Nikon D700 Review

Since the 1950s, Nikon has produced high-end SLR cameras, but its newest model, the D700, promises to appeal to both professionals and enthusiasts.

The flagship D3 was released last summer, and the D700 is Nikon’s second FX-format camera.

The CMOS sensor inside the D700 is exactly the same size as a frame of 35mm film, which is what Nikon refers to as FX format.

This implies that a 28mm lens on a D700 acts precisely like a 28mm lens on film, in contrast to most DSLRs where the effective focal length of your lenses increases by 1.5 or 1.6x.

Fantastic camera

A 28mm lens becomes a 42mm lens (equivalent) on a smaller format camera like the D300 because of the smaller sensor.

A pretty wonderful camera is the D3. The D700 is also fantastic because it has the same sensor and many of the same capabilities but is roughly £1,000 cheaper.

The D700’s 12 million pixel CMOS sensor and ultra-high quality 920,000 dot 3in LCD screen were demonstrated in the D3, and the D700 can shoot at astounding ISO rates ranging from ISO 100 to ISO 25,600.

Okay, so the image quality at ISO 25,600 isn’t exactly anything to write home about, but if you’ve chosen this setting, it’s likely because you have to take a picture, and if you have to take a picture, any snap is preferable to none at all.

Great LCD display

Speaking of challenging circumstances, Nikon rates the D700 as “professional,” making it a very durable camera.

The D700’s flash and memory card door are among the several buttons and seams that are water- and dust-proof. This implies that the camera will likely stop working long after you have, regardless of where you are or the weather. Which, I suppose, is soothing.

You may have just returned from a natural disaster or a conflict zone, but were the photos worth the trip? Yes. The D700’s “comfort zone” of ISO 200-6400 produces incredibly high-quality images.

The D700 is really the only camera—aside from the more expensive D3—with which we would feel comfortable taking photos at ISO 1600 or higher. Images captured at ISO levels of up to 6400 can be easily cleaned up in raw mode, making these extremely high settings actually useful.

The D700 offers 14-bit and 12-bit raw modes. Simply said, shooting 14-bit raw files ensures that there is more tonal information in the image, which should result in smoother tones and more room for drastic level adjustments.

Large card required

In reality, there is little distinction between 12 and 14-bit raw, and choosing 12-bit makes a little more room on the card available for more images.

Since average-sized memory cards won’t last very long at all due to the enormous file sizes, you’ll need all the memory space the D700 can provide.

The D700 can shoot at five frames per second with its standard “body only” configuration, but adding the optional MB-D10 grip (which also fits the D300) allows for up to eight frames per second of continuous shooting.

A camera’s ability to focus quickly would be useless if the frame rate was too high, but fortunately, the D700 and D3 both share a 51-point AF system. Why is this lucky?

This AF system, however, tops all else on the market and is the best we have ever used.

Suitable in low light

The D700 can truly track a moving subject across the frame in 3D tracking mode depending on what color it is. Additionally, in 51-point AF mode, the camera is set up to scan for skin tones and facial features, making the focusing mechanism as near-perfect as you’ll find on any other DSLR.

The D700 maintains focus even in very low light thanks to 15 incredibly sensitive cross-type AF sensors in the center of the frame.

Then what is the D700 incapable of? The inevitable response is “not much.”

In addition to being a delight to use due to its strong construction and large, brilliant viewfinder, it also produces beautiful photographs at ISO settings that would make other cameras blush.

When the 14 million pixels Pentax K20D can be purchased for roughly a quarter of the price of a D700, we might quibble that 12 million pixels are starting to appear a little bit limiting.

We would choose 12 million pixels if an additional few million meant a reduction in high-ISO performance. In actuality, the D700’s pricing is the only issue we have with it that is significant.

Even though the D3 costs £1,000 less, two grand is still a hefty price to pay for a camera’s body alone. However, the D700 is a no-brainer if you need the best image quality in a (relatively) small size. It is time to apply for a new credit card…

Nikon D700 Specifications

Body materialMagnesium alloy
Sensor• 36 x 23.9 mm CMOS sensor
• FX format
• RGB Color Filter Array
• Built-in fixed low-pass filter
• 12.87 million total pixels
• 12.1 million effective pixels
• 3:2 aspect ratio
Image processorNikon EXPEED
A/D conversion14 bit
Image sizes
(FX format)
• 4256 x 2832 [L; 12.1 MP]
• 3184 x 2120 [M; 6.8 MP]
• 2128 x 1416 [S; 3.0 MP]
Image sizes
(DX format)
• 2784 x 1848 [L; 5.1 MP]
• 2080 x 1384 [M; 2.9 MP]
• 1392 x 920 [S; 1.3 MP]]
File formats• NEF (12-bit or 14-bit, compressed or lossless compressed RAW)
• JPEG (EXIF 2.21)
Lens mount• Nikon F mount with AF coupling and AF contacts
• No field of view crop (full-frame)
• When using DX lenses / DX mode 1.5x FOV crop
Usable lenses• DX AF Nikkor: All functions supported
• Type G or D AF Nikkor: All functions supported (PC Micro-Nikkors do not support some functions)
• Other AF Nikkor: All functions supported except 3D Color Matrix Metering II. Lenses for F3AF not supported. IX Nikkor lenses not supported.
• AI-P Nikkor: All functions supported except autofocus and 3D Color Matrix Metering II
• Non-CPU AI Nikkor: Can be used in exposure modes A and M; electronic rangefinder can be used if maximum aperture is f/5.6 or faster; Color Matrix Metering and aperture value display supported if user provides lens data
Auto Focus• 51 focus points (15 cross-type sensors)
• Multi-CAM 3500FX
• AF working range: -1 to +19 EV (ISO 100, normal temperature)
• AF fine tuning possible
• Contrast Detect in Live View (Tripod) mode
Lens Servo• Single Servo AF [S]
• Continuous Servo AF [C]
• Manual focus [M]
• Focus Tracking automatically activated by subject’s status in [S] or [C] AF
Focus Point• Single point from 51 or 11 focus points
• Liveview (Tripod mode): Contrast AF on a desired point anywhere within frame
AF Area Mode• Single point AF
• Dynamic Area AF [9 points, 21 points, 51 points, 51 points (3D-tracking)]
• Automatic-area AF
Focus LockFocus can be locked by pressing shutter-release button halfway (single-servo AF) or by pressing AE-L/AF-L button
AF assistAF-assist illuminator (range approx. 0.5-3 m/1.6-9.8 ft.)
Exposure modes• Program Auto [P] with flexible program
• Shutter-Priority Auto [S]
• Aperture-Priority Auto [A]
• Manual [M]
MeteringTTL full-aperture exposure metering using 1005-pixel RGB sensor
• 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; metering performed)
• Center-weighted: Weight of 75% given to 8, 15, or 20 mm dia. circle in center of frame or weighting based on average of entire frame
• Spot: Meters approx. 4 mm dia. circle (about 1.5% of frame) centered on selected focus point (on center focus point when non-CPU lens is used)
Metering range• 3D Color Matrix Metering: 0 to 20 EV
• Center-Weighted Metering: 0 to 20 EV
• Spot Metering: 2 to 20 EV
• At normal temperature (20°C/68°F), ISO 100 equivalent, f/1.4 lens
Meter couplingCPU and AI
Exposure lockLocked using AE-L/AF-L button
Exposure bracketing• 2 to 9 frames
• 1/3, 1/2, 2/3 or 1 EV steps
Exposure compen.• +/-5.0 EV
• 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV steps
Sensitivity• Default: ISO 200 – 6400 in 1/3, 1/2 or 1.0 EV steps
• Boost: 100 – 12800 in 1/3, 1/2 or 1.0 EV steps, HI2 = ISO 25600
Shutter• Electronically-controlled vertical-travel focal plane shutter
• 30 to 1/8000 sec (1/3, 1/2 or 1.0 EV steps)
• Flash X-Sync: 1/250 sec
• Bulb
DOF Preview• Stop-down lens aperture by pressing button
• Activates modeling flash
White balance• Auto (1005-pixel CCD, image sensor)
• Presets (seven) with fine tuning
• Manual presets (five)
• Color temperature in Kelvin (2500 – 10000 K)
• White balance bracketing (2 to 9 frames in increments of 1, 2 or 3
Picture Control• Standard
• Neutral
• Vivid
• Monochrome
Image parameters• Sharpening: Auto, 10 levels
• Contrast: Auto, 6 levels, Custom tone curve
• Brightness: 3 levels
• Saturation: Auto, 7 levels
• Hue: 7 levels
Color space• sRGB
• Adobe RGB
Viewfinder• Optical-type fixed eye-level pentaprism
• Built-in diopter adjustment (-3 to +1m-1)
• Eyepoint: 18 mm (at -1.0m-1)
• Focusing screen: Type B BriteView Clear Matte VI screen
• Frame coverage 95%
• Viewfinder magnification approx 0.72x with 50 mm f/1.4 lens
Focusing screen• B-type BrightView Clear Matte IV Screen
• Superimposed focus brackets
• On-demand grid lines
LCD monitor• 3.0 ” TFT LCD
• Approx. 920,000 pixels (VGA; 640 x 480 x 3 colors)
• 170° viewing angle
100% frame coverage
• Brightness adjustment
LCD Liveview• Handheld mode: TLL phase-detect AF with 51 focus areas (15 cross-type sensors)
• Tripod mode: focal-plane contrast AF on a desired point within a specific area
Shooting modes• Single frame
• Continuous Low [CL]: 1 – 5 fps (1 – 7 fps with Battery Grip)
• Continuous High [CH]: 5 fps (8 fps with Battery Grip)
• Liveview [LV]
• Self-Timer (programmable)
• Mirror-up mode
Self-timer• 2 to 20 sec custom
Flash• Manual pop-up type
• Guide number of 17/56 (ISO 200, m/ft.) or 12/39 (ISO 100, m/ft.)
Flash control• TTL flash control with 1,005-pixel RGB sensor; i-TTL balanced fill-flash and standard i-TTL fill-flash available with SB-900, 800, 600 or 400
• Auto aperture (AA): Available with SB-900, 800 and CPU lens
• Non-TTL auto (A): Available with SB-900, 800, 28, 27 or 22s
• Distance-priority manual (GN): Available with SB-900, 800
Flash Sync Mode• Front-curtain Sync (normal)
• Red-Eye Reduction
• Red-Eye Reduction with Slow Sync
• Slow Sync
• Rear-curtain Sync
Flash Accessory ShoeISO 518 standard-type hot shoe contact; Safety lock mechanism provided
Flash Sync TerminalISO 519 standard terminal, lock screw provided
Flash compensation• -3 to +1 EV
• 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV steps
Creative Lighting SystemWith Speedlights such as SB-900, SB-800, SB-600, SB-R200, or SU-800 (commander only), supports Advanced Wireless Lighting, Auto FP High-Speed Sync, Flash Color Information Communication, modeling flash and FV lock; built-in flash can be used as a commander
Orientation sensorTags images with camera orientation
Playback mode• Full frame
• Thumbnail (4 or 9 images)
• Zoom
• Slideshow
• RGB histogram
• Shooting data
• Highlight point
• Auto image rotation
• image comment (up to 36 characters)
Languages• Chinese (Simplified and Traditional)
• Dutch
• English
• Finnish
• French
• German
• Italian
• Japanese
• Korean
• Polish
• Portuguese
• Russian
• Spanish
• Swedish
Connectivity• USB 2.0 (Hi-Speed) Mini-B connector
• HDMI video out (version 1.3a, Type C mini connector provided)
• Remote control 10-pin terminal
• PC Sync flash terminal
10-pin terminal• GPS: NMEA 0183 (Ver. 2.01 and 3.01) interface standard supported with 9-pin D-sub cable and GPS Cable MC-35 (optional)
• Remote control: via 10-pin terminal
Storage• Compact Flash (Type I only)
• UDMA supported
• 36 characters of text can be input and stored in EXIF header
Power• Lithium-Ion EN-EL3e
• Included dual battery charger MH-18a
• Optional AC adapter EH-5a/EH-5
• Optional Battery Pack MB-D10
DimensionsApprox. 147 x 123 x 77 mm/5.8 x 4.8 x 3.0 in.
Weight (no batt)Approx. 995 g/2.19 lb.
Operating environmentTemperature: 0 – 40 °C / 32 – 104 °F, Humidity: under 85% (no condensation)
Box contentsRechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL3e, Quick Charger MH-18a, USB Cable UC-E4, Video Cable EG-D100, Camera Strap AN-D700, Body Cap BF-1A, Accessory Shoe Cover BS-1, LCD Monitor Cover BM-9, Software Suite CD-ROM (Supplied accessories may differ depending on country or area)
Optional accessoriesWireless Transmitter WT-4, Magnifying Eyepiece DK-17M, AC Adapter EH-5a, Capture NX 2 Software, Camera Control Pro 2 Software, Image Authentication Software


The D3, Nikon’s first full-frame DSLR, was described as “probably the most engaging, capable, and well-rounded professional digital SLR ever manufactured” in our April review. Three months later, Nikon unveiled the D700, another full-frame camera.

Many professional photographers and serious amateurs find the new model to be more enticing than the D3 because to its “smaller” dimensions and significantly lower price, but can it live up to the high standards that have been set by its bigger brother?

The answer to this question is without a doubt yes. The price advantage over the D3 (nearly $1700 at the time of writing) makes the specification gap between the two cameras seem much smaller than it actually is.

With the D3, you get a bigger, more robust body, faster continuous shooting, and a little larger viewfinder, but if these features aren’t particularly important to you, you should definitely give the D700 some thought. You also get a built-in flash (definitely handy for some) and integrated sensor cleaning on top of the savings.

But specifications are one thing, while performance and image quality are quite another. Thankfully, the D700 performs

Nikon D700 Price

Pros & Cons

Good For
  • very quickly (instant power-up, short shutter lag, and short viewfinder black-out)
  • High ISO performance that leads the class, using up to ISO 12800
  • With good resolution and detail, the low ISO output is clear and free of artifacts.
  • A balanced noise reduction strategy that emphasizes chroma over brightness (film-like grain)
Need Improvements
  • In JPEGs, a very steep preset tone curve may result in clipped highlights.
  • inferior resolution compared to rivals (the price you pay for brilliant high ISO performance)
  • In artificial light, auto-white balance is ineffective.

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