Hard to imagine that one camera could really entice both enthusiasts with deep pockets and a desire to step up to the big time, and professionals looking for a lighter-weight, secondary camera to complement their existing top-of-the-line Nikon D3.
And yet, that’s exactly what the new Nikon D700 achieves. The D700, due out in late July, represents Nikon’s second FX-format camera. The first FX model, the Nikon D3, costs $5000; by comparison, the new D700 is a bargain at $3000 for the body only. Rival Canon also has a full-frame (the equivalence to the FX-format) camera, the Canon EOS 5D; however, that model has not been updated for several years.
The D700, meanwhile, boasts an impressive array of specs–all housed in a compact body (compact, at least, as compared with the Nikon D3 and Canon 1D Mark IIIs of the world). Nikon describes this model as being slightly bigger than its midrange D300; it’s also slightly heavier, too.
The D700 distinguishes itself by including so many of the high-end features of the D3–starting with the D3′s 12.1 megapixel FX-format CMOS sensor. Nikon says the sensor’s large pixel size promotes low signal-to-noise ratio and dynamic range. The D700 will also have the same ISO range (up to ISO 6400, and beyond, to 25,600), the same scene recognition system, Active D-Lighting in-camera editing, and the same 51 point autofocus system as found on the D3.
This model adds Nikon’s multi-pronged sensor cleaning system to reduce the build-up of dust on the sensor; the D3 lacked this feature. The D700 can shoot at up to 5 frames per second for full resolution JPEGs; the shutter carries a rating for 150,000 shots (the D3′s rating is double that).
The new D700 also has improved on the D3 and D300′s Live View functionality by adding a useful Virtual Horizon level indicator. The Virtual Horizon senses when the camera is off-axis and guides you through straightening the camera vis-à-vis the horizon.