The Nikon D780 replaces the popular Nikon D750 DSLR, with some key improvements in autofocus, battery life, and high ISO performance, along with added 4k video capability and a touchscreen. Though both cameras use slower but more accurate contrast-detection autofocus through the viewfinder, the D780 borrows a quicker on-sensor phase-detection autofocus system from the mirrorless Nikon Z 6 when shooting through Live View. While it isn't the most portable camera, its robust build quality makes it a great workhorse that can put up with extensive use, and its 24.5-megapixel full-frame sensor ensures high-quality images in all kinds of lighting conditions. Sitting above the mid-range Nikon D7500 and below the pro-grade Nikon D850, this is an excellent option for enthusiasts who want the best in mirrorless and DSLR technology.
The Nikon D780 is good for travel photography. Despite its bulky size and heavy weight, it's very comfortable to shoot with. It delivers amazing overall image quality, with a broad dynamic range and good noise handling capability even at high ISO levels, which is great for nighttime photography. Its wide shutter speed range allows you to capture still frames of fast-moving subjects or take long-exposure photos, while its autofocus system delivers quick, consistent, and reliable performance. It also has an incredibly long battery life to get you through a whole day of use.
The Nikon D780 is great for landscape photography. Image quality is excellent, with a broad dynamic range and low levels of graininess as you step up camera ISO, so it's well-suited to shooting nighttime or low-light landscapes. It also feels very well-built, as it has a robust, weather-sealed body. Its tilting screen is bright enough to be legible even under direct sunlight. Unfortunately, while it's comfortable to hold, it's very bulky, making it a hassle to bring to remote shooting locations.
The Nikon D780 is a great option for sports and wildlife photography. While its maximum continuous shooting speed with its mechanical shutter isn't especially quick, its extremely fast maximum shutter speed and quick, reliable, and consistent autofocus system make it relatively simple to capture still images of fast-moving subjects. Also, its very short buffer clearing time lets you fire off long continuous bursts without extended interruptions. Image quality is also excellent, and the camera feels comfortable to use and very sturdy. It doesn't have in-body image stabilization, meaning you'll have to rely on optically stabilized lenses when shooting in low light at slower shutter speeds.
The Nikon D780 isn't for vlogging. It's very big and bulky, making it a challenge to carry around for extended periods. The screen also only tilts and doesn't rotate, meaning you can't see what's being displayed when the camera is pointing at you. It also lacks in-body image stabilization, and it does just a disappointing job of smoothing out camera shake when walking. That said, video quality in 4k and 1080p is good overall, and its autofocus system does a good job of maintaining focus on faces.
The Nikon D780 is great for studio video work. Video quality in both 1080p and 4k is good, with sharply rendered object contours and surfaces and fairly low levels of noise even in dark environments. It features a wide selection of ports and inputs for videography accessories, with microphone and headphone jacks and a clean HDMI output for using an external recorder without any overlays. Its N-Log shooting mode also helps preserve the camera's high dynamic range while recording. Its autofocus system does a good job of acquiring and maintaining focus on moving objects and faces.
The Nikon D780 isn't for action video. It's far too big to mount onto a chest or helmet rig. Its video stabilization performance in 4k is sub-par, but it performs decently well while shooting 1080p footage. It can't shoot 4k video at more than 30 fps, but it supports 120 fps recording in 1080p, which is great for smooth action videos or generating slow-motion clips. It also feels well-built and is rated as being weather-sealed.
The Nikon D780 isn't very portable. It's heavy and bulky, making it harder to carry around for long periods, although it still feels well-balanced with its kit lens attached. If you'd prefer a more portable full-frame camera, consider a mirrorless option like the Sony α7 IV.
The Nikon D780 has a magnesium alloy and carbon fiber body, and it feels excellently constructed. The buttons feel solid and give decent physical feedback. The tilting mechanism of the screen also feels sturdy. A secure locking door covers the SD card and battery compartment, while rubber flaps cover the inputs and outputs. The camera is also weather-sealed against elements like moisture and dust, giving you some added protection when shooting in more adverse weather conditions.
The Nikon D780 has several customizable buttons, including two custom shooting modes on the mode dial. You can also remap many existing functions to suit your preferences.
It has two command dials. By default, when in manual mode, the front dial, which sits just below the shutter button, controls aperture, while the rear dial controls shutter speed. The rear dial adjusts ISO and exposure compensation when pressing and holding those buttons respectively.
The Nikon D780 feels very comfortable to shoot with. It's suitable for all hand sizes, and its large handgrip and rubberized thumb rest make it easy to maintain a secure hold on the camera. The eyecup around the viewfinder feels comfortable, and you can easily change settings with either eye to the viewfinder thanks to its many physical controls and intuitive button layout. The camera's heavy weight and size also make it a bit cumbersome to carry around, especially if your hands are on the smaller side.
The Nikon D780 is a DSLR, so it uses an optical viewfinder, giving you a clear, lag-free view through the lens. It's large and comfortable to rest your eye against.
The Nikon D780 has a large, tilting screen, which lets you quickly and easily take shots from lower angles. The screen is very bright, enough to overcome glare on sunny days, and its high resolution gives you a clear view of whatever you're shooting. It has full touch capability, meaning you can use it to navigate the menu and select focus points or take a picture when the 'Touch AF' or 'Touch Shutter' settings are enabled.
The menu system is fantastic, similar to other Nikon cameras like the Nikon Z 6II. Although there are a lot of settings, and it can be hard to find some of the more advanced camera functions, the menu is clearly organized and easy to navigate with either the touchscreen or the directional pad. It has lots of customization options and a quick menu to quickly access commonly used settings.
The Nikon D780 has a fantastic battery life. You can easily go multiple days of shooting without recharging the battery, depending on how often you shoot and how you use it. Recording a lot of video, for instance, drains it faster, but it still lasts a decently long time for continuous video recording. It also supports USB charging while in use, so you can bring a portable battery pack for longer video recording sessions.
The Nikon D780 has a very wide shutter speed range. With 'Extended Shutter Speeds' enabled, you can shoot at up to 15 minutes (900s) for long exposure photography or astrophotography. You can use the standard mechanical shutter or an electronic shutter for silent Live View shooting. This camera also includes an electronic front-curtain shutter (EFCS) option to help reduce camera vibrations at slower shutter speeds, although the EFCS can introduce distortion with bokeh at wider apertures and shutter speeds above 1/2000s. Thankfully, the camera automatically limits the max shutter speed to 1/2000s when using the EFCS.
The Nikon D780 has a fairly large buffer, especially for RAW photos, and thankfully, it clears its buffer very quickly, so you can get back to shooting should you fill the buffer up. It can shoot at up to 7 fps in its continuous shooting mode when using the mechanical shutter. Though it isn't the fastest burst rate out there, it still does a reasonable job of keeping up with fast-moving subjects. It also shoots at up to 12 fps when using 12-bit electronic shutter mode. E-shutters can distort very fast-moving subjects, but this mode is helpful if you want to shoot silently.
The Nikon D780 has a hybrid autofocus system. When shooting through the viewfinder, it uses a slower but more accurate contrast-detection system, taken from the Nikon D5 DSLR. This mode gives you a smaller focus area with fewer AF points but gives you very accurate focusing for still subjects. When shooting through the screen with Live View, however, it uses an on-sensor phase-detection AF system borrowed from the Nikon Z 6. This mode has 273 AF points across a much wider coverage area and gives you faster autofocus performance and lets you track moving subjects closer to the edges of the frame.
The results on the review are those we achieved when using the viewfinder since we found it to be more accurate as a whole, though its performance will vary depending on your shooting conditions, subject, and lens. Overall, the camera does a good job of tracking moving objects and faces, but since the AF is a bit slower through the viewfinder, you'll find that it sometimes can't quite keep up with faster-moving subjects, though most shots are still usable.
The camera also has lots of settings that let you fine-tune the autofocus performance, including a wide variety of area modes. It supports face and eye detection and lets you quickly switch between faces when multiple are detected in the frame. Through the viewfinder, the camera uses Nikon's '3D Tracking', which uses predictive algorithms to automatically track subjects after you've locked onto them. In Live View, it uses a slightly different subject tracking feature that you have to engage by pressing the 'OK' button before half-pressing the shutter to lock onto your subject. The camera also has a touch tracking feature that lets you select the subject by touching the screen, although we found touch tracking to be fairly unreliable.
The Nikon D780 doesn't have in-body image stabilization, but you can use optically stabilized lenses like the Nikkor 24-120mm f/4G ED VR kit lens. The 'VR' stands for 'Vibration Reduction', which is Nikon's term for image stabilization. Though it doesn't have IBIS, the D780 does have an electronic stabilization feature for added stability. Combining electronic stabilization with optical stabilization does a fantastic job of reducing camera shake, meaning you can take handheld shots at very slow shutter speeds.
The Nikon D780 has fantastic dynamic range. It has a very wide usable dynamic range at its base ISO, allowing you to capture a broader range of highlight and shadow detail in a single shot. The camera has really good noise handling and exposure latitude, so you can adjust the exposure of a shot a fair amount before getting much visual noise.
Photos taken on the Nikon D780 are incredibly sharp, even as you raise the ISO, though investing in a high-quality lens is key to getting the most out of a camera of this caliber.
When shooting in JPEG, photos taken with the Nikon D780 have very little noise, even at higher ISOs. The camera's noise reduction works very well, although it can flatten or blur some fine detail at very high ISO settings.
The Nikon D780 has superb RAW noise handling thanks to its dual-gain sensor. These types of sensors have two different readout modes for lower and higher ISOs. Above a certain ISO, the sensor uses more gain at the expense of dynamic range to reduce noise. Compared to a camera without dual-gain technology, like the Nikon Z 5, we can see that RAW files have even better noise performance at higher ISO levels, allowing you to shoot in low light with minimal noise and less color fringing.
The Nikon D780 supports Log shooting in N-Log format, allowing you to capture a wider usable dynamic range. It can also record in 10-bit color depth over HDMI, which allows the camera to capture more color information and gives you more room to play around with the look of your videos in post-production.
The Nikon D780 can shoot 4k video up to 30 fps, which is good for capturing more cinematic or natural-looking video.
The Nikon D780 has good internal recording capability in 4k. It has a pretty standard 30-minute recording time limit, meaning you can capture fairly long takes, but it's not good for long continuous recording. Thankfully, the camera doesn't overheat or shut down while recording for long periods. That said, it's limited to 8-bit 4:2:0 color internally, so if you want to record in 10-bit to capture more color information and have more leeway when editing your footage, you'll need to connect an external recorder over HDMI.
The Nikon D780 has satisfactory autofocus performance for 4k video. When shooting video, it uses a 273-point phase-detect AF system over Live View, which does a decent job tracking moving objects, although there can be a bit of a delay when the subject moves before the camera finds it again. Unfortunately, the camera doesn't support eye tracking in video mode, but it still tracks faces and does a great job overall at keeping moving human subjects in focus.
Video quality is excellent in 4k. Videos look crisp and detailed, with colors that pop. It also does a great job in low light, with minimal noise in dark parts of the image. You can see a fair amount of detail in the shadows, although finer details, like the texture of the walls or tire tracks on the floor of the parking garage, can get flattened or lost.
Unfortunately, there's significant rolling shutter effect in 4k. It's especially noticeable when panning the camera at faster speeds, causing severe skewing with vertical lines and objects.
The Nikon D780 can record 1080p video up to 120 fps, which is fantastic if you want to incorporate slow-motion footage into your videos.
The Nikon D780 has good internal recording capability in 1080p. As with 4k, it has a 30-minute recording time limit, meaning you can record fairly long takes. However, it's limited to 8-bit 4:2:0 recording internally, so there's a limited amount of color information it can record, giving you less latitude when editing your footage.
In 1080p, the Nikon D780 has decent autofocus performance. When shooting video, it uses a 273-point phase-detect AF system over Live View. Overall, it performs similarly to how it does in 4k, with quick and accurate focusing, but it can sometimes take a moment to find its target again after it's moved. Unfortunately, eye tracking isn't available in video mode.
1080p video quality is good. It looks good in more controlled lighting, with a sharp image and vibrant colors. It's still good in low light, though it struggles a bit more than in 4k to bring out shadow detail. Thankfully, there isn't too much noise or pixelation.
There's much less rolling shutter effect when shooting in 1080p. Though there's still some distortion, it's hardly noticeable except when moving the camera very quickly, so it isn't especially distracting.
The Nikon D780 has two SD card slots rated for higher-speed UHS-II cards. This is great for pros who don't want to run out of storage while in the middle of a shoot or those who shoot a lot and want to have a running backup on the go.
The Nikon D780 has a wide array of inputs and outputs. There's a Mini HDMI port to connect to an external display or recorder for more involved video projects. It also has a microphone input and a headphone jack, which is great for filmmaking and lets you monitor your audio directly through the camera.
The Nikon D780 is only available in 'Black', and you can see its label here. We tested it with the Nikkor 24-120mm f/4G ED VR lens, though it's compatible with other F-mount lenses. You can also buy it without a lens.
If you come across a different variant, let us know in the discussions, and we'll update our review.
The Nikon D780 is a fantastic enthusiast-oriented DSLR. With its hybrid autofocus system and dense feature set, it combines the best of both the mirrorless and DSLR worlds, making it suitable for lots of photography styles. It isn't ideal for filmmaking or run-and-gun video since it can only shoot 8-bit video internally, lacks in-body image stabilization, and is quite heavy and bulky.
It improves upon its predecessor, the Nikon D750, in a few ways. It has a new backside-illuminated (BSI) sensor to help improve the light gathering of the sensor's pixels and a wider ISO range. It has a faster max shutter speed (1/8000s vs. 1/4000s), a slightly faster max continuous shooting speed (7 fps vs. 6.5 fps), and 4k video capability, along with a better battery and a higher-resolution screen that now has touch capability. Unless you need to shoot 4k video, the differences probably aren't worth the upgrade if you already own the D750.
The Nikon D780 is better overall than the Canon EOS 6D Mark II. Both are full-frame DSLRs that can take high-quality images, but the Nikon is a higher-end camera aimed at more advanced shooters. It has a faster max burst rate and a more effective autofocus system, which borrows from the mirrorless Nikon Z 6 when shooting in Live View, giving you more versatility for different shooting situations. Unlike the Canon, the Nikon can also record 4k video and offers more frame rate options in 1080p, including 120 fps for slow-motion footage. The Nikon also has a longer battery life, although it's slightly heavier and bulkier than the Canon.
The Nikon D780 is a better DSLR than the Nikon D5600, but they're aimed at photographers of different experience levels. The D5600 is an entry-level camera with an APS-C sensor, while the D780 is a full-frame model aimed at enthusiasts. The D780, therefore, has a more advanced control scheme and more customizable options. Unlike the D5600, it can record 4k video. It has a more advanced and effective autofocus system and delivers better image quality, particularly in low light at high ISOs. That said, the D5600 is significantly lighter and more portable.
The Nikon D780 is better overall than the Nikon Z 5, though they use different camera technologies. Though both are full-frame cameras, the D780 is an enthusiast-level DSLR, so it has an optical viewfinder, while the Z 5 is an entry-level mirrorless camera with an electronic viewfinder. Both feel robust and comfortable to shoot with, but the Z 5 is significantly lighter and more portable. The D780 has a longer battery life and a more versatile autofocus system since it uses both contrast- and phase-detection AF depending on whether you shoot through the viewfinder or Live View on the screen. The Z 5 can also only shoot 4k video with a severe crop, but on the upside, it has in-body image stabilization, meaning you can use non-optically stabilized lenses.
The Nikon Z 6II and the Nikon D780 are both premium full-frame cameras, but they use different technologies, each with advantages and disadvantages. The Z 6II is a mirrorless camera with an electronic viewfinder that lets you preview your exposure settings directly through the viewfinder. It's more portable than the D780, which is a DSLR and has an optical viewfinder that gives you an unfiltered, lag-free view through the lens. The Z 6II has in-body image stabilization, and it can shoot at a faster burst rate. It also has a slot for faster CFexpress cards in addition to an SD card slot. The D780 has a hybrid autofocus system that combines the AF system from the Z 6 when shooting in Live View with a more typical DSLR AF system when shooting through the viewfinder, giving it a bit of added versatility.
The Sony a7 III and the Nikon D780 are both enthusiast-oriented full-frame cameras, but they're different camera types. The Sony is a mirrorless camera with an electronic viewfinder that lets you see changes to exposure directly through the finder, while the Nikon is a DSLR with an optical viewfinder that gives you a lag-free, unfiltered view through the lens. The Sony is lighter and more portable and has a more reliable overall autofocus system. However, the Nikon has a longer battery life and more intuitive menu system and controls.
The Canon EOS R and the Nikon D780 are both premium full-frame cameras, though they use different camera technologies. The Canon is a mirrorless camera, while the Nikon is a DSLR. The Nikon uses an optical viewfinder, giving you a direct lag-free view through the lens, while the Canon has no mirror mechanism and relies on an electronic viewfinder, which lets you preview exposure settings live through the viewfinder. The Canon is lighter and more portable, but the Nikon has much longer battery life. Unfortunately, the Canon can only shoot 4k video with a severe 1.75x crop and only has a single SD card slot, unlike the Nikon, which has two. Otherwise, they both deliver excellent image quality and effective autofocus performance.
The Nikon D780 is better than the Canon EOS Rebel SL3, but they're aimed at photographers of different experience levels. The Canon is an entry-level DSLR with an APS-C sensor. The Nikon is an enthusiast-grade DSLR with a full-frame sensor, meaning it performs better in low light and offers more advanced features like a weather-sealed body, more physical buttons and dials, and more customization options. It has a more advanced autofocus hybrid autofocus system that's more reliable at tracking moving subjects, and it can shoot 4k video without a crop and has with more frame rate options. Its battery life is considerably longer, too. The Nikon is also much heavier and bulkier than the Canon.
The Nikon D780 is better overall than the Canon EOS 90D, but they're aimed at people with different experience levels. The Canon is a mid-range DSLR with an APS-C sensor, while the Nikon is an enthusiast-grade DSLR with a full-frame sensor. The Nikon performs better in low light and has a more versatile hybrid autofocus system that tracks subjects a little more reliably for photography. It also has a second SD card slot and a longer battery life. The Canon is more portable, has a fully articulated screen, and shoots at a faster max burst rate.