The Nikon D780 is possibly the most compelling illustration of how a DSLR can successfully transition into the mirrorless era. It has the appearance of an old-fashioned full-frame camera with an optical viewfinder, but concealed behind that retro exterior is some of the same cutting-edge technology found in its more modern Nikon Z6 relative. To put it another way, you might say it’s a cross between a DSLR and a mirrorless camera.
Fans of optical viewfinders and extended battery life were naturally concerned that the days of new DSLRs were coming to an end when Nikon and Canon ultimately capitulated and committed to their mirrorless Z Series and EOS R systems.
However, the Nikon D780 is evidence that the firm is not giving up on the DSLR. If you already own a collection of lenses with an F mount or find the handling of a DSLR more comfortable, the D780 could be one of the most excellent full-frame cameras the company has produced to this point.
This is Nikon’s “entry-level” full-frame model, sitting below the D850 and offering something for those who don’t need mega-high resolution but still want a good all-rounder. It was designed to sit alongside rather than entirely replace the older Nikon D750. It was designed to sit alongside rather than fully replace the older Nikon D750.
Nikon D780 Build Quality
If you have always favored the roomy handling of a DSLR to their occasionally cramped mirrorless equivalents, then you will be impressed with the bulky design of the D780. It has a larger grip area than most mirrorless cameras.
You will have a satisfyingly hefty grip and a robust body constructed out of magnesium alloy that is resistant to dust and water. The wide variety of dials and buttons each have ample space between them to allow for operation. Since there is not much change between this and the D750, you will feel at home with this model if you are contemplating an upgrade from an earlier model.
On the right-hand side of the camera is where most of the controls for taking pictures are located. These include the switch for turning the camera on and off, knobs for adjusting the shutter speed and aperture, and a button labeled I that allows access to a shortcut menu.
You’ll also notice a top-plate LCD that looks at many vital parameters, including ISO, aperture, shutter speed, and the number of photos still available on your memory card.
Nikon D780 Performance & Autofocus
The Nikon D780 was developed to be a capable all-rounder that would appeal to a diverse range of photographers. However, professionals who don’t need the enormous resolution (and bulky file sizes) of the D850 may also find the D780 an intriguing alternative since it is more than capable of meeting their needs. Keen amateurs are arguably the primary target demographic for this product.
A back-illuminated 24.5-megapixel full-frame sensor is at the camera’s core and paired with the most recent iteration of Nikon’s EXPEED 6 image engine. This is the same combination found at the heart of its mirrorless sibling, the Nikon Z6.
Other intriguing features include capturing 4K video, charging the camera internally via a USB cable, and shooting at up to 12 frames per second (when using Live View, an additional feature inherited from the Z6).
Nikon D780 Performance
The Nikon D780 utilizes two distinct focusing methods, one used while shooting via the viewfinder and the other via the LCD screen. One of the most significant distinctions between this camera and a mirrorless model such as the Nikon Z6 is that this camera does not have a mirror.
If you are shooting anything with a generally predictable movement pattern, this camera can handle the situation reasonably well. However, if you are photographing something unpredictable, then you may be disappointed with the results.
Both of the camera’s autofocus mechanisms are reliable, quick, and accurate; however, if you are trying to capture a moving subject, you will find that shooting via the screen is more responsive. In particular, you may shoot 12 frames per second while utilizing the screen instead of only seven frames per second when using the viewfinder.
Nikon D780 Image Quality
Given that the sensor in the D780 appears to be the same as, or very close to, that found in the Z6, we had every reason to believe that the image quality produced by the D780 would be satisfactory. It also has some of the same specs as that camera, including the same CPU, metering system, and phase-detection AF system with 273 points on the sensor.
Most of the time, the visual quality is rather satisfactory. The colors are vibrant, and the general sense of detail in the image is outstanding. The camera has a solid dynamic range, and the automated white balance does a fantastic job of maintaining color accuracy.
However, unlike the Z6, no image stabilization is built into the camera’s body. You’ll have to rely on lens image stabilization instead. This implies that if you don’t keep a careful watch on shutter speeds, particularly in darker situations, you could occasionally see a tiny bit of blur in your photographs. This is especially true while shooting in low light.
If crucial sharpness is a problem for you, we suggest you establish a minimum shutter speed, and of course, you should be on the lookout for lenses with VR as standard equipment.
Nikon D780 Specs
|Body type||Mid-size SLR|
|Body material||Magnesium alloy|
|Max resolution||6048 x 4024|
|Other resolutions||3936 x 2624 (DX crop)|
|Image ratio w:h||1:1, 3:2, 16:9|
|Effective pixels||25 megapixels|
|Sensor photo detectors||25 megapixels|
|Sensor size||Full frame (35.9 x 23.9 mm)|
|Color space||sRGB, Adobe RGB|
|Color filter array||Primary color filter|
|ISO||Auto, 100-51200 (expands to 50-204800)|
|Boosted ISO (minimum)||50|
|Boosted ISO (maximum)||204800|
|White balance presets||12|
|Custom white balance||Yes|
|JPEG quality levels||Fine, normal, basic|
|File format||JPEGRaw (NRW, 12 or 14-bit)|
|Optics & Focus|
|Autofocus||Contrast Detect (sensor)Phase DetectMulti-areaCenterSelective single-pointTrackingSingleContinuousTouchFace DetectionLive View|
|Autofocus assist lamp||No|
|Number of focus points||51|
|Number of cross-type focus points||15|
|Lens mount||Nikon F|
|Focal length multiplier||1×|
|Screen / viewfinder|
|Screen type||TFT LCD|
|Viewfinder type||Optical (pentaprism)|
|Minimum shutter speed||900 sec|
|Maximum shutter speed||1/8000 sec|
|Exposure modes||ProgramShutter priorityAperture priorityManual|
|External flash||Yes (via hot shoe)|
|Flash X sync speed||1/200 sec|
|Drive modes||SingleContinuous lowContinuous highMirror-upQuiet shutterQuiet continuousSelf-timer|
|Continuous drive||12.0 fps|
|Exposure compensation||±5 (at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)|
|AE Bracketing||±5 (2, 3, 5, 7 frames at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV, 1 EV steps)|
|Modes||3840 x 2160 @ 30p, MP4, H.264, Linear PCM3840 x 2160 @ 25p, MP4, H.264, Linear PCM3840 x 2160 @ 24p, MP4, H.264, Linear PCM1920 x 1080 @ 120p, MP4, H.264, Linear PCM1920 x 1080 @ 100p, MP4, H.264, Linear PCM1920 x 1080 @ 60p, MP4, H.264, Linear PCM1920 x 1080 @ 50p, MP4, H.264, Linear PCM1920 x 1080 @ 30p, MP4, H.264, Linear PCM1920 x 1080 @ 25p, MP4, H.264, Linear PCM1920 x 1080 @ 24p, MP4, H.264, Linear PCM|
|Storage types||Dual SD/SDHC/SDXC slots (UHS-II compatible)|
|USB||USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5 GBit/sec)|
|HDMI||Yes (mini HDMI)|
|Wireless notes||802.11b/g/n + Bluetooth 4.1|
|Remote control||Yes (via wired, wireless or smartphone)|
|Battery description||EN-EL15b lithium-ion battery & harger|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||2260|
|Weight (inc. batteries)||840 g (1.85 lb / 29.63 oz)|
|Dimensions||144 x 116 x 76 mm (5.67 x 4.57 x 2.99″)|
Nikon D780 Verdict
The digital single-lens reflex camera (DSLR) is supposedly on its way out, giving way to the inevitable ascent of mirrorless cameras. However, digital single-lens reflex cameras (DSLRs) are still the best option for many photographers, particularly those who already own lenses or have developed their skills using optical viewfinders. The Nikon D780 is one of the most excellent full-frame alternatives now available.
It has excellent image quality, a body resistant to the elements, great battery life, and contemporary focusing capabilities. The Nikon D780 is an excellent digital single-lens reflex camera (DSLR). However, it does not have an image stabilization system built into the body, and it is currently somewhat expensive.