Nikon D700 Review

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The Nikon D700 can be described as a compact version of its predecessor the considerably larger Nikon D3. It is roughly the same size as the D300 which makes it Nikon’s first “compact” professional SLR (Single Lens Reflex camera). The D700 has all the features you can expect of a professional model, but it also comes with a very professional price tag – 2,999 USD in most stores in the U.S. (can be found for about 2000 USD)  To put this into perspective, a D3 will set you back 5,000 USD while a D300 costs roughly 1,800 USD on the U.S. market.

As far as imaging goes, the D700 has the same 12.1MP full frame (‘FX’) sensor as the D3 and the same processing engine. The main differences between the two models are instead found on the outside; there is for instance no rear LCD info panel on the D700 since the camera is so small and you have to make do with just one UDMA compatible CF card slot instead of two.

The D700 kevlar / carbon fibre composite shutter is good for 150,000 exposures rather than 300,000 and the burst rate is lower (5.0 fps / 8.0 fps with optional MB-D10). Purchasing a D700 instead of a D3 will mean giving up the 5:4 aspect ratio option, and the viewfinder is also different; it’s a 95% coverage 0.72x viewfinder instead of 100% / 0.7x. You will however get the same ultra-fast start-up and shutter lag as in the D3 model.

On the positive side, the D700 does come with some extras not found on the D3, such as a self-cleaning sensor and a built in iTTL flash (G.No 17 / ISO 200). There are Expanded Function button options (you can assign any camera menu item) and the Live View can be assigned to FUNC, AE-L or Preview buttons (allowing LV + different drive modes). Also, the Virtual Horizon can be overlaid on Live View preview image.

The D700 is not only smaller than the D3; it’s also lighter, weighing a mere 1075 grams with battery and 995 grams without. This is almost as light as the D300 (903 g / 825 g) and considerably lighter than the D700 (1420 g / 1240 g). The battery used to power the D700 is a small EN-EL3e and the optional battery pack is the same as for the D300 model: MB-D10. (The extra battery pack will increase the burst rate to 8 fps.)

If you are familiar with the D300 control layout you won’t have any trouble handling the D700 because the two models are almost identical in this regard.

The Nikon D700 will chiefly compete against the Canon EOS 5D Mark II which sells for 2,699 USD at most U.S. dealers and the Sony DSLR-A900 which you can get for roughly 2,999 USD on the U.S. market.

Here are some of the key features of the Nikon D700

  • The body is made from a magnesium alloy and all connections and buttons are sealed against moisture.
  • The 3.0″ 922,000 pixel LCD monitor has a detailed ‘Control Panel’ type of display and will change colour if you’re taking pictures in the dark.
  • 12.1 megapixel full-frame sensor (8.45µm pixel pitch)
  • ISO 200 – 6400 (with boost up to ISO 25600 and down to ISO 100)
  • Nikon EXPEED image processor (Capture NX processing and NR algorithms, lower power)
  • Supports DX lenses, viewfinder automatically masks (5.1 megapixels with DX lens)
  • 14-bit A/D conversion, 12 channel readout
  • HDMI HD video output
  • Multi-CAM3500FX Auto Focus sensor (51-point, 15 cross-type, more vertical coverage)
  • Auto-focus tracking by color (using information from 1005-pixel AE sensor)
  • Auto-focus calibration (fine-tuning), fixed body or up to 20 separate lens settings
  • 5 frames per second continuous with auto-focus tracking
  • ‘Active D-Lighting’, i.e. the camera adjusts metering and applies D-Lighting curve
  • Scene Recognition System (uses AE sensor, AF sensor)
  • Live View with either phase detect (mirror up/down) or contrast detect Auto Focus Picture Control image parameter presets
  • Virtual horizon indicates if camera is level

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