Live view

Like on the D3, the high resolution screen coupled with a choice between contrast detect auto focus and the 'traditional' mirror down / mirror up passive auto focus system mean that the D700's Live View mode comes in very handy in a variety of situations. On the D700 Nikon has managed to refine its Live View mode even further, and although the system works in an almost identical way to the D3 (and D300), on the new model Nikon has also implemented one particularly useful improvement. You can now program Live View onto a button (as opposed to only select it as a drive mode) which allows you to combine Live View with all drive modes including Self Timer (something that is not possible on the D3).

Live view (auto focus) mode

Like the D3 the D700 offers two AF methods which Nikon calls 'Tripod' and 'Hand-held' modes, both use the AF-ON button to achieve auto focus (in hand-held mode you can also half-press the shutter). In Tripod mode auto-focus is achieved using the main image sensor in a "contrast detect" manner (the same as a compact camera), this tends to be slower than normal passive AF but does maintain the live view; you can also move the AF point anywhere within the frame using the multi-selector. In Hand-held mode the live view blanks out when you press AF-ON (or half press the shutter), the mirror drops and the camera focuses using the normal "passive" auto-focus sensor. Live view only returns when you release the AF-ON button (or shutter button).

Live view in Tripod mode Live view in Hand-held mode

Live view display modes

Press the info button to remove any overlaid information, you can also optionally enable grid lines which are in the same position as the grid lines shown on the viewfinder focusing screen.

Default live view display Live view without information
Live view with grid lines and information  

Virtual Horizon in Live view

Press the info button once more to get a superimposed Virtual Horizon in Live View. This is a new feature, and a useful addition to the previous implementation of the Virtual Horizon as we first saw it on the D3 (see previous page).

Default live view display Live view without information

Live view magnification

Just as in playback mode you can magnify live view by pressing the zoom and/or thumbnails buttons. While magnified you can use the multi-controller to move around the live image. The D700 appears to be able to go all the way to 1:1 magnification (one pixel on the sensor for one pixel on the LCD) which makes it easy to achieve absolutely perfect focus.

Live view auto focus

The following video clips shows live view in use to auto-focus, magnify live view, take an exposure and finally magnify the image in record review. The first clip shows contrast detect auto-focus (slower but keeps live view) and the second passive detect (faster but live view disappears and you must release the AF-ON button once focus has locked).

Recent Videos

Please note that the following videos have been taken from our D3 review and while the focusing sequence on the D700 is virtually identical to the D3 the magnification in record review isn't.

Contrast detect (tripod mode)

Phase detect (hand-held mode)

HDMI output / High Definition display

Like the D3 and D300, the D700 offers HDMI digital high definition video output. From the setup menu you can select between Auto, 480p, 576p, 720p or 1080i output, in this section we are only going to examine the 720p and 1080i options. HDMI output works in any mode which would otherwise use the LCD monitor; shooting information, menus, live view and playback. It has to be said that using live view over HDMI to a HD LCD or Plasma screen really is an amazing experience and could be extremely useful in studio photography situations. Below we have provided captures of HDMI output in both 720p (1280 x 720) and 1080i (1920 x 1080) resolutions just to give you a sense of the amount of detail visible. My only disappointment would be that there didn't seem to be a way to display the image without any shooting information (except when magnifying), this means that the default display (top image below) is only using 74% of screen width (theoretically, given aspect ratio differences this could be 84% without the status lines at the bottom).

Please note that the screenshots below have been taken from our D3 review.

Normal playback via HDMI (1080i; 335 KB)
Zoomed playback via HDMI (1080i; 247 KB)