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.
I’ve had my D700 for about a year now, I think. Ever since I bought it brand new, after saving up for months and months, I’ve taken it with me wherever I could, and what a companion it is. Everything around me is a little different now; a little less defined, a little more poetic. Sometimes it’s as if I have a camera to my eye, even when I do not, even when I’m just walking down a street, or looking at Bee cook. Everything around me is art, every movement, every moment, and I trust my old, wise D700 to capture it perfectly.
But it’s not just the personal appeal. I’ve never wanted it to have more resolution – it has just enough. I’ve never wanted it to be better at high ISO’s – the D700 has been up there with the big boys for about 4 years now. And I like the grain. My clients never complained, either – resolution was plenty, everything was plenty. They were too busy admiring, I think. Too busy remembering and laughing.
If you are thinking of buying the D800, by all means, go ahead. It’s a revolution, nothing less. But if a couple of months ago you dreamed of D700, you knew 12 megapixels were enough, you knew you did not need video, and then D800 messed up everything for you, brought all those “what if?” questions to your life, stop and think. The old camera is no less good now just because there’s something newer. It didn’t get worse, and it’s not going to anytime soon. I will be keeping my D700 for at least a few more years, even if I have a D4 by then, or the D800. Hell, I could buy two more of them for the price of a D4 and there would still be room for a fast prime. And I will keep it as a professional wedding photographer, not just as a hobbyist. I need the best equipment, I need to trust it completely. And I trust my D700, plenty other photographers do, too.
You may want those 36 megapixels. Few photographers need them, and fewer clients still. Not for a while.
With D4 at the top of Full Frame line-up and D800 in the middle, D700 has just become what we’ve all been waiting and wanting for years – a truly affordable, entry-level Full Frame DSLR with pro set of features. We now have choice, and choice quite often is a good thing.
It’s still got it, then, the D700 is an amazing piece of gear. Only now, it’s for a lot less money.