Nikon recently started shipping the D700. This is a direct competitor to Canon’s 5D. But how does it stack up against its older brother, the D3?
Having had the D3 for a few weeks I was very familiar with its capabilities and looked forward to the D700. I wasn’t disappointed.
The D700 is $2000 less than the D3. What are the differences?
Where it counts – there’s no real difference between the two cameras. The image quality is identical since both cameras share the same sensor 12.1 megapixel CMOS sensor, Expeed processor and autofocus.
In side-by-side comparison tests, I can’t tell any difference at all in image quality. But there is a difference when it comes to features and ergonomics. Surprisingly, the D700 has some features not found on the D3.
Here are some features available on the D700, but not the D3.
Nikon D700 has a Built-in Flash (iTTL, G.No 17/ISO 200)
The function button on the D700 has been expanded compared to D3. All the menu items can be assigned to the function button on the D700, but not the D3.
D700 features a sensor shake dust reduction (this is my biggest gripe with the D3. I don’t understand why Nikon would make automatic sensor cleaning available in consumer bodies but not its flagship camera.)
The D700 is lighter and smaller, weighing 995g compared to the D3 at 1240g. As someone who has to watch how much he carries into the field, the lighter weight of the D700 is an advantage to me.
Here are some of the features available on the D3, but not the D700.
The D3 offers a 100% / 0.7x magnification viewfinder. The D700 only offers 95% coverage, 0.72x magnification. This means that using the D700, there will always be slightly more information in your final image than you are able to see in the viewfinder.
The D3’offers a 5:4 aspect ratio option and the D700 does not.
The D3 is faster with 9 fps (11 fps without AF). The D700 (without additional accessories) is 5 fps.
The D3 has twice the expected shutter life at 300,000 cycles compared with 150,000 cycles on the D700.
The D3 has two CF card slots compared to one for the D700.
The D3 has a microphone and speaker for note taking; the D700 does not.
The D3 supports interchangeable focusing screens while the D700 does not.
The D3 has a slightly different viewfinder display. The ocus points aren’t marked by large black rectangles on the D3 (they are on the D700), and the D3 in DX mode “masks out” the unused area; the D700 just shows a rectangle. Also, there’s no room for the D3’s rear information panel on the D700, so most of this information has been moved to the top LCD.
Which camera is better? I can’t say. That’s going to be up to each individual photographer’s needs. If you shoot sports or other faster moving action for a living (or hope to make a living at same) then you might lean toward the D3. The faster burst speed, larger buffer capacity, dual CF cards and longer shutter life will all be important.
If you’re a wedding, portrait or nature photographer, it’s very likely you can be happy with the D700 (although the lack of a 100% viewfinder will be off-putting to some nature photographers.)
The amazing fact here is that Nikon has released a new camera which is very close in function to its flagship body at a price that’s $2000 less. I hope this is a sign of things to come from all camera manufacturers.
For the first time I can remember in my photo career, I have a backup body that costs significantly less than my primary body, and still delivers the same image quality.
This post sponsored by the Digital SLR Store