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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 2008-11-02

Photographer's Toy Box: Nikon D700 Users Report
By Matt Brown

Photo by Matt A. Brown

Photo by Matt A. Brown

Nikon D700, 1/800th @ 4.0, ISO 200.
I have been using the D700 for a month now, some 3000 frames later I really found myself enjoying the camera.

Here is some back ground on how and what I did while I used the camera: I shot everything in the Standard modes , RAW 90% of the time, the sharpness of auto, I used the Dynamic AF area 51 point (3-D focus tracking) most of the time. The MB-D10 battery was used the entire time with EN-EL4a battery. I shot with short and long glass and everything in between. I used the camera with the SB-800 speedlites and my Dyna-Lite strobes as well. Color space was set to Adobe RGB and I played around with the Active D-Lighting at times. Here are just a few events I shot while testing the D700: football, volleyball, baseball, swimming and even an engagement.

The D700 has the same class-leading high ISO performance and great color as the D3. I matched up the D3 and D700 images and found the high-ISO characteristics to be the same. You can and will be shooting at 6400 ISO and above with no trouble at all. Images are usable up to 12800 ISO. Making shooting nighttime high school so easy and fun!

The file quality and flat out feel of the photos is spot on the same as the D3. The last thing you want is a photo from the same shoot with different quality. You won't get it here. I used four cameras to cover the recent Major League Baseball Playoffs and you couldn't tell which photos were from the D3 and which ones were from the D700.

The super-fast power-up and very short shutter release came in handy while I was covering the playoffs. The D700 has a different AC adapter, an EH-5, than the D3's EH-6.

The CMOS sensor is full-frame --- don't we all just love the full-frame! --- I can't ever go back to shooting with a camera with a 1.5 crop. To have the ability to add a real motor drive in this camera, with the MB-D10 Grip and EN-EL4a battery, giving you the ability to shoot up to 8 frames-per-second.

As for the D700's auto-focus system, it was fast and accurate and never felt second rate. I never felt like I was missing photos while shooting with the D700. After using the Dynamic AF Area 51 point (3-D focus tracking) for the past year with the D3, the D700 was like I was using the same camera. There is no let down in the area of auto-focus with the D700.

One of my biggest pet peeves is a vertical grip that feels like it could fall off at any moment. The D700 vertical grip is solidly built and never felt loose or it might fall off. Having the ability to remove the grip gives you the option to carry a smaller, lighter body when speed isn't so crucial. While shooting vertical, the second main dial on the grip is nice to have.

Photo by Matt A. Brown

Photo by Matt A. Brown

Nikon D700, 1/1600th @ 4.0, ISO 100.
Another drawback for those that shoot RAW is the smallish buffer. I shot RAW(12-bit NEF) and found the burst to be small --- just 17 frames --- I would miss reaction photos and nailing the action. During covering something like the baseball playoffs, reaction is often more important then action.

The D700 has one thing the D3 is missing: The Dynamic Integrated Dust Reduction System. This feature came in very useful with the dirt from a baseball game.

The layout of the camera is almost the same as the D3 and has the all the bells and whistles, the LiveView, Virtual Horizon, HDMI and 3-inch LCD screen. With most cameras that have an optional vertical grip, they never feel solid in your hand, but not in the case of the D700. The rugged magnesium-alloy construction was easy to feel and the camera felt great in my hand, not too big or too small.

The D700 'compact' dimensions are nice when traveling or just hanging it around your neck during a game or long day of work. The dimensions are 1.3 in shorter, .5 in narrower and .4 in shallower. The D700 weights a half a lbs. less then the D3. That could be great after a long of shooting golf.

The vertical grip adds a second Multi Selector, which is nice when shooting vertical. I don't have NBA size hands so it was nice to reach the dial so easy.

The built-in flash is handy, it comes in big when you want to use it in the Commander Mode, Nikon's integrated wireless TTL system. The built-in flash has good coverage when used in Commander Mode and would reliably to fire other remote strobes.

One thing I did miss from the D700's big brother is the dual compact flash card slot. Having the dual card slot is very useful when shooting sports, especially football and basketball.

The D700's default settings are solid but if you want to get the maximum out of the camera your best bet is, as usual, shoot RAW.

After using the D700 for a month I can say you can't go wrong if you upgrade from the D300. If you have D3's and the D700 is a third body or a travel camera --- you can't go wrong. If you want and need the second best camera on the open market, you are going to really like it. The D700 comes with a very affordable price tag make it a more appealing proposition than the D3 to many professional photographers and serious amateurs.

The D700 keeps up the high standards that the D3 brought to us.

Editor and author's note: Special thanks to Ron Taniwaki and Nikon for the assistance in the writing of this article.


(Matt Brown is a freelance photographer based in Southern California. He is also the co-director of the Sports Shooter Academy. You can see his work at his SportsShooter.com member page: http://www.sportsshooter.com/mattb and his personal website: http://www.mattbrownphoto.com.)

Related Links:
Matt's member page

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