Review Nikon D700

nikon d700

The Nikon D700 was introduced in late 2008 and is the first full-frame Nikon camera in the price range of around € 2,000. The camera body is very similar to that of the Nikon D300, a camera that can be seen as an evolved Nikon D200. Nikon changed from a CCD sensor to CMOS, in order to get noise-free images this way. We know the sensor of the Nikon D700 from the now taken out of production Nikon D3. For more than a year, there have been speculations about the Nikon D800 as successor to the Nikon d700DeThe Nikon D700 is heavy and solidly built, and has a professional look because of it. But the Nikon D700 also looks “chunky” and has a very noisy shutter. The mirror is big. Left of the mirror are the buttons to quickly set white balance, file size and ISO values. On top of the housing on the right, an LCD screen provides information about the selected settings. The buttons on the back of the camera are logically grouped around the large LCD screen. The camera has two swivel wheels for both thumb and index finger (to set shutter speed and aperture separately), and a rocker switch on the back of the house. The turntable of Canon is much easier and faster to operate than this somewhat fragile feeling rocker switch. All other buttons feel solid and the house is sealed waterproof.

Our measurement results are shown separately in the testresults of the Nikon D700,and have been performed using Imatest. For the mode of testing and the explanation of terms, see FAQ.

Nikon D700 versus Nikon D300 and Nikon D3

  • The Nikon D700 has no predecessor, but can more or less be seen as a camera with a Nikon D300 control with the image quality of the Nikon D3. Both these cameras are no longer in production. The D300 has an image sensor of APS-C format with as many pixels as the image sensor of the D700 and D3. Due to the large size of the pixels, the Nikon D700 and the Nikon D3 provide remarkably noise-free images.
  • The Nikon D3 is significantly larger and heavier than the Nikon D700, and has been succeeded by the Nikon D3s and Nikon D3X in the meantime. The first has 12 and the second has 24 MP.
  • The Nikon D3 cameras have a 100% viewfinder coverage, while the D700 remains at 95%. On the other hand, the Nikon D700 has automatic dust removal on the sensor and a built-in flash. The Nikon D3 does not have that.
  • In the D700, there is only room for one memory card, with the D3 series, two cards can be placed at the same time. The battery capacity of the D700 is less, and the frame rate is lower than with the D3s. The AF module is the same.


Nikon D700, AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G @ 200 ISO, f/8, 1/320 s


Nikon D700 versus the competition: Canon 5D MK2, Nikon D7000 and Sony 850

• The Nikon D700 has few competitors. The Canon 5D MK2 and the Sony 850 are full-frame cameras in the same price range as the Nikon D700, but they have much more pixels (21 or 24 MP vs. 12 MP for the Nikon D700). The Sony 850 with its 24 MP has the same image sensor as the Nikon D3X, but due to other software, the noise characteristics would be less. At present it is unclear whether Sony is busy evolving full-format cameras, or that the 850 is the last type of full-frame camera of this brand. The Sony 900 has been taken out of production in the meantime.
• The Canon 5D MK2 has 21 MP, but has a less sophisticated autofocus system. The frame rate of the Canon is less too. The pixels of the sensor of the Nikon D700 are bigger, so the noise characteristics are better. The Nikon D700 has a switchable grid on the ground glass. With the Canon 5D Mk2, you need to change the ground glass for that.
• Also within the Nikon program, the D700 has few direct competitors. Cameras in the Nikon D3 series are significantly more expensive. The Nikon D7000 is a (semi) professional body with a 16 MP image sensor of the APS-C format with excellent noise characteristics. The Nikon D7000 is built for speed and resembles the D700. If you do not need a large image sensor to limit the depth of field and to get even less noise, the D7000 has several advantages. These include the lower recommended retail price and the availability of compact build APS-C lenses.

Viewfinder, screen and menu

The viewfinder accuracy is only 95%. Of a camera like this you expect more. The enlargement is 0.75, so the total magnification is 0.72. This is slightly less than the Canon 5D MK2. In many reviews you can read that the viewfinder of the Canon 5D MK2 would be less clear. We have put together both cameras, with a 70-200 mm 2.8, and compared them with each other. Our conclusion is that the brightness of the viewfinder image is almost equal. Handy is the switchable grid on the ground glass of the D700. With Canon, you have to use another type of ground glass for that 


The Nikon D700 delivers beautiful noise-free and sharp images with good detail in the shadows. Place your mouse over the practice shoot above to get an impression of the sharpness of a 100% image excision of a 200 ISO RAW file.

The Nikon D700, with a good lens like the Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED IF AF-S VR, provides a jpg file with an resolution of 1100 lines per picture height on average. With a standard editing of the RAW files in Lightroom, a larger resolution impression is obtained, which translates into a resolution of 2300 lines per picture height on average. From the 100% image excisions of a RAW 6400 ISO and a jpg 6400 ISO file displayed here on the side, you see that this difference is not only measurable, but also visible in practice.


Dynamic range

The total dynamic range of a Nikon D700 RAW file is equal to the total dynamic range of a Canon 5D MK2, averaging 12.3 stops, and that is about the maximum for a 14 bit sensor. The dynamic range of a Nikon D700 RAW file is 3 stops larger at 100 ISO than of a JPG file, so that even under the extreme lighting situation that we have created in our studio, there is no clipping of the shadow parts anymore. The test results are in the Nikon D700 review.The usable dynamic range of the Nikon D700 is almost 8 stops at 200 ISO, up to 2.8 stops at 25,600 ISO(jpg)’s. This is spectacularly good and better than the usable dynamic range of the Canon 5D MK2. In this photograph of miniature canal houses, the backlight is so strong that clipping of both the highlights and the shadow parts seem to act on. The large usable dynamic range of the Nikon D700 allows making the shadow parts a lot lighter without encountering problems with noise. Move your mouse over the image for an edited HDR version.


As you can see from the practice shots at the resolution part, the noise of this camera is very low. Even a 6400 ISO recording is useful for a high-quality print on A3, without the noise being annoyingly present. The test results of noise measurements can be found in the Nikon D700 review. Comparison of the noise in jpg files with the measured noise in RAW files without noise reduction shows that the noise occurs at the jpg files at all ISO settings.

In terms of noise, we have put this camera to an extra heavy practice test: We have taken a backlit shot of the canal houses at 3200 ISO, and then made the shadow parts visible again with HDR. In a 3200 ISO RAW file without noise reduction, the noise is visible, such as the 100% image excision on the right shows, but the performances of the Nikon D700 in terms of noise are significantly better than those of the Canon 5D MK2 or the Canon 60D.


Accuracy of the colors

daglichtkunstlichtThe color of JPG files created in daylight is slightly less than that of the Canon 5D MK2, but is on par with that of modern cameras like the Canon 60D or Nikon D5100. Remarkably well is the color of skin tones from the Nikon D700. As with the previously tested cameras, the accuracy of the colors in RAW files is better than the color of jpg files. The auto white balance functions much better in daylight (left) than in artificial light (right) in practice. But the same goes for other brands of cameras. The measure results for color, noise, dynamic range and resolution of the Nikon D700 are reported separately in the review of the Nikon D700.

Autofocus in practice

About the speed and accuracy of autofocus during our test, we can be brief. In normal practice situations, nothing can be criticized. This is the fastest autofocus we have had in our hand up to now.

Autofocus tracking

This autofocus of the Nikon D700 is the fastest we have tested so far, which is reflected in our test setup with a moving train with a speed of about 1 km / hour. The Nikon D700 takes a continuous series of sharp images, while the continuous AF of the Canon 5D MK2 is not fast or accurate enough for that



  • Good image quality: low noise, high usable dynamic range and good resolution RAW files
  • Fast and reliable autofocus
  • Solid construction


  • ‘Only’ 12 MP is not up to standards of 2011
  • Viewfinder accuracy of 95%
  • Color accuracy at tungsten light
  • Noisy shutter
  • Not very handy menu structure
  • Big and heavy compared tot Canon 5D MK

Despite the fact that the Nikon D700 has lasted a few years already, the Nikon D700 receives a very high rating from us. The files are, even at high ISO values, free from noise and the useable dynamic range is high. The autofocus works quickly and accurately and moving objects too are easy to follow by the autofocus system. The sturdy and waterproof housing is built for long term professional use. In some applications the resolution is somewhat limited for the current standard, is a full HD video missing and could the noisy shutter be interfering. All in all, the Nikon D700 is a must!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here