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Nikon D700 Review

Perhaps the worst kept secret of any recent announcement Nikon has now officially revealed the compact, professional, twelve megapixel, full-frame (FX format) Nikon D700. From the outside the D700 is virtually identical to the D300, albeit for its larger ‘full frame’ viewfinder, internally it’s almost identical to the D3, except for a slightly slower shutter (five frames per second up to eight frames per second with the MB-D10 battery grip). By comparison it also includes several function improvements over the D3 including Image Sensor cleaning (‘sensor shake’), more flexible ‘hard button’ programming, virtual horizon in Live View and different DX mode indication on the focusing screen. The D700 also becomes the first professional Nikon DSLR to sport a built-in flash. As far as competition is concerned the D700 really only faces the Canon EOS 5D (and any replacement that may be in the works). On sale in July for US$2999 or €2599 body only. We’ve had a D700 for a few days now, just enough time to produce a detailed hands-on preview.

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the new D700

Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 1 July 2008 – Nikon Europe is pleased to announce the introduction of an all-new FX-format digital SLR: the 12.1 megapixel Nikon D700, designed to enable many more photographers to enjoy the acclaimed image quality of the Nikon D3, but in a smaller form factor.

”The Nikon D3 has taken the action photography industry by storm, motivating many pros to change brands and we expect the D700 to contin5ue that trend,” said Robert Cristina, Manager Professional Products and NPS at Nikon Europe. He added: “The D700 excels in the extreme low-light and high-contrast conditions under which today’s cameras are judged and affirms Nikon’s ongoing commitment to meeting tomorrows imaging needs too.”

D3 DNA

The D700 inherits the ‘must have’ image quality of the D3. Using the same core technologies such as the highly-sensitive 12.1 effective megapixel CMOS image sensor with large pixel pitch and gapless micro lens array that affords bright, clean files across a broad ISO range. The D700 also features the same innovative EXPEED high-speed image-processing system, 14-bit A/D conversion and 16-bit processing pipeline to provide the detail and smooth gradation necessary for outstanding print enlargement and reproduction.

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FX on the move

The D700 is ideal for those seeking a perfectly-balanced DSLR on the move, without compromising durability or environmental resistance to moisture and dust. The D700 incorporates an image sensor cleaning system that uses high frequency vibrations to reduce the accumulation of dust on the image sensor surface. A responsive 5fps is possible with the compact 1500mAh EN-EL3e lithium-ion battery, with up to 8 fps possible by attaching the optional MB-D10 battery pack to use the powerful 2500mAh EN-EL4a battery if desired. This offers complete power supply integration for those already using the D3 and D300. Another first is the practical i-TTL built-in pop up flash with 24mm lens coverage, ideal for discrete flash lighting when a full size Speedlight might be too cumbersome.

Getting the shot right

Despite its attractive price tag, the D700 makes no compromises in its comprehensive feature array with a highly responsive shutter release time lag of just 40ms, the acclaimed accuracy of the 51-point MultiCAM3500 AF system, DX Crop Mode and Live View with contrast-detect AF displayed on the same high-definition 3-inch TFT monitor used on the D3 and D300. One of the most important advantages of FX format cameras is the viewfinder experience and the D700 features an outstanding solid glass pentaprism, 95% coverage and adjustable AF point LED illumination for a bright, uninterrupted view. A clever new feature is the ability to display the Virtual Horizon level indicator during Live View mode to determine camera orientation at arms length.

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What NIKKORS have been waiting for

The D700 is designed for the future without ignoring the past. As Nikon celebrates the 75th anniversary of the very first NIKKOR lens, and with well over 40 million sold, intelligent image processing technologies to control peripheral illumination (Vignette) and chromatic aberration enable photographers to rediscover the creative possibilities of their existing NIKKOR F mount lenses. For newcomers, the ever-expanding Nikon Total Imaging System provides lenses, Speedlights, Software and accessories for every photographic challenge both now and in the future.

The D700 is supplied with battery EN-EL3e, charger, and Nikon Software Suite and will go on sale from 25 July 2008 with a MSRP guide price of €2599.

The introduction of Nikon’s new D700 may have been one of the worst kept secrets in an industry with more leaks than the Titanic, but it was still something of a surprise coming so hot on the heels of the D3 and D300. Essentially a D3 shrunk down and squeezed into a body roughly the same size as a D300, the D700 is Nikon’s first ‘compact’ professional SLR, and in its segment of the market will compete with the recently announced Canon EOS 5D Mark II and Sony DSLR-A900.

The imaging side of the D700 is pretty much the same as the D3; it shares the acclaimed 12.1MP full frame (‘FX’) sensor and has the same processing engine, so we would presume output to be almost identical. The main differences (aside from being considerably smaller) are physical; there’s a different shutter (good for 150,000 exposures rather than 300,000 on the D3), different viewfinder prism (with 95% coverage) and a slower burst rate. You also lose the rear LCD info panel (there’s no room for it) and one of the D3′s two CF card slots, but you do get a couple of extra features to soften the blow slightly; most notably a self-cleaning sensor and a built-in flash. We’ll look a little more in-depth at the differences between the D3 and D700 in a moment.

The D700 joins the D3 as a fully-fledged ‘professional’ model; it has the same tank-like build quality (though we’re sure the pop-up flash will cause a few raised eyebrows), and gets you the full pro service from Nikon. And the pricing (around $2999) reflects this; anyone hoping for an ‘affordable’ semi-pro full frame Nikon SLR will have to wait until the cost of producing such large sensors falls considerably.

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Nikon D700 Key Features

12.1 megapixel full-frame sensor (8.45µm pixel pitch)
Image Sensor Cleaning (vibration) *
ISO 200 – 6400 (with boost up to ISO 25600 and down to ISO 100)
Also supports DX lenses, viewfinder automatically masks (5.1 megapixels with DX lens)
14-bit A/D conversion, 12 channel readout
Same ultra-fast startup and shutter lag as D3
Nikon EXPEED image processor (Capture NX processing and NR algorithms, lower power)
New Kevlar / carbon fibre composite shutter with 150,000 exposure durability *
Multi-CAM3500FX Auto Focus sensor (51-point, 15 cross-type, more vertical coverage)
Auto-focus tracking by color (using information from 1005-pixel AE sensor)
95% coverage, 0.72x magnification viewfinder *
Auto-focus calibration (fine-tuning), fixed body or up to 20 separate lens settings
Scene Recognition System (uses AE sensor, AF sensor)
Picture Control image parameter presets
5 frames per second continuous with auto-focus tracking*
Optional MB-D10 Battery Pack (same as D300), increases burst rate to 8 fps *
UDMA compatible single CF card slot *
3.0″ 922,000 pixel LCD monitor
Live View with either phase detect (mirror up/down) or contrast detect Auto Focus
Virtual horizon indicates if camera is level (like an aircraft cockpit display)
HDMI HD video output
‘Active D-Lighting’ (adjusts metering as well as applying D-Lighting curve)
Detailed ‘Control Panel’ type display on LCD monitor, changes color in darkness
Magnesium alloy body with connections and buttons sealed against moisture
Improved Info display on main screen *

* Different to D3

Nikon D700 vs D3: Key Differences

Although the D3 and D700 are essentially the same camera in a different form factor (the D700 being far closer to the D300 in design and control layout), there are a few important specification differences.

Smaller, lighter body *
Built-in iTTL flash (G.No 17 / ISO 200)
No rear information panel (new info display on main LCD)
D700 doesn’t have the D3′s 5:4 aspect ratio option
95% coverage, 0.72x viewfinder (D3: 100% / 0.7x)
Focus screen DX mode now indicated with a rectangle rather than shaded area
Lower burst rate (5.0 fps / 8.0 fps with optional MB-D10)
100 frames maximum in continuous shooting mode
Smaller battery (EN-EL3e)
Optional battery grip (MB-D10, same as D300)
Expanded Function button options (can assign any camera menu item)
Live View can be assigned to FUNC, AE-L or Preview buttons (allowing LV + different drive modes)
Virtual Horizon can be overlaid on Live View preview image
Different shutter (150,000 cycle rating – same as D300)
Image Sensor cleaning (‘sensor shake’ dust reduction)
Single CF slot (D3 has two)
Minor menu and control differences (control layout is almost identical to D300)

* D700 is approx 34mm (1.3 in) shorter, 13mm (0.5 in) narrower and 10mm (0.4 in) shallower.
Weight (no battery) : D3 – 1240g, D700 – 995g

The D700 in the Nikon line-up

The table below shows how the D700 squeezes into the Nikon DSLR line-up, between the APS-C D300 and the full-frame D3.

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Nikon D300

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Nikon D700

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Nikon D3

Price (body only)

$1800 [check]
$2999[check]
$5000 [check]

Dust removal

• Self-cleaning filter
• Dust-off image
• Self-cleaning filter
• Dust-off image
• Dust-off image

Sensor size

23.6 x 15.8 mm
36 x 23.9 mm
36 x 23.9 mm

Effective pixels

12.3 million
12.1 million
12.1 million

FOV crop

1.5x
1x
1x

Sensitivity range (boost setting)

(100), 200 – 3200, (6400)
(100), 200 – 6400, (25,600)
(100), 200 – 6400, (25,600)

Shutter life

150,000 exposures
150,000 exposures
300,000 exposures

Continuous rate (high)

6.0 fps (8.0 fps with battery grip)
5.0 fps (8.0 fps with battery grip)
9.0 fps (11 fps in DX crop mode)

Continuous buffer

• 100 JPEG Norm
• 17 RAW
• 100 JPEG Norm
• 17 RAW
• 130 JPEG Norm
• 17 RAW

Built-in flash

• Manual pop-up
• Guide no. 12 (ISO 100)
• Manual pop-up
• Guide no. 12 (ISO 100)
None

Storage

CF (inc. UDMA)
CF (inc. UDMA)
CF (inc. UDMA) x2 slots

Viewfinder

• 100% coverage
• 0.94x magnification
• 95% coverage
• 0.72x magnification
• 100% coverage
• 0.7x magnification

Top panel LCD

Yes
Yes
Yes (plus rear info panel below screen)

Battery

11.1 Wh
11.1 Wh
27.75 Wh

Vertical grip

Yes, MB-D10
Yes, MB-D10
Built in

Dimensions

147 x 114 x 74 mm
(5.8 x 4.5 x 2.9 in)
147 x 123 x 77 mm
(5.8 x 4.8 x 3.0 in)
160 x 157 x 88 mm
(6.3 x 6.2 x 3.4 in)

Weight (no batt)

825 g
995 g
1240 g

Weight (inc batt)

903 g
1075 g
1420 g


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