Best Shot Selector (BSS)

When Nikon announced the 700 & 950 everyone was kinda intruiged by their new fangled BSS system which was supposed to improve everyone's photography by letting the camera choose the best image out of a sequence of (up to) eight photographs. It works like this: you enable BSS, compose your scene then hold your finger down on the shutter release for as many frames as you like (up to eight, the camera will take one roughly every second depending on resolution / mode). It will then select the best out of the frames it's taken as your "Best Shot".

So, does it work? Well, have to admit it, yes it does actually. Below are two shots, I deliberately made it hard for the camera by taking a photo in low light with no flash (1/2s exposure at F2.6) and hand-held, the first (on the left) was taken without BSS (camera shake city) and the one on the right was with BSS, which is the camera's best choice of the eight it took.

No best-shot-selector, hand held. Blurring is obvious due to the long exposure. Using best-shot-selector and after the camera had taken eight shots it finally picked this one as the "best", a fairly good decision.

So, how does it work? I can't confirm this but I have a theory on how this system works (note, my theory, and I could be completely wrong) the camera simply chooses the image with the largest file size. Why? Because JPEG files are bigger if they have more detail, they have more detail if they're less blurred... Of the two images above the BSS image is bigger (because it has more detail).

BTW. I'm not saying that you'd use BSS all the time, but for those slow shutter speed hand-held shots it's really pretty useful.

Black and White mode

Some people may wonder why you need a black and white mode in the camera, surely you can take the image out and just de-saturate it in a photo package. Well, you can. However the 700 implements it rather neatly in that (a) it's doing the black and white conversion INSTEAD of interpolating the RGBG colour pixels from the CCD (which means you're getting true resolution), and (b) it's handy if you KNOW that you want to take black and white images or if you don't have or use a photo package. (Unfortunately it still saves images black and white images as RGB colour JPEGs, which is a bit crazy as JPEG has its own grayscale format which produces smaller images...)

Shot taken in colour Shot taken in black and white mode

Variable ISO (CCD sensitivity)

One feature not found on other fixed lens 2 megapixel cameras is variable ISO, the ability to increase the sensitivity of the CCD to allow for faster shutter speeds and / or better performance in low light. The way this works in a digital camera is by "turning up the volume" on the CCD's singal amplifiers, nothing is without it's price however and doing so also ampifies any noise that may be present. Below are four images, in order DEF (ISO 80), 100 (ISO 100), +1 (ISO 180) and +2 (ISO 360).

1s, F2.6
1s, F2.6
+1.0 (ISO180)
1/2s, F2.6
+2.0 (ISO360)
1/4s, F2.6

Here's a crop the same detail from each image (not very much difference, this is not a good example of variable ISO, however you can see that the +2.0 image is sharper and has better detail definition than the DEF ISO80 shot.

(More examples of higher ISO's in the 950 review and one of the 950 galleries).

Other features

Covered in much more detail in the 950 review but identical on the 700:

Uncompressed mode / JPEG compresion: The 700 features the same JPEG compression settings as the 950: HI (uncompressed TIFF), FINE (JPEG 1:4), NORMAL (JPEG 1:8) and BASIC (JPEG 1:16).

Continuous mode: As with the 950 you can take shots using one of three different continuous (otherwise known as burst) modes. There's continuous full-size which will take up to 10 shots at full resolution at 1.5fps (useful for capturing action sequences and selecting out the "right" shot later). There's 16 shots which takes 16 1/4 size images onto one image (see below), and there's VGA sequence which allows you to take about 60 VGA sized shots at at 1.5fps (great for animated GIF's).

Metering modes: Again, same as 950 with the choice of Matrix, Spot and Center Weighted Average. What is a metering mode? Well, it's how the camera measures the amount of light, judges the lighting and the subject and calculates the best exposure. Ninety five percent of the time you'll probably find yourself using Nikon's unique matrix metering mode which takes care of most situations, however there are certain instances where spot metering (say against a bright background) is useful. (Center weighted average is just what it sounds like it takes the exposure from an average of a circular area in the center of the frame).

Image adjust: you can adjust the image to increase or decrease the contrast or brightness. You have to set these adjustments before taking the shot. Generally speaking this is only useful if you aren't going to do any post-processing and you can clearly see the result on the LCD (not in bright light).

Exposure compensation: you can compensate the exposure +/-2EV in 0.3EV steps, to activate you have to hold the +/- button and push the up or down arrow buttons (a two handed job unfortunately).