Nikon D70s 6.1 MP Digital SLR Camera - Black (Body Only) Reviews

Nikon D70s 6.1 MP Digital SLR Camera - Black (Body Only)

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Excellent Entry Level Body With A Few Compromises

Apr 26, 2008 (Updated Apr 26, 2008)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Excellent

  • Ease of Use:
  • Durability:
  • Battery Life:
  • Photo Quality:
  • Shutter Lag

Pros:Metering, all the way around is some of the best on the market.

Cons:Lack of Mirror Lock-Up and Lossy Raw Compression (I WANT MY BITS BACK).

The Bottom Line: If you can find one used and you want to enter into the world of Digital SLR Photography then this is most certainly a great place to start.

First I would like to note I’m not going to cover every spec of the camera because the specifications can be found on the box or Nikon’s website and I refuse to use that as filler like some reviewers will… This is clearly not what this site was intended for when it was first created. With that said, I will attempt to address the misinformation provided by some reviews I’ve read.

Important Notes Concerning the D70s Digital SLR for Beginners.

The D70s uses what Nikon terms a DX Format Sensor which is effectively ˝ the size of a 35mm frame of film… Contrary to some Author’s Opinions (Inaccurate as they are) there is no magnification of your Zoom but rather a cropping of the frame; in effect you’ll get the center portion of what the image used to be on your old 35mm exposure; So, the bottom line is you have to think framing not focal length when buying lenses.

If you’ve come from a Consumer Level Fixed Lens Camera then you should also note that while some Digital SLR bodies feature Live View the D70s is not one of those bodies. With the D70s you pretty much have to use the Optical Viewfinder for every shot you take and metering is set based on the meter at the bottom of the viewfinder as there is no real time histogram.

Another note is that these bodies came in two kits, one with a lens and the other without. The Kit lens is the Nikon 18 – 70 (27 – 105 Field of View) AF-S DX. The DX designation means it was designed for the APS Cropped Sensor or DX Format Sensor and will cause vignetting when used on a Full Frame Camera.


One way that Nikon manages to keep costs down in their lower end bodies is by replacing the penta-prism with a penta-mirror. These mirrors work just fine for this level of photography as they’re plenty bright enough to get the job done. With the D70s you’ll get 95% of the actual image view at .75x magnification which means it is slightly less bright than the Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT which has a 0.80x magnification.

LCD Screen

LCD screen is 2” and 230,000 pixels and 5 levels of adjustable brightness. These displays tend not to be calibrated so I wouldn’t rely on any of them for Color Accuracy regardless of what claims others may make.

Lens mount

All Nikon bodies for several decades’ use what is know as the F Mount and the D70s version of the mount features AF Coupling and Contacts.

Auto Focus

The D70s uses the Cam 900 based 5 point AF system, as it’s older siblings the F80, D70 and D100. It is the same focusing motor that Nikon has used for years and isn’t notably faster in this body unless you’re using AF-S lenses (which the kit comes with).

What it does have is more intelligent AF Tracking than the D70 or D100 had but this is the only speed improvement where the AF is concerned.


Both the D70 and D70s have a USB 2 connection that can be used to transfer data at 12 MB/s or can be used for tethered shooting when accompanied by the option Nikon Camera Control Software.

Another improvement of the D70s over both the D100 and D70 is the addition of a remote socket for use with the optional Nikon MC-DC1 Remote Shutter Release.
Image Quality

This was actually a fairly large improvement over the D70 as the D70s seemed to retain all the sharpness of the original D70 without all the image compromises like moiré and blooming.

Another note about the image quality is that Nikon’s RAW format uses a lossy compression that they term as Visually Lossless and in reality has been measured at about 10 bits of information instead of the 12 that sensor is capable of dumping… This could be the biggest reason why the D70s and D70 had less Dynamic Range than the Canon counter parts in spite of the fact that both the 20D and Rebel XT have smaller photo sites and more pixel density.

Missing Features

The most notable feature missing from the D70s is the lack of any form of Mirror Lock-Up… In fact with the original D70 they’ve actually eliminated the Mirror Pre-Flip that was used with the timer and this isn’t good for those wanting to do exposures that only last for 2 seconds or less as the Mirror will certainly cause vibration softness when it slaps back down.

The Biggest Weakness

This biggest point of weakness for this body is clearly the Dynamic range, where most of the Canon bodies measure at 8.2 stops the Nikon comes in at 7.7 under certain lighting conditions which means that more often than not in those situations you’re going to have large areas of your image completely blown out. Some of this is recoverable with low contrast and RAW image data but clearly not as much as with the Rebel XT or 20D.

The Biggest Strength

Is clearly in the metering system of the camera as the D70 was the first entry level body to feature the worlds best Flash Metering System (Nikon i-TTL) as well as what at the time was regarded as the best Matrix / Evaluative Metering System of its kind. Now if you couple that together with the spot meter that is 2% of the frame and linked to whichever AF point you choose and you have a system unmatched by any Canon Body short of their professional 1 Series.

A Few More Notes

The D70s as I mentioned before does feature USB 2.0 at Normal Speed. Also, Nikon used the 6 MP Sony Sensor because the only larger sensor available to them was the Kodak 14 Mega Pixel CMOS sensor but price wasn’t the only reason for not choosing that sensor and it’s doubtful that Canon would ever sell Sensors to their #1 Competitor.


The D70s seems to be on par with Digital Rebel XT in a feature for feature comparison but typically doesn’t stack up in several very big areas when compared against the 20D although it thoroughly destroys both the Digital Rebel and the Canon 10D.

I would also like to add that in spite of its apparent shortcomings, you can get some very nice images from the camera loaded with detail and you won’t even have to break the bank for thousand dollar lenses to get there.

Below are a few links to images for you to decide what you think of the cameras capabilities.

Recommend this product? Yes

Amount Paid (US$): 999
This Camera is a Good Choice if You Want Something... Flexible Enough for Enthusiasts

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