Nikon D700 vs D90
The Nikon D700 and the Nikon D90 are two enthusiast cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in July 2008 and August 2008. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a full frame (D700) and an APS-C (D90) sensor. The D700 has a resolution of 12.1 megapixels, whereas the D90 provides 12.2 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D700 and the Nikon D90? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Nikon D700 and the Nikon D90. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D90 is notably smaller (25 percent) than the Nikon D700. Moreover, the D90 is substantially lighter (35 percent) than the D700. It is worth mentioning in this context that the D700 is splash and dust resistant, while the D90 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. A larger imaging sensor (as in the D700) will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, while more compact options are available for the smaller-sensor camera (D90). You can compare the optics available in the Nikon Lens Catalog.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Nikon D700||147 mm||123 mm||77 mm||1074 g||1000||Y||Jul 2008||2,999|
|2.||Nikon D90||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||703 g||850||n||Aug 2008||1,299|
|3.||Canon 40D||146 mm||108 mm||74 mm||822 g||750||n||Aug 2007||1,299|
|4.||Canon 5D||152 mm||113 mm||75 mm||895 g||400||Y||Aug 2005||3,299|
|5.||Nikon D810||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||980 g||1200||Y||Jun 2014||3,299|
|6.||Nikon Df||144 mm||110 mm||67 mm||760 g||1400||Y||Nov 2013||2,749|
|7.||Nikon D800||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||1000 g||900||Y||Feb 2012||2,999|
|8.||Nikon D800E||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||1000 g||900||Y||Feb 2012||3,299|
|9.||Nikon D7000||132 mm||105 mm||77 mm||780 g||1050||Y||Sep 2010||1,499|
|10.||Nikon D3S||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1240 g||4200||Y||Oct 2009||5,199|
|11.||Nikon D300S||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||938 g||950||Y||Jul 2009||1,799|
|12.||Nikon D5000||127 mm||104 mm||80 mm||590 g||510||n||Apr 2009||749|
|13.||Nikon D3X||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1260 g||4400||Y||Dec 2008||7,999|
|14.||Nikon D3||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1300 g||4300||Y||Aug 2007||4,999|
|15.||Nikon D300||147 mm||114 mm||74 mm||925 g||1000||Y||Aug 2007||1,799|
|16.||Nikon D80||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||668 g||600||n||Aug 2006||999|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The D90 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 57 percent) than the D700, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D700 features a full frame sensor and the Nikon D90 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the D90 is 57 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the D90 offers a slightly higher resolution of 12.2 megapixels, compared with 12.1 MP of the D700. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 5.53μm versus 8.43μm for the D700). It is noteworthy in this context that the two cameras were released in close succession, so that their sensors are from the same technological generation.
The Nikon D700 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 100-25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D90 are ISO 200 to ISO 3200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 200-6400.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under review, the D700 has a notably higher overall DXO score than the D90 (overall score 7 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.8 bits higher color depth, 0.3 EV of lower dynamic range, and 1.2 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|1.||Nikon D700||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2303||80|
|4.||Canon 5D||Full Frame||12.7||4368||2912||none||22.9||11.1||1368||71|
|5.||Nikon D810||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.7||14.8||2853||97|
|6.||Nikon Df||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||none||24.6||13.1||3279||89|
|7.||Nikon D800||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/30p||25.3||14.4||2853||95|
|8.||Nikon D800E||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/30p||25.6||14.3||2979||96|
|10.||Nikon D3S||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||720/24p||23.5||12.0||3253||82|
|13.||Nikon D3X||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||24.7||13.7||1992||88|
|14.||Nikon D3||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2290||81|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The D90 indeed provides for movie recording, while the D700 does not. The highest resolution format that the D90 can use is 720/24p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D700 and the D90 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinder in the D90 offers a wider field of view (96%) than the one in the D700 (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. On the other hand, the viewfinder of the D700 has a higher magnification (0.72x vs 0.63x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Nikon D700, the Nikon D90, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Nikon D700||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.0||Y||n|
|2.||Nikon D90||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||4.5||Y||n|
|3.||Canon 40D||optical||Y||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.5||Y||n|
|4.||Canon 5D||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.0||n||n|
|5.||Nikon D810||optical||Y||3.2 / 1229||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||Y||n|
|6.||Nikon Df||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.5||n||n|
|7.||Nikon D800||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||4.0||Y||n|
|8.||Nikon D800E||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||4.0||Y||n|
|9.||Nikon D7000||optical||Y||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||Y||n|
|10.||Nikon D3S||optical||Y||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0||n||n|
|11.||Nikon D300S||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||7.0||Y||n|
|12.||Nikon D5000||optical||n||2.7 / 230||full-flex||n||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n|
|13.||Nikon D3X||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|14.||Nikon D3||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0||n||n|
|15.||Nikon D300||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||Y||n|
|16.||Nikon D80||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
The Nikon D700 has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The D700 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the D90 uses SDHC cards.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Nikon D700 and Nikon D90 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Nikon D700||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Nikon D90||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon 40D||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|4.||Canon 5D||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Nikon D810||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||-||-|
|6.||Nikon Df||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Nikon D800||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Nikon D800E||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Nikon D7000||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Nikon D3S||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Nikon D300S||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Nikon D5000||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Nikon D3X||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Nikon D3||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Nikon D300||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Nikon D80||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D700 (unlike the D90) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the D700 and the D90 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D700 was replaced by the Nikon D800, while the D90 was followed by the Nikon D7000. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon website.
So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Nikon D700 and the Nikon D90? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D700:
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (7 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1.2 stops ISO advantage).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.72x vs 0.63x).
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (8 vs 4.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (1000 versus 850) on a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
Reasons to prefer the Nikon D90:
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 720/24p video.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (96% vs 95%).
- More compact: Is smaller (132x103mm vs 147x123mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 371g or 35 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (57 percent cheaper at launch).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D700 is the clear winner of the match-up (9 : 5 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D700 and the Nikon D90 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the D700 or the D90 perform in practice. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Nikon D700||..||89/100||..||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2008||2,999|
|2.||Nikon D90||..||+ +||..||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2008||1,299|
|3.||Canon 40D||..||+ +||..||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,299|
|4.||Canon 5D||..||88/100||..||+ +||o||..||Aug 2005||3,299|
|5.||Nikon D810||5/5||..||5/5||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||3,299|
|6.||Nikon Df||4/5||..||..||81/100||4/5||4/5||Nov 2013||2,749|
|7.||Nikon D800||5/5||+ +||..||82/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||2,999|
|8.||Nikon D800E||..||..||..||84/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||3,299|
|9.||Nikon D7000||4/5||..||..||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,499|
|10.||Nikon D3S||5/5||..||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2009||5,199|
|11.||Nikon D300S||5/5||+ +||..||82/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||1,799|
|12.||Nikon D5000||..||+ +||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2009||749|
|13.||Nikon D3X||..||..||..||86/100||4/5||5/5||Dec 2008||7,999|
|14.||Nikon D3||..||..||..||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||4,999|
|15.||Nikon D300||..||+ +||..||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,799|
|16.||Nikon D80||..||+||..||+ +||o||4.5/5||Aug 2006||999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
Specifications: Nikon D700 vs Nikon D90
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Nikon D700||Nikon D90|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||July 2008||August 2008|
|Launch Price||USD 2,999||USD 1,299|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D700||Nikon D90|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||36.0 x 23.9 mm||23.6 x 15.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||860.4 mm2||372.88 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.2 mm||28.4 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12.1 Megapixels||12.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4256 x 2832 pixels||4288 x 2848 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||8.43 μm||5.53 μm|
|Pixel Density||1.40 MP/cm2||3.28 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||720/24p Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 6,400 ISO||200 - 3,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 25,600 ISO||200 - 6,400 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||80||73|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||23.5||22.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.2||12.5|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||2303||977|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D700||Nikon D90|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||96%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||922k dots||920k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D700||Nikon D90|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||8 shutter flaps/s||4.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||150 000 actuations||100 000 actuations|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||SDHC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D700||Nikon D90|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Nikon D700||Nikon D90|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||1000 shots per charge||850 shots per charge|
147 x 123 x 77 mm
(5.8 x 4.8 x 3.0 in)
132 x 103 x 77 mm
(5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||1074 g (37.9 oz)||703 g (24.8 oz)|
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