Nikon D700

The digital camera market is highly competitive because of the fact that digital cameras are so affordable, but the presence of the Nikon D700 and dozens of other high-end digital SLR cameras show that the professional grade cameras are fighting to win the hearts of professional photographers as well. Good features and top performance are primary factors for these rather expensive DSLRs to stand out from the rest.

Latest Update: The Nikon D700 is Now on Sale at Amazon.com

Nikon D700

Nikon D700

Nikon D700’s Position in the D Series

The D700 is a bit of a hybrid between the Nikon D300 and D3. It is Nikon’s best serious digital camera for the advanced amateur and pro photographers. Although the older Nikon D3 runs faster for sports, the D700 is newer, smaller, lighter and much cheaper. The body chassis is that of the D300 while the viewfinder is that of the D3. The D700 also shares the MB-D10 vertical grip with the D300, which means that the camera base is essentially the same. The first thing that you’ll notice with the D700 is that it’s taller than the rest of the lower models including the D300. This is because the mirror box and pentaprism that are housed in the camera are larger. Yet somehow the height of the prism area on the D700 has been reduced enough to fit in a pop-up flash. Nikon obviously did some clever engineering to fit everything into the reduced space it had with the D700 body design.

Design

The D700 is a bit of a hybrid between the Nikon D300 and D3. The body chassis is that of the D300 while the viewfinder is that of the D3. The D700 also shares the MB-D10 vertical grip with the D300, which means that the camera base is essentially the same. The first thing that you’ll notice with the D700 is that it’s taller than the rest of the lower models including the D300. This is because the mirror box and pentaprism that are housed in the camera are larger. Yet somehow the height of the prism area on the D700 has been reduced enough to fit in a pop-up flash. Nikon obviously did some clever engineering to fit everything into the reduced space it had with the D700 body design.

D3-D700-D300 Comparison

The hand grip curves are comfortable. It is sculpted to feel comfortable in your hands all day.

The two covers that cover the Flash Sync and Remote Terminal on the top right were also redesigned in such a way that they are easier to remove individually.

On the left side, you can find a single hatch that houses the mini-HDMI, video out, USB 2.0, and DC input ports. Compared to the D300, not much has changed although there are a few small detail differences. Support for USB Mass Storage is gone. Same for Type II CompactFlash cards (also known as microdrives). Top view shows similarities to the D300 although the LCD on the top-panel had to be reduced in order to keep the width of the camera the same.

The back view of the Nikon D700 tells a slightly different story where the viewfinder stands out with a round eye-cup and a built-in shutter mechanism. The gorgeous 3-inch display remains in its convenient spot and although the card slot cover latch is missing, a new “Info Button” has taken its place allowing photographers to see shooting information or change some settings. Everything else is the same with the buttons sporting their same friendly layout.

The D700′s rear INFO display is superior. It’s a masterpiece of interface design that tells you every conceivable option that’s set in the camera, all on one screen that you can pop on with one touch.

Actual user review:
“I couldn’t be more happy with the purchase of Nikon D700 Digital SLR camera. It replaced my 3-year old and retiring Nikon D200, which I have put well over 100,000 images through. I’m an actual photographer, not a camera-aholic who buys camera equipment and lenses as “collection”. So a camera that “feels right in my hand” is very important to assist my creative productivity flow. The camera have a very solid construction, it is said to use a thicker magnesium body than the D300 and D200, and is very water-resistant (one reviewer used the camera for 4+ hours in the rain with absolutely no problem). For the first time, I have absolutely no worry about setting my ISO at 6400 and know for a fact the images will come out far superior than that would produce on my old D200 with iso of just 640, sharpness and resolution wise. The High ISO performance is astonishing on D700, thanks to Nikon’s full frame 12mp sensor (the exact same sensor that’s been used in Nikon’s top of the line D3). The sensor’s default setting produces neutral, film like results, with the ability to fully customize color/contrast/sharpness.” – Li Fan (IL,USA)

Features

In terms of megapixel count, the max resolution falls slightly short of the D90. The Nikon D700 supports up to 12.1 megapixel images with a max resolution of 4256 x 2832 pixels. This isn’t really a big deal especially when the FX image sensor comes into play. Pictures can be taken with very low noise with the ISO sensitivity supporting up to 6400. Special ISO modes such as the Lo-1 (100 ISO) and two high ISO modes which are the 12,800 ISO and 25,600 ISO are included as well. The inclusion of the Integrated Dust Reduction ensures photos remain spot-free for each and every shot.

The large 3.0-inch TFT-LCD display can be put to better use than the other Nikon models with two “Live View” shooting modes available. One of the “Live View” modes is the standard mode that most point-and-shoot users are familiar with and comes complete with face detection capability. The new second “Live View” is exclusively for the tripod accessory for convenient shooting. Image review is very convenient in this camera with a 170 degree wide-angle viewing.

The Nikon D700’s shutter mechanism can shoot continuously at 5 frames per second and the fps count can be bumped up to 8 fps when the MB-D10 battery grip is used. It is rated at 150,000 cycles which is 50,000 cycles more than some of the other lower-end models.

The D700 adds a sensor cleaner lacking in the D3, but present in the D300.

Performance

The pictures are amazingly sharp, detailed, and colors natural. In other words simply spectacular. They at least as good as Nikon’s previous best, the D3. Image quality is everything that you expect from a high-end camera. The Active D-Lighting (or Adaptive Dynamic Range) feature helps to recover lost shadow details and highlights without making any negative impact on the contrast levels. Nikon’s Active D-Lighting really works. It is best to leave it on AUTO. For locations with good lighting it does nothing. However in harsh lighting with lots of shadows, the Active D-Lighting does an instant transform that simply makes the photo look like it does to our eyes. It’s almost impossible to lose a shadow or blow out a highlight. It just looks great.

The 51-point accurate auto-focus is coupled with 3D Focus Tracking for improved autofocus precision along with three Dynamic AF modes. The exposure gets a piece of the accuracy too with the aid of the 1,005-Pixel 3D Color Matrix Metering II which determines the best exposure using a database of over 30,000 images onboard for reference. This is great for scenery photographers especially when the Scene Recognition System is used because it helps adjust the white-balance and autofocus performance.

In terms of low light performance the D700 is leagues ahead of the crop. Images are crisp and almost noise free up to ISO 1600 and certainly very usable all the way up to ISO 6400.

For advanced users, there are several picture control settings for better fine-tuning of the color quality. There are 9 customizable settings for adjusting the image appearance along with 4 different presets.

Nikon D700 Extras

The D700 fully supports the GP-1 GPS Unit accessory so it is possible to take pictures with added Geotags including latitude, longitude, and altitude information. This function can also be used with certain free software like ViewNX and Picturetown.

Bottom Line

The D700 is currently the most affordable full-frame camera of the Nikon lineup costing a whopping $1000 less than the D3. For shooting landscapes, portraits, static product images, and nature, the D700 is the camera to get. And with its amazing low light performance the D700 offers a well rounded package that is hard to beat.

The D700 is an eye-popping instrument! After 25 years out of the photo market, I jumped both feet. I looked at the Canon,,,seemed a bit cheap in the feel market. The 700 is like picking up a milled vault with a lens on the end. Great balance. Beautiful touch and feel…and ridiculous features. I bought this as an end camera; one you cannot outgrow. It has proven to be easy to use and endlessly deep in what it can accomplish. YOUR ability is the only limit. I purchased an 85 1.4 and a 70-200 f 2.8 with the camera and have been blown AWAY but the pictures, in spite of my lack of ability. I’ve taken 1000′s of photo in 40 years…nothing compares to this camera, NOTHING. Expensive? Yep. The best? Yep? Life is short, buy the Nikon D700 and don’t look back. A true gem.” – M.Cleary (AK,USA)

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I recently purchased the Nikon D700 and couldn’t be more pleased. The two things I looked forward to the most in the camera were the benefits of the full-frame sensor and the low noise. I find myself shooting at 800 and above a lot of the time and have to remind myself to crank it back down when using a tripod. The low noise is superb. With the full-frame sensor I can now get the shots I should from my 17-35 f/2.8. It’s nice to get back into the world of true wide-angle.” – H.C.Harless (WV,USA)

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