The camera that Michael Stein has been waiting for has arrived. Let the angels sing.
If you recently bought a Canon 5D, though, you might be bitter. Same for those of you who recently picked up a Nikon D3 or a D300 - the love child of those last two cameras is about to hit the streets.
What do you get when you add a D3's sensor to a D300's body? In Nikon's world adding up the D300 and D3 doesn't give you the D303. Combining those two shooters gives you the full frame D700, and this one is the direct competitor to Canon's 5D that Michael and I were speculating about on the show just last week, when we said that we couldn't believe that no other company sold a prosumer/pro level full-frame DSLR at the $3,000 price of the 5D's when it was first released.
Can we see the future? Apparently so. And it looks like this:
Nikon has taken the coveted and legendarily-low noise producing full frame sensor of the D3 and married it to a slightly larger, but still curvaceous and lighter body of the D300. The result? A Canon 5D-like price tag of $2,999. That's fits nicely between the $1,700 price tag of the D300 and the $5,000 that a D3 would cost you.
The D700 has some insane specs, and even includes features that are upgraded from the D3, which runs $2,000 more. Since those are always my favorite features - the ones where cheaper cameras surpass their more expensive siblings - lets cover those first:
Here's the list of features in which the D700 trounces the D3 (as a younger brother myself, I always appreciate these):
- A built in pop up flash! This is my favorite. I know some pros eschew pop up flashes, but they do sometimes come in handy, and since this one works as a commander for other wireless flashes, having it built in is fantastic.
- A self-cleaning sensor using "sensor shake:" This feature appears in the stories about the D700 as an advantage over the D3, but does the D3 have no self-cleaning sensor? Even $800 Digital Rebels have this technology. Huh?
- More programmable buttons: This is a "meh" for me, as I never bother to program these things, but more is better, right?
- An autofocus assist light: Beautiful! Ding! You can never have too many focusing options.
- A virtual horizon in live view: The D3 had this only when looking through the eyepiece - it's a line that shows you if you're holding the camera steady. A great feature only available, till now, in that $5,000 camera. Having in live view makes it extra sweet. Sorry D3!
- Other assorted upgrades: Including a new way to view the cropping you get when using DX lenses, a slightly faster standard sync speed, and a viewfinder grid option.
Of course, there are also trade offs of the D700 over the D3. Those follow the break:
Here's where the D3 is superior to the D70:
- A faster top shutter speed
- A viewfinder with a larger viewing area (100% vs 95%)
- The D3 has a built in vertical shutter grip, including all the requisite buttons.
- The D3's shutter is rated to last twice as long as the D700's (300,000 vs 150,000 shots)
- Probably a bunch of other, less exciting technical specs that you can get on one of the links below, too.
Both cameras feature the same great full-frame sensor, 51 point autofocusing ,weather sealed bodies, and a bunch of other high-end goodies.
While it would have been great, and even a game-changer, had Nikon brought the D700 in at $2,500, I have to say this camera appears to be everything the demanding Nikon enthusiast - as well as some pros who would like a smaller camera than the D3 - have been asking and waiting for. This is the third unqualified home run from Nikon. It should be available in late July, 2008, here in the USA.
Comparison shopping: The D3 and D300 are still great cameras, but the D700 definitely fits a niche that's very popular with listeners of The Digital Photography Show. My guess is it will cannibalize sales of the D3, because I don't see where the D3 is $2,000 better. On the other hand, I think the D300 will be fine - at $1,300 less than the D700, it's much more affordable with comparable features that will serve most enthusiasts very well. The Canon 5D is currently $1,200 less than the D700, but it's specs look a little dated next to Nikon's offering.
On our last show, we speculated that Canon would be coming out with their more affordable full frame camera, the update to the 5D, in September at Photokina - who thinks the D700 will force them to show their cards a little sooner?
Oh, yeah, Nikon also debuted a top-of-the-line $500 external flash, the SB900 but that's a bit underwhelming against the awesomeness of the D700.