Nikon D700 vs D300s

Many of our readers request detailed information on the difference between the Nikon D700 and Nikon D300/D300s DSLR cameras. They wonder why there is such a big price difference, while the cameras look almost identical and the number of megapixels is the same. In this comparison, I will be providing not only feature differences between these cameras, but also high ISO samples to explain the difference between the different types of sensors used in D700 and D300/D300s.

Nikon D300s vs D700

If you are wondering about the differences between the Nikon D300 and Nikon D300s, I highly recommend to check out my Nikon D300 vs D300s comparison. Basically, Nikon D300s is an update to the Nikon D300 with more features and speed, while the sensor remains identical. The biggest changes are: more frames per second, ability to use both SD and CompactFlash memory cards and video-recording capability up to 720p HD.

Nikon D700 was released in July of 2008, approximately a year after Nikon D3 release date. D3′s sensor was a huge success for Nikon and the company knew that if it used the same sensor on a smaller and cheaper body, they could create a new product line that could compete directly against the Canon 5D full-frame camera. The company executives were not wrong – Nikon D700 became an instant success when it was announced and it became the camera of choice for those, who did not need the speed or the price tag of the D3, but still wanted the same superb performance of the full frame sensor.

Here are the main differences between Nikon D300s and Nikon D700:

  1. Sensor – Nikon D300s has a smaller 12 megapixel DX (1.5 crop factor) sensor, while Nikon D700 has a 12 megapixel FX (full-frame) sensor. The sensor is what primarily makes up the difference in price between the D300s and D700. Full-frame sensor means more dynamic range and better high ISO capabilities with no field of view crop. See sample images below for comparison.
  2. ISO sensitivity – Nikon D700 has better ISO sensitivity than D300, because of larger pixels. Default sensitivity on D700 is ISO 200 – 6400, while it is ISO 200 – 3200 on D300s.
  3. Reach – Due to differences in sensors (full-frame vs 1.5x crop sensor), the Nikon D300s has a longer “reach”, because of the difference in field of view and higher pixel density. Basically, it has the same number of megapixels in a smaller sensor, which means that you get more resolution from the center area of the lens, while the corners are cut off. At the same time, wide-angle lenses are truly wide-angle on a full-frame sensor and you get a larger field of view, which is nice for architecture and landscape photography.
  4. Larger viewfinder – Nikon D700 has a bigger mirror, pentaprism and viewfinder than the D300, making it easier to see and photograph the scene (especially manual focus).
  5. Autofocus – Nikon D700 is equipped with the same autofocus system as the D3/D3s, which is better than the one on D300s.
  6. Better weather-sealing and build – Nikon D700 has a thicker magnesium alloy construction and is better equipped for tough weather conditions than the D300s.
  7. 14-bit RAW recording – Nikon D700 records both 12-bit and 14-bit RAW files at 5 frames per second (FPS), while Nikon D300s drops to 2.5 FPS on 14-bit files.
  8. Viewfinder coverage – Nikon D700 has a 95% viewfinder versus 100% on the Nikon D300, which means that you do not fully see what the camera will capture on the D700 when you take a picture.
  9. Video recording – Nikon D300s can shoot 720p video and Nikon D700 has no video recording capability.
  10. Camera dimensions – Both cameras have similar dimensions, but D700 is slightly larger (147x123x77mm) than D300s (147x114x74mm).
  11. Weight – Nikon D700 is slightly heavier (995g) than D300s (840g).
  12. Quiet Shutter Release – All new Nikon DSLRs, including the D300s have the “Q” (Quiet Shutter Release) mode. Nikon D700 does not have this mode.
  13. Other minor differences in camera menu/settings.
  14. Nikon D700 is currently priced about $1,000 more than D300s.

Nikon D300s and D700 High ISO Comparison

Below is the head-to-head high ISO comparison between the D300s and D700 sensors at ISO 800, 1600 and 3200. I had to match the field of view between the two cameras and move the D300s setup a little back for accurate results. The below images are 100% crops and they were not resized in any way.

ISO 800 (Left: Nikon D300s, Right: Nikon D700:
Nikon D300s - ISO 800 Nikon D700 - ISO 800

The difference between the D300s DX sensor and D700 FX is already pronounced at ISO 800. The image from the Nikon D300s DX sensor looks looks noisy and we are beginning to lose a little bit of sharpness. Nikon D700 has no visible noise.

ISO 1600:
Nikon D300s - ISO 1600 Nikon D700 - ISO 1600

At ISO 1600, the Nikon D300s is extremely noisy and there is clear evidence of loss of sharpness and detail in the image. Nikon D700 starts having a little bit of noise in the shadows, but still looks good.

ISO 3200:
Nikon D300s - ISO 3200 Nikon D700 - ISO 3200

At ISO 3200, Nikon D300s looks bad, while Nikon D700 is still retaining sharpness, but has some noise in the shadows.

So, which one is right for you, Nikon D300s or Nikon D700? I guess it all depends on your budget and the type of photography you do. If you are a landscape or architectural photographer, Nikon D700 is the obvious choice, because it has better dynamic range and you can use ultra wide-angle lenses without the crop factor. If you are a wedding photographer, D700 is better for low-light situations. If you are a wildlife/sports photographer, then you need to see what is more important for you – reach or better performance at high ISOs. I personally choose high ISO over reach, because most wildlife (especially birds) gets active early in the morning and late in the afternoon when the light conditions are not ideal. In addition, being able to acquire accurate focus in various lighting conditions is also extremely important for wildlife photography and D700 definitely performs better in that regard, especially in low-light. For regular portraiture and flash photography where dynamic range and high ISO performance are not that important, D300s would also work great.

But at the end of the day it all boils down to your budget. If you can afford buying a full-frame camera with pro-level lenses, FX will give you the best results. If you have already invested in several DX lenses, it might not make sense to switch, because you would need to sell all of your DX lenses and you would definitely lose a considerable amount of money. And before you make the final decision, think about this question: How serious are you about your photography and do you only need the camera for occasional photography and travel, or do you need a more advanced tool to get the best results? If it is the latter, get yourself the D700 and don’t look back. Otherwise, stick with the D300s or even a cheaper body like the Nikon D90, because a camera is always the worst investment you can make.

I also highly recommend checking out my Nikon DX vs FX article, in which I provide detailed information on differences between the two sensor types and their advantages/disadvantages.

Please let me know if you have any questions in the comments section below.


Avatar of Nasim Mansurov About Nasim Mansurov

is a professional photographer based out of Denver, Colorado. He is the author and founder of Photography Life, along with a number of other online resources. Read more about Nasim here.

Comments

  1. Finally upgraded to a D700 this week, WOW! Quite a jump from my ancient D70. Incredible camera! :-)

    • 3
      ) Pasquier

      I know the feeling – made the same transition – as a full blooded B&W photographer I never viewed the D70 as anything else but a “toy”, real photos being taken with my F3, FM2/FM3….. now after acquiring a D700 and a set of new lenses (see: http://pasquierphoto.blogspot.com), my old manual bodies are pining to be used again.

      • Pasquier, I didn’t know that you transitioned from film to digital :) I’m glad that you are liking the experience with the D700 – you have an awesome set of gear!

      • 102
        ) trimi

        Hello,
        I`m confused and i dont know which to buy nikon d300s or d700 or d600 but d600 its very expensive and i need this nikon just for photoshoting for wedding,can tell me someone what to do please i dont know what to do and i need for advide.

        Thank you All

        • 105
          ) Vitaliy

          If this is for a wedding, definitely get a used D700. The biggest challenge at weddings is low light, so you have to go with a full frame. Both D700 and D600 will work. Since D600 is expensive for you (although prices are comparable) and you still need to get fast glass, go with D700. You can get a used one in the range $1,300-1,500.

    • Aaron, congratulations!!! I don’t know what I would do without my D700 that I have been using for almost two years now :) It has been serving me well and I’m hoping to squeeze another 2-3 years out of it, at least! God knows how many pictures I have taken with it by now…

      • Grab a program like KUSO EXIF Viewer (free), open one of the .nef files, and you’ll see a ShutterCount field. I’ve shot 2460 photos so far in about a week. I have over 22,000 on the D70 and the only wear is the shutter button not being as reliable in the past few weeks–I think I have some dirt or dog hair under the button and should probably send it in for service before giving it to a family member.

        What do you think of Active D-Lighting? I’ve been leaving it on auto. I use Capture NX 2 for a raw converter anyway, so I have no draw back of disabling it later in post.

        Flash with the D700/SB900 is quite a bit different over the D70/SB800. I’m not getting the results I expect. The flash seems to hot indoors for candids in TTL mode and too dim in TTL-BL. Dialing in flash exposure of -0.3 or -0.7 in TTL seems to help a tad. Raising ISO to 400 or 800 seems to improve ambient quite a bit. It just isn’t doing what I expect it to do compared to how comfortable I’d gotten with the D70/SB800 though, so I wind up fiddling and retaking a lot of shots. I expect with more experience I’ll adjust. I almost wonder if Active D-Lighting is fighting me some here, or maybe the preview on the camera is not as accurate as the raw file? What appeared overexposed with TTL on the preview didn’t look so in Capture NX later. Grrrr!

        Everything else I love! Shooting at ISO 1600-6400 with very little noise, and using flash over 1/500 at wide open apertures has changed my photography completely. Oh the creative opportunities it has opened up!!! The D70 feels like a toy now, even though it served me well for over 5yrs. :-)

        • Aaron, thanks for the tip! I’ll check out the shuttercount and see what I have on my D700 :)

          As far as Active D-Lighting, disable it if you shoot in RAW – it is only useful for JPEG images.

          It is strange that you are getting over-exposed shots with your SB-900. Are you bouncing the light or shooting directly at your subject? I personally almost never shoot straight because of nasty shadows. Getting images slightly overexposed is actually good. Have you heard of a term “shooting to the right”? Basically, it means that overexposing images by a third/half stop helps to get more details than nailing the exposure or underexposing. Shooting to the right means you would get more data on the right side of the histogram.

          Yes, raising ISO will increase the amount of ambient light when using a flash. That’s because your shutter speed is probably staying constant. The best way to use flash with the D700 and SB-900 is to use manual mode, shutter speed between 100-200 and aperture between f/4 and f/8, depending on the amount of ambient light. The camera will automatically manage the flash exposure even in manual mode, as long as it is set to TTL. And yes, I would definitely turn Active D-Lighting off when using a flash.

          I’m glad that you are loving your experience with the D700 :)

          • Having taken over 10K pictures with the D700 now, I’m feeling confident enough in it to shoot commercial work with it. It is a stunning camera, right up to ISO 1600 without any second thoughts. 3200 can easily be cleaned up with a little noise reduction, and 6400 can be used too with care if your exposure is right on. I regularly shoot at 800-1250 with flash to get more ambient in the background indoors and at night now. I ditched the LightSphere for most scenarios. It made a tremendous difference with the D70 and SB800, but not so much with the D700 and SB900. I find I like the look of the flash dead on outdoors with no diffuser in TTL-BL and high speed sync at wide apertures (the previous combo would have massively overexposed without a diffuser and was limited to 1/500), and indoors in TTL mode I get far better results using Neil van Niekerk’s method of flagging and bouncing with high ISOs (check out his blog!). The LightSphere was just throwing too much light for close subjects most of the time. I’m getting consistent results now. I often bring the flash down -0.7EV or so, whatever the subject requires to match the ambient after previewing if I have a chance for a 2nd shot, usually the first one is nailed though.

            Oh, and I absolutely LOVE Active D-Lighting, especially with the above scenarios. No need to shoot to the right (in fact, that would be counter productive with Active D-Lighting enabled). Also, wedding dresses and such look bad if you accidentally blow the highlights with that method of metering. I leave Active D-Lighting on Auto in the camera and adjust it later in Capture NX 2. If it is not enabled in the camera, you can’t turn it on later in Capture NX 2. You can only adjust it or turn it off in post if it was already on in the camera (odd). By the way, D-Lighting is not the same as Active D-Lighting and does not give as good a result. I don’t use D-Lighting with the D700, I did with the D70 as it didn’t have Active D-Lighting in the camera. Typically, the camera’s choice is the best result, sometimes I’ll knock it up or down a notch in post or disable it. I’ve never gone over High in post, Extra High starts adding noise. Normal works very well for HDR brackets surprisingly. Also, it seems to stop down aperture before decreasing shutter or ISO which would change depth of field, but since I usually shoot in Aperture Priority anyway I don’t notice this as much as others.

            So I’d encourage folks to play around with Active D-Lighting if you haven’t, especially with RAW, but ONLY if you use Capture NX 2 since no other RAW converter can read the tags and display the image properly from what I’ve tried. They’ll look slightly underexposed if you use Lightroom or Adobe Camera RAW for your RAW converter. If you shoot JPG it could be useful, but you wouldn’t be able to change the intensity after the fact obviously.

            • Aaron, thank you for your review of the D700.

              Yes, it is a stunning camera and although I now have the D3s, I still love my D700 and shoot it more often. D3s is great, but it is too darn heavy and bulky compared to the D700.

              I typically stay below ISO 1600, but every once in a while shoot at ISO 3200 and then clean up the noise using Nik Software Dfine. 6400 is too noisy for my taste.

              I visit Neil’s blog every once in a while, but I do not remember seeing the high ISO bouncing article. Could you paste the link to that article? I’m curious about it.

              As far as Active D-Lighting is concerned, it is only useful if you use Capture NX (as you noted), since Adobe does not know how to properly process it. I personally do not use Capture NX (100% Lightroom user) and Active D-Lighting has no effect on my images and only underexposes my shots. I have no intention to use NX in the future, so I leave mine turned off on all three camera bodies. By the way, the reason why you cannot turn on Active D-Lighting in Capture NX, is because of older bodies that did not have this feature and lack of “Auto” D-Lighting in some Nikon DSLRs. All Active D-Lighting does, is add a tone curve to the image, which does recover the shadows a little bit, but adds noise at the same time…

            • I’ve been following Neil’s blog for a very long time, so I’m not sure if he has one specific article dedicated to that one topic, but perhaps this is close: http://neilvn.com/tangents/2009/12/19/bounce-flash-wedding-receptions/#more-1900

              I tend to keep the vertical shutter grip on my D700 all the time, I like the balance better. I’m also using a D3 battery in it. Is the D3s as heavy in comparison? I know it’s slightly smaller than both D700 and grip. I wonder if the D700 and grip has better battery life over the D3s having both batteries? It is nice to be able to shed some weight when desired with the D700 by ditching the grip.

            • Aaron, no, the D3s would actually be lighter in comparison, because the battery grip + extra battery makes D700 slightly heavier.

              In terms of battery life, D3s squeezes out over 4 thousand images from a single charge on the EN-EL4a battery, which is about twice more than what two EN-EL3 batteries can deliver.

              I have the MB-D10 for D700, but only use it when doing landscape work. For portraits and other everyday use, I leave the MB-D10 on the shelf :)

            • I use the EN-EL4a battery in the MB-D10 grip. It does offer an incredible battery life. Sounds like a D3s would be a very comfortable camera for me then, as it would be both lighter and smaller than my combo. I would rarely miss the built-in flash. I too ditch the grip when doing a lot of hiking outdoors, but I love it for portraits as it’s easier on my wrist and my arm is still young enough to hold the weight if my arthritis is OK. Haha!

        • 103
          ) trimi

          Hello,
          I`m confused and i dont know which to buy nikon d300s or d700 or d600 but d600 its very expensive and i need this nikon just for photoshoting for wedding,can tell me someone what to do please i dont know what to do and i need for advide.

          Thank you All

    • 82
      ) rosy

      did you have trouble adjusting from the d70 to the d700, how was the learning curve

      i have a d80 and want to jump not sure if the d3002 route or the full frame route

      pelase help

      • Rosy,

        For me the jump from the D70 to the D700 was not difficult. I had already exceeded the capability of the D70 and needed much of what the D700 had to offer, so I was finding more complicated ways of working around the limitations and the learning curve for me was actually easier than my work-arounds. I’m probably not your average consumer though as I listen to many podcasts like the Nikonian’s Image Doctors and read several photo blogs such as Nasim’s, so I was already familiar with most of the newer camera features (such as the auto focus differences) before I purchased the D700.

        There won’t be quite as many changes coming from the D80 for you, and the D300 is very, very similar to the D700 in functionality and features. The biggest difference between the D300 and D700 is speed and image quality. D700 has lower noise and larger image being full frame, but then you need full frame lenses (not DX) to take advantage of it. D700 is also slightly faster in autofocus performance (maybe due to wider field of view with FX?) and has significantly faster burst rates if shooting in 14-bit NEF files. D300 is about the same speed with 12-bit NEFs, but bumping up to 14-bit dramatically drops fps, only really important for those doing HDR like me or sports. It was the 14-bit NEF performance and wanting lower noise at higher ISOs that pushed me to the D700 instead of the D300, even though I knew I’d be purchasing new lenses. I also wanted the 14-24mm f/2.8 for real estate / architecture, there really is no other ultra wide angle lens that compares in either the DX or FX worlds. I slightly regret not having the D300′s ability to shoot video, but the other benefits outweigh that feature for me.

        There will probably be both a D400 and D800 to replace the two previous models coming later this year. The cheaper D7000 almost makes the D300 not worth it when you compare image quality and features, even though it’s not as tough a camera. If you have a good investment in DX lenses, I would seriously consider the D7000.

        What do you shoot with the D80 and what limitations or lack of features make you want to switch? Higher image quality? Faster speed? Video? A missing feature? Just curious.

        • 86
          ) Rosy

          Hello Aaron

          Thank you for your detailed response. The D80′s ISO is not very good and I shoot at all times of the day. I could live with the FPS on the D80 but that too could be an advantage if it were more. I feel that the sharpness could improve greatly with the d700.
          What stops me is the lens compatibility. I have a nikon 85mm which is ok on the FX body but i recently purchased a TAmron 17-50mmdx lens. I am not sure if i would be able to use it.
          I am mainly shooting portraits/family pictures . Recently I was invited to do a graduation shoot at a friend’s daycare – again teh D80 was great but the D700 could of put it over the edge. This Daycare could lead into a profitable venture for me and lead to more shooting (profit making) oppurtunities.
          SOOO for a business arguement – should i jump to the d700 maybe purchase the nikon 14-24 2.8

          • Hi Rosy,

            I’ll reply to this comment instead of both, consolidate the threads. :-) I also own a 24-70mm f/2.8 and a 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II. For group shots, the 24-70mm is a good range and an incredibly sharp, fast lens. There is also a cheaper 24-120mm f/4 that you might want to consider that has a better range to go from group shots to portraits without needing to swap lenses. The 70-200mm is great for portraits and candids as it has a much tighter crop. 70mm is just not quite enough for a portrait for me on the 24-70mm. Your 85mm is a great lens for portraits, but not quite enough reach for candids if you don’t want to be noticed. Your 70-300mm would work well for candids, but it won’t have as shallow a depth of field obviously, and won’t focus as quickly as the AF-S lenses.

            I think 14mm is way overkill for group shots. Anyone out on the edges of the frame is going to start looking disproportionate (oblong heads, etc.). I think the 16-35mm f/4 VR would suite you better for group photos and give you a little more range and reach too, not to mention it’s cheaper. You aren’t likely to need wider than 16mm unless you are doing landscapes or architecture. Nasim has done some great reviews on the 24-120mm f/4 and 16-35mm f/4, and compared them to the 24-70mm f/2.8 and 14-24mm f/2.8. They are surprisingly good lenses, though I haven’t had a chance to use either one yet myself.

          • 104
            ) trimi

            Hello,
            I`m confused and i dont know which to buy nikon d300s or d700 or d600 but d600 its very expensive and i need this nikon just for photoshoting for wedding,can tell me someone what to do please i dont know what to do and i need for advide.

            Thank you All

  2. 2
    ) Anvar Khodzhaev

    Очень толково, Насим.
    Использую, Nikon D700 с июля 2008 года.
    Ни разу не пожалел.

    Анвар Ходжаев
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/svetan/

    • Анвар, спасибо! :) Я тоже использую D700 с самого начала и никогда не жалел что купил его!

      You have a very nice gallery, loved browsing your pictures! Thanks for stopping by and dropping a comment :)

  3. 4
    ) Kevin

    Let’s not forget a 200mm lens on a D300 is the equivalent of a 300mm on a D700.
    When I use my 70-200mm f2.8 + 1.7TC on the D700 I get the equivalent of a 119-340mm f4.8. Used on the D300 it would be a 105-300mm f2.8 basically removing the advantage of the high iso performance of the D700.

    For landscapes there are plenty of wide angle zooms now for DX Nikons, and if armed with a tripod again the differences could be small regarding image quality. Is the dynamic range really going to make that much difference?

    Myself I’m using the D700, but this is for shallow depth of field, and a larger viewfinder, two area’s where a DX camera is less likely to compete. But here again shallow depth of field is actually less desirable than large DOP when doing landscapes (generalization I know).

    The D300 has the 100% viewfinder, the D700 does not, the D300 has focus points covering a much larger area of this viewfinder than the D700 also.

    I still prefer the D700 despite size and weight disadvantage, especially for manual focus lenses, but as you can see the choice is far from easy between the two camera’s.

    Cheers!
    Kevin.

    • Kevin, thank you for your feedback.

      I disagree with the “equivalent” focal length of a lens when compared between DX and FX. Lens focal length does not change and it stays at 70-200mm no matter what sensor the camera is equipped with, which is why I prefer to use the term “field of view” instead. You are right, if you compare the field of view between DX and FX, there is a difference. However, adding a TC to make the field of view equivalent is unfair – we are not only talking about degrading the optical performance with a teleconverter, but also slowing down the lens. And all that for what, increased field of view of DX? If I need the reach, I use a longer lens.

      Therefore, a TC does NOT remove the advantage of high ISO performance of the D700. A TC slows down the lens and degrades performance, but it has no effect on high ISO and the difference in stops cannot be compared the way you did. I personally almost never use the 70-200mm with a teleconverter, because I use it for portraits. The focal length of 70-200mm is perfect to work with without any TCs.

      In terms of wide-angle zooms, the performance of the best DX wide-angle lens cannot be compared to such lenses as the 14-24mm f/2.8G. Not only in terms of speed, but also sharpness and contrast. There is a reason why those FX lenses cost so much money. And dynamic range does make a difference, especially for landscape photography.

  4. 9
    ) Kevin

    Ok, let’s agree to disagree then. Personally I don’t own a longer lens than the 70-200mm, and even if I did, I might not be carrying it on any given occasion in favour of a TC due to weight and size.

    Now the above being said, here’s a real world example.

    The other day I went out and shot some birds with the D700 70-200mm VRII and 1.7TC at a minimum aperture of f4.8. Had I been using a D300 instead of the D700, I could of eliminated the teleconvertor, shot approx the same distance away from the subject, shot at f2.8 for the same shutter speeds attained at a lower iso than with the D700.
    Do you understand my point now?
    I am not claiming it is an exact science any more than you are. ;-)

    • Kevin, sorry for a late response.

      I understand what you are trying to say. However, I could also give an example the other way around – if you used a D3x with the 70-200mm VR II without a TC on it, you could crop the center frame and get a very comparable field of view as when you shoot with the D300. Again, optics are optics and we are simply talking about different types of sensors here. The only advantage of the D300 sensor over D700/D3/D3s is more pixels per square inch. This advantage goes away if the pixels per square inch are very similar between both DX and FX, as in the case with the D3x.

      As soon as you start adding and removing teleconverters, it automatically becomes an unfair comparison both ways, because you are directly affecting optical characteristics such as aperture and depth of field.

      In addition, shooting birds with the 70-200mm VR II is not an ideal setup, because the field of view on this lens at close distance is equivalent of 135mm on the long end. Adding a 1.7x TC makes it only 230mm. You would be much better off using something like the Nikon 70-300mm VR instead.

  5. 13
    ) Kevin

    No problem Nasim, this is a good subject to debate. I think Full frame sensor camera’s are about to go much more mainstream. Once the D700 replacement is released, there will be a lot of Nikon (or otherwise), users out there that may spring for a used D700 for what I’d expect to be a street price of about $1800. Supply and demand. When this D700 replacement is released is another matter lol. Regardless, this subject will come up more and more as people will be tempted by FF camera’s and try to decide if their needs can be met by just changing lenses instead… and lenses tend to hold value better than bodies.

    Hmmm, I thought the title of this article was “Nikon D700 vs D300s”. Not the $8000 D3x. But that’s fine.
    The cropped or not cropped D3x has a similar sensor performance to the D300s (the D90 has slightly better performance than both interestingly according to DxO, but yes it’s AF module is slightly poorer). It’s just bigger.

    I don’t agree the “only advantage of the D300(s) sensor” is it’s size. I’d say it’s cost is very significant, especially for the majority of Nikon users, and the majority of visitors to this site (perhaps that’s Video capable might be useful to some too).

    Say what you like, but Dollar for Dollar, the D300 armed with a Nikon 300mm f4 AF-S is about the same price as a D700 body, and about one third of the cost of a D3x body, making it great value for potential birders out there.

    I have a D700, plus 70-200mm VRII, I use it for portraits as well as the occasional birding (with the TC or not). I don’t feel the need to buy the 70-300mm as well. Breathing effects are over stated in real life.

    When I buy another birding lens, I’ll hop for the 300mm f4, which is considerably sharper than the 70-300mm at 300mm, and f4 rather than f5.6. I need not VR especially, as I’d probably want to shoot at 1/500 sec anyway to stop subject motion.

    I do like your site, I hope you don’t mind my response. It was reading your review about the 70-200mm VRII equiped with TC170 II that made me see the use of owning both. I picked up a mint TC for $300 and am quite happy with it’s sharpness. Apparently it’s also reasonably good with the 300mm f4, which is perhaps not so surprising considering it’s not a zoom.

    All in all my dream setup would be the D3s plus 200-400mm VR f4, but that’s another story ;-)

    • Kevin, I agree, this is a good topic to debate about :) When a D700 update is released (hopefully July of this year), we should see either a D3s sensor in a D700, which would make it a D700s or a new product line at 16+ mp sensor with a similar performance as the current D700 in terms of high ISO, called D800. I don’t think there ever will be a D700x with the D3x sensor, because the cost of the D3x sensor is very high and it would not make sense to introduce a $5K D700x. But you are right – the price of D700 will naturally drop, but I don’t think down to $1,800. It should stay between $2,000 and $2,200 for a mint condition unit. If the update is a D700s, it will MSRP at $2,999 and if it is a new product line, it could be a little more expensive. But these are only projections based on past history, as nobody knows the details for sure. I will probably know about a month or worst case scenario a week before the official announcement.

      When I said about the advantage of D300/D300s, I was purely talking about the pixel pitch, which is why I added the D3x to the comparison. The price is surely an advantage, just like I pointed out in the article – I was just talking about the technical specifications of the sensors.

      Yes, the D300s is a great camera for birders, especially when coupled with the 300mm f/4 (love that lens). However, having used both for all kinds of birding, I am finding that the results from the D700 are sharper and more consistent, despite the smaller field of view.

      As far as the Nikon 70-300mm, I was not recommending you to buy one – I was just saying that the field of view on the 70-200mm VR II + 1.7x is worse than 70-300mm at the long end and close focus. This difference goes away if you are standing far away from the bird though. I have done extensive tests with the 70-300mm (you can view my full review here) and the 300mm f/4 is clearly better when it comes to sharpness and focus accuracy. If you want to buy the 300mm f/4, you might want to wait until the end of summer and see if a replacement is announced. I’m really hoping for a VR version of this beautiful lens and I would sell mine to get the VR version in a heartbeat.

      Don’t get me wrong, I love my 70-200mm VR II! It is very impressive that it can produce very sharp results with the 1.4x and 1.7x teleconverters and I was a little shocked to see that it also works quite well with the new TC-20E III. The Nikon 300mm f/4 is reasonably good with the 1.7x TC, but the 70-200mm VR II would still produce more accurate focus overall (this is because the 300mm f/4+1.7x would go beyond f/5.6). The 300mm f/4 hunts a lot with the 1.7x :(

      Thank you for your feedback and of course I do not mind your response! These kinds of discussions are very useful for everyone and I hope others can get a wealth of knowledge from them :)

      Your dream setup of D3s and 200-400mm VR f4 will even get better – Nikon will soon announce an updated version of the 200-400mm with VR II technology.

      • 106
        ) Vitaliy

        Haha, Nasim, you were too conservative! :)
        D800 outdid D3x in megapixels and was much cheaper than $5K.
        Also, D700 is now going for round $1500, although arguably some time has passed since the release of D800.

  6. 15
    ) Pasquier

    Hi gents, hope you don’t mind if I join the conversation.
    1st a query to Nasim: why are you using the D3S and not the D3X – it would seem that for your landscape work, the higher pixel density (increased resolution) vs higher ISO would be better? Have you ever used the video function on the D3S?

    Point for Kevin: Many birders actually prefer using DX cameras to FX cameras (actually quite a few pro bird/wildlife photographers were not happy to see a FX D3!) due to the “longer reach” the DX chip with a smaller “field of view” offers. This becomes especially obvious when using the Nikkor 200-400 (300-600) and the Nikkor 600mm (840mm). The reduced cost of very good DX cameras is a bonus…

    IMO, where the FX shines is the large view finder, reduced DOF and ability to use “real” wide-angle lenses again (16-35; 20mm), as well as macro (my 105mm remains a 105mm) and portrait (85mm).
    Am curious to see what Nikon will present at the Photokina.
    P.

    • Pasquier, I use the D3s because I also shoot portraits and wildlife, so I need the high ISO performance/speed. I wouldn’t mind the D3x for landscapes, but it is too expensive…

      Yes, video on the D3s looks great. It is not as good as video on Canon DSLRs, but the high ISO performance makes it a great night camera :) I will post some videos of wildlife soon…just need to start using a tripod for videos, or everything looks too shaky :) LOL

      As far as DX for birding, there might have been some negative perception of FX when it just came out, but once photographers realized that they are gaining a lot in low-light environments, many pro birders switched to FX. Most bird activity happens either early morning or late afternoon when the lighting conditions are not the best. Being able to shoot at ISOs above 800 is a huge advantage to FX and the quality of the images would outweigh the reach any time. I would much rather crop an image than end up with a blurry one just because I did not have a fast shutter speed.

      On a DX body, I would never shoot a bird at ISO higher than 800. Even at 800 the feathers start disappearing, making the image look soft. If my shutter speed is 1/250 @ ISO 800 on DX, just by using an FX sensor, I can push my shutter speed to 1/500 @ ISO 1600. If I use Nikon D3s, I can easily shoot ISO 3200 or even 6400 and have shutter speeds of 1/1000 or 1/2000 of a second, which makes a huge difference in low-light situations.

      • 19
        ) Pasquier

        Thanks for the feed-back Nasim – valid points. I’m hoping that Nikon will release a 700s, with the same capability as the D3s. Like you, I don’t see a 700X being released in the near future…..

        • Pasquier, let’s wait until the end of summer – we should see at least a couple of body upgrades this year :)

  7. 16
    ) Kevin

    Thanks Pasquir, I’m thinking a D300s would make a birding tool, but the next version of this camera will probably be even better I assume. No real reason to wait of course.
    Used D300 bodies are a lot cheaper now too.

    The 300mm f4 AF-S, does seem to offer great value for money.

    • Kevin, yes, the 300mm f/4.0 AF-S is excellent. I am keeping my fingers crossed that Nikon will release a VR version later this year!

  8. Many photo pros at present are saying their next purchase will be a D90 replacement.
    I have shot on 35, medium format and large format and have had it with mega expensive equipment. For my money the D700 WITH HD (1080) video would be about ideal but I am using D300 and D90 and use Nikkors from 60 micro to 18-105VR, 18-200VR, 70-300VR ( I have a whole batch of 70-300s!) and a few wide angles from my F5 which I still own but do not use at all today. The Nikon D3X is priced way out of my interest……as field gear I can and will not go into debt to buy one.

    • David, thanks for stopping by and dropping a comment. Yes, an updated Nikon D700 with 1080p video would be great. Hopefully, Nikon will come up with one in July of this year…

  9. The newly announced 200-400 F4 VR is too pricey for me to acquire also. I would think a 400 F4 VR would sell better…….

    • David, if Nikon releases a budget prime 400mm lens, it will most likely be Nikon 400mm f/5.6 VR, not f/4.0.

      • Nasim, I totally agree with a Nikkor f/5.6 VR and NOT a f/4! While out shooting my D300 and a 70-300VR today I did actually think that if a f/4 prime 400mm came out I would be thinking…..I might buy it if it were less expensive and in f/5.6. I do shoot a lot with the D90 with both the 18-105VR but mostly 18-200VR and micro lens…..The D3S is pretty attractive but is too heavy and too expensive to risk using in outdoor work which can range from wet to dusty…..Thank you for your comment and again the website!

  10. 27
    ) Dick Chilian

    Finally, an explanation for a low brow man. Thank you Mr. Mansurov.

    I have trouble between the D700 and D300s. Price difference not an issue.

    In your opinion, since I have waited for such a long time (no digital SLR yet), is it advisable to see what Nikon does with the D700 in FY2010?

    Thank you for such clear succinct writing.

    • Dick, you are most welcome! I’m expecting an update to D700 at the end of the summer, although some other people strongly believe that there won’t be an update this year. Nobody knows for sure…

      If you want to shoot now, just get it today and do not worry about an upcoming release. If time is no rush, then wait till the end of summer and see what happens :)

  11. I use photos mainly on large LED HDTV. Comparing my film years from Microtek scans using the 35mm and 2500F scanners leads me (perhaps a specialized use except I know a number of photo enthusiasts who are primarily presenting their photos in this manner also) to believe 35mm digital is about the best practical photo medium. You demand proof of the pudding? Sales of 35mm DSLRs is the clear leader in volume today. So the respondents to the Nikon D700 vs D300 Mansurov critique or thread I believe are onto good stuff in this discussion. I believe Nasim is right on target to get one and get out there shooting. I place image chapter #1 in my photographic priorities. However as one who corresponds very frequently with serious photographers who do find price an issue…..there is a sweet spot in all of this DSLR equipment from Nikon (and Canon). I for one am a Nikon user partly due to the cost factors. I use a Nikon D90 a lot and also a Nikon D300. I would prefer a Nikon D700 REPLACEMENT when I have the right lens in the right situation but given cost, getting to the right place at the right time….I and other photographers end up making choices. Nikon D90 sales volume is significantly greater than say D300s (which I would like to own) and D700. Then even fewer D3s and D3xs are out there. I believe the D3x is way out of MY price range on a practical basis. Canon has responded quite well to this price range in relation to feature issue. Nikon may build a great DSLR camera but waiting for updates while the great events in OUR lives are passing make me think Nikon is pushing the envelope pretty far in terms of wait it out versus buy now. I personally think that 12 megapixels is a lot done the right way and from what I have personally seen….the Nikon D3s is quite marvelous YET look at the pricetag. Since I photograph often in rigorous field situations I always have gear at risk. Risk of drowning, dust, and just plain making an expensive decision to purchase gear I really do not need…..all comes in to play. That is why this good discussion keeps my attention and hats of to Nasim and all the respondents for a good set of reviews and comments. this is one thread that every respondent has had really excellent points and reasons for their comments.

    • David, thank you once again for stopping by and dropping a comment!

      I was hoping for an update on D700 this summer, but seems like it will not happen, which is sad. At the same time, Nikon might be planning for something really good next year and there are rumors that there will be two Nikon D700 bodies – D700s and D700x. If Nikon comes up with 1080p video on those two bodies, those cameras would sell like crazy, especially the D700s.

      Obviously, the above information is not accurate by any means and it is all just a rumor, but I do not smell any updates to D700 this summer (contrary to what I assumed before, according to Nikon’s normal release schedule)…

      • 42
        ) Dan Ratliff

        Nasim– I understand a Nikon D800 will appear perhaps in early 2011. It is rumored to have
        24mp instead of the D700 12mp. I would like to get a full frame Nikon.Would you recommend waiting for the “upgrade”?
        It concerns me that if the resolution is doubled, would the full frame noise advantage be lowered due to more pixels packed into the full frame.
        A rep told me that it may not replace the D700 but be an additional camera in Nikon’s offerings.

  12. I have an upcoming photo shoot I am doing in moonlight. It is to illustrate a Moonlight Sonata tune and natural sounds (Dan Gibson soundtrack). I will try putting it on a Samsung LED 40 and 55 extended desktop from an Apple computer iPhoto show. During D90 video clips the iPhoto just runs the video in Real Time Player and then reverts to the slide show, all continuous…..I am going to try the D90 and the D300 but already know the D700 (which I do not own) would handle the low light shots better! Now if i had not spent so much money on big view cameras years ago maybe I would own the D700 which is a wonderful camera. Video clips on this large screen HD though are very good and it helps to be able to use long glass like a 70-300 VR Nikkor of clouds and moonlight. I have already done those scenes and they are way better than you could shoot with a Sony video camera! This does illustrate Nasim’s pro D700 reviews!

    • David, if only the D700 could shoot video…oh well, we’ll have to just wait :)

  13. 38
    ) Kees Snoeij

    Dear Nasim,

    I appreciate your website very much.
    As a birder I use the Nikon D 300, the Nikkor 300 mm with a TC 1.4 II.
    The pictures are nice, but after cropping (so necessary with birdingpictures) I see a lot of noise.

    I wonder whether using a Nikon D700 or a Nikon D7000 with the same lense and converter, will solve the problem and give better quality on the whole?

    Thanks a lot! Kees.

    • Kees, I believe you will get much better results with the D700. If it is not a rush, I would wait on the next version of the D700, which should come out next summer.

      • 40
        ) Kees Snoeij

        Thank you very much, Nasim. I’ll wait. Kees

  14. 43
    ) Jim Brohman

    Excellent article! For a newby who loves wildlife photography, landscapes and some day hope to do weddings (have 3 daughters) what combination would you recommend:
    1. 700 plus 24-70 lens plus teleconverter for my 300 F4
    2. keep my D90, add a 200-400 lens
    Currently I have a D90 plus 70-200 VR plus 300 F4.

    Many thanks

    Jim

    • Jim, sorry for a late response!

      Given the current rebates Nikon is giving out, I would go for the Nikon D700 + 24-70 + 1.4x TC for the 300 f/4… FX looks so much better for wildlife and landscapes, see my FX vs DX article.

  15. 45
    ) Max

    Hello mr Mansurov,

    For a couple of days I have been studying your website and I found a lot of usefull information. Thanks a lot for this! The movies about using the speedlights are excellent!

    I am a D300s user but thanks to all the enthousiastic messages about the D700 I think sometimes: should I upgrade to FX?

    The point is I don’t use high iso’s often and I have some very nices DX lenses. The combination of the new 24-120mm vr f4 lens combined with my 12-24mm dx lens gives me a huge range using just two lenses. Thanks to the DX crop factor I don’t need to bring any telelens.

    What I miss in all the articles about the differences between DX and FX are pictures to compare side by side the image quality between let’s say the D700 and D300s at lower iso settings.

    The only person who does this is Ken Rockwell and according him there is at lower iso settings no difference in iq at all (and he shows it)!

    Isn’t it a good idea for your site? I think there are many people that don’t use high iso’s often and everybody can judge by himself to see whether the difference in iq is worth the investigation.

    In this case I believe Ken Rockwell. If there was a clear difference in IQ at lower ISO’s comparison pictures would be posted everywhere. What do you think?

    • Max, wait on upgrading to FX until an update to D700 comes out!

      In terms of comparing FX vs DX at low ISOs – there absolutely IS a difference between the two, especially in the shadows. That’s one thing I did not like about DX when I had my D300 – I would get noise even at ISO 200 in the shadows!

    • Let me go back and see if I have any image samples at low ISOs to post…

      • 61
        ) Max

        Hello Nasim,

        Yesterday I rent I D700 for comparison with my D300s. I wanted to find out whether an upgrade is worth.

        I did a landscape shoot (very bad and dark wheather). At low iso’s I did not see any difference in image quality. At iso 800 asa there is starting a slight difference (marginal, not worth to mention). At 1250 ASA the D700 is clearly superior although with good postprocessing I could get the pictures from the D300s acceptable.

        Th bad thing: my 70-200 2.8 VR lens and my 24-120mm f4 VR lens at F2.8 and F4 gave on the D700 the worst vignetting I ever saw! Too much for automatic removing in Capture NX and even too much for perfect manual removal. I did not really check the corner sharpness of these lenses on FX but I presume it will not be very good.

        I kept my D300s over the D700 because I don’t shoot often at high iso’s and because of the lens faults I get at F4 and 2.8 clearer pictures on DX.

        Practical: the combination of a 12-24mm lens and a 24-120mm lens is the most flexible and lightweigt I could find. To get the same image quality on FX in the same zoomrange you have to carry more than twice the weight and spend crazy much money!

        I showed the pictures (max 800 iso) to some people (non photographers) and they all think the D700 is a far inferior camera because of the terrible dark corners! Visible at every Iso setting and in the smallest print! The 70-200 F2.8 and the 24-120mm F4 are very expensive professional lenses!

        An other thing: in general I would say: don’t be too afraid for noise. Sometimes I even add it to get more atmosphere in the photo’s (pictures too clean can look very dead). In the film age we choosed often a high iso film film to get móre grain! Of course this depends on your creative approach.

        Conclusion: on FX you have an advantage at hight iso’s for sure but you get big disadvantages as well. DX holds it own against FX and is for many users highly preferrable!

  16. 46
    ) Dan Ratliff

    Nasim–
    I understand a Nikon D800 will appear perhaps in early 2011. It is rumored to have
    24mp instead of the D700 12mp. I would like to get a full frame Nikon.Would you recommend waiting for the “upgrade”?
    It concerns me that if the resolution is doubled, would the full frame noise advantage be lowered due to more pixels packed into the full frame.
    A rep told me that it may not replace the D700 but be an additional camera in Nikon’s offerings.

    • 47
      ) Rahul

      I too think Nikon would be wiser keeping the 12MP D700 and adding the 24.5MP D700X side-by-side, than replacing the D700 with 24.5MP D700X ; of course assuming the D800 isn’t already close to maturity for being released. If high ISO/noise is a big decision factor, I’ll say stick to the 12MP D700, the 24 MP version if it does make it, won’t be at the same price.

      I think the D800 is quite far off , since new FX sensors would debut on the flagship model ( D4 ) rather than a more mainstream FX ( D700 ). Since the D3S was only launched in late 2009, I’d expect a D4 to be announced in mid 2011 and D800 in late 2011 or early 2012.

      • Rahul, I seriously doubt we will see a D700x. I believe the next camera will be D800 and it will have the same sensor as D4. Will probably be released in summer of this year…

    • Dan, I would not trust rumors until about 30-45 days before the release :) Nobody knows for sure if D800 is going to have 24mp – it is only a speculation. But either way, if you can afford waiting for an FX body and paying $2,999 for it when it comes out, then I would definitely wait. Otherwise, the D700 is a killer camera at its current price.

    • One more thing to add – Nikon will surely increase the number of megapixels on the sensor, but I’m sure they will use a better sensor technology along with better image processing engine to make sure that the noise levels stay very low. My Nikon D3s is about 1-1.5 stops better than my D700, although both have the same sensor size and similar number of megapixels…

  17. 48
    ) Helio

    Hello Nasim, I came acroos your site and it was a kind of bless to me. So many useful and clear information!!! Thank you very much for this.

    I’m an amateur photographer and have a Nikon D80 for some time but I’d like to do an upgrade and start devoting more time to photography. I would like to know your opinion: what’s more advantageous: to buy a D700 with two lenses (and in this case, what you recommend besides a 50mm 1.4?) or a D300s with the difference spent in more lenses? I always hear that the main focus should be the lenses, but in this case, one uses DX and the other FX, correct? My interests are mainly outdoors and nature photography, I love macro photos of small insects and plants…

    Thank you for your attention

    Helio – Brazil

    • Helio, FX is always better than DX when it comes to image quality. I would personally go with an FX body, but it all depends on your budget. If you have a small budget, get better lenses instead and continue using your D80, which is still a great camera! If you think it is time to upgrade and you have the money, get a D700 – you won’t regret it! Or if you can afford to wait and pay $3K for a camera body, wait until D800 comes out.

      • 62
        ) Helio

        Hi Nasim, sorry for the late thanks for your answer. I was traveling and after a sad discovery of general underexposing of my travel photos (which, I believe, was a consequence of a D-Lighting activated…), I came here to check the blog. I’m going to NY next week, so I figured out it’s a good opportunity to upgrade… What is in fact discouraging me is the price of FX lenses… What do you think would be a good starting set? a 50 mm 1.4 + a 70-300 mm (I know, not a pro lenses, but feasible at the moment) (and in a moment of madness maybe a 24-70 mm?
        Best regards and thank you,
        Helio

        • 63
          ) Helio

          I’ve just seen the following post, which answers my questions :) Have a nice weekend, and thank you again for the excellent job here.
          Helio

  18. 49
    ) Venkat

    I was browsing to compare D300s and D700. Your detailed information of these two models made me to decide to buy D700. I didn’t go to other tabs to read more of these two from other sources. Just closed them!

  19. 50
    ) NESTOR

    Hello, I’m gonna buy pretty soon the Nikon D700(FX), and I wanted to buy for now just one lens. I plan to buy more equipment in the future. What lens do you recommend for general use? Is the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Zoom Lens a good choice to start off? I know finace would be an issue when buying equipment but which 2 lens would you recommend? Thanks

    • 53
      ) Rahul

      The 28-300 is a good choice for those who don’t want to keep changing lens depending on subject coverage. It’s not a very fast lens , so will suffer in low light shooting.

      For a similar price (assuming you’re getting a a good offer on the 28-300), a 24-85 f/2.8-4D and 70-300 f/4.5-5.6G VR should get better images and cover the same range. If you want to split your purchase over time and get just one lens now and don’t mind spending more , the 24-70 f/2.8 would be better , and get the 70-300 ( or 70-200 f/2.8 if your budget permits) later.

      Aside from these, the 50mm f/1.8D or 50mm f/1.4D and 85mm f/1.8D prime lenses at pretty inexpensive and great for low light conditions.

      • 54
        ) NESTOR

        Thanks for your response, very helpful!!

    • Nestor, I completely agree with Rahul’s suggestions.

  20. 64
    ) Mike

    Nasim,

    Thanks in advance for your reply. I currently own a D5000 with the DX kit lenses, 18-55 f3.5-5.6 and the 55-200 F4.0-5.6. I’m thinking about buying the 24-120 f4 FX lens based on your review, and upgrading to an FX camera in the next 12 to 18 months. Do you think it’s better to buy an FX lens to use now, and buy the FX camera later? Or should I wait and buy the upgrade to the D700, maybe this summer, with a low end kit lens for it? I should mostly landscape, some birds.

    • Hi Mike,

      I owned a D70 and a DX 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 lens for many years. I planned on going to FX and I bought the 24-70mm f/2.8 three months before purchasing the D700 FX camera last year. I lost quite a bit on the wide angle, but I absolutely loved the feel and quality of the FX lens, and especially the faster aperture. I only went back to the 18-70mm when I needed more wide end. I haven’t shot the 24-120mm f/4 yet, but I have used the other two lenses you own on my Dad’s D50. I suspect you will feel the same as I did with the D70 and my 24-70mm f/2.8, and you will only use the other two lenses when you want just a little more wide angle or a little more reach on the telephoto. The extra light, shallower depth of field, sharper optics, and VR will likely make you very happy until you get the D700 or it’s successor. However, you won’t be as happy with a D700 and a DX lens or a low-end FX variable aperture lens, I know that from experience too. Much better to get the lens first if you can’t get them both at the same time. It’s the lens that makes the photograph more than the camera I think. :-) The f/4 series lenses that Nikon is coming out with lately are great alternatives to the expensive f/2.8 series, and quite a step up in performance from the variable aperture kit lenses.

    • Mike, I would listen to Aaron’s advise – I fully agree with him. If you are shopping around for a lens to be used on FX in the future, get a good one now.

  21. 67
    ) Dennis

    Hi Nasim,

    I have been using D90 for quite a while and now ready to switch to FX for landscape. My budget is looking at D700. Nevertheless, there should be upgrade of D700 coming up, though not sure when. What do you reckon? I am not in a hurry to get D700 as it has been delivering good stuff.

    Dennis

  22. 68
    ) Sebastian Chira

    Hi Nasim,

    I’ve been using a Nikon D90 for about a year now; let’s say I’m still learning. I have few lenses: 35mm DX, 16-85mm DX, 10-24mm DX and 70-300mm. When I was looking at what DSLR to buy, I said to myself that FX is too much for me. Since then I started to read more (your website is much appreciated) and now I’m considering buying a Nikon FX camera, most likely D700…combined with Nikon 50mm AF-S and 16-35mm VR. What is your advice?

    Regards,
    Sebastian

  23. 69
    ) zal

    Hi there,
    thanks for your tips and your reviews. According to you is the D700 still a camera to be bought? I am going to buy one tomorrow and i know the D700 is going to be dismissed soon for a new D800 (along with D300s in this review), do you think it is still a good camera at present time (consider that now here it’s sold with a gifted SB-900)?

    • Wow, if the price is good and an SB-900 is included, I’d certainly grab it without hesitation! I use the same combo. You could always sell the D700, get a D800, and keep the SB-900 if the replacement had a feature you absolutely needed (like video). In the meantime, there are thousands of pictures you could be taking with one of the best full frame cameras ever made (in my opinion). I’d run with it and not look back. Better the camera you have today then a future one you don’t have or can’t use. :-)

      What are you currently using? Do you have any full frame lenses? Does the combo come with a kit lens? If not, I’d recommend a good fixed-aperture full frame lens first (even on a DX camera if you can’t get both a lens and camera) rather than get an FX camera and use a DX lens on it.

      • 71
        ) zal

        Hi Aaron, thanks for your reply. At present i own a good D90 with 16-85 DX that i planned to sell for buying the D700. I also own the 70-300 VR (thinking to sell either), the wonderful 85 1.4 D and the good 80-200 af-d (the double ring one). Selling the D90 with the two lenses i could pay the 3/4 of the D700 amount and get the SB-900 gifted! In the future i will need an allrounder lens like the 24-70 VR (or the old but still good 28-70 VR). I like the D90 but as soon as i saw the pics coming frome Nikon FX models i fell in love with them. I think it is a good affair, don’t you?

        Ps: i write from Italy

        • The 24-70mm f/2.8 is a great lens, one of my favorites and my most used lens. It does not have VR though (wish it did), and the older 28-70mm didn’t have VR either. Just wanted to point that out if VR is an important feature to you. The 24-120mm f/4 does have VR, but isn’t built quite as tough as the 24-70mm f/2.8. It’s a lighter lens with more reach on the telephoto end and VR more than makes up for one stop of light difference, though if shallower depth of field and corner sharpness is critical then the 24-70mm f/2.8 is king. Check out Nasim’s great reviews of both the 24-70mm and 24-120mm to see which is better for your needs. For comparison, your 16-85mm DX acts more like a 24-128mm with the 1.5x crop factor, so you may feel that the 24-70mm is a bit short on the telephoto side. I have both the 24-70mm and 70-200mm now, so I’m used to swapping lenses when I hit that 70mm edge. I had the older 70-300mm without VR or AF-S, and your newer generation is much improved. The 85mm f/1.4 series of lenses are very good! I’d like to get one someday for portraits.

          • 73
            ) zal

            Sorry i knew they haven’t VR i wanted to write af-s instead! I prefer quality instead of focal length so i’ts true the 16-85 is a bit longer but its quality, compared to the 24-70, isnt’ assimilable. And yes: go and get (or at least try if you already didn’t) a copy of the 85 mm 1.4, it’s my favourite lens even on DX and i use it both for street and portraits; i like fixed lenses, they give me more control of the subject, i feel more involved in the scene, according to me the 85 1.4 is absolutely stunning even on the ‘old’ D version. The 70-300 Vr is not a bad lens, it’s light and long, and VR works very well, also the bokeh is appreciable, and it’s cost is very affordable, but since it is a bit dark it could be used only in full daytime or you won’t catch good quality pictures, but it worth its price. Now, let’s go with the D700 then :-)

            • Yup, I found the 70-300mm useful only in broad daylight, even overcast days on my older DX camera (D70) didn’t yield great results since ISO looked pretty bad over 1200 on that model. You’re right, bokeh wasn’t that bad though. :-) It was a great match for the D70, and balanced well. A few weeks ago I got a 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII with a 2x teleconverter to get up to 400mm @ f/5.6 and it’s far, far better in comparison, even with a teleconverter. I have almost the reach I had with the older lens on the DX camera, and about the same light gathering at 400mm, but now I have VR and AF-S which my first gen 70-300mm did not have, and images are much sharper. The higher ISO of the D700 gives me more light gathering power to make up for the rest. It looks very clean up to ISO 3200 with little to no noise reduction, and I regularly use it up to ISO 4000 with Neat Image or Lightroom’s noise reduction. I’ve used 5000 to 6400 in a pinch, but only with very careful exposure since noise in underexposed areas becomes very noticeable and fine details start to get lost.

              I used to use a lot of manual focus primes on my film bodies (not Nikon), but haven’t purchased any for my digital bodies. I’d like to get a 24mm 1/4 and 85mm 1/4 this year or next, depending on projects to fund them. :-) 50mm is the cheapest but a boring focal length to me, and 35mm just isn’t wide enough for landscape where I’d most use the 24mm. Prime telephotos are just way out of my league! LOL I think some of my best slides have been taken with primes; the quality of the lenses are better, but more importantly you have to really think about your composition and move around, and that makes for a much stronger image.

              Enjoy the D700 and the flash! It’s an easy flash to control remotely via the pop-up flash of the D700.

    • HI to the Guys and girls of Nikon D700 and possible buyers/ upgraders…

      I own a d700 with only three lenses, 24mm f/2.8, 50mm f/1.8 and a 35mm f/3.4-4.5. SB900 for flash, NIkon F4S and then my trusty old RICOH KR10X. Bought recently a Kodak Retinette Range Finder and have wonderful results with ALL of them.

      I canot see WHY you guys want to have an upgrade? Will it make you a better photographer or do you have the same saying of stupid people: Guns kill people!! Guns can’t kill people ,People kill People .
      So here is my suggestion, when you know you cannot produce better images with a older camera, you will be not be able to do with a NEW UPDATED D700….

      When you apply the WIMS technique, you cannot go wrong at all in any situation of landscaping or action photography.
      Those who doesn’t know what is the WIMS technique, it’s acronym for

      White Balance
      ISO
      Metering mode
      Shutter speed

      If you don’t apply these, you will always be suffering from ATGANI…

      All
      The
      Gear
      And
      NO
      Idea….

      Have a nice day/ night people

      Henning

      • 78
        ) zal

        Thanks for the infos. Now i can’t decide if upgrading with a Nikon Coolpix or giving up with photography. I’m going to thing about this in the next days, in the meanwhile i’ll try to sell my new D700 ;-)

        • Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha! (Sorry, one laugh was too short a comment to post!)

  24. 75
    ) Petite

    Just wondering if you can post or email me the RAW pictures taken by both cameras, I mean, not the crop.
    I’m thinking of buying a new camera, but not sure whether I should go for a full frame or not. FYI, I like taking portrait, landscape and party photos, yet not very often. That’s why I don’t want to go for an expensive one, BUT I love clear sharp photos… So I’d really like to see if there’s a big difference between the two in the image size of 1600 x 1200.

  25. HI to the Guys and girls of Nikon D700 and possible buyers/ upgraders…

    I own a d700 with only three lenses, 24mm f/2.8, 50mm f/1.8 and a 35mm f/3.4-4.5. SB900 for flash, NIkon F4S and then my trusty old RICOH KR10X. Bought recently a Kodak Retinette Range Finder and have wonderful results with ALL of them.

    I canot see WHY you guys want to have an upgrade? Will it make you a better photographer or do you have the same saying of stupid people: Guns kill people!! Guns can’t kill people ,People kill People .
    So here is my suggestion, when you know you cannot produce better images with a older camera, you will be not be able to do with a NEW UPDATED D700….

    When you apply the WIMS technique, you cannot go wrong at all in any situation of landscaping or action photography.
    Those who doesn’t know what is the WIMS technique, it’s acronym for

    White Balance
    ISO
    Metering mode
    Shutter speed

    If you don’t apply these, you will always be suffering from ATGANI…

    All
    The
    Gear
    And
    NO
    Idea….

    Have a nice day/ night people

    Henning

  26. Hio Mansurov,

    I have been reading your website to get some info on deciding what to buy and I have a question for you to help me decided.

    Which one will be better, used D3 or new / used D700 ?

    I’m currently using my D300s mainly for bird photography with the battery grip but in the rainforest, I have to used ISO 1600 most of the time and I need the speed in capturing bird because I’m using my Nikon EDG85 scope as a lens on Manual focus 500mm f5.9 also the 80-400mm VR lens

    Any advice ?

  27. 81
    ) Christianw73

    Thanks a lot this review was (sorry to use the term,) simple and straight forward. You have now made my mind 100% sure to go for the D700. I just need to find a way to break the news to my wife that I’m spending a little more.

    Thanks again

  28. 84
    ) Rosy

    Hey there LOVE YOUR SITE and your responses – you are sooo clear and precise. Thank you for ALL you do.
    First off I am glad to know that i am not alone in this internal debate of whether or not switching from a DX to an FX. What is stopping me is the lens compatibility and i was hoping you can elaborate on this a bit more.
    I currently have a Nikon D80 w/a Nikon 85mm 1.8/Nikon 70-300 3.5-5.6 and a Tamron 2.8 WILL THESE work on a D700 and what will i be gaining/giving up. Some state that DX lens will work on an FX body but the crop factor will come in – if so will the FX still produce a better image?
    Is there a dedicated line of FX lens that will NOT break the bank?
    I would love to be able to switch to the FX and stil be use my gear BUT will that be worth the $1000 investment to a d700 or just stick to the 300s PLEASE PLEASE HELP

    • Hi Rosy, I’m not Nasim but I’ve used a couple of your lenses with a D700 perfectly fine. Your 85mm 1.8 will make a fine portrait lens on a full frame camera; it would have been the equivalent of 127mm on your D80 so expect a wider field of view on a full frame camera. You would also gain a more shallow depth of field at f/1.8 on an FX body vs DX, which is a pleasant surprise.

      I’ve also used the first gen 70-300mm f/3.5-5.6 lens on my D700. It loses the reach it has on your D80 since it had the equivalent of 105-450mm, but it gains a shallower depth of field once again, and I found it focused far more predictably and reliably, though not necessarily faster, with the better autofocus of the D300/D700 cameras. Also, the D90/D300/D700 and newer cameras have a very nice feature you can enable in the menu called Lateral Chromatic Aberration Correction that makes a noticeable image quality improvement with this lens, especially over 250mm, with “purple fringing”. The higher ISO of the D700 lets you use this lens in poorer lighting conditions than you could have before without dropping the shutter speed below 1/250 for sharp images without a tripod or VR. I regularly use the D700 up to ISO 4000 with no misgivings and hardly any noise reduction, and judiciously up to 6400 knowing I’ll have to clean up the noise afterward and have softer images.

      I don’t know what Tamron lens you have specifically to comment there, but I thought I’d let you know that I had used the other two just fine. The Nikon f/1.8 primes and f/4 zooms are the best bargains for a full frame sensor (without going to variable aperture lenses which are even cheaper, but not as sharp or fast). The most expensive lenses are the f/1.4 primes and f/2.8 zooms of course. There are also some f/4 telephotos that are much cheaper than their f/2.8 telephoto counterparts, like the 300mm f/4.

      I had a Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 ultrawide on my D70 (15-30mm equivalent) that I used on my D700 for about a year until I could afford a 14-24mm f/2.8. I used it in DX mode on my D700, so it was 6MP instead of 12MP, but my D70 was also 6MP, so there was no downside there for me in image size. Image quality however was FAR improved with the D700, even in DX mode, since I gained Lateral Chromatic Aberration Correction (which helped tremendously with that lens) and higher ISOs for dark rooms. I shot mainly internal real estate with it. I also gained 9 stop exposure bracketing for HDR where I had 3 before, longer battery life and 8fps since I had added a battery grip, and Live View which helped me with composition and focusing on a tripod. In short, I didn’t miss the D70 at all even though I wasn’t gaining the full image quality the D700 could attain. Now that I’ve got the FX 14-24mm f/2.8 lens I’m happy to not need DX mode though. That lens is the very reason I skipped over the D300 and got a D700 instead, I just couldn’t afford to get them at the same time. If you do a lot of wide angle, the D700 is the clear choice over a D300 (there is a cheaper FX 16-35mm f/4 lens that is worth researching). If you do a lot of telephoto (bird photography for example), then the D300s or D7000 suddenly become far more valuable, since they have the highest pixel density of pretty much any camera out there. 300mm becomes 450mm, 400mm becomes 600mm, etc.

      Hope that helps!

      • 87
        ) Rosy

        this helps tremendously – i replied to you on your earlier comment. Looking forward to your response. What othehr lens do you have for your d700 – what do you mainly shoot. At this point though i am going to patietnly await the d700′s replacement UNLESS …what do you think?
        oh regarding the Tamron, my local camera shop stated that is would do ok on the d700 but it woould convert to dx mode and down to 6mp BUT the quality would still be better –
        the 14-24 would be great since i do alot of family gatherings/groups and i don;t mind getting up on the subject. Do you have a longer range lens?

  29. 89
    ) Shyamanta Sarma

    Hello Nasim,
    i am a regular visitor to your site and enjoy doing so.I like your to the point reviews as well.I have very recently given away a D90 with a 18-105mm lens(bought last July) to my son as he wanted to upgrade from a P&S. At the moment I am left with a 300mmf/4 and a 14E TC. I started of with Birds but I gradually noticed that I was also enjoying shooting landscapes,flowers,portraits etc. I am still undecided in regard to my next purchase.Should I wait for a D300s replacement which should come around September or buy D700,and alternatively should I buy a used DX body for the moment and buy a D700 replacement next year which should come with some extra MP which would enable me to crop sometimes.
    A valuable suggestion from your end would be highly appreciated.

    Regards,
    Shyamanta

  30. All you guys, wake up and use the current camera you have. That is the best camera you own NOW and make use of it until you see you have mastered light into a photo you can say WOW for each one.

    I didin’t see on this site someone talk about light and how the images are created, seems the camera can go and do that itself for each situation.

    The camera is only an little black box with a sensor, once you adjust a setting, you can go and give it to a five or six year old, and the picture he or she takes, will the same quality you take with the same settings…

    I do have the D700 and a Sony video camera, I will get rid of the Sony when I have the D7000 for that purpose only and no stills. I will get myself again the first Nikon camera started off with, a D300s to qualify on the Nikon Professional Services Scheme in the UK.

    I have only two lenses,Nikon 24-70mm F/2.8 and the Nikon 105mm F/2.8 VR Macro. I don’t need a longer zoom for my wedding photography and macro’s. Only need too buy the Nikon Macro Flash System …

    Happy clicking to all you guys and girls…

    • The lens matters far more than the camera and is a much better investment long term for most circumstances, unless you are running into a limitation a certain body can’t handle (ISO range, fps, bracketed exposures, intervalometer, etc.). You have some very nice lenses there!

  31. 92
    ) Jay Levine

    Great article – Gave me what I needed to know on upgrading from my D300 to a D700. I do have 2 questions. First, since the D700 was introduced in 2008, are we on the cusp of a new camera coming out? Second, I have 3 good DX lenses, I would upgrade my primary to the 28-300 FX lens. Can I still use my DX 10-24? My other lens 70-300 would no longer be needed.

    • Hi Jay.

      You cannot use the DX 10-24 because the D700 is an FX sensor.Keep it for the D300 that will be your backup camera.

      When you going to use it on the D700, you will see a dark frame around inside the view finder. That will be the image you will get on the screen too. The crop you get is only 5meg in NEF RAW file size and that means a possible of 1.2meg in Jpeg.

      Don’t sell your 70-300 because that is possible the F/3.5-4.5 lens and the 28-300 mm is the F/3.5-5.6 and is SLOWER than the 70-300.

      Also the 70-300 is for FX frame and you can rely on that for a backup lens that will never fail you.

      You can also invest in a nice 17-35mm F/2.8 if you want a broad spectrum in low light if you don’t want to buy the EXPENSIVE 14-24 lens…. Don’t know what they cost in the USA….

      Enjoy the D700 when you get it !!!

      Henning Ras

      http://HenningrasPhotography.zenfolio.com

      http://hrp7.wordpress.com/

      henning.ras@gmail.com

  32. 94
    ) Bharat Jung

    Dear All,

    i have been in to with photography since last 14 years and d200 is my first digital gear with couple of dx lens. Actually D200 is the tremendious gear but now its quite old. I have checked the review about D700 and found pros and cons both, Even thouhg i would love to go for D700 sinch it gives best pics with wide viewfinder.
    So guys and now lots of my friends said to me to buy D300s which is not full frame camera so got lots of confuing suggestion from different people.

    So i humbly request you guys to fidn me the proper path to buy the perfect one.

    I am just a passionate photographer.

    Bharat Jung

  33. 95
    ) Fiod

    “5. Autofocus – Nikon D700 is equipped with the same autofocus system as the D3/D3s, which is better than the one on D300s.”

    It is not better, is the same. D3s, D700 and D300s uses the same Multi-CAM 3500DX/FX, next time check spec dude: http://imaging.nikon.com/lineup/microsite/d-technology/autofocus/02sensor/index.htm

    • Fiod, It is NOT the same. Did you bother reading the article you provided the link to? D300/D300s comes with Multi-CAM 3500 DX, which is physically smaller in size than the Multi-CAM 3500 FX. While both have the same number of focus points + cross-type sensors and the same software algorithm, the FX version is larger and hence receives more light from lenses. The FX mirror is much larger in size than DX.

      I shot with the D300 for two years since it came out, along with D700 and D3s camera bodies. Anybody who shoots with these bodies will tell you that there is a difference in AF speed and accuracy between DX and FX.

      I don’t need to go into these technical details when explaining differences between cameras. D700 and D3s have exactly the same AF system, while D300 has a smaller version and hence is NOT the same.

      • 97
        ) Fiod

        “Fiod, It is NOT the same. Did you bother reading the article you provided the link to? D300/D300s comes with Multi-CAM 3500 DX, which is physically smaller in size than the Multi-CAM 3500 FX. While both have the same number of focus points + cross-type sensors and the same software algorithm, the FX version is larger and hence receives more light from lenses. The FX mirror is much larger in size than DX.”

        AF speed is not dependent on the size of the Multi-CAM 3500!, only the processor in the body and lens.
        Yes, when it comes to speed: D700 is a little faster than the D300s and a little slower than the D3s.

        • Fiod, AF speed is dependent on all three – the AF system, the speed of the processor + number of processors and the speed of the motor on the lens. The difference in AF speed between the D700 and the D3s is very small. D3s is slightly faster in some challenging situations (especially low-light), but other than that, I find both to be very very very close.

          The D300s and the D700 both have the same EXPEED processor. If you mount exactly the same lens on both, you will find AF on the D700 to be a little faster. And this has been proven in labs (so I am not pulling this out of my rear end). If the speed of the processor and lens were the only thing that impacts AF performance, you would see that both D300s and D700 have EXACTLY the same AF performance. But this is not the case for sure. D3/D3s/D3x cameras have dual EXPEED processors, which is why they can handle more throughput than D300s/D700 cameras and can deliver faster AF results. So your last sentence is true in terms of AF speed – D300s, followed by D700, followed by D3s (from slowest to fastest). And by the way, battery type does NOT affect AF performance. Drained battery vs charged battery may.

          Hope this brings an end to our discussion :) If you have any doubts, let me know and I will show you some proof that backs up my statements.

  34. 99
    ) PaoVM

    Excellent post it did help me a lot to clarify the difference between them

  35. 100
    ) Kazi

    Hi, I am currently Using a Canon 550D with just one single 50 mm 1.8. I am very happy with my lens except sometime I feel the need of going wider while shooting landscapes or indoor. Now I got myself about $2000 and was thinking of getting a D700 with just a 50mm . ( actually I can only afford a 50 mm if I buy the D700). So is it a good idea to do this or should I get some good lens for my 550D or better yet get a D7000. I am very happy with my Canon’s quality but the ability to use older lenses on Nikon tempts me…I am really confused please help. BTW I shoot mostly events and nature.

  36. 101
    ) Michelle Tino Costa

    We sell Nikon and Canon camera in our company.. is there anyone who cares to buy? contact us:

  37. 107
    ) Heinz Hoes

    Hi Nasim,
    thank you for this great and helpful article.
    Very recently I got myself a D700. Have used my dear D300 over a period of time mostly with a Tokina 12-24mm; love using wide.
    For FX, I’ve got 70-300VR and 24-85mm so far, but thinking of
    Nikon AF-S 18-35mm f:3.5-4.5 G lens
    What are your thoughts to this lens, please?
    Greetings
    Heinz

  38. Avatar of Robert Tuchband
    110
    ) Robert Tuchband

    I have a D300s and really enjoy it. I have been using it since 2009. I am considering replacing it with a D700 for the 8 fps (with the battary grip) and the better noise control at ISO over 800. I love the heft and feel of the the body and the availability of settings using buttons. I occasionaly make prints up to 11X14 so I think the megapixel size is not an issue. Do you still believe that this would be an worthwhsile step up. I don’t care for the feel of the D610.

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