Nikon D70 and lens. This free website's biggest source of support is when you use any of these links, especially this direct link to this lens at eBay (see How to Win at eBay), or at Adorama, when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Thanks! Ken.
NEW: Memory Card and Download Speed Tests, featuring the D70.
Detailed direct comparison to the Canon 20D here
November 8th, 2005: Battery Recall.
INTRODUCTION back to top
As of December 2005 the almost identical D70s replaces the D70. Everything here, except for the screen size, still applies.
The Nikon D70 is the second best digital camera I've ever owned. I love my D70 to death. In December 2005 I got my D200, which is newer, more expensive, bigger, heavier, and even easier to use. Thus my D200 becomes my best and my D70 is second best. The D70s is still my top suggestion if you want an advanced camera and are concerned about price, size, weight and battery life. The D70 has a much longer battery life than my power-sucking D200.
I bought mine new in March 2004. It even has some better features and cleaner images than some fringe $5,000 professional DSLRs I tried at the time. Sure, the Canon 1D-Mk II has some advantages, but it's $4,500, has slower flash sync, weighs a ton and has more primitive battery system. Honestly I still prefer the D70 for its better size, weight and faster flash sync. Everyone's needs vary, and for me I prefer the D70 to everything else digital, including the bigger and slower-syncing $4,500 D2X and $1,500 Canon 20D. The D70 has many image quality and ease-of-use improvements over the professional $4,000 D1H I used to lug around, not just in resolution, but also in highlight performance and much better color.
The Canon 20D at $1,500 (body only) can be a better camera depending on your needs. If I shot sports or shot Canon and didn't mind the weight, slower sync speed, slightly kludgier interface and less legible LCD I'd go for the 20D. See the explicit comparison here. I prefer the lighter weight, faster sync and ease of use of my D70. Your needs may or may not be different from mine.
I consistently print spectacular 12 x 18" prints from my D70 at my local Costco warehouse discount store, even from BASIC JPG files.
I like it so much I bought my own at full price before the rebate and that's what I use today. No one gives me any of this stuff for free. I ordered one for myself here, complete with the 18 - 70mm lens; and I already own a D1H and a dozen other lenses. You also can get it here with 18-70 lens or here without.
The text links I post to Amazon and Adorama are great places to get your D70, but be very careful of anything you see in advertisements. Most internet ads are placed automatically and real people don't always get to check them out first and scams do sneak in. I talk about some of the scam operations here and here. Specifically there is what appears to be a scam operation claiming to be in Finland with too-good-to-be-true prices with ever changing names like Digibest, Sunlitics and FineTronics that keeps popping up a lot of places and has taken money from people. Read this for suggestions about where I bought mine and easily how to avoid scams, and please let me know if you ever see any more. The D70 is a very hot product so anyone offering any big discount is possibly a scam. Read those links for much more.
Read the rest of the review or worry about some nitpick if you want (I and others can and will always find fault for something), but I bought one as an improvement over what I already owned. It's that good. I ordered with confidence even though I couldn't get it immediately, and Adorama and Amazon lets us return something if we just plain hate it, so there's no reason not to order one if you think you want one as I did. Remember that you need to have memory cards for it about which you can read here.
The D70 is a true DSLR and far superior to all the new 8 megapixel fixed zoom lens cameras. I explain this here, which you should read if you are new to DSLRs as most D70 owners will be. The D70 is just like a film camera and not clumsy, confusing or slow like the fixed-lens digital cameras you probably already own are. Sadly no magazine or other review source has pointed out the huge differences between DSLRs and fixed lens cameras yet, so do read the article here.
I found the image quality in my test photos at the common ISO 800 setting far better than the more expensive Sigma SD-10 and much, much better than the five-times-as-expensive brand new Kodak Pro SLR/n! (I hope there was something wrong with the Kodak.) Those other cameras fall flat on their face with visible noise at these very important higher ISOs, while the D70 returns very clean images.
Forget the obsolete D100. The D70 costs less and is a far better camera. It is also two years newer than the D100. The D70 is an absolutely brilliant camera and the second-least expensive DSLR from anyone. Do you really need to read the rest of the review?
Sorry if my directness shocks you compared to other websites; I'm not a commercial venture so I have no advertisers or sponsors to worry about offending by saying what I think. I'm just a photographic artist who's been working in digital for decades and no one is paying me anything to alter my opinions. I have no problem being honest when one product clearly outperforms others since I don't have to keep any advertisers happy. This is a superior camera even though it cost several times less than some competitors.
The D70 was announced at the end of 2003 and more formally on January 28th, 2004.
I especially love the ease-of-use and pro-caliber 1/500 flash sync!
List price is $999 for body, and $1,299 with an excellent 18-70mm lens.
As of January 2005 it's one of the most popular cameras of all time and usually in short supply. Since stores can sell as many of them as Nikon can ship no one has any reason to have to discount. I've never seen a discount from anyone, and all the discounts I've seen are from scam operations who never really have any to ship. I just got on a waiting list and my camera appeared. Be very wary of fraud over the internet. Adorama and B&H and Amazon are fine, but be careful of the thousands of others offering these.
SPECIFICATIONS back to top
6 megapixels (3,008 x 2,000 pixels), same as almost every other DSLR. Also 2,240 x 1,448 and 1,504 x 1,000 pixel settings. JPG, RAW or both at the same time. Thankfully no TIF format, since it would only clog up the card and slow down the camera.
True CCD image sensor, not a cost-saving CMOS sensor as most other new DSLRs have today. This gives the D70 the ability to have an electronic shutter and much faster flash sync than most other DSLRs recently introduced, including those five times as expensive. Yes, the D70 is twice as good (1/500 vs. 1/250) as the $4,500 Canon 1Ds-II and Nikon D2X. These more expensive cameras are only using CMOS sensors and can only use the old focal plane mechanical shutters, limiting sync speed. I'm a real stickler for fast flash sync as you should read here.
Standard DX size CCD, 16 x 24mm. This is better than Canon, which tends to have slightly different sized sensors in each SLR so you'll get confused if you use different cameras at the same time. This standard sensor gives a 1.5x crop factor compared to the obsolete 24 x 36mm 35mm film aperture. You can get ultra-wide shots with Nikon's 12 - 24mm lens, unlike with Canon where you would need the $8,000 1Ds since Canon makes no extra-short zoom for the 10D or Digital Rebel.
You can read more about why the DX sensor is the perfect size and unlikely to change here. I bought a D70 and the 12 - 24 mm lens with my own money at full price, so I certainly am not expecting any Nikon digital SLR to revert back to the old 24 x 36 mm film aperture.
ISO 200 - 1,600, excellent. Why no ISO 100? Simple: the only reason for slow ISO speeds in the old days of film and in digital point-and-shoots was to get great color and no grain. I explain why compact digital cameras still need ISO 50 and 100 here. The D70 gives such great results at ISO 200 there is no need for the older, slower speeds like ISO 100, 50, 25 (Kodachrome II in the 1970s) and 10 (Kodachrome in the 1940s). If you want to use big apertures you just shoot at 1/8,000 of a second. TRICK: you can shoot at ISO 3,200 and ISO 6,400 by setting the D70 to ISO 1,600 and -1 or -2 exposure compensation and then either 1.) shooting in RAW and opening the files at +1 or +2 exposure, or 2.) just shoot in JPG mode and use Photoshop's Levels or Curves command to lighten them! The curves command can give better results than an in-camera or RAW push because you can introduce a valuable film-like shoulder to the curve to improve highlight rendition. That's right, you also could set the D70 to -3 or more compensation for even higher speeds. Noise and image quality using this trick is the same as other cameras set directly to these speeds. The other cameras with higher ISOs just do the Photoshop magic in-camera for the same results.
Selectable long exposure noise cancellation (NR) mode. Watch it, the camera only runs half as fast even at short shutter speeds when you set this. I wish the camera were smart enough to disengage this mode automatically at fast shutter speeds. You may or may not want to set it for time exposures and definitely want to leave it off (the default) for normal use.
1/500 sync speed, superior to Nikon D2H, D100, Canon 20D, 10D, 1Ds and 1D-Mk II and every other consumer DSLR. Read why sync speed is so important here. This is a critically important spec and a key reason I would buy the D70 over the more expensive D100, D2H, Canon 1Ds ($8,000), 10D, 20D or Digital Rebel. It actually works perfectly all the way up to 1/8,000 when used with any external flash, due to the D70's electronic shutter. Of course you'll lose a lot of light, so Nikon doesn't put this out in the open to same themselves from having to answer all the questions.
White Balance is fully featured, meaning a full fine-tuning adjustment for each preset, typical for Nikon but painfully lacking in Canon 10D or Digital Rebel. This is another reason to prefer the D70 to all of them. The ability to fine-tune each WB preset is very important to getting great images and usually overlooked by photographers new to all this. This really affects your image quality far more than just about any other specification for real photography in the field.
3 Frames Per Second, with about a 12 image buffer. Actually Nikon pulls some clever tricks with file writing so at JPG NORMAL and with a fast enough card you can shoot continuously till the card fills up since it writes as fast as it shoots giving about 144 continuous shots at 3 FPS. Personally, except for extremely insane sports sequences I find even 9 frames is always more than enough. The buffer is only 4 shots in the tedious RAW format.
The camera-indicated buffer size at NORMAL compression is 12 frames at large JPG, drops to 7 images when set to JPG medium (2,240 x 1,448 pixels) and goes up to 27 images when set to JPG small (1,504 x 1,000 pixels). It is more at SMALL and less at FINE compression settings. This makes sense: it takes more internal memory for the algorithms to process the more complex non-integer size transform for the medium size, and it must take much fewer resources to scale the image by exactly one-half for the smallest size. Of course since the camera writes pretty fast you may not fill up the buffer at all and can shoot continuously at some settings.
Don't worry, the camera-indicated buffer says one thing while the very clever writing schemes are working in the background with the correct cards. The dynamic buffering schemes are smarter than our ability to try to measure them the way we used to with all the previous static-buffer cameras, so just enjoy.
Built-in flash. more info here.
Superior 1,005 segment color meter, same as F5/D1X/D1H/D2H and superior to every other camera and meter on the planet. Actually even though the hardware specs here are the same as the F5/D1X/D1H/D2H I find that the new firmware let this meter perform better than any other camera I've ever used, period. More here.
Immediate operation, very good and very, very important. Everything on this camera just works and works NOW. This is one of the many very significant reasons this camera is far superior to slow point-and shoots like the Nikon 8700 and Sony DSC-F828.
5 area autofocus
30 seconds to 1/8000 second shutter with unbeaten 1/500 flash sync. 1/500 flash sync allows this camera to be used for serious professional portrait and action photography, unlike the other consumer DSLRs with slower sync speeds. There is an unlimited Time exposure mode available with the ML-L3 infrared wireless remote you can get here for $16.95.
Takes standard CF cards and microdrives.
Li-Ion EN-EL3 battery (same as D100) and MH-18 quick charger comes included. Also you can use three CR2 batteries instead if you use the included MS-D70 battery holder; absolutely fantastic! There's an optional EH-5 AC adapter.
wide, 4.4" high, 3.1" deep (140 x 111 x 78 mm)
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