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Manual White Balance (presetting)

Incandescent Whitebalance

Manual White Balance (preset from the white wall behind the subject)
 

Manual white balanace (called presetting on the 700) is a feature normally only found on high-end professional digital cameras, it allows for those circumstances where either the camera is tricked into picking the wrong white balance or one of the preset white balance modes still doesn't produce a pure white. On the 700 you simply select WHITE PRESET from the white balance menu and you're given a live display of a 50% sized view, aim this at either a white object (wall / snow etc.) or a gray card and select MEASURE. The camera will then treat that as it's base WHITE colour and balance colours around that value (until you cancel or switch back to Auto mode).

In the example above the image on the left was taken in incandescent white balance (the lights used in the room) and the image on the right was taken after manually presetting the white balance against the white wall. It's worth noting that in Auto mode (image here) the camera made a VERY GOOD choice of white balance and that I had to force it to incandescent to produce the example above, the white balance choices made by the 700 (and the 950) are impeccable.

Apologies, the above images (when viewed full-size are pretty fuzzy, that's due to the long exposure and the fact that they were taken hand-held).

Manual Focus

Again, it looks as though Nikon were responding to market demand for more manual features on digital cameras with the inclusion of a manual focus feature. I wasn't surprised to find it on the 950 but its inclusion on the 700 is one more feature which puts it ahead of its cometitors. Accessed by holding the picture mode button on the top of the camera and pressing the up and down arrows on the back of the camera. The ten focus values are:

0.1m, 0.2m, 0.3m, 0.5m, 0.7m, 1.0m, 1.5m, 3m, 10m and Infinity. (Note that these distances can also be represented in feet (ft.) by enabling the DIST FT. option in the record menu).

It's one of those features which you're dying to try out but you'll hardly find yourself using (at least in my case). The AutoFocus on the 700 is good, definitely quicker than the 950, the only place it would be useful is in low-light situations where the camera just can't focus, but in low light it's difficult to see if you have a good manual focus as the LCD is typically too dark and the viewfinder is not TTL; you can't win them all.

You can also quickly focus to infinity by choosing the Landscape picture mode.

Internal Flash

The 700s internal flash is both controlled and powerful, and performed as expected, no burn out or pasty skin tones.

Taken from a distance of about 10 feet, manual focus in a pitch black room, you can see slight drop-off at the outer edges but overall good performance. Again, pitch black room, manual focus set to 10m, slight reflection back from the Olympus in the display case caused a lens flare dot.
Skin tone test, taken from about 1.5ft away, yes this is the colour of my skin (I know it's hot here but you just don't dare go out in it!). Fairly close macro (as close as I could focus), camera in macro mode, autofocus, minimal room lighting, some slight reflection back from the case of the Jornada (expected) otherwise well judged flash output.

Digital Zoom

Readers of my reviews will know I'm not a huge fan of digital zoom as it's often a badly implemented and seldom used (by owners). The 700 doesn't have optical zoom, but does have a range of digital zooms which can be used. These zoom levels are 1.25x, 1.6x, 2x and 2.5x. They are however simply cropping (selecting the mid part of the image) and blowing-up, the only advantage in doing digital zoom inside the camera is (a) if you don't have any photo software to magnify (and interpolate) the image or (b) to digitally zoom without zooming the JPEG artifacts.

These five shots were taken at no digital zoom, 1.25x, 1.6x, 2x and 2.5x (you can click on any thumbnail on this strip to view the original full-size image).

Some slightly closer detail (the same 50 x 50 pixel region) at different digital zooms (blown-up 200%):

And the difference between doing it in the camera and doing it in a decent photo package such as Photoshop 5:

No digital zoom (click for full-size image) 1.25x digital zoom (click for full-size image) 1.6x digital zoom (click for full-size image) 2x digital zoom (click for full-size image) 2.5x digital zoom (click for full-size image)

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