Fuji XT2 vs Nikon D750
I put the Fuji XT2 vs Nikon D750 to see if the X-Trans III sensor can compete with full frame.
There is a lot of talk on the internet about the Fuji XT2 being able to hold its own or even better full frame cameras like the Nikon D750 so I thought I’d put them both to the test to see if this is really the case or not.
The most important point here is whether the X-Trans sensor in the Fuji XT2 can keep up with the very well respected full frame bayer sensor in the Nikon D750.
However I shall also look at handling and features because these play an important role in deciding which camera is right for you. Picking any camera is always a series of trade-offs so hopefully below I can go through the strengths of each system which will enable you to decide which one suits you best.
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Handling is always a subjective matter because some people prefer larger cameras, larger grips or more bulk to balance out big lenses. Others prefer as small a package as possible while still retaining as much image quality and functionality as possible.
The Nikon D750 is one of the more compact full frame DSLRs available. It’s build quality is excellent although not quite up to the standards of the Nikon D500, D810 and above. The Fuji XT2 is a huge improvement over the XT1 in terms of build quality with improvements made to virtually every aspect of the body.
The build quality is roughly of equal level with the D750 feeling more solid but the XT2 feeling of a higher quality.
The D750 grip is reassuringly large and this allows you to carry it comfortably in one hand for long periods even though it weighs quite a lot more than the equivalent Fuji XT2 and lens combination. The grip on the XT2 is a little small and I definitely don’t feel particularly comfortable holding it one handed for any period of time unless the battery grip is attached.
The D750’s PASM dial has a push to unlock mechanism which would be better if it were a push to lock and push to unlock similar to the Fuji’s. It also features 2 custom settings which you can program to save your favourite settings and quickly switch to them with a turn of the dial.
All the buttons on the D750 make sense except the placement of the ISO button which is on the left of the LCD screen meaning that you can only really access it two handed. However you can re-program one of the other buttons such as the movie record button to become the ISO button.
Fuji relies on physical shutter speed, aperture (on most lenses) and ISO dials. As well as an exposure compensation dial. I prefer Fuji’s controls mainly due to the quick and direct access to ISO.
The Nikon D750 gives you a top LCD screen which can light up using the switch on the on/off switch and it shows all your most important settings. The rear of the camera features a flip out 3.2″ LCD screen that can be tilted up and down making it easier to compose shots at unusual angles.
The XT2 features a slightly smaller 3″ rear LCD tilt screen but it also has an additional hinge which allows for flexible shooting while in portrait orientation.
If you are going to be composing and shooting using the rear screen then the Fuji XT2 wins here comfortably as the screen is more reactive, focus is equally fast using the EVF or LCD screen and it allows more flexibility to capture photos at different angles . Whereas focus using live view on the D750 is painfully slow.
If size is a concern then the Nikon D750 is considerably larger than the XT2 at 840g. 141 x 113 x 78 mm vs the Fuji XT2’s 507g. 133 x 92 x 49 mm.
Here’s a quick run down of the features of the two cameras that I see as being the most important.
24mp APS-C X Trans III sensor with no AA filter
Up to 14 FPS burst speed with electronic shutter, 11 FPS mechanical shutter with Grip or 8FPS mechanical shutter without grip.
1/8000 second fastest shutter speed plus electronic shutter up to 1/32000
Weather sealed body
325 focus points + custom focus modes for AF Tracking
4K video (although requires the VPB XT2 grip for full functionality).
24mp Full frame 35mm Bayer sensor with AA Filter
Up to 6.5 FPS burst speed
1/4000 second fastest shutter speed
Weather sealed body
51 Focus Points
Full HD video
I’m not going to run through all the specs here as they are readily available elsewhere. The ones that I consider the most important are the difference in sensors and how that affects image quality (which I shall compare later) along with the burst shooting speed, faster top shutter speed of the XT2 and increased number of focus points.
The faster top shutter speed of the Fuji XT2 makes it possible to shoot fast aperture primes in bright daylight without the need to add ND filters to your lens. This is quite an advantage for portrait photographers working in bright conditions.
The faster FPS shooting of the Fuji XT2 combined with the customisable AF tracking modes make it more usable for wildlife and sport photography where the difference between 6.5 fps and 11fps is pretty noticeable. What is more of a factor is how widely spread the Fuji XT2’s focus points are. They cover nearly all the frame whereas with the Nikon D750 its 51 focus points are clustered very near the centre of the frame forcing you to use the technique of focusing and recomposing your image. That’s not a major problem if you are used to it but a broader spread of AF points would be preferable.
One of the areas the Nikon D750 is renowned for is its ability to focus in poor light. So I really wanted to test the XT2 against it to see whether Fuji’s claims of great low light focusing were justified or not.
When I tested the XT2 against the D750 in a really poorly lit room the XT2 not only kept up with the D750, it actually bested it on several occasions. I shot the XT2 at a wedding (see the post here) and it also focused really well in dimly lit scenes. Both cameras are among the best available for focusing in poor light.
In good light the Nikon D750 is probably a touch faster to focus but both are quick enough for most situations.
If like me you run a Youtube channel (and now I’m back in the UK with decent internet I will be adding videos more regularly) then video quality will probably be of some interest to you.
The XT2 offers excellent quality 4k video as opposed to the D750’s decent HD video. Fuji allows you to use their film simulations straight into video so if you don’t want to edit and grade footage afterwards you can still get some really nice looks. If you have an external recorder you also have the option to use the XT2’s flat F-Log profile to enable more room to push the video in post.
The only point to note is that if you are really considering the XT2 for video then you will probably have to factor in the VPB XT2 battery grip as it extends 4K recording time from 10 minutes to 30 minutes and HD from 15 minutes to 30 minutes. It also adds a headphone jack for monitoring audio levels. That of course adds to the cost of the overall Fuji package making it quite a bit more expensive than the D750.
Fuji XT2 vs Nikon D750 – Image Quality
If you are really just concerned about image quality then this is where I test that out. Can the Fuji XT2’s APS-C X-Trans III sensor compete against the Nikon D750’s 35mm Full frame C-mos sensor?
Below is a shot from the Nikon D750 taken in the Cotswolds with the 50mm f/1.4G lens attached. All images below were shot in Raw and converted to Jpeg in Lightroom CC with no adjustments. Full resolution version are available on my Flickr page
And below is a similar shot taken with the Fuji XT2 + 23mm f/1.4 lens attached. Note these were the closest focal lengths that I had to each other on that day and although the settings aren’t matched it gives a quick idea of IQ.
Now lets take a look at both images in Lightroom using the compare feature zoomed in to 100%. I shot the 18-55mm zoom at 35mm on the Fuji to give a roughly equivalent field of view to the 50mm f/1.4 G on the Nikon D750.
These images are zoomed in to 100% in the centre of the frame. What is surprising is that the Fuji using a kit lens is actually sharper than the Nikon D750 using a prime. Both lenses were stopped down to f/5.6. Now I know that the Nikon 50mm f/1.4 may not be the sharpest optic in the Nikon range but this result still bodes well for the XT2 considering we are only using the 18-55mm kit lens.
Below are a couple of examples of the skin tones that each camera produces
I like the skin tones on both cameras but the Nikon is generally closer to what I see in real life. Particularly in the example of my daughter above.
In the photo below the highlights were clipped. I pulled them back using the highlights tool in Lightroom CC. I set the highlights to -100 and as you can see in the second image the sky retains the cloud detail.
And below is a similar shot taken with the Fuji XT2 with similarly clipped highlights in the sky.
As you can see the Fuji seems to retain detail in the highlights as well as the Nikon D750’s full frame sensor. This is pretty impressive performance from the X-Trans III sensor.
Looking at the histograms of both cameras in Lightroom for the same scene I would put dynamic range of the two cameras at near enough neck and neck.
Fuji XT2 vs Nikon D750 High ISO noise performance
Below we can take a look at a few comparisons between the Fuji XT2 and Nikon D750.
This is a 100% crop from both images. The Fuji XT2 on the left clearly shows a little more noise than the Nikon D750 but the differences are not huge. One thing to note on the full size images above is that the Fuji XT2’s white balance is more accurate in indoor light, better representing the colours than the Nikon. For example the writing on the John Grisham book (right of frame) is yellow as shown on the Fuji image.
At 6400 ISO the Nikon D750 definitely starts to pull away in terms of both luminance noise. The noise pattern from the D750 is finer and more consistent than the XT2. Don’t forget that these are raw files with no noise reduction performed. Both files are very usable with a touch of noise reduction in Lightroom but the D750 gives you a cleaner base file to work with.
Again you can see the advantage that the larger sensor of the Nikon D750 has. My testing confirms that the full frame sensor in the Nikon D750 has almost exactly a one stop advantage over the Fuji XT2 at high ISO settings. Therefore if you shoot a lot at high ISO and find yourself pushing beyond 6400 ISO a lot then I would definitely be looking to get a full frame camera as it does still give you a one stop advantage.
From previous testing the Fuji XT2 performs a little better than the Nikon D7200 and around the same as the Nikon D500 in this area.
I also note that to get the best performance you will want to shoot raw and use Lightroom or your own PP software as the in camera noise reduction of the Fuji XT2 leads to ugly noise and some additional colour noise at ISO 6400 and above. If you are going to shoot Jpeg I would turn the in camera noise reduction down all the way to -4.
Fuji XT2 vs Nikon D750 Conclusion
So is the Fuji XT2 as good as a full frame camera such as the Nikon D750?
In short, if ultimate image quality is what you are after then the larger sensor camera does still hold an advantage with all else being equal.
However those differences are only really noticeable in very specific areas.
For resolution and sharpness there is no discernible difference between the two. Lens choice will have much more impact on sharpness than swapping between the two cameras.
Where the D750 still holds an advantage is in high ISO noise performance and in depth of field control. If you like to shoot portraits with very shallow depth of field then the larger sensor in the D750 will give you the ability to do that more so than the APS-C sensor in the XT2.
In terms of handling and features the Fuji would be my preference with its smaller size, faster shooting speed, more AF points and of course the ability to shoot 4K video.
One point that we must not overlook is the fact that the XT2 sports one of the very best EVF’s with a 2.36 million dot display and a very large .77x magnification. I personally love the What you see is what you get nature of EVFs as I no longer need to chimp after each shot as I often would on a DSLR. However many people still prefer an optical viewfinder and the one on the Nikon D750 is excellent and large.
So which one should you buy?
It really depends upon your preferences. If you want the best camera for your money and value ultimate image quality then the Nikon D750 is the clear winner. It offers a full frame 35mm sensor in a relatively compact DSLR format which is weather sealed, shoots at a reasonable 6.5 fps, focuses incredibly well in low light, offers dual SD card slots and handles as a DSLR should. It is a relative bargain at the moment at around £1500 in the UK.
However as I have a young family now, my chances for dedicated photography outings have diminished somewhat and so I often find myself taking a camera along with me on trips out. Therefore I value several things about the Fuji over any DSLR.
One is the smaller size which makes it much easier to bring along with me when other items take priority.
Secondly I value the EVF because I can quickly get exactly the image that I want without holding everyone up while I chimp on the back of the screen as I would inevitably have to do on a DSLR.
Thirdly when a CSC tells you it has locked focus it almost always has. Whereas you may find that you need to micro adjust your lenses on a DSLR due to back or front focusing issues. I don’t always have the time or the inclination to calibrate all my lenses and I don’t want to capture images of my family only to find they are not in focus.
Despite my personal preference for the Fuji XT2 due to the reasons outlined above I would not argue with anyone who said that the Nikon D750 gives better image quality and is the better value camera. However I would pick the Fuji XT2 over it any day of the week. It is way more fun to shoot with and in the end the best camera is the one that I want to pick up and take with me. At this time in my life that is rarely a DSLR.