NIKON D700 REVIEW
The never ending game of engineering and marketing "chess" between the top digital single-lens-reflex manufacturers can now add a King, Queen and Crown Prince line-up from Nikon.
The king would be the Nikon D3, while the prince can be the D300. Comfortably nestled between the two is the queen – the newly announced D700. She gets that title because she's capable of making practically all the moves of the rest of the line-up and she's arguably the most versatile of the bunch.
Nikon D700 DSLR
If price was a deal-killer, Nikon has sweetened their new DSLR line-up by producing a camera that shaves nearly $2000 off the king's price while absorbing the best of features from the D3 and the D300.
Judging from the first 24 hours of posts in the brand new Nikonians D700 Users Group forum, it looks like Nikon's engineers have managed to please both professionals and serious enthusiasts with the new D700.
Smaller in price and size (almost)
The D700 offers a boat-load of features previously the exclusive domain of the D3 and D300 cameras and manages to pack it all in a D300-style body with a $2,000 savings added as incentive.
Nikonian David Dalziel (dave58) sums up the impact of the price break, noting: "I've been waiting for a 'Full Frame' but the D3 was just too much for my budget. The D700 although still expensive is almost within my reach and I would imagine many other people who have held off for the same reason. I'll still wait a few months to let the price settle & then add it to my kit bag along with my D200. I honestly thought I'd be waiting another year for an 'affordable' FX body so I'm happy. Thank you Nikon."
The lower price is not the only reduction offered by D700. At 2.19lb (995g) without battery, memory card, body cap or LCD monitor cover, it comes in lighter than the D3's 2.7lb (1,240 g) by half a pound.
The flip-side is that once you add the optional MB-D10 Multi-Power Battery Pack you've just added 11 ounces (310 grams) to the D700 (not counting the batteries), loosing the weight advantage -if you were interested in that. On the other hand, those accustomed to pro bodies will find it comforting. The battery pack also adds an additional $235 USD (average in the USA) to your purchase price, but it is a very popular option for photographers requiring plenty of juice and the ability to take the D700 up to its advertised eight frames per second.
Without the pack you can expect five fps. That pack by the way was surely an influencing factor in the D700's remarkable similarity in body style to the D300. The original design of the MB-D10 was matched to the D300.
In an interview with the design staff behind the pack, Ms. Michiyo Ogasawara of Nikon's Product Design Department explained: "Since this device was to be used as an attachment to the D300, it would have been tempting to think only of producing clean lines that matched the camera itself. However, we were also aiming to make use of the standard battery holder used on the F6 camera, in order to allow an EN-EL4a to be used, and I had a hard time getting the shape of the battery pack to conform." Now, with the pack already in production and key shape and size conformity to the camera body this critical, the close physical resemblance between the D700 and D300 is a natural progression. Of course Nikon also factored in the cost-saving benefits of using hardware already in production. Both the battery pack and the camera share durable magnesium allow protection.
Features combine best of the D3 and D300
Pulling from the high-end features listing of the D3, the D700 goodies list begins with the 12.1-megapixel FX-format CMOS sensor covering a 36.0 x 23.9 mm area (making it the second full frame DSLR in the Nikon stable). It's not only as large as the D3's sensor, but also adds the D300's Image Sensor Cleaning function.
D700 sensor components use vibrating piezoelectric elements for dust removal
Also pulled from the D3 bag of tricks is the same Multi-CAM 3500FX autofocus sensor module featuring 51 AF points, the high-resolution 3-inch LCD monitor with tempered glass providing a 170 degree viewing angle.
The D700 will also have the same ISO range (up to ISO 6400, and beyond, to 25,600) and the same Scene Recognition system as the D3. It shares the Nikon's exclusive EXPEED Image Processing System with the D3 and D300. The pop-up Speedlight at the top of the pentaprism sits a bit higher than the one on the D300, but it features the same basic guide number of 17 at ISO 200. The D3 does not have a pop-up flash unit. Shutter life-span estimates on the D700 match the D300's 150,000 (contrast that with the D3's 300,000 clicks).
The D700 defies simple descriptions
This cross-breeding of features and D3/D300 design elements has been a source of speculation for Nikonians in the D700 Users Group forum. As with all new camera announcements from Nikon, the first impulse is to "categorize" the new body.
Nikonian Bill Ely (d50extreme) sums up his take on the positioning of the D700 with a simple comparison: "The D700 isn't an upgrade from the D300. It's a whole new camera. Something that many D300 users will want to use along as a second body or for people who want FX but not in the size of the D3. With a D300 and D700 you would have high ISO, long reach, wide angle FX capability, and two semi-pro bodies that share accessories. Nikon is just filling in the gaps between their models so there is a body for everyone. It could also be a great 2nd body for D3 users who want two cameras that are both FX but one which is smaller and lighter.
The D700 isn't a replacement, it's just a new camera Nikon made for people looking for FX in a semi-pro body."
Will the DX format suffer?
The majority of posts in the forum continue the Nikonians time-honored tradition of trying to second-guess Nikon's engineers and marketing specialists. A few debates have sprung up in trying to decipher Nikon's intentions with the DX format. This format, predominant in all but two of Nikon's DSLR's (D3 and D700) has a smaller image sensor and has given birth to a an entire line-up of Nikkor glass that is lighter and smaller than the full-frame versions (also in many cases less expensive).
With world economies in a tight state, the purchase of cameras costing nearly as much as a decent used car requires careful budgeting, and many Nikonians are wondering if they choose to go the DX route – will it still be a viable system in the future?
Daniel Stainer (spiritualized67) sums it up like this: "As for the DX gear loosing value, that's not a big issue for me. I'm not into photography as a speculator, but as an artist. When the time comes, it will sell for what somebody's willing to pay. For some, the D700 will be an epiphany--as it definitely fills a specific niche. But for many, the D700 is just another evolutionary notch on Nikon's never ending technological belt."
Nikonians co-founder J. Ramón Palacios (jrp) is ecstatic about his D700 and has added to these Resources an article on Picture Control
Nikon D700 specifications
As supplied by Nikon
D700 with power pack MB-D10
|Type||Type Single-lens reflex digital camera|
|Lens Mount||Nikon F bayonet mount with AF coupling and AF contacts|
Equivalent to angle produced by lens focal length
(1.5 times when DX format is selected)
|Effective Pixels||12.1 million|
|Image Sensor||CMOS sensor, 36.0 x 23.9 mm; Nikon FX format|
|Total Pixels||12.87 million|
|Dust-Reduction System||Image sensor self-cleaning function, Image Dust Off reference data acquisition (Capture NX 2 required)|
|Image size (pixels)||
FX format (36 x 24):
4,256 x 2,832 [L], 3,184 x 2,120 [M], 2,128 x 1,416 [S]
DX format (24 x 16):
2,784 x 1,848 [L], 2,080 x 1,384 [M], 1,392 x 920 [S]
• NEF (RAW): 12 or 14 bit, lossless compressed, compressed, or uncompressed
• TIFF (RGB)
• JPEG: JPEG-Baseline compliant with fine (approx. 1:4), normal (approx. 1:8), or basic (approx. 1:16) compression ([Size priority]); [Optimal quality] compression available
• NEF (RAW) + JPEG: Single photograph recorded in both NEF (RAW) and JPEG formats
|Picture Control System||Four setting options: Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome; each option can be adjusted|
|Storage Media||CompactFlash (Type I, compliant with UDMA)|
|File System||Compliant with DCF 2.0, DPOF, Exif 2.21, Pictbridge|
|Viewfinder||SLR-type with fixed eye-level pentaprism|
|Diopter Adjustment||-3 to +1 m-1|
|Eyepoint||18 mm (-1.0 m-1)|
|Focusing Screen||Type B BriteView Clear Matte VI screen with superimposed AF points and framing grid lines|
|Frame Coverage||Approx. 95% (vertical/horizontal)|
|Magnification||Approx. 0.72x (50mm f/1.4 lens at infinity; -1.0 m-1)|
|Reflex Mirror||Quick-return type|
|Depth-of-field Preview||When CPU lens is attached, lens aperture can be stopped down to value selected by user (A and M modes) or value selected by camera (P and S modes)|
|Lens Aperture||Instant-return type, with depth-of-field preview button|
• DX AF Nikkor: All functions supported
• Type G or D AF Nikkor: All functions supported (PC Micro-Nikkor does not support some functions). IX Nikkor lenses not supported.
• Other AF Nikkor: All functions supported except 3D Color Matrix Metering II. Lenses for F3AF not supported.
• AI-P Nikkor: All functions supported except autofocus and 3D Color Matrix Metering II
• Non-CPU AI Nikkor: Can be used in exposure modes A and M; electronic rangefinder can be used if maximum aperture is f/5.6 or faster; Color Matrix Metering and aperture value display supported if user provides lens data
|Shutter Type||Electronically controlled vertical-travel focal-plane shutter|
|Shutter Speed||1/8,000 to 30 s in steps of 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV, Bulb, X250|
|Flash Sync||Speed X = 1/250 s; synchronizes with shutter at 1/320 s or slower (flash range drops at speeds between 1/250 and 1/320 s)|
1) Single-frame [S] mode
2) Continuous Low-speed [CL] mode
3) Continuous High-speed [CH] mode
4) Live View [LV] mode
5) Self-timer [mark] mode
6) Mirror-up [Mup] mode
|Continuous Shooting Speed||
With Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL3e: 1-5 frames per second in [CL] mode, 5 fps in [CH] mode
With Multi-Power Battery Pack MB-D10 with batteries other than Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL3e or AC Adapter EH-5a/EH-5: 1-7 frames per second in [CL] mode, 8 fps in [CH] mode
|Self-timer||Electronically controlled timer with duration of 2, 5, 10 or 20 s|
|Metering||TTL full-aperture exposure metering using 1,005-pixel RGB sensor|
1) 3D Color Matrix Metering II (type G and D lenses); Color Matrix Metering II (other CPU lenses); Color Matrix Metering (non-CPU lenses if user provides lens data)
2) Center-Weighted: Weight of 75% given to 8-, 12-, 15- or 20-mm circle in center of frame, or weighting based on average of entire frame
3) Spot: Meters 4-mm circle (about 1.5% of frame) centered on selected focus point (on center focus point when non-CPU lens is used)
1) 0 to 20 EV (Matrix or Center-Weighted Metering)
2) 2 to 20 EV (Spot Metering) (ISO 100 equivalent, f/1.4 lens, at 20°C/68°F)
|Exposure Meter Coupling||Combined CPU and AI|
1) Programmed Auto (P) with flexible program
2) Shutter-Priority Auto (S)
3) Aperture-Priority Auto (A)
4) Manual (M)
|Exposure Compensation||±5 EV in increments of 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV|
|Exposure Lock||Exposure locked at detected value with AE-L/AF-L button|
|Exposure Bracketing||Exposure and/or flash bracketing (2 to 9 exposures in increments of 1/3, 1/2, 2/3 or 1 EV)|
|Sensitivity||ISO 200 to 6400 in steps of 1/3, 1/2, or 1 EV; can be set to approx. 0.3, 0.5, 0.7, or 1 (ISO 100 equivalent) EV below ISO 200, or to approx. 0.3, 0.5, 0.7, 1 (ISO 12800 equivalent), or 2 (ISO 25600 equivalent) EV over ISO 6400|
|Active D-Lighting||Can be selected from [Auto], [High], [Normal], or [Low]|
|Autofocus||TTL phase-detection AF, 51 focus points (15 cross-sensors) by Nikon Multi-CAM 3500FX autofocus module; Detection: -1 to +19 EV (ISO 100 at 20°C/68°F); AF fine tuning possible; AF-assist illuminator (range approx. 0.5-3 m/1.6-9.8 ft.)|
1) Autofocus: Single-servo AF (S); Continuous-servo AF (C); Focus Tracking automatically activated according to subject status
2) Manual focus (M) with electronic rangefinder
Focus Point Single AF point can be selected from 51 or 11 focus points
1) Single-point AF
2) Dynamic-area AF [number of AF points: 9, 21, 51, 51 (3D-Tracking)]
3) Auto-area AF
|Built-in Flash||Manual pop-up type; guide number of 17/56 (ISO 200, m/ft., 20°C/68°F) or 12/39 (ISO 100, m/ft., 20°C/68°F)|
1) TTL flash control with 1,005-pixel RGB sensor; i-TTL balanced fill-flash and standard i-TTL fill-flash available with SB-900, 800, 600 or 400
2) Auto aperture (AA): Available with SB-900, 800 and CPU lens
3) Non-TTL auto (A): Available with SB-900, 800, 28, 27 or 22s
4) Distance-priority manual (GN): Available with SB-900, 800
|Flash Sync Modes||
1) Front-curtain sync (normal)
2) Slow sync
3) Rear-curtain sync
4) Red-eye reduction
5) Red-eye reduction with slow sync
|Flash Compensation||-3 to +1 EV in increments of 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV|
|Flash-ready Indicator||Lights when Speedlight such as SB-900, SB-800, SB-600, SB-400, SB-80DX, SB-28DX, or SB-50DX is fully charged; blinks after flash is fired at full output|
|Accessory Shoe||Standard ISO 518 hot-shoe contact with safety lock|
|Sync Terminal||ISO 519 standard terminal|
|Nikon Creative Lighting System||With Speedlights such as SB-900, SB-800, SB-600, SB-R200, or SU-800 (commander only), supports Advanced Wireless Lighting, Auto FP High-Speed Sync, Flash Color Information Communication, modeling flash and FV lock; built-in flash can be used as a commander|
• Auto (TTL white balance with main image sensor and 1,005-pixel RGB sensor);
• Seven manual modes can be preset with fine-tuning; color temperature setting; white balance bracketing: 2 to 9 exposures in increments of 1, 2 or 3
|Live View Modes||Hand-held mode: TTL phase-detection AF with 51 focus areas (15 cross-type sensors) Tripod mode: Contrast-detect AF on a desired point within a specific area|
|LCD Monitor||3-in., approx. 920,000-dot (VGA), 170-degree wide-viewing-angle, 100% frame coverage, low-temperature polysilicon TFT LCD with brightness adjustment|
|Playback Function||Full-frame and thumbnail (4 or 9 images) playback with playback zoom, slide show, histogram display, highlight display, auto image rotation, and image comment (up to 36 characters)|
|Video Output||NTSC or PAL; simultaneous playback from both the video output and on the LCD monitor available|
|HDMI Output||Supports HDMI version 1.3a; Type C mini connector is provided; simultaneous playback from both the HDMI output terminal and on the LCD monitor not available|
1) GPS: NMEA 0183 (Ver. 2.01 and 3.01) interface standard supported with 9-pin D-sub cable and GPS Cable MC-35 (optional)
2) Remote control: via Ten-pin terminal
|Supported Languages||Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish|
|Battery||One Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL3e|
Multi-Power Battery Pack MB-D10 (optional) with one Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL4a/EN-EL4 (battery chamber cover BL-3 required) or EN-EL3e, or eight R6/AA-size alkaline (LR6), Ni-MH (HR6), lithium (FR6) batteries, or nickel-manganese (ZR6) batteries
AC Adapter AC Adapter EH-5a/EH-5 (optional)
|Tripod Socket||1/4 in. (ISO 1222)|
|Dimensions||(W x H x D) Approx. 147 x 123 x 77 mm/5.8 x 4.8 x 3.0 in.|
|Weight||Approx. 995 g/2.19 lb. without battery, memory card, body cap or LCD monitor cover|
|Humidity||Under 85% (no condensation)|
Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL3e, Quick Charger MH-18a, USB Cable UC-E4, Video Cable EG-D100, Camera Strap AN-D700, Body Cap BF-1A, Accessory Shoe Cover BS-1, LCD Monitor Cover BM-9, Software Suite CD-ROM
*Supplied accessories may differ depending on country or area
|Main Optional Accessories||Wireless Transmitter WT-4/4A, Magnifying Eyepiece DK-17M, AC Adapter EH-5a, Capture NX 2 Software, Camera Control Pro 2 Software, Image Authentication Software|