Nikon D700 officially out from under wraps

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Though it’s an important first for the manufacturer, Nikon’s midnight announcement of a new full-frame, advanced-amateur/pro market DSLR – the Nikon D700 – hardly came as a surprise to anyone who’s been following tech and photo blogs for the past few weeks.

Nikon D700

Nonetheless, it’s exciting to finally see some confirmed meat on the bones of this rumor. Slotted between Nikon’s current entry-pro D300 and advanced D3 offerings, the D700 packs the D3’s 12.1 megapixel full-frame (that is, 24x36mm, or what Nikon terms “FX”) CMOS sensor and 51-point AF system into a body that closely resembles the more compact D300.

Nikon D700

A pop-up flash gives the D700 all of the flexibility of a typical advanced-amateur model, with the on-board unit also serving as a wireless flash controller. Interestingly, the D700 also adds an active anti-dust system using a sensor-shake method, rectifying one of the curious oversights of the flagship pro cameras in the step-down version.

Nikon D700

While D3-level technology abounds in the new model, the D700 does make a few noteworthy compromises: viewfinder coverage is 95 percent on the new model, rather than the D3’s 100-percent field of vision. Likewise, continuous shooting speed on the D700 is advertised at a respectable if not blazing fast five JPEG frames per second (or up to eight frames per second with the optional battery grip attached), compared to the D3’s nine captures per second.

As with the D3, the D700’s sensor provides native sensitivity from ISO 200 to 6400, with range expansion options up to ISO 25,600. Assuming it performs identically (and there’s little reason to think it won’t) to our experience with the D3, look for the D700 to offer arguably the most usable high-sensitivity shooting options on the planet.

The D700 also gets the D3’s three-inch TFT LCD, which sports an impressive resolution of around 922,000 dots. A studio-friendly Live View mode takes full advantage of the D700’s high-res screen, allowing shooters to compose images directly on the LCD.

Slated to compete against the likes of Canon’s popular EOS 5D full-frame DSLR, the D700 should hit stores in July with a very competitive MSRP of $2,999.

As good as the D300 is, the D700’s employment of the D3’s near-mythic 12.1 megapixel CMOS sensor – noted for its ability to produce impressively clean, film-like shots at high ISOs – is the icing on the cake for Nikon fans who’ve been patiently waiting for a step-down full-frame model of their own. For those seeking the D3’s awe-inspiring capture performance and AF system but don’t need the D3’s speed, the D700 looks to be an excellent value.

Nikon D700 Specifications:

Sensor 12.1 megapixel FX format (36.0mm x 23.9mm) CMOS
Lens/Zoom Nikon F mount
LCD/Viewfinder 3.0″, 922K-pixel TFT LCD with live view; optical viewfinder with diopter adjustment
Sensitivity ISO 200-6400 (boosted: ISO 100-25600)
Shutter Speed 30-1/8000 seconds
Shooting Modes Program, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, Manual
Scene Presets N/A
White Balance Settings Auto, Preset, Manual Preset, Kelvin Temperature
Metering Modes 3D Color Matrix Metering II, Center-Weighted, Spot
Focus Modes Single Point AF, Dynamic Area AF, Automatic Area AF, Manual
Drive Modes Single, Continuous Low, Continuous High
Flash Modes Normal, Red-Eye Reduction, Red-Eye Reduction with Slow Sync, Slow Sync, Rear-Curtain Sync
Self Timer Settings
2-20 seconds, off
Memory Formats CompactFlash, Type I or II
Internal Memory
File Formats JPEG, TIFF, NEF (RAW)
Max. Image Size 4256×2832
Max. Video Size
Zoom During Video N/A
Battery Rechargeable lithium-ion
Connections USB 2.0, HDMI Video Out, Remote In, PC Sync
Additional Features EXPEED image processing, extended ISO to 25600, 8 fps full-resolution shooting (with optional battery grip), 51-point AF system, 3D Color Matrix Metering II
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