"Top of the line imaging for less!"4.5 starson by reeltime
Pros: Image quality, D3 tech for $2k less, perfect form factor
Cons: Pricey. USB ports covered with a flimsy plug. Capture NX 2 is only a 60-day trial version.
Summary: So what if you took a D3, and squeezed it into a form factor about the size of a D300, and knocked $2 grand off the price? You'd have a winner on your hands. And this, Nikon does.8 months later, and this camera continues to shine. One point the CNET reviewer mistakes is that the camera is somehow hampered by lower resolution. It's this lower resolution (though 12 megapixels is large enough to shoot a billboard!) that allows the camera to have unmatched low-light performance.
The D700 features a full frame sensor, the exact same one found in their flagship D3 model. It's packaged in a camera body that's a little larger than the D300, meaning it's downright manageable. You can take this camera anywhere. If you want the handling of the D3, simply use the option MB-10 grip, and you have a full size camera. The grip actually stows a 2nd battery, which provides a faster frame-per-second rate.
Shooting? The camera is fast, and the results are like butter. It features a near-instant on fire-up speed and can shoot 8FPS with the MB attached. The camera comes bundled with Capter NX 2, but it's the trial version, which only works for 60-days. So in an era of Lightroom and Aperture, why use it at all? Because Capture NX preserves the in-camera settings on RAW files. And you'll want to take advantage of what the camera does for photos.
ISO Performance.. what's terrific about this camera is the ability to get useable shots, even at ISO 6400. There is some grain, but Capture NX pulls it right out. The FX sensor means less noise, which is a good thing. I shot a friend in almost no light at F/1.2 and the photos were striking and sharp. Having ISO 6400 available means crisp shots, even in the harshest of lighting conditions. You can now frame the shot and aperture any way you wish, and the ISO will compensate. This gives you ultimate freedom to pick your shot, aperture and shutter, and let the camera do the rest.
The D300 sized body (roughly) is actually a bit larger than the D300. It features a deeper cutout to better fit your fingers, the D300's is more rounded. But the camera unfortunately features a USB plug on the left side that pops open at will. The D3 and D300 both have a door lock on the back that pops open the access to the card slot (there's only one of these card slot on the D700. I personally don't mind not having an extra card slot. The card cover now clips open.
The viewfinder is 95% instead of 100% in the D3. And the camera shoots marginally fewer FPS. It also lacks the 2nd card slot of the D3.
The bundled Capture NX 2 software is necessary for transferring photos because it retains the camera's adjustments in RAW, whereas other software offer up poorer NEF codecs. Unfortunate that Nikon chose not to give up the full version, which is poor for a clocking in at just under $3000 dollars.
That said, what you get for $2000 less is the D3 in a better, more manageable body. Well worth the price!
Updated on Mar 13, 2009
I've found that this camera isn't as easy to use as some others, you have to work to find the sweet spot. But once you find it, the results are beyond stellar. I've shot the best images of my career with this camera, and I can't recommend this product more.
If you love low light, If you need speed, don't bother looking any further. This is the best camera in the world right now.
Updated on Nov 24, 20112-Year update: I have to stand by my review. This is still in my opinion the best SLR on the market. I am not wanting a camera which does more, and that's saying A LOT for a tech junkie like myself.
It just continues to give stunning image after stunning image. It has the ability to slim down into tourist mode or bulk up for heavy duty shooting. I've made tens of thousands of images without wanting or needing more.
It's my go-to camera all these years later. Recommendation: By it! You will not regret the purchase!