Stepping Up / by Douglas Koski

Stepping Up

- To Full Frame -

It has been an exceptionally long time coming, but I was finally able to make the jump from my crop body camera to a full frame body! No frills, glitz, or glam with this process - I was still attempting to work well within a reasonable budget. So, I will not be making any leap to any of the mirrorless systems. (With the exception of a typically lacking secondary memory slot, mirrorless has become the format most hyped up on review channels.) I am, however, very much elated to now be the owner of a -

Nikon D750

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My trusty crop sensor D5300 is going nowhere in all this. I already have big plans to help drag Sinéad (kicking and screaming - just joking, or am I?) into the photography world with me. We made a deal a long time ago that I would purchase that camera and she would get it when I got my full frame camera (so, maybe not so much kicking and screaming after all!). We’ll see how long it takes me to teach her the exposure pyramid…

I do have to admit that I was able capture a decent amount of work using my D5300 (and the D3100 before that), but one of the hardest portions to photography has been problem solving within the restrictions of the camera body being used. Generally speaking, the higher the price tag of camera bodies and lenses, the less limitations they impose.

If I’m being honest in my assessments, Nikon did a horrible job with the D3100. The dynamic range was rough at best, and the ability to spot focus or take a photo when pressing the shutter release provided a level of frustration that should never have seen production. The D5300 was an incredible step up & out of that frustration. It was not long before I was running into the limitations of the D5300, though. The noise I encountered in ISOs above 1600 made those ISOs best avoided. I found myself acquiring a battery grip for the fact that my hand was too large for the grip it had. And, I found myself working with lenses that I could not get to focus properly, but there were no options for calibrating lenses with the camera.

Knowing those limitations I had to seek alternative equipment when friends asked for help with events. This led me to hours of product reviews, and found me renting the D750 for the first time. I didn’t need to rent anything more than that after the first rental. I liked the camera, the feel, the functionality, and I loved the image quality it offered. I scoured the online stores, craigslist, and local retailers for my best option for purchasing my own D750 and eventually found myself at The timing was finally right, and the rest was history.

High ISO Differences - Dark Hallway Doorknob Test

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I was able to run through some test runs with my new D750 and was able to get a comparison photo between it and the D5300. I know it is not a perfect comparison as I am not using the same lens on both cameras, but the lenses provide a very close image. A Nikon 85mm F/1.8 for the Full Frame and a Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 for the Crop Sensor. Given the crop factor, at 70 mm the Sigma functions much like a 75mm on a full frame. I shot both at f/2.8, and at ISO 12800 for 1/100th a second. This test was in no way a test of how sharp the lenses were, but a test of noise at the higher ISO level. Here are the sample images.

D5300 | D750

D5300 is on the left / D750 on the right. Top images are the overall images from each and 2nd images are @ 100% zoom in lightroom. I adjusted the color temperature so that the images would better match, and disabled sharpening. All other settings were left untouched.

Getting to know the Camera

I was fortunate to have some time to test out my new D750 the evening after it arrived. I headed over to the local Audubon society location and was able to grab some wonderful shots. In time I hope to have more images to share, but for the time being here are some of the images I was able to grab on my first outing.