Nikon D70s


      In summary

      With no higher-resolution sensor available, Nikon has opted to improve the features and functionality of its popular D70 model. Fortunately, until the next generation of ‘pro-sumer’ DSLR cameras arrives, the new D70s model will make many potential buyers very happy. For starters, for the $1999 price tag you now get a high-quality AF-S Nikkor 18-70mm lens as well as the improved camera body. . . [more]

      Full review


      Quality rating (out of 10) Build: 9.0Ease of use: 9.0Image quality: 9.0Value for money: 8.5

      With no higher-resolution sensor available, Nikon has opted to improve the features and functionality of its popular D70 model. Fortunately, until the next generation of ‘pro-sumer’ DSLR cameras arrives, the new D70s model will make many potential buyers very happy. For starters, for the $1999 price tag you now get a high-quality AF-S Nikkor 18-70mm lens as well as the improved camera body.

      Nikon has replaced the D70’s 1.8-inch monitor with a 2.0-inch display, which makes reviewing images much more comfortable. The menu has also been made easier to read through use of a larger type-face and the D70’s white-on-blue colour scheme has been replaced by white-on-grey, with highlighted items shown in bright yellow. A big improvement in legibility! Help dialogues are available at the touch of the ‘WB’ button for on-the-spot reference when changing custom settings. Finally, the large rubber eyecup – an option with the D70 – is now standard.

      An extra port has been added for the optional MC-DL1 remote controller, which you’ll need for exposures longer than 30 seconds. However, the plastic covers that protect the cable ports still fit poorly, making them fiddly to use. A more powerful EN-EL3a 7.4V 1500 mAh lithium-ion battery and compact MH-18a quick charger allow users to take up to 2500 pictures per charge as opposed to roughly 2000 on the D70. However, no accessory battery holder is supplied.

      In all other respects
      including the sensor, lens mount, image processor and controls – the D70s is identical to the D70 and the comments we made on the D70 in the April/May 2004 issue apply. One feature that should have been changed (but wasn’t) is the shooting mode display, where the icons are so tiny it’s difficult to tell which mode you’ve set – especially in dim lighting. Another feature we think Nikon should have addressed is the bundled software. Picture Project is too slow, too automated and too limited to be useful to photographers who use DSLR cameras. Competing manufacturers supply much more capable RAW file converters free of charge with their DSLRs; its time Nikon followed suit.

      Nikon DSLR owners who dislike using Picture Project can now view their RAW files – and access the image metadata – through Microsoft’s RAW Image Thumbnailer and Viewer for Windows XP. A link to the free download can be found on the Photo Review website. NEF-RAW files can also be opened in both Photoshop and Photoshop Elements 3.0, although if you have Picture Project loaded, use of Adobe Camera Raw is limited.

      We reviewed the D70 before we stared using Imatest for performance evaluation, so we were interested to see how well the D70s shaped up in comparison with other DSLRs we’ve tested. Suffice it to say that overall imaging performance was outstanding. The metering system delivered accurate exposures under a wide range of lighting conditions and the sensor captured a wide dynamic range, even in bright sunlight. Image resolution was above expectations and edge-to-edge sharpness was excellent at all lens focal length settings and across the aperture range.

      Chromatic aberration was negligible with the supplied 18-70mm lens. Colour accuracy was also very good, with well-controlled saturation and image contrast. Low light performance was similar to that of the D70, as was the new model’s white balance performance, indicating little (if any) change to image processing algorithms.

      The built-in flash now covers the full angle of view for lenses up to 18mm as opposed to 20mm on the D70. This flash can be integrated into Nikon’s Creative Lighting system giving photographers i-TTL flash control. It can also be used to trigger Nikon’s SB-600 and SB-800 Speedlights in multi-flash set-ups.

      We measured an average capture lag of 0.2 seconds, which reduced to less than 0.1 seconds with pre-focusing. The burst mode recorded shots at 0.65 second intervals, with the buffer memory holding four RAW files or nine high-resolution JPEGs.

      Overall, the D70s is a satisfying camera for serious photographers to use. The 6-megapixel sensor produces superb enlargements right up to A3+ size, which is as big as most photographers would want. Given that the difference between the 6-megapixel sensor on the D70s and an 8-megapixel CCD (which is predicted for next generation models) is less than 30%, there’s little point in hanging out for a higher-megapixel model if you want – or need – a DSLR right now and already have some Nikkor lenses.

      Footnote: Nikon is offering a free firmware upgrade for D70 owners, which brings the older model’s performance in line with the D70s in many respects. Primary improvements include adoption of the improved D70s menu design and improved autofocus performance, especially motion tracking. Go to to download the upgrade. [24]





      Image sensor: 23.7 x 15.6 mm CCD with 6.24 million photosites (6.1 megapixels effective)
      Lens mount: Nikon F mount (with AF coupling and contacts)
      Lens multiplier factor: 1.5x
      Image formats: NEF-RAW (compressed, 12-bit), JPEG (baseline-compliant)
      Shutter speed range: 30-1/8000 second
      ISO range: ISO 200-1600 in steps of 1/3 EV
      Dimensions (wxhxd): 140 x 111 x 78 mm (body only)
      Weight: approx. 600 g (body only)
      Focus system/modes: TTL phase detection by Nikon Multi-CAM900 AF module; single area/dynamic area AF, focus area selection (5 points); manual focus.
      Exposure metering/control: TTL metering with 3D colour matrix metering, centre-weighted and spot metering; Auto, P, A, S and M shooting modes; 6 Digital Vari-Program scene settings.
      White balance: TTL Auto plus six manual modes with fine-tuning and custom pre-set.
      Flash GN (m at ISO 200): 15 (manual 17)
      Sequence shooting: 3 fps for 4 RAW images or 9 Fine JPEG images.
      Storage Media: CompactFlash card (Type I/II)
      Viewfinder: Fixed eyelevel penta-Dach-mirror type (-1.6 to +0.5 m-1 diopter adjustment)
      LCD monitor: 2.0-inch, 130,000 dot, low-temperature polysilicon TFT with brightness adjustment
      PC interface: USB 2.0 full speed
      Power supply: Nikon EN-EL3 rechargeable lithium-ion battery





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