Compared to...

For the studio comparisons we've opted to put the D700 up against Sony's brand new full-frame flagship, the A900, Canon's 'compact' full-frame camera, the EOS 5D (we do not yet have a reviewable 5D Mark II but we will update this article once it is available) and last but not least the D700's little brother, the Nikon D300 which offers the same resolution albeit on an APS-C sized sensor. To get things started let's have a look at how the D700 manages against the 24MP Sony.

Lenses used

For direct comparisons we always use sharp prime lenses stopped down (F7.1-F9). Here we have used the Canon EF 85 mm F1.8, Nikon 50 mm F1.8 , Nikon 85 mm F1.8D and Sony/Carl Zeiss Planar 85mm F1.4 (we use 85mm lenses on full frame cameras to give approximately the same field of view as a 50mm lens on a cropped sensor camera).

Studio scene comparison (JPEG)

This is our standard studio scene comparison shot taken from exactly the same tripod position. Lighting: daylight simulation, >98% CRI. Crops are 100%. Ambient temperature was approximately 22°C (~72°F).

Nikon D700 vs Sony DSLR-A900

Camera settings:

  • Nikon D700: Nikkor 85 mm F1.8 lens, Aperture Priority, ISO 200 (default base)
    JPEG Large/Fine, Manual WB, Default Parameters (Normal), Self-Timer, Exposure delay
     
  • Sony DSLR-A900: Sony 85 mm F1.4 lens, Aperture Priority, ISO 100 JPEG Large/Fine,
    Manual WB, Default Parameters (Standard), Self-Timer (auto MLU)
Nikon D700
Sony A900
3.7 MB JPEG (4256 x 2382)
6.1 MB JPEG (6048 x 4032)

They say 'Better is the enemy of good'. This saying springs to mind when looking at the output of these two cameras. Default sharpening is still a little conservative but the D700 produces a very good level of detail and natural colors. The image is also very clean and the highlight roll-off on the paper clips very nice indeed.

However, the amount of detail that is rendered by the Sony's new 24MP sensor is quite simply astonishing. If resolution and detail at low sensitivities are high up on your priority list it'll be difficult to ignore Sony's new flagship. Default colors and sharpening are not far off from the Nikon's though.