It might not be a surprise that Nikon has launched the new D700 dSLR camera, but there are a couple of twists in the description. It boasts a 12.1-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor. Full frame -- called FX by Nikon -- means the image sensor, which replaces the film in the back of the camera to capture light falling on it, is the same size as a frame of 35mm film. Larger sensors generally mean better quality, as there is more surface area to record light accurately and with less chance of noise. Meanwhile, CMOS sensors are gaining traction in the upper stratosphere of the camera and camcorder markets, although CCD sensors are still cheaper and so more prevalent.
The D700 draws on elements of both the D3 and D300. It's largely a D3 in the smaller body of a D300, with a few minor add-ons. It's the first professional Nikon dSLR to boast a built-in, pop-up flash. It also adds a sensor-cleaning system that zaps the sensor's protective filter with high-frequency vibrations to shake off pesky particles of dust and grit. The outside is a sturdy magnesium alloy body with connections and buttons sealed against the elements.
The shutter is made from a hard-as-nails-sounding Kevlar and carbon-fibre composite, so don't look funny at its girlfriend or anything. Certainly don't mock the fact that the shutter is slightly slower than the D3's, managing a still not inconsiderable 5 frames per second with the built-in compact 1,500mAh EN-EL3e lithium-ion battery. To stay in its good books, congratulate the shutter on 8fps performance with the optional MB-D10 battery pack to use the powerful 2,500mAh EN-EL4a battery.
Another new feature is a virtual horizon level indicator that displays on the 76mm (3.0-inch), 922,000-pixel LCD screen in live view mode. This acts like a kind of heads-up display, like on Top Gun. It remains to be seen whether this leads to mass outbreaks of pro photographers swooping the D700 around exclaiming, "Nnnyyyyyyeeeoooooowwwssshhhhhh" while attempting to obtain 'missile lock' on each other.
More likely they'll be either excited about the 51-point MultiCAM3500 autofocus system system and HDMI high-definition video output, or too busy saving up for the body-only price of £1,999.99. Click for the next photo to find out more about the new Nikon D700's glass. -Rich Trenholm