Nikon D700 Review

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While the photography community is impatiently waiting for a Nikon D700 replacement announcement, I decided to write a review of the Nikon D700 DSLR that I have been shooting with for the past three years. Not sure why it took me so long to write a review of my favorite camera…I guess I focused so much on reviewing new lenses and cameras, that the gear I use every day for my photography has been just sitting at the end of my long “to-do” list. Within the next few weeks I am planning to temporarily reverse the list, start from the bottom and write about other gear that I currently use and used in the past and share my subjective opinion about it.

Nikon D700

As you might have already seen on “Our Gear” page, I call the Nikon D700 “the best camera in the world”. Now before rotten tomatoes start flying my way from Canon, Sony, Pentax, Fuji, Leica, Phase One, Hasselblad, Mamiya and other brand fans out there, let me state that this is my opinion that is solely based on my needs. Let me explain. Yes, there are superb Nikon cameras with many more pixels and speed, and there are $40K cameras out there that can shoot 200 Megapixel frames. But when I look at a camera, I weigh in what is important for me first, then pay close attention to the overall price to performance ratio, instead of focusing on a particular feature. The Nikon D700 does not have many megapixels, or high speed, or high dynamic range or movie recording capabilities. In fact, if you look at its bare specs and compare it to all other cameras on the market today, it would probably fall into the “average” category.


Nikon D700 @ 16mm, ISO 200, 1/13, f/10.0

Click here to download the above photograph in a large wallpaper format (2560×1600).

So, what makes the D700 the best camera for me? In summary, it is the excellent image quality and high ISO performance, superb autofocus, large viewfinder, great ergonomics, weather-sealing, good speed, the not-too-bulky size and much more…a long list of good reasons at half the price of top-of-the-line professional cameras like Nikon D3s. Let’s take a look at these in more details.

1) Nikon D700 Specifications

Main Features:

  1. Nikon’s original 12.1-megapixel FX-format (23.9 x 36mm) CMOS sensor: Teamed with Nikon’s exclusive EXPEED digital image processing, the D700 delivers breathtakingly rich image quality.
  2. Continuous shooting up to 5 frames per second: Shoot at up to 8 frames per second with the optional MB-D10 Multi-power Battery Pack.
  3. Two Live View shooting modes: Choose from hand-held or tripod modes to suit shooting requirements.
  4. Fast, accurate 51-point AF with 3D Focus Tracking: Exacting autofocus precision, plus three Dynamic AF modes.
  5. 1,005-Pixel 3D Color Matrix Metering II: Legendary Nikon exposure accuracy aided by an onboard database of over 30,000 images.
  6. Nikon Picture Control settings: Advanced color control with 9 customizable settings and 4 preset options allow fine tuning of image appearance preferences.
  7. Broad ISO sensitivity up to 6400 and incredibly low noise: Super low-noise performance from 200-6400 ISO, with the added versatility of Lo-1 (100 ISO) Hi-1 (12,800 ISO) and Hi-2 (25,600 ISO).
  8. Three-Inch, super-density 921,000-dot VGA color monitor: High resolution with 170-degree wide-angle viewing, calibrated color and tempered-glass protection assure confident image review.
  9. Rugged magnesium-alloy construction: Along with extensive dust and moisture protection and a durable shutter mechanism tested to 150,000 cycles, the D700 merges pro D-SLR performance with expanded agility.
  10. Dynamic Integrated Dust Reduction System: Effective quad-frequency, ultrasonic sensor cleaning minimizes image degrading dust particles.
  11. Nikon’s exclusive Scene Recognition System: SRS further extends auto-exposure intelligence while also advancing white-balance detection and autofocus performance.
  12. Active D-Lighting with NEW Auto mode: Unique three-phase dynamic control to capture previously lost details in shadows and highlights while maintaining normalized contrast.
Delicate Arch

NIKON D700 @ 35mm, ISO 200, 1/250, f/8.0

Click here to download the above photograph in a large wallpaper format (2560×1600).

If you skip the typical Nikon marketing garbage above and look at the bare technical specifications, you will see that some of the D700 specs are far from being the best on the market. Yet if you look at the camera as an overall “package”, you will not find a similar competitive product at the same price point. What about the Canon 5D Mark II and the Sony Alpha A900 you might ask? First, read my Canon vs Nikon vs Sony article, then read the next paragraph.

Canon 5D Mark II is a superb camera for high resolution work and video; if you need the megapixels and 1080p movie capabilities, you buy the Canon 5D Mark II. Sony A900 is also great on megapixels and has in-body image stabilization, but performs poorly at high ISOs and has no movie support. The Nikon D700 has the cleanest images at low and high ISOs and comes with Nikon’s best 51-point autofocus system, but cannot record movies. I personally do not care about the movie functionality – I buy cameras for taking pictures, so the video/movie part is not important for me yet (just a nice to have). Resolution is not critically important for portraiture and wildlife – I prefer low noise to high resolution (unless high resolution can be down-sampled to reduce noise). As you can see, the D700 is clearly the choice for my type of shooting. So you should also weigh in what is more important for you, without forgetting about your existing investment in lenses, accessories and know-how. I hope this explains why I call the D700 the best camera in the world.

Puerto Rico Wallpaper

Click here to download the above photograph in a large wallpaper format (1920×1200).

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