Long Live the DSLR?: Nikon Launches 24.5MP D780 Full Frame DSLR Aimed at Photo Enthusiasts & Pros

Nikon just launched the D780, a 24.5MP full frame (aka FX-format) DSLR that's the follow-up to the now ancient, by camera industry standards, D750 from 2014. The Nikon D780 is equipped with a 24.5-megapixel backside-illuminated full-frame CMOS sensor that has just slightly more resolution than its six-year-old predecessor, which used a 24.3MP sensor.

Not pumping up the pixels seems to be a trend with new full frame DSLRs lately. Earlier tonight, Canon introduced the new 1D X Mark III flagship DSLR that uses a 20.1MP full frame sensor with slightly less resolution than its four-year-old predecessor. Like Canon's new full frame beast though, the new Nikon D780 adds a slew of new photo and video features designed to attract "a new breed of creator," as Nikon puts it.

In a press announcement tonight, Nikon called the D780 "an agile camera for capturing high-resolution photos and 4K UHD video with the added benefit of fast, accurate phase detect autofocusing."

"While the D780 retains the rugged reliability of its predecessor, the camera has been turbocharged with Nikon’s latest EXPEED 6 processor, touch operability, advanced autofocus capabilities, extensive video features, a valuable assortment of in-camera creative options and much more," Nikon added.

According to Nikon, the D780 is designed to capture "anything from fast-action sports to beautifully detailed night skies" and is aimed at photo enthusiasts along with some pros who might use it for weddings, wildlife, and video production. 

As with Canon's earlier announcement, the new D780 shows that Nikon is continuing to update some of its more popular DSLRs – albeit slowly – while also offering new models in its Z-series mirrorless camera line.

Here's a rundown of the key features in the new Nikon D780, which goes on sale in late January 2020 for $2,299.95, body only, and $2,799.95 with the AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED VR lens as a kit.

Nikon D780 Key Features

• Equipped with a 24.5-megapixel backside-illuminated (BSI) FX-Format CMOS

• Uses Nikon’s new EXPEED 6 image processor that's designed to deliver improved low-light performance, 4K UHD full-frame video with full pixel readout, and enhanced image clarity

• Reportedly offers improved ISO performance across the entire range, which now goes up to 51,200 and is expandable to 204,800

• Offers shooting speeds of up to 7 frames per second at full resolution and shutter speeds as fast as 1/8000 or as long as 900 seconds.

• Two autofocus systems:

  • When shooting through the optical viewfinder (OVF): Nikon’s 51-point AF system is paired with an enhanced AF algorithm inherited from the flagship Nikon D5. 15 cross-type AF sensors are designed to maximize accuracy, and the camera uses an upgraded 180K-pixel Advanced Scene Recognition System, which analyzes the scene to help ensure balanced exposures and accurate color reproduction. The AF system is designed to reliably track rapidly moving subjects such as wildlife, yet also improves on its ability to nail focus in difficult light, to -4EV in this mode.
  • In Live View, for the first time in a Nikon DSLR, the D780 features the same 2733-point focal plane Hybrid AF system employed in the Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera, enabling broader coverage of approximately 90% of the frame. The AF system is also designed to deliver fast, smooth and accurate AF in Live View and when recording video. This is also Nikon’s first DSLR to feature Eye-Detection AF, enabling a real-time tracking of multiple eyes in a scene to help ensure tack-sharp focus for portraits and candid shots.

• Silent Shooting: When operating the electronic shutter in Live View, the D780 can shoot continuously without shutter noise at up to 12 fps. Silent shooting is helpful for documenting sensitive moments like a live performance, a wedding ceremony or discrete street photography. 

Video Features for Creators

• Full-Frame 4K video at 30 fps: Incorporating an FX-format BSI sensor and on-sensor phase detect AF, the D780 is capable of similar video capture functions of the Nikon Z6, capturing full-frame 4K UHD video at 30 fps with full-pixel readout for absolute quality. A variety of other frame rates and resolutions is also selectable, including Full HD/120p for ultra-smooth motion in videos and epic slow-motion capture.

• Flexible workflow: The D780 offers 10-bit output with N-Log or HDR (Hybrid Log-Gamma) support

• Advanced Cinematic Functions: Focus peaking, highlight display (zebra stripes), interval timer and in-camera time-lapse movie file recording.

Other Creative Features

• In-Camera Creative Filters: D780 offers a variety of in-camera creative picture controls and special effects. The D780 can capture many of these effects in a photo as a JPEG while simultaneously shooting an unaffected Raw image

• Focus Stacking: Like the D850, the D780’s Focus Shift feature is designed to appeal to macro, product and landscape photographers seeking extreme depth-of-field, by enabling the user to capture a series of shots at different focus distances and use third party software to generate a highly-defined image consisting of only the areas in focus. 

• More Flexibility with Multiple Exposures: New to the D780 is the ability to create a multiple exposure with non-consecutively shot images, giving photographers the capacity to superimpose images in-camera, even when captured from two entirely different locations and times.

• Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Connectivity: The D780 can wirelessly share images to a smartphone or tablet when connected to the Nikon SnapBridge app using the camera’s built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The latest SnapBridge app is designed to make it easier to download videos, Raw files or remotely control a camera from your phone or tablet

Camera Design Features

• New Touch Operability: Like the Nikon D850, the new D780 features a tilting 3.2-inch LCD with touch operability

• Durable camera build with extensive weather-sealing

• The D780 can capture 2,260 shots on single charge, which is a significant increase in battery life compared to the D750

• On-The-Go Charging: Offers USB Type C compatibility, allowing users to charge in-camera and transfer files

• Features two UHS-II SD card slots

Pricing and Availability
The Nikon D780 goes on sale in late January for $2,299.95 for the body-only configuration, and $2,799.95 for the single-lens kit configuration with the AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED VR lens.