I've been eagerly awaiting the first photos from the D70. When Steve posted them last week, I made 13x19 prints of Steve's standard brick building photo from each of three cameras: the D70, the Coolpix 8700, and the Sigma SD10. I was quite surprised by what I saw.
(1) The Sigma SD10 made the sharpest, most natural-looking print -- by a wide margin. You can easily see this even on your monitor, especially in the foreground foliage. The leaves look natural and pleasing on the SD10, but are almost painful to look at on the Coolpix 8700 and the D70.
(2) The 8700 came in second, with good color, slight undersaturation, pretty good detail, and no major artifacts other than the usual antialiasing effects described above.
(3) The D70, which I *really* wanted to like, was a distant third. The image is markedly over-saturated, the detail is poor even in the brick, and there are *huge* moire patterns along the vertical row of bricks. I had noticed this on my monitor too, but assumed that the monitor was at fault. Nope: it's there in the prints as well. Take a look for yourself, and be willing to trust your eyes:
Awful, isn't it? Look, in particular, at the bushes along the sidewalk. Argh!
So now, the question: what do I do?
As beautiful as the SD10 images are, the camera performs poorly in low light, to the point that I'd consider it unusable. It's almost temping to buy one as a daylight-only camera, but that just seems excessive.
The 8700 looks decent, but every single reviewer has commented on the misplaced buttons on the side of the camera, and the last thing I need is to spend $1000 on a product that's going to irritate me every time I use it.
The other 8MP prosumer digicams look roughly comparable. The Sony F828 and Olympus C8080 appear to be a bit noisy, while the Canon Pro 1 is cleaner (look at the shrubbery and the shaded parts of the shed) at the price of being slightly softer looking.
And the D70, for which I had such high hopes, looks to be a real disappointment.