Nikon D700 Review


An unconventional review and is it an option in 2016?

The Nikon D700 is a legendary magic box which is built like an absolute tank, is a low light monster and renders skin tones so beautifully. There are a million other reviews out there so we'll do a 2016 review and how this beast still fairs (or not) as a pro camera and if it's worth the money on the second hand market.

Firstly a little back story on me and my experience with this camera. When I was naive a few years ago, I was in the market for a new body and had read and watched alot of reviews regarding which body to upgrade to. General consensus was "newer is better" in regards to chip and auto focus etc. So I chose a Nikon D7000 instead. After a few months I regretted this decision.

The feel of this camera in the hand is filling, in the sense that it is BIG! It is pretty damn chunky.  I have small hands and for more to hold the camera in one hand and back button focus shoot is a struggle without a hand strap. But, the sheer size is comforting. It feels like you could use it as a hammer then shoot a portrait session without issue. As it's a 2016 review, it has to be compared to other bodies' form factors such as the Nikon D810. The D810 feels beautiful in my hand. Like it was supposed to live there forever. Body shape and ergonomics go to the newer cameras.

Kind of still on ergonomics, we get to the buttons. The pro body layout is very similar throughout all generations of cameras. So we won't touch on that. However button responsiveness hasn't.  The buttons on the rear of the D700 are just nasty. Pressing them feels muddy to say the least. There's no distinct and satisfying click which can leave you wondering if you've even pressed anything. And that directional pad is just infuriating! It seems to have a mind of it's own at times. Only with slow and deliberate movements will it go exactly where you want. Again, in comparison, the newer bodies have remedied all of this. Another to the newer cameras.

Now we come to the main part. Images. This camera produces amazing images. Like really amazing images. Especially in low light. I'll put a few examples below to give you an idea. But I've used this to shoot gigs at ISO 3200 comfortably and even had usable images at 6400 and Hi 1.0. I wouldn't print them, but social media use is fine. The grain that becomes present isn't too hard to deal with either in post production. I was shocked by the sheer quality of the high ISO files. 

Focus speed is still pretty good, and it locks focus reliably in low light, although when there's a lack of contrast, it does struggle at times. But when it does pull focus, I can trust I'll have focus where I want it.

Megapixels. This is probably the most debated aspect of this camera and it's viability as a serious tool in 2016 onwards. 12megapixels in comparison these days seems very small. However the Nikon D4 was a flagship camera and is only 16 megapixels... Personally I'm fine with the pixel count when shooting weddings or events where there's a huge volume of images to be taken and processed. Also, it can be a bonus for portrait shoots as there is less fine detail captured and to be processed. Whereas a D810 and it's crazy 36 megapixel sensor will capture every imperfection and requires a huge amount of processing power. The D700's 12 megapixel sensor is fine for most applications, just there are better options available now for large scale printing or capturing the super fine details.

The practical applications and if it's a choice for you as a camera in 2016 is entirely down to you and what you shoot. There are better focusing speeds, higher pixel counts, superior ISO performing, better ergonomics, and better choices out there, but they cost more. Generally ALOT more. I picked up my D700 with 20,000 actuations, mint condition and boxed for £499... I could have bought two of them and possibly a lens for the price of a superior body. They maybe better, but twice as good? I think not.

To summarise this unconventional review, I think the D700 is still a perfect camera for 2016. Especially as a wedding and event camera. It's build and reliability are legendary, it still produces amazing images and I would never part with mine. Ever.



 

OPTIMUM ISO TEST

Here's an ISO test from base ISO all the way through to extended to show which are the noisiest ISO settings. Generally the noise increase with a higher ISO, however this isn't always the case. You'll also see how the blacks, contrast and colour will be affected too from this simple test.