Command Dials

Just like the D100 the D70 has two dials, both of which are mounted horizontally in the body. The dial at the rear of the camera ('under your thumb') is called the main command dial. The dial at the front of the camera is called the sub command dial. It's important to remember which is which when reading the next few pages of this review.

Main command dial (rear) Sub command dial (front)

Top of camera controls (left)

On the top of the camera to the left of the viewfinder is the mode dial, this has changed quite noticeably since the D100 and is now dedicated to just providing selection of exposure mode. Note that unlike the D100 the D70 has no mode lock button but we didn't find this to be much of an issue as the dial is stiff enough to resist accidental knocks. Also extended are the range of exposure modes available, the D70 adds Auto and a range of Scene modes.

Exposure Mode Dial

AUTO Automatic Exposure

The D70's fully automatic exposure mode configures the camera to make most of the decisions for you, for example you can't set exposure compensation, flash compensation, white balance, metering mode or image parameters. However you do still have control over some camera functions:

• Flash mode (Auto, Auto with Red-Eye reduction, Flash cancel)
• Continuous mode (Single, Continuous, Self-Timer, Remote + Self-Timer, Remote)
• ISO (200 - 1600 in 1/3 EV steps)
• Image quality (all options)
P Programmed Auto (Flexible)

In this mode the camera automatically selects aperture and shutter speed based on the current metered exposure value, exposure compensation and selected ISO sensitivity. The Program AE on the D70 is flexible, that means that you can select one of a variety of equal exposures by turning the main command dial. Example:

• 1/50 F5.6 (turn left a click) P*
• 1/60 F5 (turn left a click) P*
1/80 F4.5 (metered) P
• 1/100 F4 (turn right a click) P*
• 1/125 F3.5 (turn right a click) P*
S Shutter Priority Auto

In this mode you select the shutter speed and the camera will calculate the correct aperture for the exposure (based on the reading of the current metering mode). Shutter speed is displayed on the viewfinder status bar and on the top LCD, turn the main command dial (rear) to select different shutter speeds. Available shutter speeds (1/3 EV steps):

1/8000, 1/6400, 1/5000, 1/4000, 1/3200, 1/2500, 1/2000, 1/1600, 1/1250, 1/1000, 1/800, 1/640, 1/500, 1/400, 1/320, 1/250, 1/200, 1/160, 1/125, 1/100, 1/80, 1/60, 1/50, 1/40, 1/30, 1/25, 1/20, 1/15, 1/13, 1/10, 1/8, 1/6, 1/5, 1/4, 0.3, 0.4, 0.5, 0.6, 0.8, 1, 1.3, 1.6, 2, 2.5, 3.2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 13, 15, 20, 25, 30 sec

Aperture Priority Auto

In this mode you select the aperture and the camera will calculate the correct shutter speed depending on metered exposure, exposure compensation and ISO sensitivity. Aperture is displayed on the viewfinder status bar and on the top LCD, turn the sub-command dial (front) to select different apertures. The exact range of apertures depends on the lens used.

M Full Manual Exposure

In this mode you select the aperture and the shutter speed from any combination of the above (plus BULB for shutter speed, apertures limited by the lens used). Main command dial selects shutter speed, sub-command dial selects aperture. The meter on the viewfinder status bar immediately reflect the exposure level compared to the calculated ideal exposure, if it's outside of +/- 2EV the indicator bar will add an arrow '<' or '>' on the end of the meter.

(Preview note: We will add detail on scene modes an how exactly the interact with the camera's exposure and imaging system once we receive a final production camera and user manual).

Top of camera controls (right)

Top of the camera on the right side are the two sub and main command dials (front and back), the power switch, shutter release, metering mode, exposure compensation and status panel LCD backlight button.

Button combination shortcuts

  • If you press and hold the meter mode button and the bracket mode button (rear) for approximately four seconds the camera resets all settings to factory default.
  • If you press and hold the backlight button and continuous mode button (rear) for approximately four seconds the camera prompts to format the CF card, press this button combination again to confirm.

Power switch


Camera Off

Powers camera off. The D70 will 'stay on' until any buffered images have been flushed (written) to the Compact Flash card. Interestingly just like the D100 the D70 never seems to be completely 'off', it always displays the number of frames available on the CF card (or -E- if no CF is inserted). Perhaps this is part of the key to its instant startup.

ON Camera On

Switches camera on, this is virtually instant, there's no perceptible delay between turning the dial to the On position and being able to shoot. This is considerably better than the Canon EOS 300D which takes approximately three seconds to start up. Kudos Nikon.


Metering mode

• 3D Matrix metering
• Center Weighted metering
• Spot metering
No action
Exposure Compensation

• +/-5EV in 1/3EV or 1/2EV steps
No action

This button illuminates the top LCD panel with a green backlight for as long as the "Auto Meter-Off" time (custom function 23).