Which is Better the Nikon D4s or the D700?

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Nikon’s “professional” line-up of DSLR cameras is well known and widely respected, with the D4s and D700 being among the most popular of their “FX” series, which is what Nikon calls their full frame lineup of cameras.  First introduced in 2008, the D700 was an immediate hit sharing most of the features of the D3, so much that the D700 was referred to the “poor man’s” D3.  The D4s was introduced in 2014 and was an upgrade to the D4, which traced its roots back to the D2.  Although older cameras, both are still highly regarded and are quite popular with both professional and amateur photographers alike.

The Similarities

Despite the age difference between the D4s and the D700, the cameras share a number of similarities beginning with the fact that they are both utilize “full frame” CMOS sensors, which measure 23.9mm x 36.0mm.  Although the resolution is different both sensors are very capable of capturing outstanding images.

The D4s and D700 both feature very good viewfinders, which provide 100% coverage.  This means that what is seen in the viewfinder is what the image is going to look like with the margins of the image appears exactly like they did in the viewfinder.  In both cameras, the excellent autofocus system features up to 51 autofocus points, which are evenly distributed in the viewfinder.

The shutter speeds of the two cameras are identical with a range of 1/8,000 to 30 seconds.  Neither camera has a bunch of creative or artistic modes instead, using traditional Aperture Priority (A), Manual (M), Shutter Priority (S) and Program (P) settings.   In both cameras, the rear LCD is fixed with the D4s having a slightly larger LCD display that measures 3.2” compared to 3.0” on the D700.

The Differences

While similar in many ways, the two cameras have a number of major differences as well as minor differences, which are mostly related to the age of the cameras and advancements in DSLR technology.  One major difference between the two cameras is that the D700 cannot shoot video, while the D4s can shoot full HD video at 1,920 x 1,080, as well as other formats.

In addition, the D4s has more resolution capturing images at 16.2 megapixels compared to the D700’s 12.1 megapixels.   Interestingly, the D4s does not have the resolution of many of Nikon’s consumer grade cameras, such as the D3300, which was introduced at nearly the same time and has a resolution of 24 megapixels.

Another major difference between the two cameras is the native ISO range of the D4s, which ranges from 100- 26,400 compared to the native ISO range of the D700, which is 100-6,400.  The ISO range of the D4s can be expanded up to 409,600 while the D700 can only be expanded to ISO 26,400.   That being said, the low light capabilities of the D700 are legionary, despite only having an upper native ISO range of 6,400!

In the case of the D4s, the camera can shoot at a frame rate of 11 frames per second compared to 5 frames per second in the D700.  However, it is possible to increase the speed rate on the D700 up to 8 frames per second by using an optional MB-D10 battery pack.

One of the most apparent differences between the two cameras is the size and weight of the two cameras with the D4s being significantly larger and heavier than the D700.  In the case of the D4s, the camera measures 6.3” x 6.2” x 3.6” compared to 5.8” x 4.8’ x 3.0”.  The D700 weighs in at 34.0 ounces compared to the D4s, which weighs in at 41.6 ounces.

Minor differences between the two cameras include a single CF card slot in the D700 compared to a CF and a XQD in the D4s.  In both cameras, an EXPEED processor is used although the newer EXPEED 4 is used in the D4s.  Another small difference is the metering system used in the two cameras.  In the case of the D4s, the newer 3D Color Matrix Metering III system is used compared to the older 3D Color Matrix Metering II system, which is used in the D700.  The D700 also features a built in flash, as well as a hot shoe, while the D4s only has a hot shoe for an external flash.

The Pros and Cons

The D4s and the D700 are both excellent cameras and continue to be very relevant today despite their age.  As one would expect, both cameras have a number of both positive, as well as negative features and it is up to the photographer to consider those features and weigh their significance when considering purchasing either camera.  In many cases the type of photography that the photographer engages in influences the relevance of the positive and negative features.

In the case of the D4s the most positive feature of the camera is its build quality, with the camera being built like a tank.  It offers a unique combination of weather sealing and a robust magnesium alloy shell.   The camera is built to take abuse in the field in a wide variety of conditions.  In most cases a robust build is what defines a “professional” grade camera.

The most negative feature of the D4s is the very high price point, which is beyond the means of many photographers, even those that are pursuing photography as a profession.  Many photographers will not be able to justify paying $6,499.95 for a “professional” grade camera when there are many less expensive FX cameras in Nikon’s lineup.

Despite the D700’s age, the camera remains very popular and in high demand as a result of its excellent image quality, which is especially good in low light conditions.   Another positive feature is the relatively low cost of $2,599.99 for a new D700!  While not inexpensive, it does represent an excellent value for a “professional grade” camera.

While the D700 is still a great camera, its main downfall is its age.  Initially introduced 6 years ago, digital camera technology is evolving constantly and the lack of many desired features such as video, dual memory cards, high megapixel count and high ISO ranges are a result of the D700’s age.  That being said, the D700 remains in high demand with even used models being sold at 2-3 times the price of a comparable used Canon 5D Mark1.

Just the Facts, A side-By-Side Comparison

While most serious photographers look at image quality over technical specifications, many feel that the specifications are equally important.  The Nikon D4s and Nikon D700 both have excellent image quality, as well as technical specifications, which are shown in the table below.

Item Nikon D4S Nikon D700
Year Introduced 2014 2008
Format Full Frame Full Frame
Megapixels 16.2 12.1
Sensor Type CMOS CMOS
Image Format JPEG, RAW or TIFF JPEG, RAW
Sensor Size 23.9 mm x 36.0 mm 23.9mm x 36.0mm
Sensor Cleaner Yes Yes
Auto-focus Points 9, 21 or 51 Up to 51
Modes Aperture Priority (A), Manual (M), Shutter Priority (S) and Program (P) Aperture Priority (A), Manual (M), Shutter Priority (S) and Program (P)
Metering 3D Color Matrix Metering III 3D Color Matrix Metering II
View Finder Coverage 100% 100%
Live View Yes Yes
Frames Per Second 11 5
ISO 100 – 25,600 100 – 6,400
Lowest / Highest Expandable ISO LO-1 (ISO 50) and H1-4 (Up To ISO 409,600) H1-2 (Up To ISO 25,600)
Shutter Speed Range 1/8,000 – 30 Seconds 1/8,000 – 30 Seconds
Built In Flash No Yes
Card Slots 2 Total; 1 CF And 1 XQD 1
Card Type CF and XQD CF
LCD Size 3.2” 3.0”
LCD Fixed or Swivel Fixed Fixed
Video Yes No
Video Format MOV Not Applicable
Video Type Full HD 1,920 x 1.080; 24-60 FPS.  HD and VGA Formats As Well Not Applicable
Internal Autofocus Motor Yes Yes
GPS Optional Accessory Optional Accessory
Wireless Optional Accessory No
WIFI Optional Accessory No
Battery EN-EL 18a EN-EL3e
Unique Features Magnesium Alloy Body, Weather Sealing Against Dust, Moisture and Electromagnetic Interference, Ability to Use Older Nikon Lenses Magnesium Alloy Body, Weather Sealing Against Dust, Moisture, Ability to Use Older Nikon Lenses
Size Without Lens 6.3” x 6.2” x 3.6” 5.8’ x 4.8’ x 3.0”
Weight Without Lens 41.6 Ounces 34.0 Ounces
Manufactured In Japan Japan
Body Only or with Kit Lens Body Only Body Only
Included Accessories Camera, Battery, MH-26a Battery Charger, UC-E15 USB Cable, AN-DC11 Camera Strap, BF-1B Body Cap, BS-2 Accessory Shoe Cover, DK-17 Eyepiece, BL-6 Battery Chamber Cover, USB Cable Clip, HDMI Cable Clip, UF-2 Connector Cover For Stereo Mini Plug Cable, NikonView NX 2 CD-ROM Camera, rechargeable Li-Ion En-EL3e Battery, MH-18a Quick Charger, UC-E$ USB Cable, EG-D100 Video Cable, AN-D700 Camera Strap, BF-A1A Body cap, BM-9 LCD Monitor Cover
Cost, Body Only $6,499.95 (Check out the latest prices and discounts.) $2,599.99** (You can find it available here.)
Cost With Kit Lens (Lens Varies) N/A N/A

*Information from Nikon USA’s website, including pricing.

** The D700 has been discontinued but is still widely available with both new and used models being available.

The Final Frame: My Overall Recommendation

Although I really like the D700 and still shoot one, I prefer the Nikon D4s despite the camera’s very high cost and weight.  There are several reasons for this preference including dual memory slots, video feature and speed as measured in frames per second.  Interestingly the D4s’ ability to shoot at higher resolutions and higher ISO settings were not especially important features from my perspective.  That being said there is a reason that I still have my D700 after all of these years!  Either camera will provide years of service to photographers looking for a professional grade DSLR that can capture stunning images!

The Camera Guide Team

The Camera Guide Team is a group of writers, shutterbugs, and professional photographers. We know the challenge of looking through different cameras or accessories. We want you to learn everything about cameras. We provide honest reviews, detailed guides, and helpful comparisons. We have everything you need. We are here to help you find the perfect click.

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