All round view (one)

The DSC-D700 is a good looking camera, it really looks like a well put together piece of equipment, a great "eye full" for techno-holics like me, sleek curves (the rounded "bottom" at the back) the excellent choice of colours and surfaces and the great SLR-look-alike is a sure win. In your hand it feels comfortable and like a "real camera". It's about the same weight as the Pro 70 so I'm fairly used to having a digital camera such as this in my hand. One thing, the right hand grip has a nicely recessed which "hooks" your fingers very well and makes the camera feel very firm to grip.

All Round View (two)

Lens Design

Zoom control is by a traditional zoom ring on the end of the lens assembly, the image left shows the two extents of the length of the lens, the zoom ring is fairly stiff but reassuringly smooth (very similar action to the newer aspherical zoom lenses from Tamaron). At 28mm the lens is extended very slightly and at 140mm it's fully extended (as shown in the lower image).

When you've been using the D700 for a while you really appreciate the speed and accuracy of a traditional zoom ring such as this, going back to the "zoom+/zoom-" of other cameras gets real slow...

All other controls are easily at hand, within a fingers reach of either hand, the focus ring tucked slightly insdie the case design, the settings wheel is used to control most of the major camera functions.

Size comparison with the Canon Powershot Pro 70:

Rear LCD Display

The LCD on the D700 is BIG, it's 2.5 " across, bright and easy to see in any light, by default it's turned off and you have to hit the DISP button to turn it on, it also has it's own brightness, contrast, colour and sharpness settings in the setup menu to allow you to tweak the LCD for best performance.

LCD in record mode

Here's an example of the LCD in record (CAM) mode.

Information displayed (clockwise from top-left):

Mode (CAM), WB mode, Image number, Size/Resolution, battery remaining minutes, remaining frames, aperture, shutter speed, exposure compensation, folder / filename.

LCD in play mode

Here's an example of the LCD in play (PLAY) mode.

Information displayed (clockwise from top-left):

Mode (PLAY), Image number, Size/Resolution, battery remaining minutes, date, time, exposure information, folder / filename.

Top LCD Display


The top LCD displays is big and clear and covers all the information on the back LCD (and some more) which means that the camera can effectively be used without having to use the rear (more power sapping) LCD. I got into the habit of using the LCD and found it to be just as easy to navigate ALL the camera settings and know exactly what my setup was at any one time.

My one "would have been nice" would be a backlight option.

Rather than be brave and try to explain all the items displayed I've shamelessly scanned the relevant diagram from the (excellent) D700 manual.

Optical Viewfinder

And here's one of the reasons there was so much fuss over the D700, the fact that it has a TTL viewfinder, what you see through the viewfinder is what (in theory) the CCD will capture.

Well, almost, unfortunately the focusing surface on the D700 isn't up to much, it doesn't have any fancy split focus angles cut into it or enough of a ground glass effect to REALLY be able to tell if you have a good focus or not, that combined with the larger depth of field of digital cameras and the fact that your eye can actually focus THROUGH this viewfinder (even if the subject isn't in focus to the camera) makes it somewhat difficult to fully appreciate.

One more thing, you really have to be looking STRAIGHT through the viewfinder otherwise the view will vignette left or right.

Here is the (rather disappointing by the quality of the rest of the controls) odd little dioptric adjustment, it does work but takes some tuning (I used the LCD display as a focus point rather than anything through the lens).
This image represents the view through the viewfinder, subject center and metering points marked as the square brackets, below that the LCD readout of current settings and exposure details (described below).

As per the top LCD details I've shamelessly scanned the diagram describing the through-the-viewfinder LCD from the supplied manual: