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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Is Now The Time For Full-Frame D-SLRs?

With more options, state-of-the-art technology and lower prices, D-SLRs are worth a careful look for serious outdoor shooters

Labels: CamerasD-SLRs

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Nikon D700
The new D700 offers the same 12.1-megapixel-image CMOS sensor as the D3 and many of that camera’s other fine features in a much smaller and lighter (yet still rugged) package for about $2,000 less. The smaller size and lower weight make the D700 an easier camera to cart around in the field all day, while you still get the superb image quality and AF performance of the D3.

Shared with the D3 along with the image sensor are EXPEED image processing, 12- or 14-bit A/D conversion, excellent AF and metering systems, amazing ISO range, excellent noise reduction, a high-res, three-inch LCD monitor, dual Live-View modes, industry-best 0.12-second startup, electronic virtual horizon, Active D-Lighting and Picture Controls. The D3 does offer a more rugged (and bulkier) body, a 300,000-cycle shutter (vs. 150,000 for the D700), a higher-capacity battery (4,300 shots per charge vs. 1,000), faster shooting (9 fps vs. 5 fps, although that can be increased to 8 fps with the optional Multi-Power Battery Pack MB-D10), a 100% viewfinder (vs. 95%), interchangeable focusing screens and two CompactFlash-card slots (vs. one).

The D700, however, actually offers a few items of interest to outdoor shooters that the D3 doesn’t, including a built-in i-TTL flash unit (the D700 is the only full-frame D-SLR with a built-in flash) and Nikon’s Integrated Dust Reduction System. The built-in flash is handy for close-up work, filling in harsh shadows and adding catchlights to nearby wildlife subjects’ eyes, and can serve as a “commander” for off-camera wireless flash setups. The dust-reduction system helps keep the sensor (and your images) dust-free, an especially valuable feature on a camera used in the field.

Color information from the camera’s 1005-pixel RGB metering sensor is applied not only to 3D Color Matrix Metering II, but also to auto white balance, and even helps with AF focus tracking of moving subjects. An on-board database of more than 30,000 actual shooting situations helps Nikon’s Scene Recognition System provide excellent exposures and AF performance. The 51-point AF system includes 15 central cross-type sensors that provide full functionality with all AF Nikkor lenses (not just superfast ones).

Like the D3, the D700 can use the full range of current AF Nikkor lenses, automatically switching to 5.1-megapixel cropped DX mode when a DX Nikkor lens is attached. The D3 also offers a 5:4 format, which matches the aspect ratio of common 8x10 and 16x20 photos, but the D700 doesn’t offer 5:4 (for such prints, you can just crop the long side of the image; that’s essentially what the camera does).

full frame full frame full frame
At press time, the Nikon D700 is the newest member of the exclusive full-frame club. Following on the successful launch of the D3, the D700 has the same 12.1-megapixel sensor as its sibling. In fact, the D700 shares many of the D3’s specs, but in a less bulky and much less expensive package.

Image Sensor: 12.1-megapixel CMOS
AF System: 51-point
ISO Settings: 200-1600, plus 100, 12,800 and 25,600
Continuous Firing Mode: 5 fps (FX), 11 fps (DX)
Metering: 1005-pixel 3D Color Matrix II, center-weighted, 1.5% spot
Storage Media: CompactFlash (UDMA-compliant)
Power Source:
EN-EL3e lithium-ion battery
6.3x6.2x3.4 inches
Weight: 43.2 ounces
Estimated Street Price: $2,999
Contact: Nikon USA, (800) NIKON-US, www.nikonusa.com


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