Why do I still have warm, fuzzy feelings about the old Nikon D700? I guess it's because the photos I shot with it eight years ago still stand up today. Can't say that about some other cameras I've bought....

New Pix at Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kirktuck/

One of the most fun photo assignments I've done for Zach Theatre was a season subscription brochure shot back in 2008 or 2009. We photographed the actors who were going to be cast in different productions and the marketing team let me decide how to light them and how to design their looks. I wrote about it in a very early blog post here: Hot Lights. Fun Lights. I used a Profoto Tungsten light in a beauty dish pounding photons through a 72 by 72 inch scrim to light my subjects. As an afterthought I wrote about the camera I used to make the shots. Just so happens that it was a Nikon D700. Lost to the sands of time and memory is what lens I used. Looks like a 105 f1.8 to me... 

I remember that we shot on a Saturday and that my art director/friend/theater marketing mentor, Jim Reynolds, loved it when I shot more frames. We photographed six or seven actors that day and probably went through 500 shots per actor to get just exactly the right photograph for Jim. The camera never missed a beat and probably made it through that shoot with a battery and a half (not that Nikon was ever in the business of making half batteries). I guess I was so confident in what I would get from the D700 that it was barely a footnote in the original article. The files were like butter to edit. The skin tones fell right into place and the tonality was perfect. I've shown these photos over and over again and I love the look and the general file characteristics. 

But what about MORE MEGAPIXELS????? It never came up. The files worked flawlessly and transparently as printed pieces on glossy paper at 10 by 13 inches (CMYK Offset Press) as well as on life size lobby posters. No glitches, no issues with the super big enlargements. I grabbed one of the files from an archived DVD yesterday and played around with it in the current revs of PhotoShop and Adobe Raw and I'm able to make even better files today. The software got better and can do more complex processes with the files (Something I am certain camera makers DO NOT want you to ponder.... as in: "Was my 2008 camera's primary limitation just the processing software of the time???? What would happen if I used the most current version? OH MY GOD, IT'S BEAUTIFUL!!!! IF I'D ONLY KNOWN").

I moved on from the camera (big mistake) because I thought I needed a more sophisticated (and quieter) shutter and more resolution. I could not have been more wrong. I just needed ten years of software improvements.

The final image I'm showing here was done in the laundry room of a wonderful and beautiful five million dollar, west Austin home. We needed a nice laundry room in which to make this photo of a spirited kid grabbing his teddy bear from a gas dryer. It was part of an ad campaign for a Texas utility company. This one photograph could have paid for a bag full of Nikon D700s. And it was done with a D700 camera and a small European flash system. I loved what I could get out of those cameras then and love the files even more now. We have other cameras. They are each good, in their own way. But there's something very cool about the D700. Ah well. 


Anders said...

The D700 files still holds up very well today and it is not very demanding to shoot compared to for instance the D800 due to the lower pixel count. So a really great package for very little money.

By the way, the Nikon 28-200 mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-D is a great lens for the D700 and also very cheap. Unfortunately it is not so great on D800 or D810.

Regarding software, I think you should just have used Capture NX-2 10 years ago. Nikon software definitely gets the best out of NEF files in my opinion and without too much fuss. You can probably get similar result using LR or whatever, but it takes a lot more effort.

Capture NX-D is unfortunately not as advanced as Capture NX-2 and nowhere near LR, but if you start out with good lightning and exposure then the super advanced software is not needed so often - at least not for amateurs like me :-).

Kirk Tuck said...

Hated NX-2. I can't remember a time when my computer crashed more often. At least Adobe products are stable on my favorite platform.

Anders said...

Did not crash in my favorite platform.

Roger Jones said...

The D700 is just one of those tools that just works. It uses any F mount lens, flash or?? It's really to good, except for the menu (which I do not like) but once you get a custom set up it's ok, and the loud shutter. Outside of those two things the camera is an all time classic. Why do we need anything more? For the internet? No. If you make large prints maybe, but I don't think so. So here's the new Nikon Z camera, and now you have to use an adapter for your F lenses, bad move on Nikon's part. If I had to use an adapter or buy new lenses I'd be shopping Canon or Sony. Why do we need the new latest and greatest toys? Why do we need to buy more lenses?

Why do you still feel warm and fuzzy about the D700? If I had to guess, I'd say it takes us back to a better time. A point in time where we were the happiest. For example, when I sit around late at night, and just for kicks I pick up my Minolta 9000, (the one Minolta gave me) it make me feel good, why? Because it reminds it of the glory days. The days and people long gone now, of better times before digital, when you had to know your craft. You had a skill set that you used. You had to know photography. I got paid by Minolta for doing what I loved to do, my peers and I talked about composition, style, lighting, and how did you get that shot? Not cameras or what brand. Maybe just maybe the D700 takes you back to what you loved, what you did/do best, people, not video. Portraits. Perhaps It isn't so much the D700 as it was the time frame when you used it.

It's still a all time great camera, and if it makes you feel good use it, so use it and enjoy every moment. You and it work great together.

As you get closer to retirement switching camera brands never helps, it doesn't make you any happier just more confused, and asking why? I know, I've lived the nightmare.

Oh and by the way, I made the switch to Nikon after Sony bought Minolta.( Hate Sony) Why? Because they asked me to submit my portfolio and the first camera they sent me was the D700. About that same time Dick Merrill ask me to help with the Foveon (this was before Sigma bought Foveon) so I did that as well. I still have a soft spot for the Foveon.

There are days I hate the D700, why? Because it's so old school Nikon, it's to easy to use, to......to.... good. It does what it's suppose to,.....it just works.

Some food for thought.