Here are some qualitative observations from early use of a D700, along with some comparisons with a D300 and a D40x, and with some comments about lenses. As background, I recently sold a D200, intending to replace it with a D300 or D700. I considered the D300 a let-down in absolute picture quality in good light – a step backwards, even – but the D700 is amazing as an all-around camera. All three cameras absolutely excel within their respective niches. Please note that the comments are “critical” only in the sense of closely examining the results, but I do have some strong feelings. Take them as you will. Comparing the D700 against the others, using the same lenses, is interesting. It's no surprise, but the D700 is clearly superior in almost every way. We’re not talking leaps and bounds, but it is almost always apparent. After viewing D700 files for a while, opening a DX file is a subtle let-down. The differences in sheer resolution are very slight to the point of being meaningless, but the contrast, clarity and noise are clearly better. What is shocking is how well the D40x did in good light. The noise of the D40x at its base ISO of 100 is absolutely and very clearly better than the D300 at its base ISO of 200. In one set of careful comparisons, it even had better deep shadow noise and detail at ISO 100 than the D700 at ISO 200. The picture quality of the D300 was a disappointment in the sense that I was hoping for higher base-ISO performance (which I personally care about most), but it was better when compared against the CCD DX cameras at higher ISOs. Of course, it's a superbly-handling package that does have many advantages. My recommendation for those seeking the best quality at base ISO is to stick with the previous 10Mp CCD cameras (e.g., D40x, D60, D80, D200) unless you can afford a D700. The general performance of the D700 at 200 clearly equals or exceeds both in almost every way. Don't expect better resolution, though, as the anti-aliasing filter is not very loose and there's no "per pixel" sharpness advantage. But base ISO photos are truly superb. Up to ISO 400-800 or so, the noise and detail in D700 pictures gets just a bit worse, but one can still obtain nearly compromise-free photos on a 17” printer. As everyone knows by now, the D700 excels at truly high-ISO work. It’s amazing to see how well the detail and color holds up out to ISO 3200. One can obtain beautiful photos, almost without compromise, printed to 8x12 and probably larger, at ISO 3200. Personally, I don’t like its performance above 3200, though. So, while I started out searching for a better low-ISO camera, I'm taken by the new possibilities that the D700 affords. One interesting thing is that I’ve found that Nikon’s NX2 did a very nice job developing D300 photo’s – way, way better than Photoshop CS3. However, I found that CS3 does a good job with D700 files that is similar in quality, and often better, than NX2. I studied the 12-bit vs. 14 bit question using both NX2 and Photoshop CS3. Assuming that these programs actually process 14 bit files (and don’t just truncate them to 12 bit on their way to 16-bit space), I found that 14 bit files provides essentially no improvement at all in shadow detail. I tried everything, separately and in combination: Underexpose by 5 stops, max out shadow enhancement, wildly adjust gamma, etc… Nothing produced any difference that would be visible in any reasonable picture. The only thing I noticed was that there was an extremely slight improvement in shadow smoothness, and (strangely?) a slight reduction in perceived sharpness (probably due to a cognitive effect in which noise sometimes appears to add sharpness), at 14 bit, but again only in pictures which are absurdly manipulated far beyond anything that anyone would reasonably try. I did not look at highlight issues or banding in skies, etc. The D700 subjectively feels significantly heavier and a little bulkier than the D300. The D700 plus Nikon’s 24-70 f/2.8 lens (which I have) is a rather large, imposing and heavy package. It attracts a little too much attention, but no negative comments so far. My feeling is that the size and weight are marginal for an all-day, any-day carry. Nikon’s 24-70 f/2.8 lens is very sharp and has great bokeh, but it vignettes pretty badly on full frame when opened-up. This is a design issue and not a “sample variation” issue. It’s a shame that Nikon couldn’t do a bit better here, but I guess some compromise was necessary. But it’s so bad that at times Nikon’s own NX2 software’s vignetting compensation function has to be almost maxed-out to cope. Photoshop CS3 has more leeway. They both do a reasonable job, though some spherical non-uniformity typically remains that is visible to those who are looking for it. Realistically, you have to be stopped down to f/8 to have an image that is free of vignetting without software adjustments. Nikon’s 70-200VR is a miracle lens on DX, but its performance drops significantly in the corners on full-frame digital. As with the 24-70, the vignetting is bad, but can be fixed. The corner sharpness cannot be fixed and is inadequate for some subjects. If you are considering this combination, do yourself a favor and try before you buy, or keep a DX body for use with this lens. The use of the 1.4x teleconverter does not fix the corner performance of this lens on FX, by the way. Nikon’s 17-35 f/2.8 works very, very well on the D700. I pretty much always use this at f/5.6 to f/11, where there is no vignetting and the sharpness is excellent across the frame. Only at 17mm, and then mostly only wide-open, are there any problems, and then only in the very extreme corners (e.g., the last 100 pixels or so). It's very wide on FX and only a few subjects realistically need anything wider. It’s a keeper on FX! I also have the 105 VR, but have not made comparisons yet. Finally, I have the 18-70 DX, which does quite well for what it is (a small light lens for my D40x), but it does not stand up to the quality of the 24-70 f/2.8 on the D700. The bottom line: The older CCD-based cameras offer as good or better performance at their base ISO of 100 than the others do at their base ISO of 200. The D300 is, of course, a superb-handling camera, but it's base-ISO image quality is worse, while finally becoming superior to the older cameras at higher ISO's. Otherwise – no surprise – the D700 rules. Save space and just use 12 bit files, though, as 14 bits adds nothing to shadow quality. Finally, corner performance such as vignetting and sharpness are serious issues on FX, even at the low pixel density of the D700. I feel that the 70-200VR, in particular, belongs on DX cameras, where it’s one of the best lenses ever. Cheers.