Nikon D700 SLR Review
By Mike Flacy
The D700 is designed with long term durability, ruggedness and precision in mind. Built on a magnesium alloy chassis and body cover, it combines light weight with high-level durability and protects performance integrity. It also features an enhanced environmental sealing system that helps protect exterior seams from potentially damaging moisture and dust.
The 12.1 effective megapixel FX format CMOS image sensor incorporates a high-speed 12-channel data output and a new Optical Low Pass Filter that significantly reduces any incidence of moir� as well as color fringing and shifting. If you suspect that dust or dirt has made it onto the filter, simply select the Self-cleaning senor option via the Setup menu. It uses four different resonance frequencies to vibrate the optical low pass filter, shaking any particles free.
The D700 is fast. It can shoot continuously at up to five frames per second. When used with the optional MB-D10 Multi-Power Battery Pack, Nikon claims that burst rate can be increased up to 8fps! This makes the D700 ideal for action, wedding and event photography.
Shared with the professional class D3, the D700 incorporates Nikon's new EXPEED Image Processing System. Not just a specific sensor like that found on other manufacture's models (like Canon's DIGIC Processor), Nikon's new generation system LSI greatly improves the precision of processing 14-bit color data during the analog/digital conversion. After digital conversion, a new processing method has been added to increase image- processing precision in the ASIC for smoother display of tones from highlight portions to shadow portions of the image. With optimized distribution of analog and digital white balance gain, the new engine produces smoother gradations with consistent and smooth transitions, all with exceptionally pure color rendition. Two RGB color modes (sRGB/Adobe RGB) further expand professional color space options.
An improved metering system in the D700, called the Scene Recognition System, uses 3D-Color Matrix Metering II, allowing Nikon's acclaimed 1,005-pixel RGB Exposure/Color Matrix Metering Sensor to better determine the position and size of shadow or highlight areas and achieve optimum exposure for each shot. It also helps improve the accuracy of autofocus, auto exposure and auto white balance functions, especially when tracking a moving subject.
Shutter and Mirror
The D700's shutter unit is tested to well over 150,000 cycles, ensuring highly reliable performance year after year. The shutter unit also employs a refined mirror balance mechanism that allows the mirror to complete its motion cycle and reach a complete stop with virtually no image degrading mirror bounce.
The shutter release time lag of 45 milliseconds is nearly undetectable and when shooting in its continuous burst mode of six frames per second (or eight frames per second with the optional MB-D10), its shortened viewfinder blackout time (between each successive shot) of just 10 milliseconds proves especially useful in keeping an eye on a moving subject.
The D700 uses the Nikon Multi-CAM 3500DX autofocus module with 51 focus points, including 15 cross-type sensors. Not only does this AF system support the photographer with fast and precise autofocus under a variety of shooting conditions, but it also offers a pleasing array of functions for greater flexibility - allowing an individual area to be selected manually for Single AF or making use of multiple sensors (9, 21, 51 or 51 3D-tracking) with Dynamic-area AF. When 3D-tracking is enabled, the camera will automatically select the focus point. There's also Auto-area AF, which the camera automatically detects the subject and selects the appropriate focus point(s).
The AF system provides for a selection of different Area modes, each designed to ensure maximum speed and accuracy that action photographers require.
Dynamic AF In continuous-servo AF mode, you can select the focus point manually; if the subject briefly leaves the selected point, the camera will focus based on information from surrounding points. You can choose from 9, 21 and 51 focus points. In 51 point 3D-traking mode, the focus point will be selected by the camera automatically. In single-servo AF, you chose the focus point manually and the camera will only focus on that point.
Auto-area AF the camera will automatically detect the subject and select the focus point. If using type G or D lens, the camera can distinguish human subjects from the background for improved detection. In this mode, the active focus points are illuminated (red) for about a second after autofocus.
Taking this remarkable autofocus system one step further is its capability for Focus Tracking with Lock-on and Focus Point wrap-around. Focus Tracking with Lock-on (Long, Normal, Short, or Off) helps the camera control how the AF system with adjust to sudden changes in the distance from your subject. While, Focus Point Wrap-Around (Wrap or No wrap) chooses whether or not the focus-point selection 'wraps around' from one side to the other of the viewfinder.
AF-Assist IlluminatorThe built-in AF assist illuminator enables the camera to focus even when the subject is poorly lit. The camera must be in Single-servo AF with Auto-area AF for AF-are mode or single point or dynamic-area AF is chosen and the center focus point is selected. Nikon recommends when using the illuminator, use a lens with a focal range of 24-200mm and remove the lens hood. With most lenses the range of the AF assist illuminator is approx. 0.5 to 3 m (1 ft. 8 in. to 9 ft. 10 in.) See the user manual for specific lenses and working ranges.
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