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Nikon D70s; Upgraded Affordable Digital SLR

Mike Stensvold, September, 2005

We Rate It
Camera: Nikon D70s
Category: Entry-level AF D-SLR
Autofocus Perfomance
4.5
Metering Performance
5
Feature Set
4
Ease Of Use
4
Ergonomics
4.5
Value
5
4.5 Overall

We gave the original D70 five stars for value when we reviewed it in the August 2004 issue. Now Nikon has upgraded this excellent digital SLR, creating the D70s. Improvements include better AF performance with fast-moving subjects, a larger LCD monitor (2.0” vs. 1.8”) with color-coded menus and larger type, a wider angle of coverage for the built-in Speedlight (18mm lens vs. 20mm), a higher-capacity battery (providing up to 2500 shots vs. 2000 for the original D70), and a new remote port for the optional MC-DC1 electronic cable release.

Like the original D70, the new D70s can record images in JPEG format at several resolutions and compression levels, or in NEF (Nikon Electronic Format)—Nikon’s version of raw. You can also record in NEF and highest-compression JPEG formats simultaneously. Images are recorded on CompactFlash cards or Microdrives. The NEF format provides optimum image quality and allows much post-shooting adjustment, but requires processing with the easy-to-use PictureProject software supplied with the camera, or the more versatile but optional Nikon Capture 4 software.

The D70s looks like its predecessor, but incorporates some nice improvements.

Focusing
The D70s provides five Auto Focus areas—center, top, bottom, left and right. You can select any of them yourself in Single-Area AF mode, or let the camera do it. In Dynamic Area AF mode, the camera will start with the Auto Focus area you select, then automatically switch to adjacent areas if the subject moves into them. In Closest-Subject AF mode, the camera will start with the sensor covering the closest subject, and switch to adjacent areas if the subject moves into them.

Both single-shot AF (AF-S) and continuous AF (AF-C) are provided, but as with the original D70 you have to scroll through the LCD monitor menus to switch from one to the other. In either AF mode, Automatic Focus Tracking (predictive AF) will activate when the camera detects subject motion. The camera also features Nikon’s terrific Lock-On, which keeps focus on the subject even if it momentarily moves behind something, as when tracking a bird that flies behind a tree.

The AF-S 18–70mm f/3.5–4.5G zoom lens sold with the camera in kit form focuses close enough to produce “macro” effects).

The Auto Focus system functions in light levels as low as EV –1. You can activate an AF-Assist Illuminator via Custom Setting 4. Of course, you can also focus manually by rotating the lens’s focusing ring until the image appears sharp in the finder.

Exposure
The D70s provides three metering systems: 3D Color Matrix, Center-Weighted and Spot. The 3D Color Matrix (available when D- and G-type lenses are used) provides excellent exposures in most shooting situations. You can adjust the size of the weighted area in Center-Weighted metering via Custom setting 11, from the default 8mm to 6mm, 10mm or 12mm. Spot metering reads an area covering about 1 percent of the image area, centered on the active Auto Focus point.

The D70s provided excellent results in aerial photography, with excellent color via auto white balance, and accurate exposures.

Exposure modes include Shiftable Program AE, Shutter- and Aperture-Priority AE, and Metered Manual, plus seven automatic Digital Vari-Programs which set the camera for point and shooting such subjects as portraits, landscapes, action and more. You can apply ±5 EV of exposure compensation, and shoot a three-frame bracketed sequence.

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