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Thread: Auto-Focus D3 vs D700 Question

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    Auto-Focus D3 vs D700 Question

    Just a quick question regarding the auto focus capabilities of the D700 and D3.

    Is the D3 more sensitive? Ie, can it maintain autofocus capabilities in dimmer lighting conditions compared to the D700? I see they share many components but I've been told the D3 is superior in dim light with regard to focus accuracy and sensitivity. The D3 viewfinder is certainly better. Thought I'd check with those in the know.

    Thanks.

    Tim

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    Subscriber Member Corlan F.'s Avatar
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    Re: Auto-Focus D3 vs D700 Question

    "The D3 viewfinder is certainly better."

    It's really all the difference i could see in this regard.
    And it makes one on the functional side, but really couldn't detect any performance wise.

    But it's true that i'm more of a MF than AF type of guy.

    P.S. a DK-17M eyepiece, possibly along a DK-19, makes a terrific job improving the D700 VF.

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    Re: Auto-Focus D3 vs D700 Question

    I use a D700 to shoot ballet professionally. Except for the occasional tracking of a background object/dancer, the focus works very well. The viewfinder is only 95% coverage but I don't mind.
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    Re: Auto-Focus D3 vs D700 Question

    Great, thanks guys.
    I love how the D3 fits in my hand, it seems really well balanced, especially with the 24-70 f2.8. Seems other than the better viewfinder though, the main technical advantage over the D700 is speed. Would that be correct?
    Thanks again.

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    Subscriber Member Corlan F.'s Avatar
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    Re: Auto-Focus D3 vs D700 Question

    Quote Originally Posted by tjv View Post
    Great, thanks guys.
    I love how the D3 fits in my hand, it seems really well balanced, especially with the 24-70 f2.8. Seems other than the better viewfinder though, the main technical advantage over the D700 is speed. Would that be correct?
    Thanks again.
    Yup, speed's the main difference.

    Though on the D700 the MB-D10 grip helps a lot (up to 8fps with AA batteries, let's say 7fps as a conservative value) and gets close to the D3 9fps. Plus some other features such as the vertical shutter, AF-ON and dial.

    With the MB-D10 you get pretty much a D3 except the dual card, precious to wedding photographers and reporters mainly.

    The other D3 extra features to my knowledge:
    • given life of 300K shots (instead of 150K)
    • some extra buffer capacity but for jpeg only (most people shoot RAW, so...)
    • extra battery life (and more expensive)


    No wonder so many chose the D700 over the D3 (i did, with the grip).
    As said above the main possible issue is the sigle CF on the D700. If you need it, then the D3 is mandatory. Or maybe of you shoot in continuous most of the time. Otherwise it hardly makes sense.

    (the 300K shots has to be put in perspective with the camera bodies turnover in this digital age... knowing that 150K will get you quite far down the road)

    P.S. not absolutely sure, but i kind of recall that there was some sensor cleaning feature on the D700 and not on the D3. To be confirmed...

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    Re: Auto-Focus D3 vs D700 Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Corlan F. View Post
    P.S. not absolutely sure, but i kind of recall that there was some sensor cleaning feature on the D700 and not on the D3. To be confirmed...
    Yes the D700 has the built in sensor cleaner.

    One thing to consider if you are using the D700 with MB-D10 grip is that the D700 actually is then heavier than an equivalent D3. The control ergonomics are a little different too between the cameras but you get used to that after a while.

    Personally I enjoy using the D700 without the grip, but the D3/D3x is the better full grip camera configuration.

    For me the D3/D3x excels with 100% viewfinder, dual card slots, better control layout (with the exception of the INFO button which is great on the D700!), higher speed & slightly better weighted feel overall.

    When it comes to images I've never noticed ANY difference between the images from the D3 & D700. Ditto with AF performance actually but I'm not generally a dim light & moving subject kind of shooter.

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    Re: Auto-Focus D3 vs D700 Question

    Thanks so much for your detailed reply.
    I had another hold of the D3 today and I must say that it feels perfect in my hands and up to my eye. D700s have become quite hard to find in stock here at the moment so I wasn't able to compare the viewfinders and feel directly between the two cameras. Logic tells me the D700 is all I will ever need, but from memory of the D700 button layouts, the D3 seems a bit more user friendly and intuitive to operate, if only marginally.

    Can someone also please tell me, I remember the info in the D700 viewfinder being VERY crowded. Aperture, Shutter speed, exposure level, W/B etc etc etc were all displayed in the VF. The D3, if I'm correct, has less and is far easier to see the actual important info without looking hard to figure out what you need to see. Is my memory correct?

    Thanks again.
    Tim

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    Re: Auto-Focus D3 vs D700 Question

    Quote Originally Posted by tjv View Post
    I had another hold of the D3 today and I must say that it feels perfect in my hands and up to my eye.
    Tim,

    Let me tell you story about this ... I used to shoot Canon film and changed to Nikon for the D1, D1x etc series of cameras & Nikon glass. I then sold it all and went medium format digital (Kodak/Mamiya 645), but then sold that and thought I'd try Canon digital again. That was fine until ... I picked up a D2x which instantly took me back to why I preferred Nikon ergonomics in the first place. I vowed then & there that I was returning to Nikon and that's where I've been ever since and it would take to move me again.

    I find that all Nikon pro & semi-pro (basically the larger cameras) fit my hand like a glove.

    Btw, I'm not a great fan of dpreview but one thing they do very well is their in depth reviews so if you want to compare the cameras in more depth than even the Nikon site can provide, check out: D700 in depth - this compares the D700/D3 pretty comprehensively.

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    Re: Auto-Focus D3 vs D700 Question

    I totally agree. Coming from a place where I've only used rangefinders for work and used to swear I'd never go back to a "space ship" do everything cameras, I know all too well about getting deep into a system and then realizing I was missing a more practical solution when my style / work requirement changed.

    I can't stand the Canon cameras. They don't fit my hands and I hate that damn wheel on the back. Makes my decision easier!

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    Re: Auto-Focus D3 vs D700 Question

    if you shoot large lenses (400 to 600) the D3 is nice given it's weight. if you use a 50 or 35 prime, it is a bit heavy to carry around. it's also more intimidating to a subject if you use it for street photography than a D700--it draws too much attention. I took one to Costa Rica and it drew the wrong type of interest. use them for sports assignments, but if travel, i wouldn't take one along--just too much camera for taking a bunch of one-off shots.

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    Re: Auto-Focus D3 vs D700 Question

    The balance issue is important to me. I think my primary workhorse lens will be the 24-70 f2.8. Not a massive lens, but far longer and heavier than I'm used to coming from Leica M series primes. Shot a lot yesterday with a 5D and 24-70L and the ergonomics and handling were comical. I need to get my hands on a D700 again to find out, but I remember the Nikon combination being a little better in that regard. Even though I'd always use primes for personal work (please, Nikon. Make the 35mm f1.4 a reality,) I don't think I'd mind the extra weight of the D3 at the end of the day. What I might mind is being $3000NZ poorer! No small consideration.

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    Re: Auto-Focus D3 vs D700 Question

    Tim, after seeing your posts on the M9 section in addition to the above, here's a couple of things you might consider :

    Graham's right when he says the D700+MB-D10 grip is heavier than D3 especially when the batteries are fully implemented. OTOH you then have a lot of options, D700 alone or with grip without extra batteries (use this one quite often for the vertical shutter and AE/L button) or the whole configuration (only needed for extra continuous speed, though the D700 alone works pretty fast for most applications).

    Or, you may indeed choose to go with the D3 effective solution with the extra couple features -again, dual card is a sensible plus.

    Regarding primes -i only shoot primes- it really depends on how you value/need the AF. Being a Leica & Mamiya 7 user it might not be a mandatory requirement. Then you might consider the lens offer from both Voigtlander and Zeiss in F mount.
    A D700(or D3) + either Voigtlander 58/1.4 or 40/2 is a terrific, relatively light weighted and not overly expensive walk-around solution. Zeiss 50/1.4mm ZF is great, too.
    Then (my personal favorite kit) if you can spare the extra 1.4 speed, both the 35mm/2 and 50mm/2 are fantastic lenses, extremely easy to configure and use on D700/D3.
    Metering works smoothly, and thanks to the quite versatile and user-friendly body customization possibilities you pretty much only miss the auto-focus mode.

    If AF is an issue, then right, Nikon has to -at last!- come up with a 35mm equivalent to their pretty good 50/1.4G.

    Overall, it's nice to have options, isn't it ?

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    Re: Auto-Focus D3 vs D700 Question

    Thanks Corlan. I have indeed thought about the Zeiss primes, in particular the 35mm and 28mm options. The build and optical quality of the ZF lenses I've handled seemed second to none. Are you saying that Nikon has actually made a 35mm f1.4 AFS lens? If so I'll be all over it like a rash! AF would be nice if I'm spending all that money on a AF able system. As for which camera model I'm edging towards, I'm really not sure. I'm mull over it for a few more days. Got to sell my M glass first anyway.
    Thanks again.

    Quote Originally Posted by Corlan F. View Post
    Tim, after seeing your posts on the M9 section in addition to the above, here's a couple of things you might consider :

    Graham's right when he says the D700+MB-D10 grip is heavier than D3 especially when the batteries are fully implemented. OTOH you then have a lot of options, D700 alone or with grip without extra batteries (use this one quite often for the vertical shutter and AE/L button) or the whole configuration (only needed for extra continuous speed, though the D700 alone works pretty fast for most applications).

    Or, you may indeed choose to go with the D3 effective solution with the extra couple features -again, dual card is a sensible plus.

    Regarding primes -i only shoot primes- it really depends on how you value/need the AF. Being a Leica & Mamiya 7 user it might not be a mandatory requirement. Then you might consider the lens offer from both Voigtlander and Zeiss in F mount.
    A D700(or D3) + either Voigtlander 58/1.4 or 40/2 is a terrific, relatively light weighted and not overly expensive walk-around solution. Zeiss 50/1.4mm ZF is great, too.
    Then (my personal favorite kit) if you can spare the extra 1.4 speed, both the 35mm/2 and 50mm/2 are fantastic lenses, extremely easy to configure and use on D700/D3.
    Metering works smoothly, and thanks to the quite versatile and user-friendly body customization possibilities you pretty much only miss the auto-focus mode.

    If AF is an issue, then right, Nikon has to -at last!- come up with a 35mm equivalent to their pretty good 50/1.4G.

    Overall, it's nice to have options, isn't it ?

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    Re: Auto-Focus D3 vs D700 Question

    thanks for sharing.it is useful and great for me

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    Re: Auto-Focus D3 vs D700 Question

    Quote Originally Posted by tjv View Post
    Thanks Corlan. I have indeed thought about the Zeiss primes, in particular the 35mm and 28mm options. The build and optical quality of the ZF lenses I've handled seemed second to none.
    The Zeiss glass is excellent and I can't recommend it enough. Beautifully constructed lenses compared to even the best Nikon AF lenses. I just sold a whole ensemble to put towards some big glass but I'm sure I'll be buying them again at some point.

    Quote Originally Posted by tjv View Post
    Are you saying that Nikon has actually made a 35mm f1.4 AFS lens? If so I'll be all over it like a rash!
    Alas ... no.

    If Nikon came up with a decent 35/1.4 AFS I think there would be a stampede for it. The zooms are nice, the 35/2 is small and light, but there's noting really fast at 35. I have a 28/1.4 which I leave on my D700 almost full time but I'd go for a 35/1.4 instead in a heartbeat as it's often a more convenient focal length.

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    Re: Auto-Focus D3 vs D700 Question

    Quote Originally Posted by tjv View Post
    Great, thanks guys.
    I love how the D3 fits in my hand, it seems really well balanced, especially with the 24-70 f2.8. Seems other than the better viewfinder though, the main technical advantage over the D700 is speed. Would that be correct?
    Thanks again.
    No that is not correct.

    In addition to everything already pointed out, the D3 can shoot to 2 CF cards at the same time without a loss of speed. The D700 cannot. It's a very secure feeling when shooting critical "one time" images.

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