Wednesday, August 6, 2008

hands on Nikon D700

Late last week I got a chance to spend some time with the new Nikon D700. HOLY COW! After about 2 minutes of playing around I turned to the guy I was with and said "Dude, this thing makes me want to go do bad things so I can afford to buy this." The Nikon D300 ... pretty cool but I am happy to stick with my Canon gear ... this bad boy ... Let's just say I am pricing my kidneys on eBay. Anyways - The top photo would normally be of the front of the camera I am talking about; however, for me - the back is where the gear lust starts so that is what I wanted to have at the top.

The first thing you notice when picking up the D700 as compared to the D300 is the viewfinder. When I placed the camera to my eye and focused the lens attached I was instantly reminded why camera manufacturers get away with charging so much more for a full frame camera. Everything looks so BIG - totally HUGE! The second piece I immediately appreciated was the refined directional button on the back that is inherited from the D3. There is a separated center button from the d-pad. This makes it much easier to select items in the menu. Everything else on the camera body is basically a carbon copy of the interface on the D300.

One of the things I was most curious about was the virtual level built in. When the D3 came out it got a lot of press; however, I never got to try it out for myself. Using the airplane style level displayed on the LCD screen didn't appear very useful due to the inaccessibility of the feature - you have to go into the tools menu to activate it each time. On the flip side - I was able to find a better solution. If you bind Virtual Horizon to the fn key that resides on the front of the camera below the depth of field preview button the exposure meeter turns into a level while the button is depressed. Realy comes in hand for checking level without taking your eye out of the viewfinder - and that is the point isn't it?

Ok, so the real thing we all want the D700 for .... ISO BABY! So this beast inherits the sensor from the D3 and thus should also share it's ISO preformance (at least in part). First setting I changed was the ISO ... all the way up to 6400 (was that wrong ... If it is I'm not sorry, not even a little bit). I began shooting existing light and playing around a bit. Check out the images below.

ABOVE: The image of a price tag across the isle taken with the 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR (Yes this is a DX lens - which means that this is actually like a 5 mega pixel image). The image lookes great regardless of the high ISO ... but wait, you're not impressed yet.
BELOW: A 100% crop of the image reveals superb image quality - you can even read the fine print on the tag. Please note - this isn't even the best the camera has to offer - I would love to see what a full fram lens would look like!

As I mentoned above - I used the camera with both the full frame and DX lenses. When you place the DX lens on the camera it puts a box in the viewfinder so you know what will be captured and what will be left off. Looking at the box realy made me realize how much you lose with a cropped sensor. I was unbelievably impressed with Nikon's newest release. I honestly have no complaints (aside from price ... $3,000.00 YIKES!).

I love my Canon; however, I can officially say that if Canon doesn't get its act together by the end of the year I just might have to trade in my gear ... my wallet is not going to like this.

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