Like the D750 it replaces, the Nikon D780 is a full-frame or FX format DSLR with the Nikon F-lens mount. That means its has a sensor that’s the same size as a 35mm film frame.
Nikon has also stuck with a very similar resolution as the D750 for the D780. However, the 24Mp sensor in the D780 is much newer than the D750’s. And although Nikon’s representatives weren’t able to confirm it ahead of the official announcement, it seems highly likely that the D780 has the same 24.5Mp backside illuminated (BSI) sensor as the Z6. The biggest clue to this is the fact that in video and Live View mode, the D780 uses the same hybrid autofocus system as the Z6.
This system combines phase detection with contrast detection and there are 273 points available for selection, plus Eye-Detection AF for stills-shooting. This AF system is claimed to be sensitive down to -4Ev in normal circumstances and -6Ev in Low Light AF mode with lenses with a maximum aperture of f/2 or wider.
As it’s an SLR, the D780 has another autofocus system for when images are composed in the optical viewfinder. This has a dedicated AF sensor with 51 user-selectable phase detection AF points with 15 cross-type points. According to Nikon this AF system is sensitive down to -3Ev and it offers ‘flagship tracking capabilities’.
Further good news for viewfinder users is that the D780 has the same 180K-pixel RGB sensor (for metering and white balance) and Advanced Scene Recognition system as the D850.
Thanks to the D780’s Expeed 6 processing engine it’s able to shoot full-resolution images at up to 7fps (frames per second) with continuous autofocusing and metering, or 12fps in Silent Live View Photography mode.
The buffer has capacity to enable up to 28 14-bit raw images or 100 Jpeg images to be captured in one hit.
In addition, the D780 can shoot 4K/UHD video at 30p/25p/24p with no cropping. Footage can also be recorded in N-Log, for greater scope for post-capture grading, or Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG) for viewing on compatible TVs.
There’s also in-camera time-lapse capability and provided you’re happy with 8Mp images, you can shoot at up to 30fps. Drop to 2Mp and you can record at 120fps.
Enticingly, the D780’s sensor and processing engine combination also enables a wider sensitivity range than the popular D850. The native range is ISO 100–51200, but this can be extended to ISO 50-204800. The D850’s maximum range is ISO 64-102,400, but it also has a resolution of 45.7million pixels.
The D780’s maximum shutter speed is 1/8000sec while we’re told the longest exposure time is 900sec (15mins).
I’ve been a fan of Nikon’s SnapBridge technology from the outset, but its performance has wavered with different cameras, smartphones and operating systems. Happily it worked very well during my testing of the Nikon Z50, and I hope the same is true with the D780.
The D780 has high-speed data-transfer capability and wireless connectivity, but SnapBridge makes it easy to share Jpegs and raw files with a smart device. I find the automatic transfer of 2Mp images especially useful and I’m looking forward to trying it with the D780.
In addition, the D780 is compatible with the Nikon WT-7 Wireless Transmitter.
Like the D850, the D780 uses Nikon’s EL15b rechargeable Li-ion battery. It also has two SD card ports that are compatible with UHS-II media.
Videographers will be pleased to learn that the D780 has audio in and out ports, plus HDMI and USB-C connectivity.
Read our Nikon Z6 review