Sitting between the enthusiast pleasing Nikon D300 and pro-level Nikon D3 models, the newer 12.1Mp Nikon D700 suggests a 'best of both worlds' semi-pro option.
The Nikon D700 boasts a thicker magnesium alloy body construction than the Nikon D300, weighing in at just under 1kg, and, though not quite as robust as the Nikon D3, it is nevertheless weather-sealed for added protection. While that's good news, in practice its tank-like heft may make operation awkward for small hands.
At first glance the Nikon D700's headline spec is similar to the top-of-the-range D3's, while being more than £1,000 less expensive. It's Nikon's second full-frame model, meaning its sensor size is equivalent to a frame of 35mm film and therefore attached lenses provide a like-for-like focal range.
The Nikon D700 features the same FX format CMOS chip as its bigger brother, while also retaining a large, high-resolution 3in LCD with Live View facility at the rear. An additional top plate window reveals essential shooting information at a glance.
Flick the on/off switch that encircles the shutter release button, and you're instantly ready to fire off a shot, committed to memory as either JPEG, TIFF or Raw file, with the further option to shoot both JPEG and Raw simultaneously.
A 51-point auto-focus system ensures subjects are sharp even when not dead centre of the frame, and a large, bright viewfinder proves a boon for picture composition. In single capture mode operation and processing times it proved a match for the D3 thanks to the same built-in ‘Expeed' engine.
And while the Nikon D700 doesn't quite match the D3's blisteringly fast maximum 11 frames per second capture speed, a maximum 8fps ensures it's no slouch, even if this top speed can only be achieved with an optional battery pack. Otherwise it's a still respectable 5fps.
Nikon supplied our test sample with a 50mm f/1.4 lens, more suited to portraiture than anything else. Images are razor sharp with realistically neutral colours and natural skin tones left on the camera's default settings. Plus, with light sensitivity stretching once again up to an incredible ISO25600, any image artefacts are kept to a minimum.
The Nikon D700 is blisteringly fast and capture incredible results in near darkness. You get a choice of uncompressed TIFF as well as JPEG or Raw files, making the Nikon D700 a solid ‘best of both worlds’ compromise between D300 and D3 models. But beware - the Nikon D700 is an expensive purchase for a hobbyist.