Nikon D700 Review
The Nikon D700 is considered Nikon's first compact professional SLR, borrowing many features from both the Nikon D3 and D300. The controls and layout is fairly similar to that of D300, and the D300 has many of the same specs as the high-end D3. With speedy performance, excellent image quality, a solid build, and fast focus, the D700 is an almost perfect camera for the prosumer market, and serious photography enthusiasts.
Let's talk about the look and feel first. The D700 is about the size of the D300. It has a dimension of 5.8 x 4.8 x 3.0 inches and a weight of 35 ounces, which means it is slightly heavier than its competition, but it is lightweight compared to the D3, which weighs over three pounds. The build is terrific, and the rubberized grip is comfortable too. We shot with the D700 for one day and our fingers never got tired. If you've used the D300, note that the grip isn't the same - they improved the grip on the D700.
The interface and layout is ergonomic, and is a shooter's dream come true. It seemed whenever we needed to do something, there was a shortcut or dedicated button for it. We had a lot of fun shooting with it because of such an intuitive and easy to use workflow. For instance, when you want to shift the ISO up a notch, just press down the ISO button, and use the command dial to select the ISO you prefer. The same goes for white balance.
On the top panel is the quality, white balance and ISO sensitivity buttons, as well as a locked wheel so you choose among the different drive modes, as well as changing to live view mode, and activating the self-timer. There's no dedicated button for activating live view, which may make using live view a bit slow. In the top right panel, we got the shutter release, with the power switch surrounding it. There are your typical buttons for changing exposure compensation and exposure mode selection. Lastly, there's the status LCD which shows information - most of it also on the optical viewfinder.
The back of the camera shares little similarities with the D300, though. The optical viewfinder is bigger, and as a result the AE-L/AF-L button and autofocus-on buttons are moved over a bit. The D700 has a 3.0'' LCD screen that displays colors accurately. There's also the 4-way controller, that is pretty similar to the one found in the D3.
The D700's viewfinder is pretty big and bright, but only has 95% coverage, and .72X magnification. As with some of Nikon's DSLRs (like the D3 and D300), the D700 uses a 51 point autofocus sensor but there is also a choice to use 9 or 21 points. If you want, you can shoot in live view as well, which is as equally good an experience. In fact, I found myself using live view quite a bit because of the 170 degree viewing angle, which made shooting in weird angles a breeze.
The D700 is not the fastest camera, but it's quite fast as long as you aren't doing serious sports photography. Burst mode clocks in at a speed of 4.9 fps, which is more than enough for the average photographer. When take the first shot after powering up, it takes less than 0.2 second. Autofocus to shoot in good light will take 0.3 second; in dim settings, only 0.6 seconds - both numbers best in class. Shot to shot takes .5 seconds, and it doesn't matter if you use flash too. Overall, the performance is good. If you really want the fastest continuous speed, we recommend using a MB-D10 battery grip. It'll boost the continuous speed to the rated 8 frames per second.
Like its big brother, the D3, the D700 does not disappoint with its image quality. Images are very clean, and noise-free, throughout all ISO sensitivities (which range from ISO 100-25,600). All of our photos had excellent detail, good sharpness, excellent exposures, and a good dynamic range. Color accuracy was superb. Some colors are over-saturated such as blue and red, but just a tad. Every other color had accurate saturation, though. If you prefer the over-saturated, bright, intense colors that's found in most cameras, you can just increase the saturation in the menu.
Noise profile is among the best we've seen. In the lower ISO's, we so no noise, and just a tiny amount starting in ISO 800. At ISO 1600, the noise is still not a problem, and details are preserved quite well. At 3200, the noise does start to soften some of the details, and it potentially becomes a problem at ISO 6400, as we saw some blurring. Photos are still good quality though. At ISO 12,800 and above, you can definitely see noise around your photos, as well as some blotching, but if you keep the print size low, you can still have usable photos. Overall, we think the high-ISO performance and noise profile of the D700 is the best in its class. We can't name another camera that has better high ISO quality.
If you're planning to take shots in low light, the D700 will have no problem doing so. If you shoot using high ISO, you have several choices for noise reduction. You can either turn it off, set it low, normal or high. In our tests, we usually set it to normal, and enabled long exposure noise reduction. The result was very surprising, as the number of hot pixels was less than we expected, and images still looked clean. We're glad to say the D700 pretty much is on par with the more expensive D3 when it comes to low light shooting performance.
If there's one negative about the D700 is that's there no video mode. If you want the superb image quality that the D700 offers, and the video move, we suggest upgrading to the Canon EOS 5D Mark II.
- 3.0'' LCD screen
- 12.1 megapixels
- Sensitivity ranges from ISO 100 to 25,600
- Viewfinder with 95% coverage
- Continuous shooting rate of 4.9 fps
- Choices of 9, 21, or 51 point autofocus system
- Self cleaning/anti-dust as well as weather-sealing feature
- Great performance under wide ISO sensitivity range
- Noise free, sharp, clean images
- Sensor cleaning
- High resolution LCD that is color accurate
- Great autofocus system
- Fast speed (short shutter lag)
- Familiar control layout
- Relatively low image resolution
- Auto white balance doesn't work well under artificial light
- Viewfinder only 95% coverage
The D700 is a terrific camera. But it's not perfect and has some flaws. For starters, It doesn't have 100% viewfinder coverage. And feature-by-feature, it's not better than the D3, which it shouldn't since the D3 is much more expensive.
The D700 is also not equipped with fancy options like HD Video or a lightning-fast shooting rate, but if you want a camera with an outstanding build, easy to use controls that make shooting fun and easy, and the best high ISO performance in its class, the D700 is a no-brainer.
Rating: 4.6 out of 5
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Prices last updated on: Mon, 22 May 2017 08:24:59 PDT