- Save £15 on Adobe Lightroom 4 Photo-Editing Software Get the ultimate digital darkroom from Adobe at a great price. This offer ends 23:59, May 29, 2013.
All main functions are generally 'one-stage' operations, involving pressing a button on the camera and rotating either the main or sub-command dials. This greatly enhances the camera's ease and speed of operation. The need to access menus is minimised, unless the photographer is setting up some custom function. But when this needs to be done, the LCD screen on the camera back is bright, clear and the menus are logical and easy to navigate. The scope for customising the camera functions is wide, and the more experienced photographer has plenty of opportunity to set things just how they like them.
The images from the camera are generally outstanding. Although I have to admit I downloaded and installed a 'custom tone curve' to the camera that alters its tendency to underexpose (which resulted in slightly darker images than I wanted). The custom curve adds around +0.5 EV to each shot, but only in the mid-tones. (All the information you could ever want on the subject can be found in the D70 forum area of dpreview.com.)
The 'kit lens' that is supplied is a great bargain too. It feels very solid, with its chunky rubber zoom and focusing grips and metal bayonet mount. Its performance is great, and it covers a very useful range; 18-70mm is equivalent to 27-105 on a 35mm camera, so you're getting true wideangle through portrait to low telephoto range.
It's a shame that Nikon only include a 30 day trial version of their Capture 4.1 software on the CD with the camera. This software allows advanced post-processing of the NEF RAW files that are the best quality images the camera can save. It would be fairer for this software to be part of the package - as it is, if you want to continue using it after 30 days, it'll cost an extra £100 or so to register. This is a bit of a mean hidden extra cost. However, installing the software also installs a plug-in for Photoshop, which allows the NEF files to be opened directly by that program. As I'm a long-time Photoshop user, and the plug-in stays active after the trial period ends, I'm content to forego the extra features of NC 4.1 and do all my post-processing in Photoshop.
Another minor gripe is the ease with which dust can get onto the AA filter. This can happen when the lens is removed from the camera, and particles get inside the camera body. This has already happened to my D70, even though I've only changed lenses once. It means you either take it to a dealer to be cleaned, or be brave, equip yourself with the right tools and do it yourself (which is what I plan to do), or live with specks on your images and remove them with the 'clone' brush in Photoshop when necessary (which is what I'm doing until I have my sensor cleaning kit together). But the dust problem is one that all digital SLR cameras suffer from and which currently only one - The Olympus E1 - deals with effectively by vibrating dust off the sensor each time it's switched on.
All in all, I'm totally blown away by the quality of this camera. I've used the more expensive Fuji S2 Pro and the cheaper Canon 300D. As far as image quality is concerned, they're all capable of superb results. But for me, the Nikon handles better than them both and has a more 'quality' feel.
• Great price
• Instantaneous start-up time
• Well laid-out and easily customised controls
• Fast and very accurate auto focusing
• Accurate exposure metering
• Versatile flash functions
• User can upload 'custom curves' to the camera for exposure tweaking
• Excellent power economy = long gaps between battery charges
• Slight colour fringe evident occasionally on straight edges in bright scenes
• Colour moiré effect in certain tight textures
• Nikon Capture software costs extra - it should be included
• No vertical grip add-on option
• Ease of getting crud on the AA filter
However what I find important to note is my dealings with the camara from Amazon UK.
I opened the box to find the manual was missing. Contacted Nikon UK to ask if I could get one. The response was that the serial number of my camara indicated it was a grey import and the manual would have been in a different language - hence its removal.
Amazon is certainly the cheapest at the moment for the D70, but hope you can use it without a manual. (however the D70 manual is in PDF format available on Nikon's website).
Side by side, they really are in different classes. The D70 looks and feels much more expensive than (what I thought) was a very plasticy and flimsy feeling 300d. However, all the reviews seem to say the photographic capabilities of both are very similar.
But playing with both for half an hour, the D70 came out an easy winner. And I'm not against Canon at all as my three previous digitals have all been Canon (Powershot A5, S40 (got stolen) and my (still) current S50) and I'm even thinking of trading the S50 for an Ixus 500. I rate Canon cameras way up there, and in all probability if I had a bunch of Canon lenses that were suitable, I would probably have bought the 300d.
Many reviews have praised the battery life of the D70 so I thought I'd test it out. After fully charging the battery, I took (precisely) 728 photo's all at the highest quality and over 500 of them with the flash. I was blown away. A criticism that others have made of the D70 is that there will never be a battery pack for it (the 300d offers one), but I just don't see the point. I have bought a spare battery so on a "shoot", I could easily take up to (and probably well over if I didn't use the flash) 1,500 photo's. Why would you need a battery pack? With film SLR's using motors to wind on the film, I can see the point, but not with this camera.
The inbuilt Speedlight flash is a very capable unit and works well indoors for party shots. However, I did decide to splash out and get an SB-800 Speedlight. What a great combination. I'm mentioning this here, because the D70 has inbuilt wireless capability, to fully utilise the functionality of the SB-800 (and SB-600) flash units. This means you can detach the SB-800 (or 600) and wirelessly trigger the unit to provide side lighting. You can get some awesome results, as it uses the inbuilt flash for head on, and the SB-800 for sidelighting. Or you can of course, mount the SB-800 onto the hotshoe.
I decided (after reading many reviews) to opt for the AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 18-70 lense and am very glad I did. It is a very solid lense and offers manual, auto and auto/manual. The last one is a very cool thing (I'm not sure if the 300d has it, but I would presume all SLR's now have it). It lets you auto-focus then you can use the manual focus to trim your focus. Very nice touch.
Speaking of auto-focus, it is very quick and is selectable so you can auto-focus, or you can auto-focus/track. The first method stops the autofocus after it gets the shot in focus, until you re-press the shutter button. This means you can focus on a subject, then move the camera around to frame the shot without the focus getting lost. The second way this works is to continually track a subject and continually re-focus. This means (for example) if a car/plane/person etc is moving towards you, the focus keeps changing. It is also predictive in that it works out how fast the object is moving and predicts exactly where the subject will be at the moment the shutter is released. Very cool, but I haven't tested that bit out yet.
And speaking of speed, the startup time is about as fast as you can hit the power button followed by the shutter release. Very quick. It is also ready to take the next shot in under half a second, as it buffers the image and readies the camera for the next shot and writes to the CF card in the background.
I also read some reviews saying that in multi-shot mode you can take up to 144 shots at three frames a second. So of course, I had to give it a try. I held the shutter release down and actually got bored at over 50 shots. Unbelievable.
The image quality is outstanding. I haven't had any prints yet, but on-screen the detail is unbelievable. I took some shots with the S50 and the same shot with the D70 and they really are chalk and cheese. It's like a professional photographer came into my house and started taking photo's. I'm not that good, the camera is. The color was pretty well spot on and the exposure was near perfect every time. Corner to corner and edge to edge are well defined. I have read that there are issues with moire (spelling?) effects, but I tried photographing just about everything in the house to try to get it to happen. I understand it occurs when photographing tight repetative patterns like a knitted jumper or the like, but I just couldn't get it to occur.
You can take amazing pictures out of the box, or you can play with the settings and have some real fun. It is a highly customisable camera and just about everything it does can be tweaked. Fear not, there's a reset button if you manage to screw everything up!
Nikon have an infra-red remote that is really handy for tripod shots and self portraits, but is not included in the kit. For £15-£20 it would have been nice to have it boxed with the camera. Same goes for a camera bag/case as none is included.
In summary, an exceptional camera. I couldn't think of needing anything else for the types of photography that I do. Robust and professional feel to it and great pictures at a pretty good price. What more could you want?
This product's forum
Active discussions in related forums
Search Customer Discussions