D780

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by Rick Helmke, Jun 6, 2021.

  1. Evening everyone,

    I’ve been tossing around the idea of another full frame dslr and the D780 keeps coming to mind. I’m simply looking for something I can just grab and toss in the car every day with no ther support gear. Is the 780 proving to be a good one? There are plenty of other options but I have not yet seen the 780 in use around here. Is anyone here using one? Do you like it? Thanks.

    Rick H.
     
  2. The D780 is essentially Z6 innards (sans IBIS) stuffed into a DSLR body while eliminating the pop-up flash and the ability to add a battery grip. If you use live view a lot (and/or video), you will have the best AF performance of any Nikon DSLR. If you mostly use the optical viewfinder, then a D750 would serve you as well for a lot less money.
     
    bgelfand likes this.
  3. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    As a Z6 owner since essentially day 1 (I ordered one as soon as the Z6 was available for sale in November 2018, and there was no initial shortage at all), I always question the idea for the D780. For a 24MP sensor, the Z6 comes with an excellent one, slightly improved from the one used in the 2014 D750. However, the advantage for the Z6 is the EVF, which is very suitable for video capture, as well as the Z mount, whose short registration distance plus width allow better wide-angle designs. When you stuff that sensor into a DSLR, you lose those two main advantages.

    If you want something that you can toss in the car with no other support gear, I can highly recommend the Z-mount 24-200mm superzoom. Previously I have used Nikon's DX 18-200mm AF-S VR and I also own the FX 28-300mm/f4.5-5.6 AF-S VR. Neither one of those is good optically. However, the Z 24-200 is pretty sharp from wide to long, and it turns out to be a pretty good macro lens also, but it is a slow f6.3 past 80mm all the way to 200mm. If you go that route, the question is which body you want to put behind it. If you get the Z5 + 24-200, the combo is $1700, cheaper than the D780 body alone. The Z6 will cost more and you'll need XQD/CFx memory cards.
     
  4. I think the D780 came out at an unlucky time as the pandemic was about to start and with restricted travel and almost all events cancelled in many places, and severe restrictions on how people can meet and work together meant that there would be reduced demand for new cameras for quite some time.

    Nikon shot themselves in the foot a little bit by not including the option of a vertical grip in the D780. I guess they thought it was not so much a priority for a camera that is meant to be compact and give the best video (out of Nikon DSLRs). Videographers mainly shoot in the horizontal orientation as well (apart from certain social media platforms). But it could also be an attempt to strike a blow towards third-party grip manufacturers. Still this kind of thing tends to backfire, and people notice when features are taken out.

    I checked out the D780 a few times in a store and felt that the shape of the body is improved and the grip which in the D750 felt really narrow and awkward to hold with my fingers was now easier and nicer to hold (just speaking of my personal experience, not trying to say that others would necessarily make the same observations) in the D780. The D750 has the following limitations which led me to sell it after only a few thousand shots: fine tuning limited to 12 lenses (this might not seem a problem until counting all the lens + TC combinations), small buffer, no support of UHS-II speeds, narrow and deep grip, colors that different significantly from my other cameras (of course they can be adjusted but it doesn't make post work easier to have to make different adjustments depending on the camera), and the salient novel feature that the D750 had (tilting LCD screen) was made somewhat less useful by CDAF-based LV AF which doesn't handle moving subjects well. The D780 addresses most of these. The D780 LV AF is really phenomenal improvement over the D750 and other Nikon DSLRs. Unlike the Z6 and other Z cameras, it also works with screwdriver AF Nikkors. While the D780 doesn't have an EVF, for me this is not a major problem as I never cared for the EVF and also it seems it's perfectly possible to sell expensive video cameras that also don't have EVFs or come with accessory options from the manufacturer: the FX3 from Sony and C70 from Canon are significantly more expensive than the D780 and are specifically designed for video but have no EVF. I believe this is because they recognize that a lot of videographers use the back LCD and/or accessory video monitors and not EVFs. Thus this shouldn't be too much of a drawback for the D780. If you want an EVF for video (or other) use, get the Z6 II and FTZ instead. Advantages of the Z system include that the Z series lenses have quieter autofocus (if you use autofocus for video this may matter) than many F-mount Nikon autofocus lenses, and depending on which cards you prefer, the Z offer XQD/CFexpress support along with SD UHS-II (in the II models) whereas the D780 comes with two SD UHS-II card slots, so no XQD or CFexpress cards can be used, but on the other hand SD UHS-II cards that are fast enough for 4K video are not that expensive (if you don't get the very fastest ones). The Z cameras' firmware tends to get more frequent updates (probably because of the competitive landscape that they are in) so probably the autofocusing algorithms will be more up to date. Still, what I was able to try the D780, it's really very good at live view autofocus.

    I would have applications for the D780 for taking advantage of the tilting LCD and the much-improved LV AF in certain event-photography situations (where a low or high camera position would be advantageous) and sometimes I get asked to do video, and for that it would work well (giving improved image quality and autofocus) without requiring me to purchase new lenses. However, I would prefer it to have CFexpress / XQD card support which it does not. For photographing birds on water, a low angle can be very beneficial and the D780 would make these shots easier to achieve. Overall I'm not quite sure about purchasing the D780 and so have put it off. This is not that there is anything wrong with the camera, it's just not a high enough priority for me. For a backup camera or one that is a bit more compact (than the top models) but still very capable, it seems a good choice.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2021
  5. The Z6 II is about the same price as the D780 and the Z6 is less.
     
  6. AFAIK, the D780 is also capable of 12fps in LV mode.

    As long as the AF is up to it, that could be kinda useful.

    Anyone any experience with that?
     
  7. It's available in electronic shutter mode so there is increased rolling shutter when the scene has elements that change over time (compared to mechanical shutter). I recall that the electronic shutter of the Z6 has a 1/38 s read time (in 12-bit raw) so if you think about the speed of movement of subject elements in that time frame, if the movement is significant in that time window then the shape of the objects will be distorted in a potentially significant way. Though this is one of the faster sensors that Nikon have used (Z7 and D850 electronic shutter is worse). At least I don't want to go through a burst and select images based on my estimate of whether it looks distorted or not; I'd rather have a guarantee that no significant distortion occurs. There can also be banding in artificial light.

    But if the subject is not moving quickly then the e-shutter gives silent shooting which can be useful. And there are indeed sensors which take much longer time to read than 1/38s. I have used the e-shutter of the D850 for automatic focus stacks of ice formations and there was no problem.
     
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  8. The focal plane shutter is still a rolling shutter but I think most of them now are slightly shorter than 1/250 s.
     
  9. Right, but it requires quite fast movement to see the rolling shutter effect when using the mechanical shutter.
     
  10. So the read time of the sensor needs to be shorter than 1/250 to eliminate the mechanical shutter altogether. While I enjoy the sound of the mechanical shutter but I think it's something that introduces inaccuracy.
     
  11. Mechanical shutters have some shot-to-shot variability (the French magazine Chasseur d'Images did routine measurements of how reproducible and how accurate each shutter speed was in their camera tests) but this mainly becomes possible to see at the fastest shutter speed (typically 1/8000s or 1/4000s).

    The mechanical shutter has other differences to electronic shutter than just speed. For example, the Sony A9 reads the sensor in blocks of rows and thus the banding that can be formed with flickering lighting shows up as banding with very sharply defined lines. When using the mechanical shutter, the banding effect is softer and more gradual. This is because the shutter gap that is open at fast speeds doesn't move in blocks but both curtains move at the same time. Also since the mechanical shutter is a little in front of the sensor, the boundary around the curtain is more softly rendered in images. Sony achieved a read time comparable with mechanical shutters in the A1 but they still included a mechanical shutter and in fact increased its flash sync speed so one can take advantage of it in bright daylight when combining flash and natural light.
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2021

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