After a week or so of rumours and leaked camera phone pics, Nikon has today formally announced its latest digital SLR, the 12.1 megapixel D700. In terms of both price and specification, the new camera fits into the Nikon DSLR range between the semi-pro D300 (£979) and the professional workhorse D3 (£2,799). The D700 will go on sale at the end of July priced at £1,999 body-only.
The D700's specification is impressive to say the least. It has a strong magnesium alloy body with O-ring seals making it fully weather and moisture resistant, and it has a hybrid Kevlar/carbon fibre shutter tested for 150,000 cycles. In terms of size and weight as well it sits between the D300 and D3, measuring 147 x 123 x 77 mm and weighing 995g minus lens, battery or memory card.
The new camera features many of the same components as the D3, including the same 12.1-megapixel CMOS FX sensor, measuring 36.0 x 23.9mm (fractionally smaller than full-frame 35mm), and the same high-performance EXPEED processor. This offers a combination of large pixel pitch, wider micro-lenses and 12-channel 14-bit signal processing, resulting in high image quality and an ISO range of 200-6400, with a special high-speed setting equivalent to an impressive 25,600 ISO.
The D700 also features the D3's Multi-CAM 3500FX autofocus system, featuring 51 AF points. Fifteen cross-type sensors located in the centre enable subject detection with lens apertures as small as f/5.6. In Dynamic-area AF mode, either 9, 21 or 51 AF areas can be selected. The 51-point option offers 3D-Tracking mode, which automatically shifts the focus point to match the subject's movements. Auto-area AF mode gives greater priority to the subject's position when selecting AF points.
The D700 also features an innovative Scene Recognition System, utilising an improved 1,005-pixel RGB metering sensor. These improvements have allowed information from the sensor to be used for auto exposure, auto white balance and autofocus. 3D-Tracking in AF is achieved by using the Scene Recognition System, which tracks subject colour position and automatically selects the AF points to match the subject's movement within the frame.
Naturally the D700 also features Live Monitor View, with two alternate AF modes. In handheld mode the mirror flips down to use the main 51-point AF system, but there is also a Tripod Mode for studio use, using contrast-detection AF.
Other features include 5fps continuous shooting (8fps when using optional MB-D10 battery pack), built-in multi-frequency sensor cleaning, active D-Lighting, fully customisable Picture Control System, electronic virtual horizon, HDMI output, and much, much more. For a full rundown of all the details and specifications of what is sure to be a highly sought-after camera, see Nikon's website once it's stopped being hammered by about 60 million other people trying to visit it.