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Nikon D700 Digital Camera Review

nikon20100514b.jpgDigital Camera Review by: Simon Vrantsis  

For many professional photographers, the full-frame DSLR is a must when wanting to get the best results for their clients. The D700 has been Nikon’s doorway into this category for a little while now and, due to popular demand, we’ve decide to take a close look at the warhorse that remains a staple in Nikon’s range for those wanting to graduate from the cropped sensor technology.

Being powered by a 12.1-megapixel full-frame sensor, the first and foremost talking point of the D700 has to be its high ISO performance. With usability up to 6400 if not 12800, the D700 is a class-leader when it comes to shooting in less than ideal lighting conditions. Low-light photography has been a slight advantage many believe Nikon has had on its competitors and this remains the case with the D700.

Along with its high-sensitive performance, speed is another area that the D700 excels. Its 51-point auto focus system is accurate and efficient even in low light and performs extremely well when it comes to tracking subjects moving across the frame. Paired together with continuous shooting of up to 5fps, expandable to 8fps with the optional battery grip, the D700 is an action photographer dream.
Tested with Nikon’s critically acclaimed Nikkor AF-S F2.8 24-70mm lens, the D700 delivers consistent result throughout all lighting conditions. However, in optimal lighting, the D700’s sensor is show some age compared to its current competition. Details are clean but there are alternatives if a high resolution is required especially for extremely large sized prints.

The build quality of the D700 is superb and considering it falls into the professional end of the market, this is expected. Rubber moulding give the camera a comfortable and secure feel in hand, and its weather-sealed magnesium body provide strong protection from the elements. Connection wise, the D700 is packed with what’s typical at this end of the market; PC and remote sync ports allow for connections to high-end lighting equipment, wireless triggers, and GPS receivers. The obligatory HDMI output is included though it should be noted that this is for high-definition image viewing only as the D700 doesn’t include a movie mode.

Nikon have fitted the D700 with their now standard (in the D90 upwards) 3” LCD display with a 920k resolution. This produces great detail when in playback as well as in Live View. The Pentaprism optical viewfinder has 95% coverage supplying, close to, edge-to-edge vision during composition. Positioned on the top-right of the camera, the D700 includes a generously sized, secondary LCD screen to display most major shooting setting that is a Nikon staple in its enthusiast to high-end professional cameras.

On the top-left, you will find a finger dial that allows for quick changes between single-shot and continuous shooting modes, live view, self-timer and mirror lock-up. Above this dial are dedicated buttons for adjustments to white balance, image quality and ISO. Holding the relative button followed by using the traditional finger dial makes changes to these a lot more seamless.

New to this end of the market for Nikon is a dedicated ‘info’ button that allows for quick displaying of detailed shooting information on the main LCD as well as toggling to the quick menu to adjust settings such as Active D-Lighting, Colour space, and to assign function buttons. In Live View, it toggles on and off Gridlines, general setting information and the Virtual Horizon feature that helps to ensure that the camera is level prior to shooting. This is also available away from the Live View mode. By including the ‘info’ button, however, the D700 hasn’t retained the high-quality memory card door latch seen in the D3 range, including the more basic sliding-clip door instead.

Live View operates quite well considering it was in a relative infancy when implemented in the D700. Auto focus takes places by pressing the AF ON button and there are two forms of auto focus available. Phase Change auto focus involves the mirror flipping down briefly resulting in the display blacking out in order to focus. Alternatively, a Contrast based auto focus is available, which is noticeably quieter but slightly slower. A benefit to the contrast based system is the ability to move the focus point around the scene you wish to capture. This allows you to ensure the focus is spot on in the areas of most importance. It’s an especially handy feature for those with interests in macro photography. Although the Live View system in the D700 is nice to have, lack of little details like a live histogram make it a clear second options to the viewfinder.

medal-platinum-r.jpgMany will understand the need to upgrade to higher quality lenses once the move from cropped sensor to full-frame is done, and this does ultimately add even more to the upgrade. Existing DX lenses can be used on the D700, however the resolution will drop to 5.1 megapixel to compensate.

The D700 remains one of the more versatile DSLR’s on the market and, with it outstanding high ISO shooting ability, delivers great image quality across a range of lighting conditions. With a peak shooting speed of 8fps, it’s a perfect match for photographer with the passion for sports and wildlife. Although it’s resolution is starting to lag behind what is being seen in the market currently, an all-round performer like the D700 will always be a welcome addition in most photographers kits.

*Tested with Nikon’s critically acclaimed Nikkor AF-S F2.8 24-70mm lens


Appearance rating 4.5 stars
Functionality rating 4.5 stars
Image quality
4.5 stars
Lens quality
5 stars
View finder / LCD screen 4 stars
Value for money 4.5 stars
RRP (AUD) $3,995
Effective Pixels 12.1 mega pixels
Image Sensor
Nikon FX Full Frame Format (36.0 x 23.9 mm) CMOS sensor; total pixels: 12.87 million
Image Sizes 3 Sizes
Resolution Settings FX format: 4,256 x 2,832 [L], 3,184 x 2,120 [M], 2,128 x 1,416 [S]; DX format: 2,784 x 1,848 [L], 2,080 x 1,384 [M], 1,392 x 920 [S]
Manual Focus Yes
Auto Focus Yes
Aperture Priority Yes
Shutter Priority Yes
Shutter Speeds Electronically-controlled vertical-travel focal-plane shutter; 30 to 1/8000 sec in steps of 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV
Exposure Metering System
1) 3D-Color Matrix Metering II (type G and D lenses); Color Matrix Metering II (other CPU lenses); Color Matrix Metering (non-CPU lenses if user provides lens data); 2) Center-weighted: Weight of 75% given to 8-, 12-, 15- or 20-mm circle in center of frame, 3) Spot: Meters 4.0 mm circle (about 1.5% of frame) centered on selected focus point (on center focus area when non-CPU lens is used)
Exposure Modes Programmed Auto (P) with flexible program, Shutter-Priority Auto (S), Aperture-Priority Auto (A), Manual (M)
ISO ISO 200 to ISO 6400
LCD Monitor Yes
LCD Size High-definition, 3-inch VGA, TFT LCD monitor with wide viewing angle
Viewfinder Yes
Hot Shoe Yes
White Balance 7 modes (when Auto is selected, TTL white-balance with main image sensor and 1,005-segment RGB sensor is available) fine-tuning possible
Self Timer 2, 5, 10 and 20sec duration
HD Movie Option No
Movie Sizes -
Video Out -
Storage Type CompactFlash (Type I, compliant with UDMA)
Still Image Format/s NEF (RAW) 12 or 14-bit lossless compressed, compressed, or uncompressed, TIFF (RGB), JPEG Baseline-compliant with fine (approx. 1:4), normal (approx. 1:8), or basic (approx. 1:16) compression, NEF (RAW)+JPEG: Single photograph recorded in both NEF (RAW) and JPEG formats
Movie Image Format/s -
Audio Format/s -
Connectivity USB2.0
Power Source AC Adapter EH-5a/EH-5 (optional)
Battery Options Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL3e
Battery Life
Approx. 1000 shots
Dimensions W 147mm x H 123mm x D 77mm
Weight 995g






About Nikon


The history of Nikon dates back to 1917 when three of Japan's leading optical manufacturers merged to form a fully integrated optical company. By the end of the century Nikon would have accumulated an immense poll of know-how and experience to become a world leader in not only optics and imaging but also industrial equipment and health and medicine sector.

Today Nikon designs, develops, manufactures and markets a gamut of optical, photographic and optoelectronic products globally. You will find them at work in virtually every corner of the earth. If it has something to do with light, Nikon has something to do with it.

The driving force behind Nikon is technology. Not only in manufacturing and assembling the finest lenses or most comprehensive photography system in the world, but also in making the glass itself. That is why Nikon products have gained worldwide customer satisfaction, and even professional recognition worldwide.

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