Nikon D700 Review

Webmaster April 13, 2012 0
Nikon D700 Review
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The Nikon D700 was Nikon Corporation’s second full-frame dSLR camera. Nikon introduced the D700 in 2008 as a replacement for its Nikon D300, but it also serves as a lower-cost version of the Nikon D3. The D700 has a suggested retail price of US $2,699.95, as of March 2012.

The D700 is smaller than the D3, but slightly larger than the D300. Nikon designed the D700 as a professional-grade camera and engineered it with a sturdy build quality and rich feature set. Like the D3, the D700 has a 12-megapixel sensor, along with the same Nikon EXPEED image processing system. While the D3 contains a shutter with an estimated life of 300k exposures, the D700’s shutter has an estimated life of 150k exposures. Additionally, the D700’s viewfinder provides 95-percent coverage, compared to the D3’s 100-percent coverage.

However, in a side-by-side comparison, the D700 has more similarities than differences with the D3. The D700 handles light sensitivity up to ISO 6400, comes with a built-in sensor cleaning system, sports a 51-point autofocus system and has live view capabilities.

While the D700 meets the demands of professionals, many amateurs and beginners consider it unaffordable for their needs. Nikon announced the D700’s replacement, the D800, in February 2012. The D800 has a suggested retail price of US $2,999.95.

Nikon D700 Design

The D700 has a smaller, lighter body than the D3, but is slightly heavier than the D300. The D700 has a magnesium-alloy body, weighs 2.19 pounds and measures 5.8 x 4.8 x 3.0 inches. Nikon equipped the D700 with a built-in rubber grip, and it features large buttons for easy access to camera settings.

The D700 has a new “info” button, which calls up primary shooting parameters on the rear menu. It is compatible with the Nikon MB-D10 Multi-Power Battery Pac and uses a rechargeable EN-EL3e lithium-ion battery, like the D300. The D700 sports a built-in flash unit, along with a USB 2.0 mini-B connector port. It also comes equipped with an HDMI video-out port, a PC sync flash terminal and a 10-pin terminal for connecting a remote control or GPS device.

The D700 features a 3-inch, 100-percent frame coverage rear LCD monitor that displays 920k dots, but lacks the D3’s secondary information panel. While the D3 has dual memory card slots, the D700 has a single slot, which accepts Compact Flash Type I cards.

Nikon equipped the D700 with one control panel on the top of the camera, which displays critical shooting parameters, including shutter speed, exposure compensation, color temperature, image quality, ISO, exposure mode and aperture. The top of the camera also has a dial for selecting drive modes, which include single frame, live view, mirror up, self-timer and two continuous shooting speeds. The drive mode dial also has three dedicated buttons for accessing ISO, white balance and image quality settings.

The top right side of the D700 features dedicated exposure mode and exposure compensation buttons, along with the shutter release button and power switch. The front of the camera has a focus mode selector, which users can access to change between manual, continuous-servo autofocus and single-servo autofocus modes. The front side also features two programmable buttons for accessing camera settings menus, one of which serves as the depth-of-field preview by default.

The selection and layout of the D700’s rear controls are very similar to those of the D300. The D700 uses the same multi-controller as the D3, which enables users to navigate within and between screens in the main LCD display. The camera’s rear side also has an autofocus area selector, used to switch between auto-area autofocus, dynamic-area autofocus and single-area autofocus modes.

Rear Screen Menu Displays

The shooting information screen is accessible by pressing the dedicated information button on the rear of the camera. By default, this screen automatically changes between dark and light backgrounds, according to ambient lighting conditions. The shooting information screen displays critical shooting parameters, such as exposure mode, shutter speed, aperture, image quality, white balance, battery level and shooting mode. The D700 also features a new quick-settings display, which users can access through the information button to make changes to shooting settings.

The D700’s playback mode offers seven displays, which overlay different types of information on a playback image. The basic playback screen displays the file name, file number and image size and quality. Users can also set the basic playback screen to show the focus point of an image. Another playback screen displays an image thumbnail, along with exposure information and the histogram.

Users can also select the D700’s record review mode, which automatically displays an image immediately after capture. The playback mode also features a zoom tool, which allows users to navigate around a magnified image using the multi-selector.

The D700’s live view mode enables users to compose a shot using the rear LCD screen. The live view screen has separate displays for using manual or auto focus, as well as handheld and tripod modes. Like its D3 cousin, the D700 also offers virtual-horizon and grid-line tools to aid in composition. When utilizing live view, users can overlay the virtual-horizon tool on the live image. The D700 also enables users to superimpose shooting information on a live image, including exposure mode, shutter speed, aperture and ISO data.

The D700 features a retouch menu for in-camera image corrections. Users can correct red eye or color balance, apply an effects filter or convert an image to monotone with sepia, cyanotype or black-and-white tonality.

Image Capture and Formats

Like the D3, Nikon equipped the D700 with a full-frame, 36 x 23.9 mm CMOS sensor that delivers images up to 12-megapixels, in RAW, TIFF and JPG file formats. The D700 uses Nikon’s EXPEED image processing system and produces images up to 4256 x 2832 pixels in FX format and 2784 x 1848 pixels in DX format. It has the same built-in sensor cleaning system as the D300.

D700 users can choose between programmed automatic, shutter-priority automatic, aperture-priority automatic and manual exposure modes, and bracket exposures up to nine frames. The D700 features 3D color matrix metering, center-weighted metering and spot metering.

The D700 enables users to set white balance according to color temperature. It also comes equipped with automatic, incandescent and fluorescent modes, as well as presets for shade, cloudy and flash lighting conditions. All white balance modes allow users to fine-tune color temperature for more precise settings.

Like the D3, the D700 features light sensitivity ratings ranging from ISO 200 to 6400 or up to an equivalent of ISO 25600 with exposure compensation. It has a vertical-travel, electronically-controlled shutter, with a shutter speed range of 30 seconds to 1/8000 second and a flash sync of up to 1/250 second. Users can also select the bulb setting for timed exposures.

Users can choose between single-frame, mirror-up, self-timer and two continuous shooting modes. Continuous low mode enables users to shoot up from one to five frames per second, or up to seven frames per second with a battery grip. The continuous high setting offers a maximum of five frames per second, or up to eight frames per second with a battery grip.

Optics and Compatibility

The D700 uses the Nikon F-mount lens system with autofocus contacts and supports meter coupling with Nikon CPU and AI lenses. It produces full-frame images, expect when using DX lenses in DX mode. In such cases, the D700 captures images with a 1.5 field-of-view crop.

When coupled with Nikkor DX, Type G or Type D autofocus lenses, all D700 functions perform normally. All camera functions work normally when using other types of Nikkor autofocus lenses, except the 3D color matrix metering system. When attaching Nikkor AI-P lenses, all D700 functions operate normally, except 3D color matrix metering and autofocus. When using Nikkor non-CPU AI lenses, users must utilize manual or automatic exposure modes.

The D700 comes equipped with the same 51-point autofocus system as the D300 and D3. It has three area modes: single-point; automatic-area; and dynamic-area, which allows users to choose between 9 points, 21 points, 51 points or 51 points with 3D tracking. The D700 also has a dedicated focus-lock button, located just behind the shutter release button.

Nikon D700 Pros and Cons

The D700’s 12-megapixel sensor, coupled with its EXPEED image processing system, produces excellent images with fine detail.

While the D700 features maximum continuous shooting of up to only eight frames per second, it closely matches the feature set and build-quality of the D3. Since the D700 retails for a much lower price than the D3, it is arguably a better deal for photographers who do not need high shooting frame rates.

The D700’s ergonomic design and rubber grip provide excellent handling and comfort. While the D700 has the basic feel of the D3, it weighs less and creates less body strain during long photo shoots.

The D700 produces artifact-free images when shooting at low ISO ratings and usable images up to ISO 6400.

The D700’s 51-point autofocus system performs quickly and accurately, even in most low-light settings.

Nikon prosumer users can easily adapt to the D700’s intuitive menu system. The live view mode displays 100-percent frame coverage and works well for manual focusing.

The D700 has some room for improvement. While its sensor matches the resolution of the D3, it produces lower resolution images than some of its market competitors. The D700 does not offer a 5:4 aspect ratio.

As with certain other Nikon dSLRs, the D700 does not always provide accurate white balance in environments with artificial lighting.

Unlike the D3, the D700 does not have a dual compact flash slot. While the D700 has an overall solid build quality, its memory card compartment door is rather fragile.

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