Conclusion - Pros

  • Excellent resolution and sharpness, seems better than EOS 300D / EOS 10D
  • Neutral color balance, 'Nikon like' (tuned towards skin tones)
  • Good clean sharpening algorithm leaves almost no 'halo' artifacts
  • Low noise even at high sensitivities, more monochromatic (film like)
  • Excellent image parameter control; sharpening, tone, color mode, saturation and hue
  • Custom curves allows user definable tone response
  • Superb Nikon Matrix metering
  • Very fast camera operation, virtually no startup, minimal usage delays
  • Excellent continuous shooting, great throughput and 'Smart buffering'
  • Very fast CF write performance
  • Body design, finish and build quality
  • More logical control layout, faster settings access than D100
  • Lighter weight than D100, considerably lighter than EOS 10D
  • Help pages on custom function menus
  • Viewfinder gridlines (surprisingly useful)
  • More manual control and more customizable than Canon EOS 300D
  • RAW mode provides the 'digital negative'
  • Image comment attachment
  • Multiple color space support (sRGB, Adobe RGB)
  • Orientation sensor for automatic image rotation
  • Fully Nikkor lens compatible (plus new DX lenses)
  • High resolution 134,000 pixel LCD monitor
  • High capacity Lithium-Ion batteries, included CR2 battery carrier
  • Superb value for money, better still than the EOS 300D (Digital Rebel)

Conclusion - Cons

  • Moiré / maze artifact pattern visible in certain images at the limit of resolution
  • Bug which incorrectly tags images as Adobe RGB (we expect a firmware fix)
  • Vignetting / lens shading on the AF-S DX 18-70mm lens at 18 mm, F3.5
  • Still a very average automatic white balance performance, we expected more
  • No Kelvin white balance selection in-camera
  • Can't match the EOS 300D's silky smooth ISO 100 (low noise)
  • ISO sensitivity not displayed on viewfinder status bar while being changed
  • PictureProject feels like a step backwards, I recommend sticking with Nikon View
  • USB connection labeled as USB 2 but only supports USB 1.1 transfer speeds
  • Some reported quality control problems with early cameras (we did not experience this)
  • No vertical grip (portrait grip / battery pack) available
  • It's a pity RAW+JPEG only captures a Basic quality JPEG

Overall conclusion

Shortly after Canon announced the EOS 300D (Digital Rebel) and it made its way into reviewers hands it was fairly clear that Canon were offering a formidable package at an excellent price which would be the mark for affordable digital SLR's of the future, with image quality almost identical to the EOS 10D and a sub-$1000 price it caused a significant ripple in the market. Now however it's clear that Nikon were well aware of this and had the D70 up their sleeve, a camera which is a significant step ahead of the EOS 300D in terms of build quality and feature set and a match, and in some instances better from an image quality point of view.

Nikon have achieved three major improvements with the D70 (compared to the competition / the D100): (1) They have improved the performance of the camera, with its instant on availability, very fast shutter release, superb continuous shooting and image processing speed and smart use of its buffer. (2) They have maintained build quality while still delivering a smaller and lighter camera, the D70 doesn't feel much less well built than the D100 but is lighter, it certainly feels much more like $1000 worth of camera than the EOS 300D could. (3) They have improved image sharpness and detail, while we could niggle about moiré the compromise between artifacts and sharpness is worth it, in many instances the D70 delivering more detail than our previous benchmark, the EOS 300D / EOS 10D CMOS sensor.

There's not much more for me to add other than I am very pleased to see Nikon stepping up with a quality camera which doesn't compromise on build quality, feature set or image quality and yet offers superb value for money. There's no risk involved in the D70's slightly higher price compared to the EOS 300D (Digital Rebel), it's absolutely worth it.

Highly Recommended

So which one should I buy? A question I get asked several times a day, and I wouldn't like to say. In a new addition to my reviews (after the amount of feedback I normally get) I've added a link to a specific forum in which you can discuss the review or ask me specific questions which I've not answered in these pages.

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