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Old Jan 15, 2005, 7:49 PM   #1
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Picked up a D70 w/kit lens last night from J&R in NYC. Thought I would throw out a few comments and see if anyone else has similar opinions or am I just expecting too much.

I just sold my 300D and decided to give the D70 a try.

First things I noticed (The Good):

Ergonomics: Feels great to hold and use. Very commfortable and controls are well placed.

Build: Polycarbonate or not, it feels solid and well built. Huge improvement over the 300D, slightly less then my 10D.

Viewfinder: Seems a little dark, but otherwise fine. Optional gridlines are a nice feature for architectural photography.

Speed: Very nice response times for power up, wake, buffer/memory writes to 1G Ultra II card.

Image Quality: Overall appears sharper then both the 300D/10D at 100% view.

Metering: Hands down much better in metering then both.

The not so good:

Focus: Find it difficult to get a good focus lock inside the focus zones. I miss the fine level of granularity the 300D/10D offer in focus precision (effectively getting focus lock on the eye of a subject with a shallow DOF). Tougher especially in high contrast areas with a wider DOF. Focus speed on the kit len although it is very smooth and quiet , it is also appears quite slow especially in AF-C tracking.

Grain: Although very sharp I see considerably more noise in blue skies and areas of uniform color. For me that is a personal taste I dislike, some like the more "film" like appearance.

Mirror-Lock-up: Missing for all useful purposes aside from cleaning. Not a huge prblem for my applications but for some it may be.

Overall the camera is an outstanding peice of equipment and I imagine it hits the target market Nikon was aiming at. I just wish the D70 could focus as precisely as Nikons market research team. For me this may be a deal breaker, I really may be missing something here, but I really do miss the pin point accuracy of the Canon(s). If someone has any suggestions or pointers please let me know. Also The D70 renders colors on a technical level muh more accurately. Another matter of personal taste I prefer warmer photo's the canons render, but that can all be eaily fixed in post processing. I can however appreciate the accuracy of the color rendition although it appears colder to me. I am very impressed by the camera and def. think its a dollar for dollar best buy in its market segment. I miss the smoother and warmer images from the 300d/10d at ISO 100 w/o post processing. Tonight I may venture out and take a few long exposure night scenes and see how the images look. If anyone has any ideas on my focus issue please drop me a note I would like to keep the camera but this in addition to blue sky noise just makes me think about returning it for the 20D and taking my chances on the problems that camera may have (underexposure).

Many Thanks

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Old Jan 17, 2005, 1:56 AM   #2
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To address your "not so good's", from a seasoned D70 user.

AF-C tracking speed can be improved if you switch out of dynamic AF/predictive thingamajig. Basically, set your AF setting to single point AF, flick the switch on the body to lock it to the centre point, and off you go. With a decent AF-S lens (eg. 70-200/2.8), it tracks like there's no tomorrow. Even with a 80-400/VR, which has no SWM (body driven AF), it's sufficient to track moving vehicles on a racetrack. There is no lack of speed in AF-C mode, at least not on my sample.

The AFacuity also can be improved once you figure out where exactly the contrast detectors are. As the squares on the viewfinder representing AF points are disproportionately large, there are individual differences in the precise placement of the detectors. eg. on mine, it's nearer to the top of the box, and a little to the left side. Armed with this knowledge, I am able to focus with greater precision for shallow DOF work, not having to guestimate where the focus point lies when I place that big box over my intended subject.

Noise in uniform areas (eg. blue sky) can be minimised by turning in-camera sharpening off. You will notice a fairly big difference in noise performance from default with this simple parameter. However, the D70 as with all Nikons tend to exhibit the strongest noise in areas of underexposure. Combined with its indiosyncratic exposure metering (middle grey = 12% grey instead of 18%), this is inviting further noise issues when it's used as a point and shoot. Bottom line: optimise your exposure histograms, ie. expose to the right. This issue is helped greatly by the use of custom tone curves.

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