325 of 349 people found the following review helpful
A Smaller D3,
This review is from: Nikon D700 12.1MP FX-Format CMOS Digital SLR Camera with 3.0-Inch LCD (Body Only) (OLD MODEL) (Camera)
This is an amazing camera. I am not going to go over the specs because you can read about them on just about any camera web site. What I am going to concentrate on is who should buy one and why.
First off, I've read about many folks lamenting having bought the D300 and now feel like the need to "upgrade" to a D700. These are two different cameras for two different purposes and as such don't compete against each other so much as complement each other. The D300 doesn't have the low noise capability (The D700 can get clean images at ISO1600 vice ISO400 for the D300) nor does it have the wide angle capabilities of the D700. The D700 doesn't have the 1.5x multiplier of the D300 so wide angle lenses are truly wide. Additionally, while you can use DX lenses on the D700, you will only be using 5 mp of your sensor.
Another comparison is between the D3 and D700. They both have the same sensor so the image and ISO abilities are the same. The D700 comes slower out of the box but with the Nikon EN-EL4a Rechargeable Li-Ion Battery for MB-D10 Battery Pack and Nikon D2 and D3 Digital SLR Cameras, Nikon MB-D10 Multi Power Battery Pack for Nikon D300 & D700 Digital SLR Cameras, Nikon BL-3 Battery Chamber Cover for Nikon EN-EL4 and EN-EL4a for the MB-D10, and Nikon MH-21 Quick Charger for Nikon EN-EL4 and EN-EL4a Rechargeable Li-Ion Batteries (~$500) you will be rocking with 8 fps and great battery life; just barely slower than the D3. Also, I have not found any technical data on the autofocus and processing chip but in my non-scientific side by side comparison the D700 seemed just as fast as the D3 while the D300 appeared noticeably slower. (This was shot with the 85mm 1.4D. This lens does not have Silent Wave Motor focus and therefore relies on the camera's focusing motor.) As I said this is not scientific but I am also guessing that Nikon saved on engineering costs by just transferring the guts of the D3 to the D700 and slowing it down (this is probably the reason the D700 gets such poor battery life (200-300 shots vice 1000 shots) in comparison to the D300).
So without further ado:
Buy the Nikon D700 12.1MP Digital SLR Camera (Body Only) if:
You need to shoot in no flash low light situations. With a 1.4 lens at 1600 ISO you would be amazed at the quality of the photos! If you are not doing close up work of people you can get great shots @ 6400 ISO. If you can stand a grain in B+W(a very cool effect by the way), then you can get good shots @ 25,600!
You want to shoot ultra wide. With no multiplication factor, you can shoot truly wide angle photos. The 14mm is 14mm not 21mm like on a DX camera. Also, although you can get the Nikon 12-24mm f/4G ED IF Autofocus DX Nikkor Zoom Lens which will be the equivalent of 18-36mm, it will still have the distortion of a 12-24mm lens. So compared to the FX D700 you would get 14 deg less width with more distortion.
You are willing to spend $4500 more on the lenses. The body is disposable, the lenses are what last. You could get away with a 50mm 1.4 and that would be a fine place to start and a great way to learn how to frame a picture. However, I would recommend the following 3 lenses and I would recommend getting them in the following order. 1) The Nikon 85mm f/1.4D AF Nikkor Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras - $1000 (Super fast, incredibly shallow depth of field, and amazing construction. Get this lens and practice getting good with a fixed length lens! Get this lens over the 85mm 1.8 for the construction and 9 blade design. You will be blown away with how low the light can be and you can still get the shot! (Rumors have it that Nikon is about to replace this lens with a new improved version. I expect the new lens will be better but will likely cost 1.5 to 2x as much.) 2) The Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR Zoom Nikkor Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras - $1700 This is the lens pros use to earn their living. (It has been 5 years since Nikon updated this lens so it is due for a replacement soon but again I am sure it will be more expensive and this lens rocks right now) 3. The Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G ED AF-S Nikkor Wide Angle Zoom Lens - ~$1600. Stupid fast, stupid wide, and stupid great. What more can you ask?
Buy the Nikon D300 DX 12.3MP Digital SLR Camera with 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S VR DX Nikkor Zoom Lens if:
You want an amazing all around lens. The Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 G ED-IF AF-S VR DX Zoom-Nikkor Lens (27-300mm equivalent) You really never need to take this lens off. You can shoot wide (27mm) and telephoto (300mm) Wow this lens does it all.
You want to shoot long. If you take a D300, the 70-200mm 2.8, and a 1.7x teleconverter you get a 178-510mm F4.8 for $3600!! Or add the 300mm 2.8 and you get a 765mm F4.8 for $6500 ($3000 cheaper and 5 lbs lighter than a 600mm F4 lens). Totally astounding.
You shoot in relatively decent light. Until I got the D700, I routinely shot great portrait shots at home, at night, and with poor lighting using the D300 and the 85mm 1.4 at 1/30s and ISO200-400.
You want to buy and take advantage of DX lenses. Really you only need 2 lenses with the D300. You will want the 18-200mm and the 12-24mm. That will cover everything you need for a grand total of $1500. I would still recommend the Nikon 85mm f/1.4D AF Nikkor Lens. A stupid fast 128mm 1.4 on the D300.
Buy the Nikon D3 12.1MP FX Digital SLR Camera (Body Only) if everything about the D700 fits your shooting requirements and:
You shoot more than 3000 photos per month. The D700's shutter is rated to 150,000 cycles while the D3 is 300,000. Nikon's generational replacement cycle for their flagship camera is 4 years. That means if you shoot ~3000 photos per month you will shoot ~150,000 shots in 4 years and it will be time to replace the camera anyway. If you shoot 10,000 shots per month you will have to replace the camera in 15 months. However, with the D3 you would not have to replace the camera until 30 months.
You earn your living shooting photographs. Memory cards rarely fail but do you want to lose thousands of dollars and your reputation by risking it. Get the D3 and set it to write the images to both cards. Yes, there are other techniques to minimize your exposure to this failure but none are as easy and reliable.
You don't want the option to remove the battery and vertical grip. With the D700 you can add the MB-D10 to make it 98% of the D3. However, if you don't want the weight or need the speed you can remove it and save the space and weight. This is useful for long hiking trips (However, I would recommend a D300 for this unless you were hand shooting in low light).
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Showing 1-10 of 19 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 13, 2008 1:17:24 AM PDT
How do you know that the camera "gets such poor battery life (200-300 shots vice 1000 shots) in comparison to the D300"? This is disappointing.
Posted on Aug 13, 2008 12:33:58 PM PDT
Albrecht Granzow says:
(i) Wide open, the 70-200 mm f/2.8 lens shows considerable edge softness when used with an Fx camera. (ii) Apparently, the author has not used the 70-200 mm lens with a 1.7x teleconverter on a Dx camera. The results are far from convincing.
Posted on Aug 13, 2008 12:35:57 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Aug 13, 2008 12:38:08 PM PDT]
Posted on Aug 13, 2008 12:59:43 PM PDT
2 cf card slots isn't really a selling point, at least not to me. sure backups are nice but if you're in a studio you can shoot tethered and your shots go directly to a hard drive if that drive is set up on a raid then you get the same redundancy you would get by having 2 cards. if you aren't tethered you download your card onto that raided hard drive and blam. i've never had a cf card fail but another precaution you can have is to use cards with smaller storage space and swapping them in and out - so if you do lose a card you lose a 1 gig instead of an 8 gig or something along those lines. the truth of the matter is that even if i had 2 card slots i'd not be setting it up to make redundant copies i'd rather have it fill one card and start shooting onto the next so i have to spend less time swapping.
Posted on Aug 15, 2008 7:17:05 PM PDT
K. Lee says:
Excellent review of the D700 with very informative recommendations that should be helpful for some!
Posted on Aug 20, 2008 3:32:45 PM PDT
Great review - thanks for the non-chauvinistic comparison between these three cameras and where they excel.
Posted on Sep 15, 2008 2:48:24 PM PDT
T. Gabriel says:
You are right writing that camera bodies are disposable and lenses are not. I strongly resisted digital until the D3/D700 appeared. Now my AI and AI-S lenses have a new life. The Nikon lenses use the finest glass there is, they have the best construction available anywhere and work perfectly on my new FX cameras. I like shooting in Apeture mode most of the time, never cared much for "program" settings. Now I have two cameras that are absolutely state-of-the-art and ten 25 to 30 year old lenses to use with them. Life is good...
Posted on Nov 4, 2008 8:59:56 AM PST
Big Fudge says:
One lens you failed to mention in the Nikon 17-55 2.8, which is my workhorse. I am an amateur but get fantastic results from the lens on a D200. Thanks for the tip on the 85mm prime, it's on my wish list.
Posted on Dec 20, 2008 7:39:16 PM PST
M. Novak says:
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2009 11:29:12 AM PST
I do have an update to this. After 6 months of using the D700, I average about 1000 shots per charge. I don't use live view and don't have automatic photo review turned on. However, with the D300, I usually average about 2000 shots.