The Nikon D70: I'm Impressed
Jon Hill, June 2005

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Nikon D70 with Nikkor 17-55 f2.8 AF-S DX lens attached

When you're going to be in a once-in-a-lifetime situation, you want to be ready. You don't leave home on a long road trip without a spare tire. As photographers, readiness often means having two or more cameras ready to go. When planning an important trip or a photo shoot, you need to get your ducks in a row (see photo below). That means you need to think about cameras, lenses, power, and storage, and you need spares for it all because if one element stops working, the shoot is over.

I recently upgraded my main camera to a Nikon D2X. Unfortunately, I can't afford two. I have a Nikon D2H, but the D2X does everything it can do better. So I'll be selling the D2H in favor of something that will make my camera bag contents more diverse. To take its place I picked up a Nikon D70. With airline baggage limits so tight, I wanted something lighter and more compact than the D2H for my backup. And the D70 has the added bonuses of higher resolution and, to my eye, better noise and color characteristics. The upgraded D70s was recently released. I still chose the older D70 because it saved me $150. If this was going to be my primary camera, I would have spent the extra dough for the D70s.

A backup camera isn't much good if you don't knw how to use it. I recently visited an amusement park in Korea and took the D70 along, mainly to get used to the controls. All of the shots here, with the obvious exception of the first one, were taken with the D70 and the 17-55 f2.8 lens. The lens is a little heavy for this camera, but I really like the photos they make together.

The JPEG photos from the D70 need the least post-processing of any digital camera I've ever owned. The photos here had very little done to them beyond resizing and sharpening. The fountain below also had a desaturation step.

The autofocus on the D70 is great. The shot below was take through a grimy window. I had virtually no focus problems all day.

The built in flash on the D70 really helped in the rooster shot. It is very nice to have it there for just a touch of fill when I need it. Much easier than pulling out the SB-800 flash gun for the D2X.

For a while I considered getting a prosumer non-SLR digicam as my backup. Why didn't I? First, I want to use my expensive lenses on my backup camera. Second, digicams have smaller sensors and that makes it tougher to get nice bokeh, the blurred area you see in the rose image below.

This camera is a spare for me, but I am really impressed by it! You hope you never need to use your spare tire, but I'm actually looking forward to using the D70. It's no D2X and it's handling is not as nice as the D2H it replaces, but I have to give it the edge over the D2H in other ways, most notably the compact size of the camera, and quite possibly the quality of the image it makes. At under $900 USD, these cameras are a steal.

This article is not intended to be a thorough review, just an opinion of what the high points of this camera are for me as someone who needed a reliable backup camera. For thorough reviews of the D70, visit or

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