• Nikon Camera Review: Nikon D70 Review - Notes from a professional shoot

    17 April 2005

    Nikon D70 Review - Notes from a professional shoot

    Notes from a professional shoot

    The Nikon D70 performed exceptionally well during a professional product shoot. This was a simple job shooting pastry under portable studio strobe lighting where the client only needed digital images.

    My overall impression of the D70 is that it is an excellent piece of photographic equipment. I was most impressed with its responsiveness. The camera was always ready to shoot. I never felt as though I was waiting for the camera for any reason.

    The shoot was almost 3 hours and the battery, which was fully charged at the start of the shoot, held up the entire time. It wasn't until later when I was viewing the images at home on the TV from the video out that it started to show signs of a low battery. During the shoot I was not using the onboard flash but the LCD was referenced frequently for composition and approval by the client.

    I did not get to test out all the features but it was not hard to get into a shooting and operational rhythm. I did find that I used the LCD more then the viewfinder for composition. It is easy to pop off a shot and then study it, make adjustment, and then pop off another shoot. This allowed for switching between two shots to make A/B comparisons. Since most of the shots were tripod based this method was possible. I did not expect to work this way but I will say that it was very natural and much more productive then using a Polaroid back.

    I used the 18-70mm AF-S DX lens. It performed well with clear, sharp and rectilinear linear pictures. However, I did have trouble keeping the focus and zoom ring clear with my fingers. They are about the same size and a bit close together. You will need to know which one is which. In general I prefer Tokina and Sigma lenses to Nikor anyway. I did some research and found that Sigma makes some impressive by specification lenses designed for DSLR cameras that have a small CCD compared to a 35mm negative. I would recommend checking them out before buying this package. You may find a lens you prefer. It is nice to have options.

    Now for some tips I picked up from experience:

    The SB-25 I own does work with the camera just not in TTL mode. I latter read that the new SB-800 is required for TTL. If I buy the D70 I will have to also buy the SB-800.

    To review pervious pictures you need to use the up and down buttons of the cursor not the left and right. I was using the 4 tile mode to switch between images then toggle back through 9 tile back to single image. User Error.

    The left and right buttons switch between the information screen, histogram, highlight mode and standard view. I made the mistake of being in standard view because I did not know there was a separate mode when reviewing pictures for highlights. This caused me to erroneously assume the highlights we under control on a few occasions.

    I love the pan & zoom function when reviewing pictures. It is easier then a loop and a Polaroid by far.

    There is an option to let you change f-stop and shutter speed in half or third increments when manually overriding or adjusting exposures. I like 1/3 stop increments and knew the camera could do it so it wasn't hard to find the option to set this. Just don't be fooled because you didn't read the manual like me.

    The 1.4x magnification of the lens didn't bother me.

    The viewfinder image is smaller then what I'm use to on the N90 but not bad.

    The view finder seems to cover less of the final image then I anticipated. I also seemed to have a drift to the left. Many of the compositions I did by hand, free style, seem to have the image shifted off center to the right. I suspect this is me but it was odd.

    The LCD is bright and easy to read. The nicest on any digital I have seen.

    The camera felt good in my hands. Controls were where I wanted them to be. The body felt rugged and sturdy

    There is no way to determine what shooting mode you are in without looking at the mode dial on the top left. It is also not backlit so it is hard to read in the dark.

    The backlight on the top LCD is dim. I'm use to the N90 which has the blue glow which is fabulous.

    The LED in finder information is nice but I do still prefer the N90 viewfinder information and LCD style.

    The focus assist light was nice.

    There is an option to toggle a set of grid lines in the viewfinder. Nice feature! How did they do that? I have to change focusing screens on the N90.

    Image quality was excellent. I saw no evidence of pattern problems others have reported. 6 MP is real nice. Shoot first crop later if you have to. You will any way if you shoot cropped in the viewfinder.

    Highlight and histogram are very helpful features. They did make it easy to detect when something was wrong that my eye didn't catch.

    The Nikon D70 is worth the money and has many features to make it heavy on the Pro side of Pro-sumer. For the professional, consider this instead of using a Polaroid back for verifying shots.

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