Nikon D700 full frame DSLR
Nikon's second full-frame digital SLR, the D700, offers most of the bang for less bucks
By Robert Jensen
The Nikon D700 is a 12.1 megapixel camera with a full frame sensor. Nikon calls it FX sized. Its the same sensor and processing electronics found on Nikon's flagship camera, the D3 - but the D700 costs two thousand dollars less and gives up very little in comparison.
The D700 is close to 1/2 lb lighter than the D3; the viewfinder shows 95% of the frame instead of 100%; the D700 has one CF slot instead of two on the D3; shoots at 5 fps instead of 9; shorter shutter life rated up to 150,000 vs 300,000 and a shorter battery life. However, you gain some nice features like a dust reduction system and a built-in pop up flash. (More on why you want that built-in flash later).
You can also add a Nikon MD-D10 grip to the D700 that raises the picture taking speed from 5 to 8 fps, gives increased battery life, adds controls for vertical shooting and gives you more options to power the camera.
The D700 having a full sized FX sensor means there's no more crop factor as with the smaller DX sized cameras like the Nikon D90 or D300. So now your wide angle 24mm is back to being a real 24mm and not closer to behaving like a 35mm as it would be mounted on a DX camera.
The flip side of this is that your telephoto lenses no longer get a free boost of 1.5x magnification as with DX bodies, and your 80~200 f2.8 isn't a 120~300 anymore. Whether that's good or bad depends on your lens collection and how you shoot. For me it's a big plus to shoot with an FX size sensor.
The strong point with the Nikon D700 is image quality. Images from it are very accurate in color and amazing in the low amount of noise they show. The lower noise improvement is partially from Nikon using a CMOS type of imaging sensor instead of a CCD type used with many of its previous cameras. CMOS designs generally have lower noise characteristics than CCD.
Color and Color consistency
New model Nikons of the past year or so are all very accurate in their color response and almost identical to one another in their color characteristics. That makes life easier for those photographers shooting with different model Nikon bodies. Say you have a D300 now and want to add a D700 to your system. Shots taken of the same subject with either camera will be basically identical in color. (Take my word for it, this has been a problem in years past for everyone shooting with different model cameras and trying to match color later in post-processing.)
Even with very accurate color right out of the box the Nikon lets you fine tune the color characteristics of your photos in several ways. The easiest to use is Nikon's Picture Controls (Standard, Neutral, Vivid and Monochrome) which quickly change image characteristics to preset figures but you can also modify their sub-settings to whatever you desire by individually increasing or decreasing sharpening, contrast, brightness, saturation, hue, and even add filter effects (red, orange, yellow, green) and toning (sepia, cyanotype and a myriad of other colors) under the Monochrome Picture Control. You can even create your own custom Picture Control and save it. There are groups out there where you can exchange your Picture Controls. So you see, the range of control here is staggering, but that's a good thing in this case.
You have your standard sRGB and Adobe RGB color space settings. (I wonder if we'll ever get a ProPhoto RGB built-in to a camera?) If you own an older Nikon digital camera you'll be glad to know that the confusing sRGB I, II, IIa, III color spaces are gone and replaced by the above Picture Controls.
Another benefit several current Nikon cameras offer is Active D-Lighting (ADL). The simple explanation is that ADL can help retain detail in highlights and shadows. It does this by shifting the exposure and modifying the exposure curve. It can be of excellent use to wedding photographers who like to shoot JPEG to help avoid blowing out the white of a bride's dress or losing detail in the groom's black tux.
|Active D-Lighting opens up deep shadows and retains details in hightlights|
The D700 has ISO speeds ranging from 200 to 6400 with special settings to go as low as ISO 100 or a high of ISO 25,600. (That's not a misprint ISO 25,600!) I've shot in low light at ISO 1,600 with it and while some slight grain might be visible, its not objectionable in any way to even the pickiest of photographers, of which I'm one.
|Shot at ISO 1,600 after sunset. Amazingly, very little grain!|
Combine the D700 with a fast lens like a Nikon or Sigma 50mm f1.4, or even an f2.8 zoom, and you're talking about getting exceptional shots in even very dim lighting. This is the dream camera for the wedding photographers out there.
The camera has additional settings, LO-1 (equivalent to ISO100) and HI-2 (ISO 25,600) both adjustable in 1/3 exposure steps. One thing to watch out for when using the LO-1 setting is blowing out your highlights. To be honest, shooting at the top end of the ISO range you're not going to get the same quality images as you would at ISO 1,600 or even ISO 6,400 but you will get usable images and that's better than not getting the shot at all.