Top of camera controls

Top of camera controls

Top of the camera are four control buttons, the "shift dial" and shutter release button, descriptions in more detail below.

One of my BIGGEST gripes about the D700 is that all the text / icons printed on the body are white against the silver body, under most circumstances difficult to read, under others almost impossible. This doesn't cause a problem once you're used to the camera but it would have been nice to use black (or a dark gray) print...

Button Description

Review button:
Lets you review the last image taken in CAM mode, just tap the button and the last image will be displayed for the number of seconds prevously set in the REVIEW TIME section of the custom setup menu.

AE-LOCK button:
Used to lock / unlock the exposure, unfortunately actually taking a shot loses the AE-LOCK... Strange, can't work this one out.
Exposure compensation button:
Holding down and rotating the shift dial allows you to set the exposure compensation of +/-2EV in 0.5EV steps.
Metering mode button:
Holding down and rotating the shift dial allows you to choose between spot or average metering modes.

I found these buttons cleverly placed and always within reach of my gripping hand (right hand), note that the buttons which are combined with the shift dial are on the left (under your thumb) and those which do require the shift dial are under your fingers so you can use your thumb to rotate the dial... Ah, a designer who CONSIDERS the ergonomics of their camera!

Left side controls

Left side controls

On the left side of the camera is the mode dial, this is the "meat" of control when the camera is in CAM (record) mode, next to it is the Auto Focus / Manual Focus dial.

I quite liked this layout, the AF/MF switch being convenient made it easy to let the camera autofocus then turn the dial to MF to lock the focus position for taking a sequence of shots (manual sequence).

The Mode Dial is used by rotating it to the required option (eg. ISO) then pressing the center "shift button" and rotating the shift dial (above) to pick a particular option. Sounds cumbersome but is a much quicker method than the menu systems used in many other digicams. When scrolling through each option a menu is displayed on the LCD (overlayed over the current view) if the LCD is switched on, also the options are displayed on the top LCD - useful if you work without the rear LCD. Examples of such menus:

(note: background would not normally black but
would be showing the current "live" display)

Detail of the Mode Dial:

Option Hold shift button and rotate shift dial to choose an option

Auto Exposure mode:
Program - aperture and shutter calculated by the camera
Aperture - aperture priority, aperture can be manually set by rotating the shift dial, camera calculates shutter speed, a flashing shutter speed indicates out of range
Shutter - shutter priority, shutter speed can be manually set by rotating the shift dial, camera calculates aperture, a flashing aperture indicates out of range
Manual - full manual exposure, shutter speed is set by rotating shift dial, aperture is set by holding the +/- EV compensate button and rotating shift dial (allows for exposures as slow as 8 seconds)

Flash mode :
- assuming the flash is popped up the camera will fire the flash if required
On - flash always fires (useful for fill purposes)
Off - flash never fires (even if popped up)
External - internal flash does not fire, external flash (hotshoe) is fired instead (should be used in combination with external flash WB described later)
WB White Balance mode:
Auto - white balance is automatically calcuated (typically inaccurate)
Hold - white balance is set manually by pointing the camera at a neutral (gray or white) subject and pressing the WB button on the front of the camera - this is the option I ended up using most of the time and produced good neutral colours and a perfectly white, white
Outdoor - sets the white balance to outdoor shooting
Indoor - sets the white balance to indoor shooting
DRIVE Continuous shooting mode:
1Shot - take one shot (normal camera operation)
Cont1 - take continuous shots and re-calculate exposure for each shot (slower)
Cont2 - take continuous shots based on the exposure of the first shot (fast)
Self Timer - take a self-timer shot (self timer pause time can be set)
Interval Rec - take shots every x interval (set through menu)

Picture quality mode:
Super - uncompressed TIFF (4.7MB)
High - about 1:4 JPEG @ 1344x1024
Middle - about 1:8 JPEG @ 1344x1024
Low - about 1:16 JPEG @ 1344x1024

SIZE Picture size / digital zoom:
1344x1024 - take images at 1344 x 1024 pixels
640x480 - take images at 640 x 480 pixels
X2 D.Zoom - take images at 640 x 480 pixels (cropped from the center of the CCD - thus a 2x digital zoom)
USER Retreive user settings / reset:
No.0 (reset) - resets all settings to factory default
No.1-3 (date) - restore settings to previously saved user file (through the custom menu)
ISO ISO Sensitivty:
100 - default sensitivity
200 - equal to ISO200 (some noise)
400 - equal to ISO400 (noise apparent)

Notes (for manual settings):

Available shutter speeds @ ISO100:
Only in manual exposure: 4s, 3.4s, 2.8s, 2.4s, 2s, 1.7s, 1.4s, 1.2s, 1s, 0.8s, 0.7s, 0.6s, 1/2s, 1/2.4s, 1/2.8s, 1/3.4s, 1/4s, 1/4.8s, 1/5.6s, 1/6.7s
In manual or shutter priority: 1/8s, 1/9.5s, 1/11s, 1/13s, 1/15s, 1/18s, 1/22s, 1/26s, 1/30s, 1/38s, 1/45s, 1/54s, 1/60s, 1/75s, 1/90s, 1/110s, 1/125s, 1/150s, 1/180s, 1/210s, 1/250s,1/300s, 1/360s, 1/430s, 1/500s, 1/610s, 1/720s, 1/860s, 1/1000s, 1/1200s, 1/1400s, 1/1700s, 1/2000s
@ ISO200 in shutter priority: 1/15s - 1/2000s (as above)
@ ISO400 in shutter priority: 1/30s - 1/2000s (as above)

Available apertures @ wide (28mm):
F2.0, F2.2, F2.4, F2.6, F2.8, F3.1, F3.4, F3.7, F4.0, F4.4, F4.8, F5.2, F5.6, F6.2, F6.7, F7.3, F8.0, F8.7, F9.5, F10, F11
@ tele (140mm): F2.4 - F11 (as above)

Which all adds up to an amazing amount of manual control over exposure, in fact this has to be the most controllable prosumer digital camera around.

Rear camera controls

On th back of the camera we have an array of controls starting with the main power/mode wheel which chooses between OFF, CAM (record) and PLAY.

Below this are cursor keys and the MENU, EXECUTE and EXIT buttons.

To the right (above the LCD) are DISP, INDEX and LCD.

Switching from OFF to either CAM or PLAY displays this bootup screen while the camera boots and prepares itself.

Control Description

Mode/Power wheel:
Obviously enough controls the camera power and current mode, either CAM (record) or PLAY.

MENU Menu button:
Enters the camera menu system in either CAM or PLAY modes
EXECUTE Execute button:
Executes a menu option in the menus
EXIT Exit button:
Exits submenus / menu
DISP Display button:
In CAM or PLAY mode toggles the overlayed information on the rear LCD
INDEX Index button:
In PLAY mode switches between thumbnail view (10 on a page) or single frame view
LCD LCD button:
In CAM or PLAY mode turns the LCD on or off

In PLAY mode:

The INDEX button displays an index of thumbnails which you can scroll through using the shift dial.

In PLAY mode:

Holding the SHIFT button (center of the mode dial) and rotating the shift dial allows you to instantly scroll through small thumbnails of your images (VERY fast way to locate a particular image).

Front camera controls

On the front of the camera is the lens structure and the zoom ring (front) and manual focus ring (rear). Manual focus is achieved by putting the camera in MF mode (side dial) and rotating the ring, unfortunately this is still "fly by wire" focus control (although I didn't have any problems using it).

Under your finger is the WB button which allows you to preset white balance in WB-Hold mode.