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"RE: AF ILLUMINATOR"
The D700's AF system is rated to operate down to EV -1. That translates to an exposure of 15 seconds at f/2.8, ISO 100. If it was darker than that, you may struggle.(Nikon's newer AF system in the D800 and D4 improves on the D700, being rated down to EV -2, or one stop lower)Especially in low light, a subject with little contrast will cause problems for any AF system. If you could post an example, we might be better able to advise you further.