Timings & File Sizes

Although the D700 is not the same uncompromising speed-machine as its bigger brother, the D3, it's still one of the most responsive and fast cameras currently on the market. Startup, shutter lag, focus acquisition, continuous shooting (especially with the optional battery grip) and file writing feel very fast indeed on the D700.

Timing Notes: All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 4256 x 2832 JPEG Fine (approx. 4.0 MB per image).

The media used for these tests were:

  • 4 GB SanDisk Extreme Ducati Edition UDMA CF Card
  • 2 GB Lexar Professional 133x CF card

Media comparison

Action
Time, secs
(4GB SanDisk Ducati)
Time, secs
(2 GB Lexar 133x)
Power Off to On <0.1 <0.1
Power Off to Shot <0.1 <0.1
Sleep to On <0.1 <0.1
Power On to Off <0.1 <0.1
Record Review JPEG *1 0.5 0.5
Record Review RAW 12-bit *1 0.5 0.5
Record Review RAW 14-bit *1 0.5 0.5
Activate Live View 0.5 0.5
Exit Live View <0.2 <0.2
Play RAW 12-bit *2 ~0.3 / <0.1 ~0.3 / <0.1
Play RAW 14-bit *2 ~0.3 / <0.1 ~0.3 / <0.1
Play JPEG *2 ~0.3 / <0.1 ~0.3 / <0.1
Play Image to Image RAW <0.2 <0.2
Play Image to Image JPEG <0.2 <0.2

*1 Time taken from the shutter release being pressed to the review image being displayed on the LCD monitor.
*2 The first number is the time from shooting to play mode for an image which hasn't yet been displayed, the second figure is the time to display if the image has been displayed (and 'cached'). The D700 uses low res 'proxies' to display recorded images almost instantaneously, it takes around 0.3 secs to fully load the image (for magnifying etc).

Continuous Drive mode

To test continuous drive mode the camera had the following settings: Manual Focus, ISO 200, Shutter Priority (1/640 sec). Measurements were taken from audio recordings of the tests. Media used were the same as above.

The tests carried out below measured the following results for JPEG and RAW:

  • Frame rate - Initial frame rate
  • Number of frames - Number of frames in a burst (until buffer full)
  • Buffer full rate - Frame rate if shutter release held down after burst (buffer full)
  • Next burst - How soon after the burst the buffer has emptied / CF compartment light goes out

Please note that the D700 imposes a maximum 100 frame limit on continuous bursts (you can customize this figure from 1 to 100). Put simply, assuming the CF card is fast enough the camera will shoot continuously until it reaches the set limit (by default 100 frames) and then simply stop unless you lift your finger off the shutter release and re-press. This doesn't appear to be a hard buffer limit, just a soft limit.

Burst of JPEG Large/Fine images

Timing
Time, secs
(4GB SanDisk Ducati)
Time, secs
(2 GB Lexar 133x)
Frame rate 5.0 fps 5.0 fps
Number of frames 100 100
Buffer full rate - -
Next burst immediately immediately

Burst of JPEG Large/Fine images (with MB-D10 and EN-EL 4a)

Timing
Time, secs
(4GB SanDisk Ducati)
Time, secs
(2 GB Lexar 133x)
Frame rate 8.1 fps 8.1 fps
Number of frames 100 100
Buffer full rate - -
Next burst immediately immediately

Burst of RAW images (12-bit NEF)

Timing
Time, secs
(4GB SanDisk Ducati)
Time, secs
(2 GB Lexar 133x)
Frame rate 5.0 fps 5.0 fps
Number of frames 19 17
Buffer full rate 2.2 fps 1.1fps
Next burst 11.0 secs 21.0 secs

Burst of RAW images (12-bit NEF, with MB-D10 and EN-EL 4a)

Timing
Time, secs
(4GB SanDisk Ducati)
Time, secs
(2 GB Lexar 133x)
Frame rate 8.1 fps 8.1 fps
Number of frames 16 15
Buffer full rate 2.2 fps 1.2 fps
Next burst 11.0 secs 21.0 secs

The D700 did exactly what its specifications sheet says, at around 5 frames per second and 8 fps with the optional battery grip and an EN-EL 4a battery attached (manual focus). With a fast card the only limit on the number of frames in burst is the D700's own 100 shot cut-off. Shooting RAW you fill the buffer much more quickly (19 frames on a Sandisk UDMA card). After this the frame rate slows down considerably and switches to a 1-1-2 pattern.

File Flush Timing

RAW options; 12-bit / 14-bit, compression

The D700 provides the same range of RAW options as the D3. You can choose between recording 12 or 14 bits of data as well as lossless compression, 'normal compression' (same as previous Nikon NEFs, partially lossy) and uncompressed.

Timings shown below are the time taken for the camera to process and "flush" the image out to the storage card. Timing was taken from the instant the shutter release was pressed to the time the storage card activity lamp beside the compartment door went out. Media used were the same as above.

Image type
(4256 x 2832 size)
Time, secs
(4 GB SanDisk Ducati)
*1
Time, secs
(2 GB Lexar 133x)
*1
Approx.
size
RAW 14-bit + JPEG *2 1.5 2.0 19.4 MB
RAW 12-bit + JPEG *2 1.5 2.0 16.8 MB
RAW 14-bit Lossless 1.3 1.8 14.3 MB
RAW 12-bit Lossless 1.2 1.6 11.5 MB
RAW 12-bit Compressed 1.2 1.6 10.9 MB
RAW 12-bit Uncompress. 1.4 2.0 18.7 MB
JPEG Fine 0.9 1.1 5.3 MB
JPEG Normal 0.8 1.0 2.9 MB

*1 The D700 begins writing about 0.7 seconds after the shutter release is pressed, hence you must subtract this from the timings shown above to get the actual write time.
*2 RAW Lossless compression and JPEG Fine. File size reported is the RAW and JPEG added together.

With a fast card the D700 delivers very fast write times indeed. This combined with excellent 'shoot and forget' background buffering means that you never really need to think about write times, no matter how large the file.

USB transfer speed

Method
Transfer rate
Nikon D700 (PTP device) 6.0 MB/sec
SanDisk Extreme IV USB 2.0 card reader 16.8 MB/sec
SanDisk Extreme IV Firewire 800 card reader 29 MB/sec

To test the D700's USB transfer speed we transferred approximately 420 MB of images (mixed RAW and JPEG) from a Lexar Pro 300x (UDMA) 8GB CF card. In this test the D700 performed fairly well, though you'll still get far faster transfers if you use a good CF card reader.