Night photographer Lance Keimig takes you on a journey to the Aurora Borealis and helps you from start to finish, beginning with preparation for cold, Icelandic weather and finishing up with exposure...
The Nikon D70 is aimed squarely at the "prosumer" digital SLR market, or in
other words the same individuals that the F70 and F90 were aimed at with film
cameras. In film cameras the F4 and F5 series distinguished themselves from their
F70 and F90 counterparts in having the rugged construction and quality to stand
up to rugged and reliable pro use, and similarly the D2h and D1x cameras continue
to distinguish themselves in the pro segment.
Many extensive reviews of the D70 have already been written and posted on the
web by sites exclusively devoted to the purpose. In fact they formed the basis
for my decision to purchase a D70, even before any units were available to be
seen or handled. Instead of replicating these reviews, hopefully this review will
capture some of the thoughts of a typical consumer targeted by Nikon, and will
serve to stimulate discussion and capture information typically not addressed in
those "other" reviews.
Where to Buy
You may be able to find a used Nikon D70 in Photo.net's Classified Ads Section. Otherwise, check
out Nikon's newer small-frame sensor cameras from our partners. Their
prices are fair and you help to support photo.net.
Nikon F-mount supports AF, AF-D/G, AFS, AI-P, and non-cpu lenses.
1/8,000 maximum shutter speed. Flash sync at up to 1/500
Auto white balance, with TTL colour matrix metering using 1,005 pixel
Five area AF with predictive tracking
ISO sensitivity from 200 to 1600, including auto ISO selection
3D TTL flash with built in speedlight or SB600/SB800 flashes
Compact Flash type I and II cards, including microdrives
The 6.31 Megapixel sensor is reputed to be an improved version of the same
sensor used in the D100. If this is the case the difference should be noticeable
in terms of lower noise in shadow details. The 1/8,000 maximum shutter speed and
fast flash sync help contribute to more creative freedom by allowing the use of
larger apertures, and balanced fill flash in bright sunlight. However it should
be noted that this is offset by the minimum ISO setting of 200. In these
situations a film camera with ISO 100 film, paired with 1/4000 maximum shutter
speed, or 1/250 flash sync would yield the same results. So in a sense these
groundbreaking features are required to compensate for the sensor speed.
Nevertheless the faster shutter speeds and flash sync do help in situations where
one would like to freeze motion.
Prior to the arrival of digital SLRs, the camera body had been described as a
"light box", thus minimizing it's contribution to the quality of the final image,
and attributing the contribution to the selection of lens and film. In a digital
body however the sensor is the single most important contributor to image
quality. Nikon has announced it's own custom sensor development, which are being
used in the D1 series of pro-DSLRs. However it is widely rumored that the D70
sensor is the same as the D100 sensor and that it is manufactured for Nikon by
Sony. 6.1 Megapixels provides adequate resolution for high quality prints, the
dynamic range of 12 bits is excellent, and very low noise images at ISO 200 to
ISO 1600 provide excellent exposure flexibility.
The D70 can be set to generate images in the following sizes:
3008 x 2000 pixels
2240 x 1488 pixels
1504 x 1000 pixels
The F-Mount and Lens Compatibility
One of the central elements of the "Nikon System" is the forward and backward
compatibility between lenses and bodies supported by the F-Mount. The D70
continues the tradition, by allowing the use of almost every Nikon SLR lens
designed. The D70 also comes with some of the constraints users of newer 35mm
bodies will have run into. Matrix, center weighted, and spot metering are
available with all CPU based AF lenses. In the D70 NO METERING, is possible with
non-CPU lenses. This is a little different from some nikon bodies that only
remove matrix metering, while still allowing center weighted and spot metering in
manual mode. However it is possible to work around this limitation by using the
preview feature on the camera to quickly narrow down the exposure by trial and
error. As long as the lighting doesn't change significantly from shot to shot,
the exposure can be set once by this procedure.
Pre AI lenses cannot be used since they bump into the little
tab near the depth of field preview button. The tab will flex a little in case
you make the error of forcing such a lens on, however repeated use would probably
cause some distress. A good source of information for all the gory details on the
F-mount can be found at the following links.
Oh! did I mention the depth of field preview button! A welcome feature, which
has been consistently missing from a number of Nikon autofocus bodies.
The D70 supports ISO settings from ISO 200 to ISO 1600 in either 1/2 or 1/3
steps. An auto ISO mode can be selected to operate in conjunction with various
exposure modes, to increase creative flexibility without fumbling with buttons to
change ISO settings from shot to shot. Image quality is excellent at all ISO
settings, with some caveats described in the image quality section.
The D70 supports a number of exposure modes. These being:
Seven different Digi-Vari Programs
These modes provide a user interface consistent with previous Nikon autofocus
bodies. In manual mode, use of the dials to adjust aperture and shutter speed
should feel very familiar to users of the Nikon F601/N6006 style of body. In fact
the D70 allows the option to assign either shutter speed or aperture adjustment
to the rear dial. Things get interesting in manual mode however due to the extra
flexibility provided by auto ISO selection. If auto ISO is enabled, in manual
mode both shutter speed, and aperture can be set independently for complete
control over motion blur/camera shake as well as depth of field, without having
to live with over or underexposure for that combination. As long as there is an
ISO value between 200 and 1600 for correct exposure, the D70 will select it. The
con of this behaviour is that if over or underexposure is the purpose of engaging
manual mode, then the camera will conspire against you. Unfortunately switching
between auto ISO and fixed ISO requires entering the menus, which will cause
users to pick one mode or the other, and stick with it.
Aperture priority works as one would expect. The user chooses the aperture and
the camera picks the shutter speed. Once again auto ISO adds a new dimension to
this operation. It appears that as long as there is enough light the camera will
adjust the shutter speed, however as the shutter speed gets low enough to cause
camera shake, the D70 will start to increase the ISO instead. Once the ISO range
is exhausted, the camera shake guideline will start to be violated and the
shutter speed will once again start to decrease.
Shutter priority interacts with auto ISO in a similar manner. However this
time there is no camera shake judgment the camera can make, so it simply adjusts
the aperture, and once it runs out of range on the aperture setting it starts to
adjust the ISO. One of the good features in both shutter and aperture priority
mode is that once the auto ISO has run out of range as well, the D70 starts to
display over and under exposure on the metering gauge built into the
But wait there's more... it is also possible to assign exposure compensation
to the front dial, when using Aperture and Shutter priority modes. Adding this
extra level of complexity pretty much blows my mind, however for those with a
stronger ability to keep things sorted it puts them in the driver's seat with
respect to creative control. Now it becomes possible to simultaneously think
about composition, depth of field, motion blur, focus, and exposure compensation,
in the instant before you press the shutter release. Perhaps it's really all a
ploy to make you wish there was a program mode, so that the camera could be
operated with point and shoot simplicity.
The D70 has more program modes that you can shake a stick at. There are seven
Digital vari-Programs. With the following characteristics identified by the D70
Use for snapshots. Vivid, smooth images with
balanced saturation, colour and sharpness
Use for portraits. Main subject stands out, while
background details are softened.
Use for vivid landscape shots. Enhances outlines, colours
Use for close up shots of flowers and insects. Reds and
greens are captured particularly vividly.
High shutter speeds freeze motion for dynamic sports
Slow shutter speeds produce stunning night landscapes while
minimizing mottling and discoloration often seen in low-light photographs.
Provides natural balance between subject and background in
portraits taken under low light. Lighting for portrait subject will seem natural
even when flash is used.
Subscribing to the value of these programs, versus sticking with manual and
pseudo manual modes like A, S and P is very much a personal choice. But once
again digital SLRs bring a new twist over film cameras that begin to change the
equation. With film cameras, the equivalent modes were limited to helping with
selection of aperture and shutter speed, and balanced fill flash.
However with the D70 Digi vari-programs also bring in the correct settings for
switching between vivid and normal colour saturation, degree of sharpening, and
use of extra noise reduction algorithms. Manually walking though the menus and
picking and choosing these options depending on the nature of the photograph is
an exercise in frustration. It is very appealing to have saturated colours for a
quick close up of a flower, and for the next shot to be able to take a portrait
without having your subject look like a lobster.
My only reservation in subscribing to these features, is the inability to opt
out of automatic control of major feature groups. I think of these as being,
autofocus, exposure/development, and flash. On the D70 most of these modes place
the camera in autofocus with nearest subject priority. This can be very error
prone, in many situations, leading to well exposed, and balanced portraits of a
twig, rather than your favourite nephew. Similarly in automatic flash mode, the
built in speedlight will wait quietly until the shutter release is depressed, at
which point it will pop open and release a burst if necessary. This is startling
to say the least, and annoying if fill flash isn't desired. To be fair Nikon has
provided the ability to override the autofocus mode, and flash automation in each
of the digi vari-program modes. However after going through and setting these
overrides, they are forgotten by the D70 as soon as the vari program dial is
changed, or the camera power is cycled. After doing this a couple of times, it is
easy to give up and stop using the vari programs at all.
The D70 produces excellent white balance in auto mode. Various
conditions covering a mix of incandescent tungsten, fluorescent and even candle
lights were tested. In most cases a natural white was produced, without giving up
all the warmth inherent in tungsten lighting. Occasionally a strong yellow cast
would appear under low light conditions, however it is difficult to fault the D70
in these situations. Manually setting the white balance to tungsten helped clear
up the white balance in these situations. Furthermore it is possible to shoot in
raw mode, allowing the white balance to be corrected during post processing.
Colour temperature can be fine tuned for each of the white
balance modes. For example shooting in tungsten mode, it is possible to vary the
nominal colour temperature assumption of 3000K , to values between 2700K and
In addition the D70 supports a measurement mode, where the white
balance can be calibrated for a shooting session, without having it change from
shot to shot. Another really interesting capability is to use a reference photo
for extracting the white balance. This allows shot to shot consistency for colour
balance in a sequence of pictures.
Preset temperatures and correction are available for the
following conditions, with six steps for each range:
Incandescent 2,700K to 3,300K
Fluorescent 2,700K to 7,200K
Direct Sunlight 4,800K to 5,600K
Flash 4,800K to 6,000K
Cloudy (daylight) 5,400K to 6,600K
Shade (daylight) 6,700K to 9,200K
The D70 provides 5 zone autofocus, with support for AF lenses and newer AFS
lenses with a built in motor. Performance was tested with an 80-200 F2.8 AFD
lens, as well as numerous other smaller and lighter lenses including the 16 F2.8
AFD, 20 F2.8 AFD, and 37-70 F2.8 AFD. All the lenses, including the big zoom were
powered and focused quickly by the D70 body. Testing with a 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G
AFS lens demonstrated that the AFS lens was much quicker to focus and quieter
than the AF lenses.
The rapid 3 fps burst shooting capability of the D70 is an excellent feature
at the present time, when most digital cameras still suffer from slow cycle times
and shutter lag. Furthermore, as a "prosumer" I had never really let loose with a
similar continuous shooting capability on the F601. The cost of film for burning
through a roll of 36 exposures was enough of a deterrent.
Giddy with enthusiasm for the speed of the D70, and freed from the cost of
film, it was very tempting to exercise this new found power. Unfortunately it led
to a large number of decisive shots, where nothing in the frame was in focus. The
reason for this is that in AF continuous servo mode (AF-C) the D70 fires the
shutter as fast as possible, without synchronizing with the AF sensor. If the
subject is moving slow enough, the AF system will track and crisp images will
appear, if not, well... the solution lies in (AF-S) mode. With AF-S the system
will not release the shutter unless the focus is locked.
All of which is to say that the D70 leaves a number of options open for how
the photographer would like to set up a dynamic subject. These are as
Possible dynamic shooting methodology
Maximum frame rate shooting is possible, every shot is guaranteed to be in
focus, even at the expense of slowing the frame rate till the AF module catches
Maximum frame rate shooting is guaranteed. Focus is best effort, however this
might not be a problem if the subject is tracking slow enough, if there is enough
depth of field to clear up small focusing errors, of if the occasional lost frame
due to bad focus is not a problem.
Pre focus at a known shooting location and ensure that the single shot taken
is the decisive moment.
Acquire and track an object. This gives enough time to ensure that focus
tracking is locked, before releasing the shutter.
None of this is unique to the D70, but is rather a characteristic of the Nikon
system. What changes with the D70 is that a large number of "prosumers" will now
be motivated to try these and other techniques, given that they have a tool that
can perform like a Nikon film camera, without the cost of film. It should also be
interesting to see if more and more people start to demand full 8 frames per
second performance in future DSLRs, in order to properly shoot pictures of their
kids running around.
In addition to focus tracking, the D70 also provides a number of options for
selecting how the 5 AF area sensors are used. Once again it was only after making
some focusing errors did the full impact of some of the warnings in the user
manual sink in.
Single area, should not be confused with using just the central sensor. The
user can select any one of the 5 AF areas manually, however what this mode
ensures is that the camera will not use any information from any of the remaining
Dynamic area is just like single area, except the camera will monitor the
input from the 4 other sensors, and if it detects a subject that was targeted by
the selected sensor temporarily moves to another sensor, it will automatically
use the input from that sensor.
The system will automatically select the sensor covering the closest subject.
In AF-S this decision is only made once, in AF-C mode it is continuously
Until I sat down to write this review, and carefully read the manual to make
sure any of my complaints were well founded, it had been puzzling why a number of
my low light photos were coming out soft. The results seemed inconsistent, and
two identical pictures taken one after another seemed to vary greatly in quality
of focus. The clue might lie in the following quote from the user manual, "Single
area is also recommended with telephoto lenses or when the subject is poorly
lit". Aha. Without that distinction, it is easy to assume that Dynamic Area is
just like Single Area only better. There are many variables in trying to get to
the bottom of why focus is soft, particularly in low light conditions. I still
need to take a lot of pictures in Single Area mode, in order to confirm if this
is the root cause of the problem I observed. It would be interesting to hear a
number of opinions and experiences with the D70 in order for us to all be able to
get to the bottom of our own observed issues.
When all else fails, of course the D70 supports manual focus, with focus
assist using the built in rangefinder. If the lens is focused a green dot will
light up in the bottom left corner of the viewfinder. This is consistent with all
Nikon AF cameras. This is an essential feature for being able to use non CPU lens
from the AI and AIS series.
The D70 has been given the best metering module Nikon has produced to date.
The legendary 1005 pixel RGB sensor first introduced in the Pro F5 body. The
complete or partial involvement of the colour sensitive metering sensor in white
balance control is not obvious. However the D70 maintains the Nikon features of
combining TTL metering, with distance information from the D type AF lenses, and
communication with the speedlights to provide excellent autoexposure in difficult
lighting conditions with and without fill flash.
Five segment matrix metering, center weighted metering and spot metering are
all available on the D70. These are all Nikon staples and not unique to the D70.
For further creative control it is possible to select the size of the center
weighted metering from 6mm to 12mm. Spot metering tracks the AF area segment
selected. If the AF mode selected is "closest subject", the metering is tied to
the central focusing zone.
The viewfinder on the D70 is perfectly adequate. It seems a little cramped and
dim compared to other Nikons, but whether this is a problem or not is a very
subjective matter. Diopter adjustment is available. The only complaint with the
adjustment is that if it accidentally gets moved, it is hard to find the 0
correction position. A mark or detent would be useful.
The information displayed in the viewfinder is very complete, and familiar to
users of other Nikon cameras. The only room for improvement would be for the
camera to display the auto ISO value, rather than simply flashing the words "ISO
The included rubber surround is a simple but excellent idea for those who use
glasses. My glasses cost me as much as a good Nikkor lens, and I need to wear
them every waking moment. It is nice that the D70 does not scratch them.
The LCD screen is a 1.8" 130,000 pixel display. Which is meaningless. However
to put things in perspective the new SONY CLIE handheld has a resolution of
102,000 pixels. The screen is perfectly adequate to preview a complete image. The
D70 comes with an extremely well designed user interface for navigating the
preview image, and zooming into a section to check for details like focus and
depth of field. The zoom navigation is a difficult thing to explain in writing,
but is definitely worth trying to see how it works.
The data display for camera mode settings is relatively simple, grouped into
four menus. There isn't much hierarchy in the menus, so it is easy to navigate,
and hard to get lost in. One of the best functions in the user interface is a
built in help function. A dedicated key on the back of the camera labeled with a
"?" can be pressed at any time, while navigating the menus, and context sensitive
help pops up to provide a clue about the camera function being modified.
The image preview can be overlaid with lots of relevant shooting information,
as well as a histogram, and blown highlights can be highlighted. It would be
handy to get an 8bit and 12bit indication, so users can be more aware of what
they are missing if they compress the dynamic range of their .NEF files.
The Nikon D70 draws on practically every accessory designed for
SLR cameras in the Nikon system. This is one of the principal reasons for buying
one, if you are invested in the Nikon system. It is also a good reason to use the
D70 as an entry vehicle into the Nikon system of accessories, which have all been
forward and backward compatible for decades. Not withstanding some exceptions
with respect to speedlights, pre AI lenses, and some Nikonisms around metering
The D70 shows incredible promise in the flexibility it has for controlling
flashes. Unfortunately as a reviewer I am unable to do this topic justice, as I
could not justify the purchase of an SB800 to replace the old SB24 I have been
One of the biggest issues with digital cameras has been the various delays and
lags the camera imposes on a photographer, resulting more often than not in the
loss of a fleeting photo opportunity. The D70 poses no such limitations. It
handles as fast as any nikon 35mm SLR camera, in terms of autofocus performance,
shutter lag, and cycle time. It's incredibly deep buffer and fast write time to
flash results in a virtually unlimited number of continuous bursts at a nominal
rate of 1.5 to 2 frames per second. It can burst up to 3 frames at 3 frames per
second in raw mode before it needs to slow down to write the data to flash. Some
camera reviews claim 3 frames per second for up to 14 shots in JPEG Large+Normal
mode, however in practice, even with fresh batteries, I was unable to see that
speed in any mode other than raw.
The D70 is supplied with an EN-EL3 1400 mAH rechargeable lithium battery,
which is good for up to 2000 images on a single charge. In addition a holder is
supplied to allow the use of 3 CR2 batteries. Considering the amount of signal
processing and automation the D70 runs, it is amazing how long the battery
[Editor's note: The reviewer is in Canada, and it seems that the software
included with the camera depends on where it is purchased. In the US, PhotoShop
Elements II is NOT included with the camera. Instead Nikon include their
PictureProject 1.0 software, a significantly less powerful image editor, but with
NEF conversion included]
The D70 comes bundled with Adobe Photoshop Elements 2. This is extremely good
value, and virtually indispensable for "prosumers", unless they already have a
full version of Photoshop at the price of a good Nikkor lens. In addition Nikon
View and Nikon Edit can be used to quickly pull up images, and to download them
from the camera. Nikon Capture is not bundled with the camera and needs to be
purchased separately. The D70 senses and registers the camera orientation. The
nikon software works well with this function to present all the images right side
up. The convenience of this feature cannot be overstated.
A special raw (NEF) file driver gets installed with Photoshop. This driver
also performs the required post processing of the NEF file, resulting in 16 bit
photoshop images with the anti-aliasing filter applied to the NEF file for a
smooth and noise free result. ( The need for the filter is explained below in the
image quality section )
The camera does not allow the use of a cable release, however an optional
remote control can be purchased. The built in speedlight supports an RF control
mode for communicating with other nikon speedlights, for sophisticated multiflash
Image quality on the D70 is excellent. Of particular note are the very low
noise shadow details. In addition at higher ISO settings, while the noise starts
to become observable, it is still not objectionable. Unlike many digital cameras,
the Nikon D70 allows independent selection of image size, and quality in JPEG
mode. With 3 image sizes, and 3 quality levels, there are a total of 9 possible
Of particular interest is an understanding of image quality when using RAW NEF
files. In order to enter a discussion on this subject, it is important to
understand that Nikon chose to implement the anti-aliasing function partially in
the softening filter in front of the sensor, and partly using image processing
algorithms after the picture has been taken. A complete explanation of this can
be found at the following link:.
What this implies is that the NEF file contains a partially antialiased image.
This is illustrated by studying a NEF file directly without the antialiasing step
using the Nikon Viewer (below, left), and the same file by simply opening it in
Photoshop (below, right). The RAW file driver installed in photoshop performs the
antialiasing function automatically, as the file is imported.
Within a week of having the D70, and after a successful evening of nocturnal
photography at ISO 1600, with very low noise images, it came as a surprise to
hear in some online forums, that the D70 produced noisy shadows, and
oversharpened images. After quickly pulling up a random image in Nikon View to
check the results, I was amazed to find the image on the left. How disappointing.
Needless to say it took a while to find the link to the Nikon technical report
that explained what was going on.
Having understood this, there are some important conclusions that come out of
the way the D70 supports RAW output.
Some users have reverse engineered the .NEF format and produced open source
implementations of .NEF readers, particularly under Linux. Unfortunately these
readers will open the image without performing anti-aliasing. This places the
burden on the user to complete the processing in GIMP or some other imaging
application. Without a lot of care, it is quite likely a generic despeckle
function will produce an images as soft as, if not softer than the JPEG+Fine
image produced by the D70 directly in the camera.
The amount of anti-aliasing provides a direct trade off between sharpness and
noise. By leaving this choice as a post processing step, the D70 makes it
possible for people who like to fiddle, endless room to optimize each image to
their desired satisfaction. If the softness had all been built into the optical
anti-aliasing filter, there would be no recourse. While this fiddling is not
something that would appeal to 99% of the user community, there are likely
"prosumers" out there who continue to work with difficult films, and ultra fine
grain developers in order to enjoy the ultimate in sharpness. Perhaps some will
appreciate the hooks left by Nikon in the digital domain.
This discussion also helps to frame the question of image quality when
comparing JPEG and RAW files. So far it has been shown that the RAW file needs to
be softened to some extent, in order to remove aliased noise, and spatial
artifacts. This is done automatically by the Photoshop NEF input module. If the
imported NEF image was compared with a camera created JPEG, would the results be
the same ?
Both of the images above were taken with a tripod mount, and computer
triggered release to eliminate camera shake. The only difference in camera
settings was to switch from RAW capture mode to JPEG FINE+Large. The RAW image
was directly opened in photoshop and went through the automatic anti-aliasing
filter. It can be seen that the RAW path does preserve some image sharpness, over
the JPEG image.
Sample images taken with a D70 can be found on the nikon website at:
Nocturnal and Low Light Photography
As an avid "prosumer" and target of Nikon's D70 design, it is a pleasure to
report that the D70 goes a long way towards improving the ability to work in
these situations. Excellent auto white balance, and low noise performance at ISO
settings as high as 1600 are key to enabling one to become untethered from a
All of these factors are embodied in the picture above. Yes it could have been
taken with Fuji Provia rated at ISO1600, but what about the tungsten balance ?
Yes it could have been taken with slower tungsten film and a tripod, but what are
the odds I would have lugged all the paraphernalia around ? Yes it could have
been taken by any other digital camera that had an ISO 1600 sensitivity, but
would it also have the low noise performance of the D70 under those conditions ?
Thinking about these questions leads me to be satisfied that the D70
significantly improves the imaging options for creative nocturnal photography,
like no other film camera, and better than most digital cameras.
Macro photography takes a degree of patience and fiddling, in order to archive
predictable results. The unique features of digital SLR photography with the D70
helps improve the workflow somewhat. Getting precise focus with a very shallow
depth of field is one of the challenges inherent in setting up a macro shot.
The instant preview capability of a digital camera is an excellent way to
check the results and fine tune the setup, as opposed to looking at a roll of
film after it has been developed. The setup shown in the image above works well
with the D70. The laptop is connected via the USB cable to the computer. The body
is mounted on a PB 4 bellows with a 135 F4 bellows nikkor. Another tribute to the
D70's compatibility with older accessories from the Nikon system.
Use of the PTP (Picture Transfer Protocol) computer controlled transfer mode
makes it easy to look at full screen previews of the macro shot as each picture
is taken. Furthermore the use of the computer controlled shutter release provides
a solution for camera shake, in the absence of a mechanical cable release. Colour
saturation can be viewed in the sRGB space on the laptop or using Photoshop
directly in the Adobe colour space. Fine adjustments to colour temperature for
redoing the shots is then a snap.
Exposure: 1sec, F4. 135mm Bellows Nikkor, ISO 200.
Lighting: mixed tungsten and daylight. Tungsten WB
Fixed pattern noise reduction for long exposures.
Exposure: 30sec, F11. 135mm Bellows Nikkor, ISO 200
Lighting: mixed tungsten and daylight. Tungsten WB
.Fixed pattern noise reduction for long exposures.
PTP control of the camera has a long way to go, but it looks like the D70 has
provided the hooks necessary to get there. It is encouraging that the open source
community has started to embrace the idea. It is only a matter of time before
decent control packages for all manner of functions and camera types become
available, as alternatives to the expensive Nikon Capture option. The setup show
above was operated using the built in PTP support in Windows XP, which allows the
shutter to be fired directly, without requiring Nikon Capture.
What's good, what's not so good?
The Nikon D70 is an excellent camera, built on their experience with the D100.
It appears that many of the suggestions for improvement around the software,
features and user interface with the D100 have been incorporated into the D70.
Leaving a relatively short wish list of remaining improvements. These being:
ISO can be quickly changed by pressing the ISO key, and rotating the rear
dial. Why not use the front dial to also quickly switch between auto ISO on/off
Instead of flashing ISO Auto, it would be more useful to see the setting
When the camera is tripod mounted at eye level, it is hard to rise above the
camera to look down on the LCD, as settings are changed. It would be very
convenient to echo the LCD display, on the large display on the back for such
situations. The display is turned off when the quick keys are used for camera
settings anyway, so there is no cross purpose limiting it's use.
Digital cameras are both an imaging platform, and an embedded computing
platform. Allow the open source community access to the embedded computing
platform, with a well designed SDK. Proprietary Nikon algorithms can still be
protected through binary distributions. The imagination and energy of motivated
users will likely turn the camera into a cult classic and secure it's
PTP is an excellent start at controlling the camera functions. Nikon Capture
should be made available with the camera, not as an additional piece of software.
Alternatively a "prosumer" version should be released, in the same manner that
Photoshop Elements is bundled for "prosumers", and Photoshop CS charges for real
productivity and extended features that are useful to "pros" who use it every
Better autofocus performance, and continuous frame rates would always be
Incorporation of a mirror lock up function for picture taking is very
Metering and support for all Nikon lenses including pre-AI lenses. Users will
buy AFS and DX nikkor lenses for their performance, making their lives
inconvenient to drive them away from their previous investment in the Nikon
system is a slippery slope to dissatisfaction.
The serial number is very hard to read on the base of the camera as it is
brown lettering on black plastic. This number is called for when installing the
Nikon software on a PC.
And of course Kudos to Nikon on the following fronts:
Excellent imaging and noise performance at all ISO levels
Amazing battery life for such a high performance and complicated beast
Very good compromise between build quality and price point
Including the depth of field preview is a very useful and pleasant surprise,
after missing it on many AF film bodies
Very good job on the user interface, notwithstanding the suggestions
In 1999 I promised myself I would switch to digital photography once a
reasonable 4 Megapixel camera was available. Well the time has come, and Nikon
has provided the answer in the form of the D70 Digital SLR. The fact that it is F
mount compatible (mostly), produces excellent images, and is affordable have left
me with no excuse for not jumping in at this point. The ultimate validation of
this is the fact that my wife (who has always maintained a healthy dose of
skepticism of my various equipment purchases) can't wait to get her hands on it,
finally relinquishing her 20 year old Minolta SLR as the only tool a photographer
Where to Buy
You may be able to find a used Nikon D70 in Photo.net's Classified Ads Section. Otherwise, check
out Nikon's newer small-frame sensor cameras from our partners. Their
prices are fair and you help to support photo.net.