Historical Note: This page was written back in early 2004. If I re-wrote it today, I'm sure I'd have a different perspective.
WHICH IS BETTER?
This all also applies to the D70s, which is 99% the same as the D70 except for a 2" vs. 1.8" screen.
I've been using Nikon for decades and just got a D70 a few months before the announcement of the 20D. I love the 20D, and after using it they are similar cameras, and each is a little better depending on what you want to do. Neither is better on an absolute basis. No one pays me anything for my opinions or sponsors me, I have to go buy stuff the same way you do. If I started from scratch again the D70 would win for me personally since I work in the field in changing conditions and need immediate access to all adjustments and fast flash sync, but everyone's different. If I shot sports or shot a lot of action in extremely low light the 20D would be the winner since it goes to ISO 3,200 and has almost double the frame rate of the D70.
Both cameras are excellent. A year ago the world had never seen anything like either of them at any price. Either is an excellent choice and you'll love it. If you already own a Nikon or Canon system just get that camera and you'll love it.
If you're starting from scratch, or will be buying a few lenses and flash anyway, which is better depends on your application. Image quality and overall ease of use are about the same. The 20D costs more because it's more solid, bigger, heavier and has a much higher frame rate for sports. The D70 is smaller, lighter, a little easier to adjust quickly in the field and costs less.
I suggest the D70 for portability, use in fast-changing conditions and fill flash and the 20D for sports or places with extremely low light. For most other uses the choice depends on personal preference and I'll spend a lot of time below detailing it all. Don't worry about it. Don't become a victim of analysis paralysis. Just go get one and have a blast making photos.
WHAT DO YOU HAVE TODAY?
If you already own autofocus lenses and accessories for the Nikon or Canon systems just get the camera of that brand, end of story.
I'm serious here: the two cameras are so similar that it makes no sense to change from one brand to the other unless you really want to change brands or have a real fetish about one feature or another. Just order your 20D here (with lens) or here (no lens) or D70s here and be happy.
Forget about using manual focus lenses you already own. They won't work well on either camera any more than they would on an autofocus film camera. I've heard a rumor of an adaptor to run manual Nikon lenses on the Canon which allows better functionality than the manual lenses do on Nikon, but I'm still investigating that.
If you are starting from scratch either is great, so read on for particulars.
PICTURE QUALITY: THE SAME
Both have excellent image quality. Which one you prefer is a matter of taste, not technology. They each offer many different adjustments to allow you to get the look you want. Image quality differences are a function of your skill in fine tuning each camera's adjustments and not the quality of each camera.
The parameters that can be measured objectively, like resolution and noise, are so close that only by shooting test charts or using special instruments can one find any difference among digital cameras. You'll never see any difference in actual photos. If you squint you may see insignificant differences at some commercial websites, but that's because they've magnified the images out of all proportion to show you the details which are easy for them to measure quickly and can't show the subtle things photographers care about which takes a lot more time to uncover. Ignore the other websites out there written by non-photographers loaded with all this info. Even a 20% difference from one camera to the next is still invisible. You and I just can't see this in real photos. There are much more important things to worry about like ease of use and whether or not you can adjust the color of the camera to give you the look you want. That's a difference you can see.
Resolution: The Same
Resolution is the same. 6MP and 8MP are too close to call by eye.
Sorry to disappoint you, but 6MP and 8MP look the same because they are only 15% different in linear resolution (DPI) when printed, which is invisible in real photos. It would take something around 24MP to look significantly improved from 6MP. I have a whole page devoted to the megapixel myth here. The D70 makes images 3,008 pixels wide and the 20D makes them 3,504 pixels wide, no big deal. No one can see the tiny difference. It takes a doubling of linear resolution, or a quadrupling of the total pixels (MP), to make a significant difference, and only then if you're printing above 11 x 14."
Non-photographers fret for weeks over differences between CCD or CMOS or whatever, which actually means nothing. This is analysis paralysis. Contrary to the popular beliefs among people new to digital, the image quality of similar classes of digital cameras are just about identical. Each manufacturer makes up some technical gobbledygook to impress the innocent that their camera is better than the others, and camera store salespeople stir this up too. I've tried these style cameras against each other, and the results are the same. There are huge differences between different classes of cameras, which you can read here, but that's not the case between the D70 and 20D. The visible differences are in how you can adjust the different cameras, which becomes an issue of trying each camera and seeing if you can get your desired look with the adjustments provided.
Sure, there may be differences in color rendition just as there are between different films, but those are subjective matters of personal taste that only you can decide for yourself. When you try these make sure to bring the images home and look at them on the same computer. DO NOT compare cameras by looking at the images on the LCD screens on the cameras, since there are bigger variations between camera LCD panels than differences in the actual images recorded.
Color: Possible Advantage to Nikon
I prefer saturated warm images. There are TWO places in my D70 where I can turn up the saturation, and I have them both maxed out. The 20D only has one saturation adjustment.
The 20D and D70 each have a saturation adjustment. The D70 also has a special extra-saturated "color mode III" lacking in the 20D. In the D70 you can select that mode at the same time as having the saturation turned to maximum, in which case the saturation is increased even more. I love saturation and Fuji Velvia film. This lets me tune my D70 to do this. For most people this isn't an issue, for instance, for portraits I turn the saturation down.
Otherwise the color is almost identical. The only visible differences are your ability to get the white balance set the way you need it.
Flash Sync: Strong Advantage: Nikon
The 20D is only 1/250. The D70 is twice as good at 1/500.
If you use fill flash outdoors (I use it all the time even for landscapes to improve the contrast) you need 1/500. If you don't use fill flash you probably should.
1/250 is pretty limiting. It was always a problem on 35mm film cameras. Most professional medium and large format cameras have been 1/500 for decades.
I as well as many pros know this to be extremely important, and maybe the most important spec in terms of how a camera can affect getting great images. I have a whole page I suggest you read here explaining this.
Thus if you don't think this is important you might want to read the page here and think about it.
Sharpness: a Matter of Taste
The D70 is a little sharper but a little rougher due to less optical anti-alias filtering. The 20D is smoother but not quite as sharp.
Of course you can tweak each camera's settings to change this as you like, so in this case they again are the same.
Mirror Lockup: Advantage: Canon
The 20D has MLU, the D70 doesn't. This is critical for long telephoto lenses used on tripods for exposures between about 1 and 1/30 second and meaningless otherwise. For Macro work one uses flash and moderate focal length lenses so again this would be unimportant. See page 88 of Canon's big manual that comes on CD for how to do this.
Aliasing is when sharp edges, points of light reflecting on the ocean or sand, or fine repeating patterns cause weird colored artifacts.
The 20D, like most cameras, is fine. Photograph what you want and it looks as it should.
The D70 has an aliasing problem. Under some conditions you'll get weird artifacts. I have more on this here. If you specialize in screen windows, fences receding into infinity or fabrics you'll want to get the 20D.
This aliasing problem is offset by slightly higher sharpness in the D70, but makes the D70 a bad choice if fabrics and fashion are important.
White Balance: a Matter of Taste
Overall the D70 and 20D are equally good but different. They both have the same basic settings and these basic settings are equally good and easy to adjust.
The 20D also has the ability to store a couple of arbitrary presets and a direct-entry Kelvin temp mode from 2,800K to 10,000 K. The D70 lacks these, but you need to futz with menus on the 20D to set these making them less helpful.
The 20D has more options, however they are harder to adjust. The D70 has fewer options, however you can adjust more WB options on the D70 directly without resorting to menus. See what I mean about being equally good but different? This makes the Canon a little better for use in constant conditions which are only found in studios or laboratories. I prefer the D70 for use in the field where the light and subject is always changing since I can make direct adjustments to fine-tune the WB without menus and the WB trims are memorized along with each preset.
Each camera has a direct access button for selecting among the primary WB presets. The 20D button works the same regardless of if the camera is in play or record mode. The D70 shares the button with a playback function, so you have to remember to tap the shutter before making a WB adjustment or you might lock or unlock the photo you just made instead of changing the WB.
The real differences between the 20D and D70 are in the critical fine-tuning of WB.
The 20D does not have individual fine-tuning for each white balance preset. The D70 does. Thus the D70 is faster to operate when swapping among presets, since you can have each D70 preset dialed in beforehand.
The D70 allows direct access to WB fine-tuning with a direct button. The 20D requires messing with it through a pokey menu. In exchange for the time and effort of slogging through hard-to-read (in daylight) menus the 20D offers more tweaking ability. The D70 only allows warm/cool adjustment and the 20D also allows green/magenta tweaking.
The 20D has one fine tuning adjustment that applies to all the presets. Thus the D70 is faster to set up and switch among the settings you need in the course of a day's shooting.
Therefore the D70 is superior for sports, outdoors and nature shooting where the light is always changing and the 20D would be better for use in a constant studio environment.
For most uses each camera is about the same. The D70 works faster and the 20D has a bit more flexibility.
ISO Settings: Strong Advantage: Canon
Both cameras offer ISO 200, 400, 800 and 1,600 with a direct button. This is all you need for normal photography and thus both are excellent.
The 20D also offers ISO 100. If you unlock a custom function (easy to do) cryptically called something like "ISO extension" you also get ISO 3,200, marked as "H." The only reason I would opine that Canon makes this so silly is to keep ISO 3,200 hidden from innocent amateurs who might use the noisy ISO 3,200 mode accidentally in daylight. OK, even pros sometimes forget and shoot all morning in last night's ISO 3,200 setting. The D70 doesn't offer either. I'd never use ISO 100 since everything looks great at ISO 200 and both cameras get to insanely high shutter speeds anyway. I would use ISO 3,200 shooting action in crummy light. This is a big advantage to the 20D. If you often shoot in places where you need the most ISO then get the Canon 20D.
The D70 also offers third-stop ISO increments. I never use these and they get in the way of getting to the full stop increments I do use. If you want ISO 250 or 640 you can get it with the D70 but not the 20D. Personally I prefer not to have these third stop increments, since they make it slower to get to the full stop increments. (Selecting full stop increments in the D70's custom menu also makes the exposure indications read in full stops, which I don't want.) ISO settings are subtle enough that only full stop changes make a difference. The only reason you might want the third stop options are if you also use your D70 to meter for film and setting an odd value helps with the conversions. I won't believe you if you tell me you're using a mirror lens (fixed aperture) with studio strobes where you also might want this.
Noise: a Matter of Taste
They're the same overall for JPGs, which is excellent. Feel free to shoot them up at ISO 1,600 any time you want to. You'd need instruments to measure any difference.
The D70 looks noisier at faster speeds because it doesn't apply as much noise reduction. The 20D's noise reduction filtering smoothes over textures resulting in a less sharp image. Thus which you prefer is personal taste. Of course you always can run the D70 images through more filtering later to get the same effect as the 20D.
The 20D goes to ISO 3,200 and looks great doing it. The D70 only goes to 1,600, a big advantage to the 20D if you shoot in the dark.
The D70 and I suspect the 20D applies no filtering with RAW, so shooting RAW you can tweak each to your own taste.
The D70 has an excellent "auto" contrast setting which optimizes the contrast based on the subject's lighting. All I see in Canon are fixed presets.
They both look great. It's your responsibility as a photographer to make the contrast what you need it to be to make a great photo, not the camera's.
SPEED AND EASE OF USE: SIMILAR
This is the most important difference between digital cameras.
The 20D and D70 are both excellent. Each works as fast as a film camera with none of the delays that plague most other under $1,500 digital cameras. I'll cover the differences below. Overall each camera has its pros and cons so your preference will be guided by your personal needs.
Speed of operation is how fast you can light up the camera, make the required critical settings and make a photo. Every digital photo requires things like ISO and White Balance to be set differently for every condition and every photo. If you only can adjust these by navigating menus you're dead. Lighting and settings are constantly changing unless you're in a lab or studio. If you are concerned about frames per second for sports then the 20D is almost twice as fast as the D70 and should be your very first choice.
General Operation: Advantage: Nikon
The Nikon D70 has direct adjustments for everything that matters. The 20D occasionally fails this test and requires you to get into a menu to adjust image quality or fine tune white balance, both critical adjustments that need to be made pronto. Worse, the 20D's menus are illegible in daylight!
Instant setting of quality and fine tuning White Balance is critical and Canon lacks this. Both cameras have direct setting of the critical ISO, drive mode, AF mode and coarse White Balance.
Overall these may be minor points, especially if you need 5 FPS of the 20D. For me, working and chasing light, these settings are more important than FPS.
Vertical Grip: Advantage Canon
I personally never use these. If you care, there is no Nikon grip made for the D70 (only some third party gizmos) and you can get this grip for the 20D, or so I'm told. Again, I don't use these.
Menus: Strong Advantage: Nikon.
The 20D requires you mess around with more menus for some things than the D70, and also provides some more settings than the D70.
Another significant difference is that all the menus of the D70 are in big, bold type and easy to read from a distance in full sunlight. The 20D fails because the menus are in small gray type that's impossible to read in daylight. WHOOPS!!! You have to huddle up and shield the 20D's LCD to make adjustments which is a very bad thing. Why can't the camera magazines tell us these things we need to know? Because it would hurt their relationships with their advertisers.
An advantage to Canon is the excellent scroll wheel for getting up and down all the choices, compared to repeatedly pushing Nikons directional buttons. Since I can't see the Canon menus in daylight I have to fail Canon here, sorry, regardless of how well I can zip through them in the dark.
If you work indoors then the Canon is fine, if not better due to the scroll wheel.
Autofocus: Strong Advantage: Canon
Canon's big advantage is the number and position of the sensors and how they are selected.
Nikon has the sensors in the usual wrong places: the 12, 3, 6 and 9 o'clock positions where few compositions fall. By comparison Canon has them all over, as well as at the 1:30, 4:30, 7:30 and 10:30 positions where many more of my compositions fall.
The 20D has a very impressive display of a cloud of autofocus sensors. They automatically figure out where the subject is and blink so brightly as almost to blind you in daylight to let you know exactly and immediately which sensors were used. This way you know instantly if the AF is on your intended subject. You know exactly where the focus is, unlike the D70. With the D70 you never really know which sensors were chosen by the camera, and even when you do the selecting they are not well lit. Good luck on the D70 since you usually have to squint to figure out which AF sensor is selected.
Likewise, the Canon has a dedicated AF zone selector in addition to the scroll wheel. The Nikon shares this with the general selector.
The D70 is excellent for both ambient and flash metering. I've made over 16,000 images and it works great in all conditions.
The 20D also worked pretty well for me, but I wasn't pushing it. I have a suspicion that the 20D may not be as good in as many conditions, meaning you'll have to compensate the meter manually more often.
Three friends of mine hate the flash metering in their 1D-MkIIs since they constantly have to change the compensation. I'm unsure if the 20D improves on this.
Thus I'd say we know the Nikon is great and I have yet to give the 20D enough use to call this one.
LCD Screen: Advantage: Nikon
They're about the same for viewing images. Colors and tone are about the same.
The Nikon seems a tad brighter. I've never needed to adjust brightness with the Nikon. I see brightness adjustments on the Canon which scares me since you never really want to have to adjust something if you don't have to.
LCDs are made of glass. Most digital cameras, including both the D70 and 20D, have a clear protective plastic sheet integrated as part of the camera case to keep you from breaking the LCD. These plastic sheets may be replaceable as a service part but are not user replaceable in the field. Amateur surgeons can try their skills on the Canon as explained here.
The Nikon has an additional user-replaceable snap-on plastic cover. After you scratch it up you throw it away and buy a new cover, the BM-4, for $10 here. With the Canon you have to buy a new camera, or have service replace it if available.
These covers get scratched up just from carrying the camera around your neck.
The menus are another story, with the Nikon's being very big, bright and legible in any light and the small gray type of the Canon being hard to read anywhere and impossible to see in daylight. This why the LCD advantage goes to Nikon.
Image Size Settings (pixels): The Same
They each provide three settings: full size, 3/4 size and half size.
JPG File Sizes: a Matter of Taste
JPG files require more bits as the image becomes more complex to retain the same quality. A blank sky requires very few bits, and an image with a lot of lines like a bare backlit tree require a much larger file size to retain the same quality.
Nikon makes files of relatively fixed size for any given quality setting, regardless of subject. The advantage is you'll be able to predict how many shots you'll get on a card regardless of your subjects. The disadvantage is that you may want to use a higher setting for complex subjects and may be making larger files than necessary for relatively flat subjects. Note: Nikon's firmware is defective and underestimates how many images you can fit or are remaining on the card.
Canon makes JPG files that vary widely in file size depending on the subject. A normal JPG at full resolution will vary from less than 1MB for an image that is mostly sky to as much as 3MB for a contrasty image of a busy forest. The advantage is that you don't have to tweak your settings depending on your subject. The disadvantage is that you may get fewer images than you expect if photographing very strongly textured subjects, or many, many more if photographing images with large defocused backgrounds.
I prefer the Canon method.
Image Quality Settings: Advantage: Nikon
Nikon provides these with a direct button. You spin one knob for image size in pixels and the other knob to select quality, which defines the file size or compression level.
Canon has no direct setting for image quality; you have to wade through menus. Personally I change quality settings from scene to scene and need direct access. The Canon menus also are impossible to read in direct sunlight. You can change the <set> button to provide direct access to the quality settings if you doodle around with custom settings as explained on page 140 of Canon's the English manual, which I'd strongly suggest.
Nikon provides three levels of JPG compression: NORMAL (normal), FINE (higher quality) and BASIC (half the file size with almost the same quality).
At full resolution Nikon's BASIC JPG is about 900kB, NORMAL is 1.6MB and FINE is 3MB.
I forget Canon's exact wording, however they only provide the larger and normal file sizes. I think Canon calls these FINE and NORMAL. They show this with pictographs of a quarter circle for the larger setting, and a ziggy zaggy quarter circle for the normal setting. Canon does not provide the BASIC setting. I use the BASIC setting often on my Nikon when shooting large numbers of images for projects like parties or sports where I prefer the smaller file sizes for much faster loading and filing and archiving with less data. The images made using Nikon's BASIC setting look great for all purposes anyway, even at 12 x 18." I wish the Canon had this option. The 20D defaults to the largest file size when you get it so I suggest setting it back to the second option which is the full image size with a normal, not large, file size.
At full resolution Canon's JPGs at the normal setting is about 2MB and will vary between 1 and 3MB depending on the subject. At the higher setting the JPGs will be about 4 MB and vary up and down depending on the subject.
Both cameras offer RAW modes. I don't use these as you can read here.
Both cameras also offer RAW + JPG modes. The Canon is better for this since it offers your choice of any of the JPG types along with the RAW. The Nikon only offers a full resolution BASIC JPG in the RAW + JPG mode for sanity's sake. Both cameras create separate files on the card thank goodness.
I award this to Nikon since Nikon offers more JPG options and instant adjustment. The Canon lacks this, but offers more flexibility if you shoot RAW + JPG.
This is critical to speed your workflow. Without it you have to select and do this manually. Both cameras do this, thank goodness. Even if you simply copy the files straight to your computer the flags of both camera's images open them properly in most programs like Photoshop, even though neither has actually rotated the image in camera. This means that the files straight from either camera may not look rotated in some programs or in your file browser.
If you download the D70's images through the Nikon View 6 or other Nikon software the images are actually completely rotated so they'll open correctly in any program. I'm unsure if Canon's download software does the same. I hope so.
My D70 is excellent, averaging 1,000 shots per charge. I have not run down the battery in the 20D and expect it's similarly excellent.
Data: Slight Advantage: Equal
Both are equally good at loading the files with slews of data.
The D70 allows you to add a comment, so mine adds this website and my phone number to each and every JPG I make. This is embedded in the file from the instant you make the image. If you then downloading through the Nikon software you can add even more comments. I didn't look to see if the 20D does this.
Both cameras code most data, like aperture and shutter speed, where all programs can read it.
Both cameras code other data in other places that can only be read using the manufacturer's software to read the files. For instance, Nikon encodes the color mode and time of day to one-tenth of a second and Canon adds the camera's serial number. You won't see any of this unless you download the files through the maker's software or browse the files with the maker's viewer.
If you download the files through the manufacturer's software, as opposed to a straight file transfer you can opt to have most of this data put in the file in a way that all programs can read it. For instance on Nikon you may select to have all the shooting data added to the file as a caption, so now you have the basics in both places and the particulars in the caption without having to read them in the manufacturers software.
Folders and File Numbering: Advantage: Nikon
Both cameras allow either continuous file numbering or resetting each time one formats a card. I always use the continuous mode so I don't have 300 files in my computer all called IMG_0021.jpg.
Nikon has a big advantage for folders on the memory card. This will become important as you shoot thousands of images. Canon only allows 100 images in a folder. Each time you get to another hundred images it creates a new folder for you. Nice? NO! You'll usually shoot a few hundred images at a time. Now you have to download the images from each folder separately. More work is bad. Nikon allows you to jam as many images as you want in a folder. Better still, Nikon allows you to create and name folders as you see fit, so if you shoot two jobs on the same card you already have them sorted.
Memory and Media: Equal
Both are excellent and take the same industry standard compact flash cards. You can read more about suggested cards here. I use the same cards in my Nikon and Canon cameras all the time. I suggest you format the card every time you put it in a new camera for sanity's sake since it seems silly to have a drive titled D70 come up when the images are from a Canon, but even if you don't I've had no problem recording images from different cameras on the same cards at the same time.
Both have deep buffers and work great for rapid shooting. Of course the 20D runs at 5 FPS which is almost twice the rate of the D70's 3 FPS, so the 20D is the clear winner for rapid fire.
LENSES: THE SAME
Nikon and Canon lenses are both equally excellent.
Anyone who tries to convince you that there is some huge difference is clearly misled.
Nikon and Canon are equivalent. Sure, if there is one particular lens without which you cannot live by all means go for that system, but overall there is more difference from lens to lens within each brand than any major difference from Nikon to Canon. For instance, Canon makes a very special macro-only lens that zooms from 1x to 5x life size but can't make regular photos, and Nikon makes the world's only real macro zoom, the 70-180 macro that zooms even at one-third life size.
Sharpness, color, autofocus speed, etc. are all equivalent. People who perceive huge differences are actually perceiving differences between what they shot one day on one system and the next day on another, not actually any difference between brands!
A very bizarre twist is that you can buy an adaptor to use Nikon lenses on Canon cameras, but not the other way around. Ever weirder, manual focus Nikon lenses so adapted on Canon cameras usually work better than they do on Nikon AF cameras, since the Canon cameras are more likely to provide metering! More here if you dare.
The bad news is that if you want a genuinely wide lens on any DSLR you're going to have to pay $800 or $1,000 for the one special wide zoom made by Canon or Nikon, respectively. Lenses starting at 17 mm are merely the same as 28mm lenses when used on digital SLRs. Likewise, if you want a general wide to tele zoom you'll want one of the specialized zooms starting around 18mm, since the zoom you already own that starts at 24 mm or 28 mm is only similar to a zoom starting at 40 mm when used on a digital camera. Sorry, but this is made up for since your telephotos are now 50% to 60% longer, saving you a lot more money when you shop for long teles.
For the Canon I suggest either a.) the 17 - 85 mm IS ($600) or 18 - 55 mm ($160) depending on how much money you have, or b.) better still, skip the mid zoom and get the 10 - 22 mm wide zoom ($800) and the 100 - 400 IS ($1,something)
Personally I just say no to discount lenses like Sigma even though I know you're tempted by the Sigma 12 - 24 mm. The Nikon and Canon brand lenses are smaller, lighter and can use real filters. The Sigma 12 - 24 mm is huge and heavy and as slow as f/5.6 and can't use front mounted filters, so who cares? The only reason to look at the Sigma is it's unique ability also to work on a 35mm film camera as an ultra ultra wide lens, which the extra short Nikon and Canon lenses can't. You can get the Sigma 12 - 24mm for about $670 here for Nikon and here for Canon.
Mechanics: Advantage: Canon
The Canon feels like metal and the D70 feels like plastic. The internals of both cameras are most likely similar. I prefer the way the Canon feels in my hand and the way the D70 feels around my neck. Seriously, I used to get a lot of stiff necks wearing my Nikon F100 and D1H and saw a doctor for it. Miraculously it all went away with the D70. My physician forgot to ask if I was doing anything stupid like hanging a five pound weight around my neck all day!
Each should outlast its usefulness. Digital cameras are disposable and it's unlikely you'll still be using either three years from now since much better cameras will be out for much less money. I've made almost 17,000 images on my D70 and it's still like new. Plastic bounces and bends while metal dents.
Both have metal lens mounts.
So why do I award this to Canon? Simple: if you're the sort of person who actually cares enough to read this far you'll prefer the way the Canon feels.
As I said five hours ago if you are already in Nikon or Canon stay there. Either is excellent. Order your 20D here (with lens) or here (no lens) or D70 here like I would and be happy. It helps me justify all the time I spend at this if you get them there, too.
If you need a high frame rate, ISO 3,200 or prefer a heavier, more metallic camera the Canon is the clear winner.
If you need immediate control of all critical adjustments without menus, light weight or fast daylight flash sync the D70 wins.
If you care enough about this to have read this far and are still undecided you really have to do as I do and just go try these for yourself. They are both so popular that even if you're an Antarctic researcher you still will have friends back on the mainland who should be able to let you try theirs. Try them both and see for yourself.
If you are starting with a clean slate either is great, so go try them both this way if you can't get a loaner:
1.) Buy a compact flash (CF) card.
2.) Take it to a store and try each camera, recording images to the card you own.
3.) Ask yourself which camera was easier and faster to use and change settings.
4.) Take your card home and load the images in your computer. See if you see any difference. ONLY make this comparison if you have both cameras photographing the exact same thing at the same time. Honestly, you can get more variation inside each camera with the way you set the settings then any difference between the two cameras, so don't put too much weight on which looks better for any one scene (like the inside of a camera store). For instance, a camera store is the last place to try a camera, since they are lit with old fluorescent lights which look awful on any camera, so whatever differences you see in color will have no relation to things you really want to photograph. Remember, with a different subject your preferences may be different! Look for color rendition; resolution is the same so ignore looking at that.
So which was easier to use? There's your answer if you are starting from scratch. Hope I've helped! Feel free to drop a tip in my hat here if you've found all this helpful. Even a tiny tip goes a long way helping me keep writing here since it's just me doing everything for this site.