Yesterday, while thinking about the upcoming wedding that I have to shoot, I glanced at my trusty old D700. The rubber is coming off in places and needs to be glued back on, nothing serious. Two of the batteries that I have need replacing. The plastic screen protector has a few minor scratches on it, but would you expect anything else? No. Those are just minor signs of careful use. In every single way, it’s a damn good camera. And then I wondered, would I recommend it to a beginner looking for an affordable entry into the full-frame world? Oh yes, definitely. And it’s not the only one. So if you are a beginner – either to DSLRs or digital photography – and want to potentially improve the quality of your family pictures, to, perhaps, photograph your son’s football games with more confidence or even start your own photography business, there are a lot of used, older cameras you could go for and not regret it. Let us glance through some of them.
Many Nikon D700 owners are probably wondering how the Nikon Df differs from their beloved cameras in terms of features and image quality. As we have said several times in different posts, the Nikon Df could be considered the D700 replacement, depending on one’s needs. While sports and wildlife photographers (or anyone else that relies on fast fps and high-end AF) will certainly disagree, portrait photographers have been longing for a camera with the D4 sensor for a while now. In this article, I will compare the new Nikon Df to the D700 not only in terms of specifications, but also in terms of image quality / ISO performance. Of most interest, our readers might find high ISO comparisons between the two, especially above ISO 800.
Here is a quick comparison of ISO performance (low ISO and high ISO) between the Nikon D600, Nikon D700, Nikon D800E and Nikon D3s. Please note that all of the images below were shot in JPEG, since Nikon D600 RAW support is not available yet. All images were also down-sampled to the Nikon D700/D3s resolution (cameras with the lowest resolution). Everything was shot in ambient light (lab results are posted in the Nikon D600 review here) with all camera corrections turned off and camera profile set to standard (default, no changes). Cropping and export was performed in Lightroom 4 and I used Photoshop to add the text on the bottom of each image.
1) Nikon D600 ISO Performance
Now that the Nikon D600 is officially out, I am sure many photographers will be interested in seeing feature differences between the old and discontinued Nikon D700 and the new D600. Please keep in mind that this Nikon D600 vs D700 comparison is purely based on specifications. Note: a detailed comparison with image samples and ISO comparisons is provided in the D600 Review.
Many of our readers have been asking me to provide some information on how the new Nikon D800 (see our review) compares to the Nikon D700 (see our review) in terms of speed (“fps” or “frames per second”) and camera buffer. In the below video, I show the performance of both cameras side by side when shooting 14-bit Lossless Compressed RAW images with very fast SanDisk Extreme Pro 16GB compact flash memory:
As you can see, the Nikon D800 is slower than the Nikon D700 with its 4 fps speed versus 5 fps on the D700. It also lasts about half a second shorter than the D700 before its buffer gets full at around the 4 second mark. Nikon’s estimates for the D800 and D700 are 17 images for the D800 and 20 images for the D700 before memory buffer gets full and fps slows down. My tests are a little off, because the D800 should be a little faster according to Nikon – 17 / 4 fps is 4.25 and 20 / 5 fps is 4. Interestingly, the same thing happens when both cameras are set to 12-bit RAW – the D700 still lasts longer. Note how much longer it takes for the D800 to complete its write from the camera buffer into the memory card – now that’s one huge buffer! I bet it is at least 4 times larger than the one on the D700. Lastly, note that the D800 shutter sounds very different than the one on the D700.
Some people have been reporting memory compatibility issues with the D800. I have not seen any issues so far with any of the SanDisk & Lexar cards I have (I have been using SanDisk and Lexar cards for my cameras exclusively), so I believe memory card issues are happening with cheap third party memory cards only. Hopefully we will see a firmware update from Nikon soon – the D800 seems to have occasional slowdowns when writing to and reading from CF and SD memory cards, as reported in my Nikon D800 Review.
36 megapixel Full Frame camera sounds great, doesn’t it? What you get in a D800 is, basically, exceptional high ISO performance, as demonstrated by Nasim in his review, and resolution that, heretics say, can rival some of Medium Format digital backs. One of the best cameras currently on offer, surely. One of the best for several years to come, it is almost a revolution, both in camera market as well as your pocket, as creatively described by Bob Vishneski. Extremely tempting, completely justified again and again in your mind. People would understand, wouldn’t they? Even your wife, with some persuasion, could see reason. And yet something is not quite right, not quite settled. Is it the old-ish D700 poking you at the shoulder? Never too far away, the brother. Always haunting, always showing off its huge sensor, its lower than ever price tag. The D800 shines above it day and night, yes, you see it in your dreams, you see it in the hands of other photographers – calling out to you, always bright, but the older brother is persistent. After all these years, after almost decades it seems now, D700 is still trying to drop a shadow on your face, still trying to be noticed and loved just as it was before the new kid came to town. A desperate pensioner.
A lot has changed since digital came around in 1999. Film has always been about quality – all kinds of it, too. It was about resolving power – we have Fujichrome Velvia for that now; it was about color accuracy, which also suits the former as well as, say, Fujicolor Superia Reala; or, for those who want sharp and vivid, there‘s always the beautiful Kodak Ektar. Now, however, there’s one kind of film for all those purposes. Just as film was finally providing the quality, the age of digital sensors came. And, some think, wiped film‘s quality ambitions off the table as if it were dust. We now have one film that can do everything – low light, color accuracy or vividness, sharpness and endless manipulation possibilities. One film that fits all.
If you haven’t noticed, the internet photography forums are abuzz regarding the question of whether the Nikon D800 should be considered a “true” successor to the D700. Many of these are civil in nature, but there are plenty of examples where passions seem to have gotten the best of some people. While there has been an enormous amount of positive commentary regarding the D800’s features, functionality, and value by many, there are others vehemently denying that the D800 can be considered an upgrade to their beloved D700. To prove their point, they even cite some Nikon representatives that reportedly claim that the D800 is a different kind of camera for a different market and not meant to replace the D700. Nikon’s announcement to continue producing the D700, with a corresponding price reduction to $2,199, has added more fuel to the arguments of those who believe the D700’s successor has yet to arrive. So who is right?
Well … they both are. How can that be? Simple – the D700 user base is not a homogenous group, but consists of users with many varied different photography interests, priorities and budgets. What they all share in common is the need for an entry level, affordable full frame Nikon camera. As such, they are evaluating the D800’s rich feature set next to that of their D700 in light of what they value most. Depending on your priorities, you could view the D800 as the perfect replacement for your D700. Or you could view it as an interesting model, but certainly not the model you have been waiting for.
As expected, the Nikon D700 price went down $500 to $2,199 (from $2,699), after the Nikon D800 was announced. A lot of people have been sending me emails and leaving comments on our site about the Nikon D700 availability and if it will still be offered in the future. As of now, Nikon is planning to continue to manufacture the Nikon D700, because there is still demand for it. This is great news for many of us that cannot afford the new Nikon D800, want to upgrade from DX to FX, or simply do not feel the need for a high-resolution 36 MP camera.
The bad news is, the Nikon D700 is currently out of stock pretty much everywhere. Partly this has to do with the flood in Thailand that severely affected Nikon’s ability to manufacture DSLRs and DSLR parts, but it is also related to a high demand on the D700, which has been selling really well since it was announced back in 2008.
If you want to get the Nikon D700 at its new low price of $2,199, you can wait until it is available at stores like B&H and Adorama, or you can use the “Notify when in stock” feature at B&H and you will receive an email as soon as the Nikon D700 is available for purchase. Here are the links for both B&H and Adorama, with the new reflected price of $2,199:
If you do not know much about the Nikon D700, I recommend checking out my Nikon D700 Review.
Now that the Nikon D800 is officially out, I am sure many photographers will be interested in seeing feature differences between the now obsolete Nikon D700 and the new D800. Please keep in mind that this Nikon D800 vs D700 comparison is purely based on specifications. A detailed comparison with image samples and ISO comparisons is already provided in my Nikon D800 Review.