Author Topic: Is The Nikon D700 Camera Still Viable In 2021?  (Read 1513 times)

BruceSD

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Is The Nikon D700 Camera Still Viable In 2021?
« on: July 03, 2021, 01:48:34 »
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I can purchase a like-new D700 camera for a good price from a local photographer.  This is an older digital camera that was last made 13 years ago.   

I don't care about auto focus speed, buffer size, low light performance, or the fact that it only has 12 mega-pixels.  I only care about the RAW file image quality.

I've done a bit of Internet research on this camera, and I've read that the D700's monochromatic film-grain-like noise makes it a great camera for black and white photography.  More than one reviewer said that it renders exceptional skin tone colors. 

Do you feel D700 images compare favorably with say a Z6 or Z7? 

Thanks

David H. Hartman

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Re: Is The Nikon D700 Camera Still Viable In 2021?
« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2021, 03:38:55 »
Here is the dynamic range of the D700 v. D6 and D7. I threw in a D300s because I own one and it's contemporary with the D700.

Dynamic Range v. ISO

Since I never owned a D700 I can't say more than it's the camera I should have bought when I bought the D300s.

Dave
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Snoogly

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Re: Is The Nikon D700 Camera Still Viable In 2021?
« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2021, 08:17:26 »
I think it is a great artistic tool, as long as you live with its foibles. Live View can be hard to turn on, but a function button can be assigned to do that.

My biggest complaint is the mushy multi selector knob on the back. Mine was hit or miss, so I bought a new ‘old stock’ one on eBay. It was very easy to fit, along with a new set of the four vertical rubber buttons. In fact all of the back buttons, and the lcd screen are very easy to replace, so if you do opt to but a D700, and it happens to have wear on the back, you can be pretty sure you can fit new thingamijigs.

Jan Anne

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Re: Is The Nikon D700 Camera Still Viable In 2021?
« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2021, 08:46:47 »
I had both the D700 and D3s, loved both the cameras and files a lot until I got the D800E which delivered RAW files on a completely different level.

Where the Nikon 12MP sensor was a revolution in the high ISO department the 36MP sensor in the D800E did the same for the dynamic range as it could capture a whopping 11.45 stops vs 9.1. Back in the day the files were simply mind blowing as it changed everything because it added so much more depth to the files, got rid of stacking multiple exposures for landscaping and allowed for more correction options in post processing. B&W also improved a lot because the sensor captured much more levels of grey and detail in the low end.

The funny part is that the sensors didn't change all that much after the D800(E) as newer cameras mainly had improved resolution, new features or went mirrorless.

Here's the DR of the D700 compared to the D800E and Z6:
https://www.photonstophotos.net/Charts/PDR.htm#Nikon%20D700,Nikon%20D800E,Nikon%20Z%206
Cheers,
Jan Anne

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Re: Is The Nikon D700 Camera Still Viable In 2021?
« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2021, 15:49:46 »
The D700 is my personal favorite Nikon camera.  I currently have three of them plus a D3.  I love the look of photos done on the 12mp sensor.  While I also have a D800 and a D810, I prefer the look of the 12mp over the 36mp images.  That's just me...I'm weird that way.  I can't compare with Nikon's Z cameras--I don't own one and since I'm not a fan of EVFs it's doubtful I ever will. 

The higher megapixel camera's images are beautiful, no doubt.  For traditional image quality and resolution they are excellent.  But many times I like a bit of grit and grain to my photos that the D700 seems to deliver better.  I'm mostly a B&W shooter.  I can't say the D700 images are more film-like but they are more pleasing to this old guy who has shot miles of Tri-X and HP5 in Nikons, Canons and Leicas.  I would say the D800 and D810 photos look more Pan-F than Tri-X/HP5 when using film as a comparison.  The D700 color is nice too although I don't shoot a lot of color and I'm a lousy judge of color science.

If you've researched the D700 online, you already know it's a solidly built camera.  Very heavy.  Add a vertical grip and it becomes even heavier.  I seldom use the grip with mine.  It's a camera with few quirks, outside the already mentioned 4-way button/dial on the back.  And it feels good in the hand--at least it does to me.  If you don't mind using a camera with dated technology, it should serve you well.
"If it's more than a hundred feet from the car, it's not photogenic."--Edward Weston

BruceSD

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Re: Is The Nikon D700 Camera Still Viable In 2021?
« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2021, 16:14:43 »
Thanks everyone for the great responses! 

It's sure interesting to see what sensor characteristics appeal to individual photographers.  To some, Dynamic Range is most important; and to others it's noise/grain characteristics.  Guess there's no "one best" sensor for everybody.

For me, being a bokeholic who shoots all his lenses wide open, I'm most interested in the way a sensor renders the out of focus bokeh.   I know, I know, bokeh is mostly impacted by the lens; however, I do beleive that the sensor itself also has an effect on bokeh, and am espeically curious to hear from D700 owners as to how you feel the D700 sensor impacts its' images bokeh.

Jan Anne

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Re: Is The Nikon D700 Camera Still Viable In 2021?
« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2021, 17:20:35 »
Too much grain kills boke and depth in a picture, our brain is wired to generate a sense of depth when the eyes see a known object smaller than the reference stored in the internal memory banks. So when for example a house looks smaller than the person standing in front the house it must be a lot further away than the person or else it wouldn't make sense as giants don't exist.

If you overlay the same image with course grain the mind thinks everything is on the same plane as the grain on the subject is the same size as on the house in the distance so in essence you are flattening the image. You get a similar effect when you oversharpen the entire image as a close subject should show more detail than something in the distance, this is one of the reasons I prefer local sharpening and contrast adjustments to increase the depth perception instead of killing it.
Cheers,
Jan Anne

BruceSD

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Re: Is The Nikon D700 Camera Still Viable In 2021?
« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2021, 17:30:26 »
Too much grain kills boke and depth in a picture, our brain is wired to generate a sense of depth when the eyes see a known object smaller than the reference stored in the internal memory banks. So when for example a house looks smaller than the person standing in front the house it must be a lot further away than the person or else it wouldn't make sense as giants don't exist.

If you overlay the same image with course grain the mind thinks everything is on the same plane as the grain on the subject is the same size as on the house in the distance so in essence you are flattening the image. You get a similar effect when you oversharpen the entire image as a close subject should show more detail than something in the distance, this is one of the reasons I prefer local sharpening and contrast adjustments to increase the depth perception instead of killing it.

Jan Anne, thank you for the excellent response!  I'd never thought of bokeh and depth in that way - what you say makes a lot of sense to me. 

David H. Hartman

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Re: Is The Nikon D700 Camera Still Viable In 2021?
« Reply #8 on: July 03, 2021, 21:33:10 »
It's sure interesting to see what sensor characteristics appeal to individual photographers.  To some, Dynamic Range is most important; and to others it's noise/grain characteristics.

With dynamic range if you have too much you can clip the image to reduce it. When you clip the highlights [too much] you loose your diffused highlights and the image is said to be "Blown out." A much better approach is to add a soft "S" curve using LCH (lightness, chroma and hue). This "S" curve increases the mid tone contrast giving punch to the image while suppressing the shadow and highlight contrast. You have nearly infinite control of how much or how little punch you add. You can control how much contrast to take from the shadows and highlights by the shape of the curve.

In traditional wet process B&W photography the toe of the film suppresses the shadow contrast while the toe of the printing paper suppresses contrast in the highlights. This has been a feature of photography for more than 100 years. In digital photography the same effect is created with tone mapping.

With too little dynamic range you have to struggle with combining multiple exposures, HDR and the like. I don't like the look of the HDR image. I'd much rather start with a long dynamic range and then shape it to get the look I want.

A classic struggle with too little dynamic range is trying to hold highlight detail in a bride's gown while holding shadow detail in the grooms tuxedo.

The only time I've seen too much dynamic range was when experimenting with water bath development of B&W film.

Dave
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Snoogly

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Re: Is The Nikon D700 Camera Still Viable In 2021?
« Reply #9 on: July 03, 2021, 23:14:41 »
Some great image editing tips in this thread  :) I'd love to see some tutorials  ;)

Anthony

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Re: Is The Nikon D700 Camera Still Viable In 2021?
« Reply #10 on: July 04, 2021, 00:25:49 »
Why buy old technology?
Anthony Macaulay

BruceSD

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Re: Is The Nikon D700 Camera Still Viable In 2021?
« Reply #11 on: July 04, 2021, 02:49:30 »
Why buy old technology?
.

Lots of reasons...

For one, to my eye, the best color I've ever seen from a digital camera is out of ancient CCD sensor bodies!!!!

Hugh_3170

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Re: Is The Nikon D700 Camera Still Viable In 2021?
« Reply #12 on: July 04, 2021, 08:47:42 »
Bruce, the D700 was a huge step foward for me. 

It sounds like you can effect a good deal, so I say "go for it" - if it does not turn out to be suitable,  you will not lose much upon its resale. 

Have fun - good luck!

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I can purchase a like-new D700 camera for a good price from a local photographer.  This is an older digital camera that was last made 13 years ago.   

I don't care about auto focus speed, .................................................................................................

Do you feel D700 images compare favorably with say a Z6 or Z7? 

Thanks
Hugh Gunn

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Re: Is The Nikon D700 Camera Still Viable In 2021?
« Reply #13 on: July 04, 2021, 09:43:59 »
Why buy old technology?

Because, sometimes, new is not better!

Jan Anne

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Re: Is The Nikon D700 Camera Still Viable In 2021?
« Reply #14 on: July 04, 2021, 10:47:43 »
Because, sometimes, new is not better!
Fully agree with you in general but the sensor technology used in the D3/D700 was still on the steep slope of the development S curve back then which started to plateau with the sensor in the D800 range. After that the improvements in ISO and DR performance were minimal and cameras mainly improved their feature set like fps, memory, liveview, mirrorless, ergonomics, etc.

Until cameras like the D800, a7S and a7RII came to market the sensor was always the main technical limitation of what I could capture. I remember my D200 files being completely rubbish above ISO400 limiting what I could do with the camera but the high ISO sensor of the D3s/D700 suddenly allowed me to get clean files at ISO1600 though with a limited DR of 9 stops, so these cameras enabled me to shoot wildlife during dusk and dawn but I still needed to shoot multiple exposures for landscapes. With the D800E the DR jumped up a whopping 2.5 stops, so the dynamic range was larger than the -1, 0 and +1EV HDR files which now allowed for single exposure HDR landscape shots which looked a lot more natural and without all the hassle of removing artifacts of moving objects, etc.
Cheers,
Jan Anne