The Nikon D700 is Nikon's lighter-weight, lower-priced, full-frame pro digital SLR, compared with the top-of-the-line Nikon D3S (*Est. $5,200 body only). Experts and owners say the D700 is a very good camera, shooting fast action and dim-light scenarios so capably that even most pros will be satisfied. But expert testers like the D700's Canon rival, the Canon EOS 5D Mark II (*Est. $1,900 body only), even better.
The Nikon D700 does hold one big advantage over the Canon: It's a faster shooter, and therefore a better choice if you're shooting sports or other fast action. The Nikon can burn along at 5 frames per second (fps) -- or even 8 fps if you buy an optional external battery pack (*Est. $260). That puts it pretty close to the pricey Nikon D3S's 9 fps. The Canon shoots only 3.9 fps. Autofocus is a draw, though. In a test at Imaging-Resource.com, the Canon's autofocus proves "quite a bit snappier" than the Nikon D700, but testers at PopPhoto.com find the opposite. "At the brightest light level in our tests, the 5D Mark II focused in 0.51 sec, while the Nikon D700 zipped along at 0.35 sec, and the Sony A900 roared to the head of the pack with 0.29 sec," PopPhoto.com says.
Unlike the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, the Nikon D700 has a built-in flash. Both cameras shoot remarkably well in low light; DPReview.com's testers manage to shoot usable photos up to ISO 12,800 with the Nikon. But the Canon holds two trump cards in reviews: It boasts almost twice the resolution (21.1 megapixels versus the Nikon's 12.1) and it can shoot full 1080p HD video (the Nikon can't shoot video at all).
We found the most meticulous review of the Nikon D700 at DPReview.com, where experts methodically test and explain each aspect of the camera in a 33-part analysis, complete with sample shots. Imaging-Resource.com, PopPhoto.com, PhotographyBay.com and KenRockwell.com also conduct thorough testing. Amazon.com posts a large number of owner reviews for the Nikon D700, some of them extremely detailed.
After testing every possible aspect of the Nikon D700, DPReview.com comes up with a long list of pros -- and a very, very short list of cons. The camera's main weakness is that, at 12.1 megapixels, it's not as high-resolution as some other pro cameras. But testers here are still impressed with the D700's excellent image quality, powerful low-light ability and fast shooting speeds.
Review: Nikon D700 Review, Lars Rehm and Simon Joinson, Oct. 2008
Experts here thoroughly test the Nikon D700 in the lab and in the field and come away impressed. They give it a perfect 5-star rating and call it "one of the finest digital SLR cameras ever produced." A later review of the Canon EOS 5D Mark II includes some comparisons with the Nikon D700.
Review: Nikon D700, Shawn Barnett and Dave Etchells, Aug. 2008
Rather than spending far more for a Nikon D3 (now the D3X and D3S), the vast majority of photographers "will be more than happy with the [Nikon] D700 fulfilling our full-frame fantasies," Philip Ryan says. However, he rates the competing Canon EOS 5D Mark II a little higher.
Review: Nikon D700: Camera Test, Philip J. Ryan, Dec. 2008
4. Photography Bay
Eric Reagan shot with the Canon EOS 5D Mark II for a month, and then got a Nikon D700. He loves the Canon's image quality, low-light prowess and ergonomics, but he finds the Nikon "much more responsive," especially when it comes to autofocus.
Review: Nikon D700 Review, Eric Reagan, Jan. 2009
5. Ken Rockwell
Although the very opinionated Ken Rockwell asserts that no one really needs a $1,000-plus digital SLR, he does recommend a few for those who want them. The Nikon D700 tops the list; its full-frame sensor works great in the dark, and its big viewfinder is a pleasure to use. A link leads to Rockwell's full review of the D700.
Review: Recommended Cameras, Ken Rockwell, Oct. 2011
Easily one of the highest-rated digital SLRs on Amazon.com, the Nikon D700 has more than 160 owner reviews posted -- and more than 90 percent of those give it a perfect 5 stars. In fact, only three users rate it anything lower than 4 stars. Several of the reviews are extremely helpful, with details about how the D700 performs in real-life use.
Review: Nikon D700 (Body Only), Contributors to Amazon.com