
Overall, I like the 5D's ergonomics better - it just felt better in my hand. Maybe I will get used to the feel of the D750, but the 5D III had a beefier feel that felt very comfortable.
There are two Canon lenses I miss: the Canon 70-200 f/2.8L IS II and the Canon 85 f/1.2L II. Those are two of the most amazing lenses on the planet. I now own the Nikon versions of each and I am pleased, they are sharp with great image quality. But the Canon versions are a bit sharper with slightly better color, bokeh and image quality. Still, not enough to keep me in the Canon camp.
I also miss Canon's menu. As weird as that may sound, navigating the controls and custom options in the 5D III was much easier and more intuitive than it is in the D750. Canon's menu is much cleaner and better organized.
Misc. Features I Like in the D750
The tilting screen - I never though this was something I would ever care for, but now I am hooked. The D750's screen can tilt up and down, and if you like shooting from low ground level angles this is a huge feature. I place the camera in live view, set my camera on the ground and tilt the screen up. Now I can shoot looking at the screen instead of laying on my side and getting my clothes all dirty and nasty.
The D750 has built-in WiFi. So far I have only used this feature once - and that was to send an image from the camera to my iPhone in order to do a quick edit and post on Instagram. It was fairly simple and is probably a feature I will begin to use more often.
What About an Upcoming 5D Mark IV?
There are quite a few rumors of an upcoming Canon 5D Mark IV, and I imagine when it is announced it will be compared head-to-head with the Nikon D750. So, why did I choose not to wait before making the huge investment in Nikon?
First, the rumors of a 5D IV have been around for awhile and the timetable continues to change. The most recent news I have heard is early or mid 2016. I was tired of waiting and the beautiful images of the D750 were beckoning me to switch.
Second, pricing. At the time of this writing, the D750 is slightly less expensive than the 5D Mark III, and the 5D III is quite a few years old! I was able to sell my older, used cameras and purchase brand new D750's for nearly the same price. Also, when the elusive 5D IV is announced I expect it to be around $3,000. That is over $1,000 higher than a D750.
Third, in trying to figure out where Canon and Nikon are going into the future, I get the impression that Canon is putting more effort into their video products and customers than they are photographers. I see Nikon still fully committed to producing the best photography cameras.
The Nikon D750 is a game changer for some photographers. For me, as a wedding photographer, the benefits and features of the D750 are spot on to what my needs are. Portrait photographers may not see enough benefits to make a switch (though, take a look at the Nikon 810). Wildlife and landscape photographers might see some temptations in the autofocus and dynamic range, but will likely to be hesitant to switch over to a new set of lenses. It depends on what you shoot and your personal needs, but do not be surprised if you begin seeing wedding photographers jumping the Canon ship to join the Nikon camp. The D750 was built perfectly for wedding photographers, and I can only imagine how much better it will get when the next version of the camera is introduced.