A camera that was and still remains an incredibly popular DSLR today. We look back at the mighty Nikon D700

Nikon D700 gold

The Nikon D700’s pop-up flash can be used to trigger off-camera flashguns wirelessly

The D700 was introduced into Nikon’s DSLR line-up in July 2008, and arrived two months before Canon announced its 211. MP EOS 5D Mark II. It quickly picked up the nickname ‘baby D3’ as it incorporated many of the advanced features of Nikon’s professional D3 in a more compact and affordable body that was similar in size to the D300. At its heart lies a 12.1MP full-frame FX-format sensor that has an ISO range of 200-6400, expandable to ISO 100-25,600. It has a shutter life of 150,000 actuations, 51-point autofocus system, 5fps burst shooting that can be boosted to 8fps with the MB-D10 battery pack, 3in 921k-dot LCD and single CF card slot.


Nikon D700 at a glance

  • £314 body only (via MPB.com)
  • 12.1MP full-frame CMOS sensor
  • ISO 100-25,600 (extended)
  • 95% viewfinder coverage
  • 3in, 921k-dot LCD screen
  • 995g

Nikon D700 top

For and against

+ Robust, tank-like build quality

+ 1,000-shot battery life

+ Excellent handling

+ 51-point autofocus system

– Loud and noisy shutter

– Single card slot

– Requires MB-D10 battery pack to shoot at up to 8fps


What we said

  • ‘The D700 takes the best bits of the Nikon D3, including the sensor, autofocus, white balance and metering system.’
  • ‘The D700 thoroughly deserves its high-end DSLR of the Year Amateur Photographer award, beating two competitive models (Canon EOS 1DS Mark III and the Sony Alpha 900) with higher pixel counts.’
  • ‘It’s a smaller, lighter, and less expensive body, aimed at enthusiast photographers.’

Nikon D700 back

The Nikon D700’s optical viewfinder offers 95% coverage with 0.72x magnification

What to pay

Head to MPB.com and you’ll find a good number of second-hand D700’s for sale. There were 18 examples when we looked, with well-used examples fetching £314 and good-condition ones costing between £384-£424, some with shutter counts as low as 24,000. Expect some signs of light wear to the body, but you can rest assured that the sensor will be clean and free of scratches, as every camera MPB sells is rigorously inspected first.


How it fares today

The pixel count (4256×2832) is much lower than what we expect to see on cameras today and the AF working range (-1 to +19EV) is below average. It delivered a superb low-light performance in 2008, but its native ISO range can’t compete with today’s sensors, which are capable of higher sensitivities and control noise better at high ISO. It was also one of the last DSLRs to be made without any video function.


New alternatives

Nikon has released many great DSLRs since 2008. There was the high-resolution D800 in 2012 (superseded by the D810 in 2014), the affordable D610 in 2013 and the versatile D750 in 2014. The D850, like the D700 at the time, makes a compelling choice over Nikon’s flagship DSLRs. It offers a staggering blend of resolution, speed, performance and image quality for less money than the Nikon D5.


What the owners think

Three Nikon D700 users give their verdict

Nikon D700 graffiti park boy

The D700’s sensor isn’t a match for today’s high-resolution ones, but it still delivers good results. Nikon D700, Nikkor AF-S 17-35mm f/2.8D IF-ED, 1/200sec at f/11, ISO 200. Credit: Kai-Loke

Kai-Loke

‘The D700 will always be a special camera to me. It was the first full-frame DSLR that I remember buying in used condition in 2012 for £1,500. It was the camera I moved up to after owning the Nikon D90 for several years, and soon after laying my hands on it I realised everything about it was on another level. It felt so solid, and remains one of the toughest non-integrated grip DSLRs I think Nikon has made in its history. I accidentally dropped my D700 a few years ago and it fell about 3 feet onto tarmac; however it suffered only the faintest scratch. I’ve used it in persistent rain and near waterfalls many times without any problems whatsoever. I didn’t hesitate to push the sensitivity up to ISO 3200 when I needed to, and provided that I wasn’t using a slow zoom lens, it allowed me to shoot in almost any lighting situation. Yes, modern cameras can do better, but the D700 still puts in a good performance and delivers good results despite being over 10 years old. Some might complain about the size and weight, but I happily carried it to and from work using it for street photography, studio work and on holidays. Looking back at some of the images I’ve taken with it over the years has reminded me of what a joy it was to use and how much I enjoyed owning the D700.’

For and against

+ Extremely solid and robust build quality

+ Still delivers good results for a 10-year old camera

– Modern cameras offer superior low-light performance

– Neither light nor small to carry around


Nikon D700 seals

A wildlife image taken with the D700 coupled to Trevor’s 200-500mm telephoto zoom. Nikon D700, Nikkor AF-S 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR, 1/200sec at f/7.1, ISO 640. Credit: Trevor Clement

Trevor Clement

‘I purchased my trusty D700 in 2014 as a used model with a shutter count around 5,000 (it now has over 100,000) for £600. This was a substantial saving over the price when new. It was my first full-frame camera having entered the ‘digital age’ in 2010 with a D90 and then a D7000, which I still own. I had seen images taken with full-frame cameras and realised this is what I wanted in terms of sharpness and image quality. Despite its relatively low pixel count, I have been more than happy with my results, especially when paired with my Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 lens. The camera is totally reliable and solid. My only real criticism is that the shutter is quite noisy, but that aside it’s a bargain these days as they can be picked up for about £300. I’ve had some great times with the D700 and it will be missed when I find a good second- hand example of the D850.’

For and against

+ Very affordable full-frame camera

+ Reliable and solid

– The shutter is rather loud

– Capable of only 5fps burst without grip


Nikon D700 Linlithgow Palace

Linlithgow Palace in Scotland. Taken using the D700 just before the sun and dramatic sky disappeared. Nikon D700, Nikkor AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8 VR, 1/50sec at f/6.3, ISO 250. Credit: David Knowles

David Knowles

‘As a 10-year-old piece of camera technology the D700 is very dated, but I still love it. It can’t shoot movies, the pixel count is way below that of its newer cousins, and using live view is a challenge. That said, the D700 is simple to use and produces great images. It’s incredibly sturdy, taking a bashing on many an adventure we’ve shared, and still works perfectly today. As you hold it you have the sense that this old friend is solid and dependable and will not let you down, with a battery life that belies its age. I will upgrade soon – the new models are too good to ignore – but I reckon the D700 will still be in my camera bag, and I look forward to it being my dependable backup camera.’

For and against

+ Battery life is excellent

+ Simple to operate

– Doesn’t record video

– Focus points are grouped quite centrally in the frame


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