Nikon D700 Test Drive

Discussion in 'Digital Cameras & Equipment' started by Scottwdw, Jun 5, 2009.

  1. Scottwdw

    Scottwdw Member

    As I mentioned in my Oh, boy, this is going to be great! thread, I'll be using a friend's Nikon D700 12.1MP Digital SLR Camera for a few days. ; Instead of cluttering up that thread I thought I'd put my thoughts and photos here as I put this FX camera body through it's paces.

    I'll be showing, through photographic samples, what I consider the most important advancements over my current camera, a Nikon D70:

    1. FX sensor
    2. Auto Focus Improvements
    3. Picture Controls
    4. ISO Capabilities

    Warehouse Safety Mirror
    Nikon D700/50mm, 1/60s, f/1.8, ISO 640, EV -0.7, Vivid PC

    It should be a fun ride. ; :D
  2. Roger

    Roger Member Staff Member

    I don't think you'll see that until you use it with the 14-24. ; Really.

    I can see the usefulness for the JPG shooters, especially since you have several shooting menus to switch between.

    Scott, that's like taking a gun to a knife fight.
  3. PolynesianMedic

    PolynesianMedic Global Moderator Staff Member

    Hey Scott, that's actually a really cool shot! ; Thanks for posting.
  4. Scottwdw

    Scottwdw Member

    1. FX Sensor: Like Roger said, there isn't a lot to notice here (beyond the high ISO capabilities I'll get to later) but it does change how I take pictures because my FX lenses are back to being FX lenses. ; 50mm = 50mm and not 75mm when on a DX camera body. ; Now, this is a big upgrade from my 6 megapixel (MP) D70. ; With 12 MP, I can make up for the 1.5 multipler with the ability to crop later in post or get closer to my subject. ; Here are examples from each of my FX lenses with a bonus from one of my DX lenses.

    Nikon 50mm f/1.8
    Nikon D700/50mm, 1/125s, f/1.8, ISO 1600, EV 0

    Nikon 70-200VR
    Nikon D700/70-200VR, 1/500s, f/2.8, ISO 6400, EV -0.3, 200mm focal length

    Nikon 80-400VR
    Nikon D700/80-400VR, 1/125s, f/5.6, ISO 400, EV -0.7, 400mm focal length, cropped

    Tokina 11-16mm DX f/2.8 (can be used at 16mm in FX mode)
    Nikon D700/Tokina 11-16, 1/125s, f/22, ISO 200, EV -0.7, 16mm focal length
  5. Scottwdw

    Scottwdw Member

    2. Auto Focus Improvements: Coming from a digital camera circa 2004, reading about the new auto focus (AF) modes available was a bit overwhelming. ; The manual (while the best Nikon manual I've ever read) is still a manual and I couldn't figure it out. ; I could just stick with the single focus point and either move it around or focus and recompose but to me that would be just a waste. ; Enter ; Say what you will about him, his online manuals are great at cutting through to the point and showing you how to use some of the best features of digital cameras he covers. ; Ken's D700 online guide got me through the manual-read haze on the D700's AF modes I was experiencing.

    51-Point Single AF Mode. ; The D700 figures out the subject and puts as many of the 51 focus points it can there. ; They light up in the viewfinder. ; Most of the time I was happy with the camera's selection when I half pressed the shutter. ; Sometimes I would have to release and half press again to get what I wanted but that was rare.

    The camera correctly focused on the eyes of the Red Wolf in the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, NY.
    Nikon D700/80-400VR, 1/125s, f/5.6, ISO 200, EV -0.7, 400mm Focal Length

    51 Points (3D Tracking). Since one of the reasons I want to upgrade to the D700 is for sports photography, I found attending this weekend's Central New York Reining Horse Association Show would give me an opportunity to use the AF 3-D tracking mode I've heard so much about. ; When half pressing the shutter in this mode, one of the small squares lights up in the viewfinder near the subject you are shooting, lock on to the subject and follow it. Really amazing technology to see the camera do it. This mode took some practice using. ; Some times it would focus past the intended subject but I got better at it the more I used it.

    A typical reining horse sliding to a stop. ; Focal length never changed and the D700 kept focus as I panned with the horse and rider. ; The horse and rider traveled 100 feet in this sequence.
    Nikon D700/70-200VR, 1/500s, f/2.8, various ISOs, EV -0.7, 200mm focal length
  6. Scottwdw

    Scottwdw Member

    3. Picture Controls: I was shooting in JPEG so i could use these. ; They do work in RAW if you use Nikon's View (free software) or CaptureNX. ; Third party RAW converters ignore these values. ; To be honest, I was quite pleased with the JPEG SOOC (straight out of the camera). ; When I did work on them in post, they didn't take a lot of adjustments to get them where I wanted. ; Here are examples for the Standard, Neutral and Vivid Picture Control settings. ; There is one for Monochrome but I have very little experience with B&W photography so I skipped using that one.

    Standard Picture Control (adjusted Saturation +1, Sharpening +5)
    Nikon D700/70-200VR, 1/500s, f/2.8, ISO 3600, EV -0.3, 130mm focal length

    Neutral Picture Control (adjusted Saturation +1, Sharpening +5)
    Nikon D700/24-85mm, 1/250s, f/4, ISO 220, EV 0, 85mm focal length

    Vivid Picture Control (adjusted Saturation +3, Sharpening +5)
    Nikon D700/Tokina 11-16mm, 1/125s, f/13, ISO 200, EV 0, 16mm focal length

    Comparison between Standard and Vivid
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
  7. Scottwdw

    Scottwdw Member

    4. ISO Capabilities: Probably the most talked about feature of the new FX sensors. ; The D700 has the exact same sensor as the Nikon D3 and such has it's fantastic high ISO range. ; Coming from a camera which could only go to 1600 ISO with very noisy results. Being freed of that restraint was one of the things I was most looking forward to when using the D700. ; I know a lot has been written and demonstrated here and all over the Internet so I will summarize it like this: The D700 doesn't break a sweat up to ISO 3200. ; I consider ISO's up to 5000 as very acceptable. ; 6400 is too noisy for my tastes for people photography but fine for other things. ; As I've found, if the exposure is right, the less noise will be seen even at 25,600 ISO.

    I've indicated the ISO of each of the photos in this thread but here at three more submitted for your approval.

    American Kestrel being shown at the bird show in the Rosamond Gifford Zoo, Syracuse, NY.
    [​IMG] ;
    Nikon D700/80-400VR, 1/250s, f/5.6, ISO 450, EV -0.7, 400mm focal length

    Ship on a shelf.
    Nikon D700/70-200VR, 1/200s, f/2.8, ISO 2800, EV 0, 135mm focal length

    Newly filled and wrapped 12oz. Pepsi bottles.
    Nikon D700/50mm, 1/30s, f/5.6, ISO 6400, EV 0
  8. Roger

    Roger Member Staff Member

    Scott, one of the things I didn't mention was the decreased depth of field with FX since the lens isn't cropped.

    Also, the 3-D tracking is mostly color based so it works the best with tracking a specific color. ; Personally I found it to be more accurate than any other servo I've ever used (1D Mk3, EOS-3).
  9. Scottwdw

    Scottwdw Member

    I should have mentioned that, Roger. ; To those of us who used film SLRs, it's returning back to the way it was with all the benefits of digital. ; I liked having bokeh a couple of stops down and f/8 and f/11 mean something again.

    Oh, I didn't know that about color being a factor. ; Now I see why it kept jumping up to the red stands at times when riders where wearing white and light colored outfits. ; I should concentrate on the horses when that happens.

    BTW, I've been shooting horse shows in that arena for 15 years and could only get good results using 1/60th of a second and panning. ; I used 1/500th of a second with the 70-200VR and had a ball yesterday!
  10. goofy101

    goofy101 Member

    the shot of the Wolf is great
  11. Paul

    Paul Member

    colors are fantastic Scott, nice work!
  12. PolynesianMedic

    PolynesianMedic Global Moderator Staff Member

    Scott, this is a great thread! ; Great photo's with wonderful explanations, THANKS!!
  13. Scottwdw

    Scottwdw Member

    Thanks! ; It's my favorite photo from the zoo followed closely by the portrait of the lynx.
  14. Scottwdw

    Scottwdw Member

    Paul, if it's the one thing I loved about the D700 was it's color rendition. ; With the D70, I find myself using the vibrance slider in Aperture a lot. ; Never touched it with the D700 images.
  15. Scottwdw

    Scottwdw Member

    You're welcome, PM! ; I hope it helps others who might be thinking of upgrading to this class of camera. ; Now, back to saving up for my own.
  16. Grumpwurst

    Grumpwurst Member Staff Member

    Now, I'm wishing I had held out and not bought the D300 and gone straight to the D700. ; I would've had to replace my lenses, but I don't have that many to begin with :(
  17. Scottwdw

    Scottwdw Member

    Ah, Ray, then you probably still would not have gotten to upgrade. ; Never look back. ; Your camera is great and you have a long way before you've tapped out all it's potential. ; Then, there'll be an even better camera to upgrade, too!!!!
  18. Grumpwurst

    Grumpwurst Member Staff Member

    I guess you are right. ; Still need to figure out how to take pictures with what I have. ; I do want to get the newer 50mm lens to see if I get better results than my older one
  19. Craig

    Craig Member Staff Member

    Dont worry Ray. our d300's are awesome!
    Which 50 do you have? I have the older 1.4 and its great. I think the only difference between it and the new is no aperture ring?

  20. Scottwdw

    Scottwdw Member

    Is the old one AF-S? ; The new one is AF-S and is a G type lens (no aperture ring) and a few hundred dollars more. ;

    Ray, I'd suggest sticking with the f/1.8 and getting some good noise reduction software. ; Noise Ninja did a great job on my POTC photos. ; The D300 tops out at 3200 ISO so you should do even better then my 1600 ISO D70 images.

Share This Page