Welcome to the mystery of picture control!!
Here's a photograph of Mimi, with Vivid Picture Mode. It appeared striking in the monitor (very intense reds and yellows), so I was happy, despite the wild contrast between her fur and the seat of this very chair I'm on right now.
Now, the same cat, under the same light and on the same spot... but with Neutral Picture Control. The fur looked terribly flat, the colors were muted, the entire palette from the Vivid setting was gone.
Now... that was before downloading the files into my computer and then resizing them (hopefully better this time) for internet viewing.
Vivid... it doesn't look too vivid, does it?
Neutral doesn't sound half as bad as my description of the jpeg in the D700 monitor. I'm feeling like with egg on my face...
Standard, however, still looks like an acceptable compromise here.
Besides never to trust your monitor... the fact that these shots look pretty much the same in my monitor leads me to wonder what the effect of this setting may be on prints.
In the meanwhile, this is what I did with the files: they were all RAW (NEFs) downloaded to the computer via card reader and Nikon Transfer. Then, opened with PSE 6 for Mac, and turned into JPEGs. The consequent, intermediate JPEGs were resized in size and resolution (say, from whatever they were to 1550 on the larger side, and the resolution down to 150 dpi). After this, I did a "Save for Web" function, and set the JPEG parameters in High. Oh, and I also reopened the "cleansed" files and reduced the print size from 13 inches to 8 (on the large side). In short, all files now should be clearly viewable in almost any screen size, not just in my 20-inch monster. At no time whatsoever did I do any alteration in color or exposure here. In short, except for the file conversion and re-compression, these are the photographs that came out of the camera.
I'm interested in your reactions, and will appreciate comments. Of course, soon enough I should have something to say about the prints of these images...