Great "entry-level" 35mm Sensor Camera

Started Sep 14, 2016 | User reviews thread
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LO Rivera Junior Member • Posts: 42
Great "entry-level" 35mm Sensor Camera

In 2016, yes in 2016, I have purchased my first 35mm sensor D-SLR. What did I get? Well, I got a Nikon D700, yes a D700. You may be wondering why I would purchase an 8 years old camera in 2016, well I’ll tell you why. After months of research, and considerations of the Nikon D610, D750, and the D810, I found something “wrong” with each of these models.

I learn on a Nikon FG-20 35mm film, 100% manual camera. I was a teen and was how bonded with my father, as he taught me about photography. I became—and to some extent am still—a film snob. Hence, it wasn’t until 2011 that I bought my first D-SLR, a Canon EOS 60D, to my father’s chagrin. I am a Nikon guy but made the leap to Canon due to cost and ignorance to the digital SLR world as I then regretted the purchase. Not due to the APS-C sensor, but because it wasn’t a Nikon. 3 years later in Feb. 2014. I sold all the Canon gear I had accumulated and bought a Nikon D7000, still APS-C and still due to cost.

Fast forward to early 2016 and after many professional shoots including weddings, family shoots, graduate photos, headshots, personal portraits, some very light real estate pics, doing photos for people selling their cars, and personal projects of my own, I was ready for a 35mm sensor. However, today there is a plentiful selection of 35mm sensor cameras to choose from and that’s where the headache began.

Skipping to the point I dismissed each of the aforementioned cameras because I felt they—in one way or another—did not meet my standards not because there was actually something wrong with them. Let me be clear that I rented each of those models and tested them for a week each and took thousands of images.

From top to bottom, I’ll start with the Nikon D610. The D610 has wonderful IQ, however, High ISO is very comparable to the D700 in terms of color noise, which is probably due to the fact although the D610 has a much newer processor, it has 100% more MPs. This further translates to smaller pixel pitch, the D700 has larger pixels meaning that the High ISO still holds up today. AF, in comparison to the D610 is also in favor of the D700 as the D610 has the same AF as my old Nikon D7000. Lastly, the build quality doesn’t compare to that of the D700, as we all know, it’s a D7000 with a 35mm sensor.

On to the D750, I have to say is a much better camera in almost every respect. The IQ at High ISO is the same story as with the D610, in my opinion. Much newer processor than the D700, but with 100% smaller pixel pitch of the D750, the D700’s High ISO still holds up and is very comparable. The D750 does stomp all over the D700’s AF, which is its only advantage to that of the D700. However, the build quality, like the D610, falls far below my high demands and that of some pros. The AF alone was simply not reason enough to choose it over the D700, for me at least.

Next I tried the 36MP of the wonderful D810. With 300% increase in resolution, you get much more detail, which in turn gives a much sharper image. The build quality is unsurpassed by any other Nikon other than the flagships D5/4s/4, etc. Where the Nikon D810 fails for me is in its biggest strength, the 36MPs. For what I do, I don’t need 36MPs, forget about the large file size, I just simply don’t need that many MPs. The primary detriment in having 300% more resolution when compared to the D700 is the same as with the D610 and the D750, the pixel pitch. At any ISO above 800, the D810 performs like an APS-C sensor in terms of overall IQ and color noise. The D700 rips the D810 to shreds in terms of High ISO performance. My Nikon D7000 is an APS-C camera and I could never use anything more than ISO 800 because of unacceptable image quality at anything higher. I was always careful to use flash when in low light but I think you’d use flash anyway at weddings. So, due to the poor ISO performance, I dismissed the D810.

This brought me back to the D700. The 12 MPs work great for what I do. I do not print at anything higher than 11 X 17 Tabloid (approx. A3), so 12MPs are perfect. The AF is still very powerful by today’s standards, especially when compared to the Nikon D610. The D750 and D810 do have much better AF systems but not significantly enough to make either of them my choice over the D700. The D700 offers superb IQ, even 8 years later, the AF is still to be reckoned with, especially when compared to modern entry-level D-SLRs and some 35mm sensor SLRs like the Pentax K1 or the Nikon D610. Also the High ISO performance is not to be dismissed and the D700 build quality is still better than that of the Nikon D610 and D750.

If I haven’t made my point evident, it is that the Nikon D700 is still a very useful, viable, powerful and relevant camera 8 years after its introduction. I was lucky to have bought mine used for $684 US, with only a mere 19000 shutter actuations rounded up (exact number was 18985). I have not, for a second, regretted the purchase and if you’re in the market—for what in terms of cost can be considered an entry-level 35mm sensor D-SLR—the Nikon D700 is the way to go.

Nikon D700, Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 Ai-S manual lens, ISO 200, f/8, 1/1250 sec.

Nikon D700, Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 Ai-S manual lens, ISO 100 (Lo. 1), f/4, 1/800 sec.

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LO Rivera
Photographer/Graphic Artist

 LO Rivera's gear list:LO Rivera's gear list
Nikon D700 Nikon D7000 Nikon D750 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G ED-IF Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm F1.4G +5 more
Nikon D700
12 megapixels • 3 screen • Full frame sensor
Announced: Jul 1, 2008
LO Rivera's score
Average community score
bad for good for
Kids / pets
Action / sports
Landscapes / scenery
Low light (without flash)
Flash photography (social)
Studio / still life
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Nikon D700
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