The important thing to understand about the D700 is that it is NOT a point-and-shoot camera, you *can* point and shoot once you've set it up but you must be careful about doing so. I found ensuring white balance and focus the two most important things about the D700. The "WB Hold" feature enables you to get a very accurate white balance, but it's important to constantly check and re-balance if lighting conditions change.

Image quality is overall excellent, with little or no chromatic abberations, a good tonal balance and neutral colours. Lens performance was good although there is barrel distortion it's no more than found on other digital cameras.

Images have a tendancy to come out with less contrast than other cameras, this can be corrected fairly easily and is really a matter of preference. Other noticable is that the D700 produces less saturated colours than other digicams (I found a saturation increase of +15 in Photoshop normally did the trick). Not in itself a bad thing, but they *are* less saturated than real-life and that can make images look "dull" straight out of the camera.

I found an exposure adjustment of +0.25EV in most daylight shots made quite a positive difference to otherwise "dull" (under-exposed) images.

Therefore the D700 is a camera which requires careful balance both in the setup before taking and careful balancing in the "digital darkroom" after (depending on the image destination: screen / printer). An example of what I'm talking about can be seen here (1/60s, F2.4, +0.25 EV compensation):

As you can see the image was slighty under-exposed leaving the image looking "dull", also the black point wasn't "black", stretching the histogram (using levels in Photoshop) produced a much more "contrasty" image without any artifacts.

Compared to

Below are some comparison shots (first of a PhotoDisc poster, second of a more "3D" arrangement) with the Nikon Coolpix 950 (unfair pixel advantage) and Canon Powershot Pro 70 (click on any image for the original).

Sony DSC-D700 Canon Powershot Pro 70 Nikon Coolpix 950

Obvious differences here:

  • D700 images look "dull" compared to Pro70 and CP950, again, a function of the digital darkroom
  • Pro70 produces noticeably more detailed image with sharper focus and more accurate colours
  • D700 RED is not perfectly red (contains some blue), nor is the 950 (contains some green)
  • 950 has the most saturated and "colourful" looking image, however the Pro70 has the most accurate colours (naked eye comparing to the original objects)
  • 950 shows its pixel advantage in bringing out more detail in many areas of the images
  • 950 focused quicker but less accurately than the other two cameras

Overall, the D700 holds its own against some of the newer cameras (worth noting that the D700 and Pro70 were actually announced about the same time). The D700 does require more "digital darkroom" work on its images, if you're comfortable with this then the D700 is a VERY flexible camera.