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A Solid, Timeproof Workhorse

Reviewing: Nikon D70s  |  Rating:
distant_window By distant_window on
Badge: Author | Level: 1 | Cameras Expertise:
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I bought this camera second-hand from a friend almost three years ago, and it has never given me a single problem. Nikon's indomitable engineering, combining a rugged chasis with just enough to heft to feel like you're using a serious camera, while being light enough to not wear one's wrist out after a Triple Overtime basketball game. Now, the detailed review broken down by section:


The resolution of the D70s is just over 6 megapixels, which (while still a respectable size and fully suitable for most print purposes, from newspaper and magazine and prints up to 8x12 or so) is fast becoming obsolete; with 20+ megapixel cameras coming on the market, 6mp is less and less appealing... but it's still very solid and shouldn't be discounted just because it's a little low-res.

Ease of Use

If you don't get intimidated by a few buttons and menus, the D70s is a snap. Spend a couple hours with the manual, or just do what I do and hit buttons until you learn everything, and you'll have no problems at all. Almost every setting you'll need to change mid-shoot is accessible from the body with a few button combinations, such as ISO, White Balance, Bracketing, Shooting Format, and more; every other option is in a simple menu and can be accessed in no more than one or two layers.


The camera has no built-in memory, but it's fully expandable with any high-speed CF card, available in sizes from 1GB all the way up to 30+mb. What's more, you can purchase an SD-to-CF adaptor online for a few bucks, and use the SD card from your consumer camera in the CF slot.


This is a Nikon, and as such you have access to the hundreds of top-quality Nikkor glass made in the film era, the new digital-era D- and G-type glass, hundreds of third-party lenses from companies like Tokina and Sigma, and adapters to use old, obscure lenses on the Nikon (I have a screw-mount adapter to use an old Carenar f/1.5 lens.); beyond lenses, a host of flash units, braces, grips, hoods, covers, remotes, and sundry accessories are available. The kit lens, a Nikkor 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 G ED DX-family lens, is a good performer for most needs but is not as sharp as some of the upper-end glass, nor is the action as consistently smooth as I would like.

Display Size

The LCD is a bit small compared to modern cameras, being only 2 inches with a 130, 000-dot resolution. The small size and low resolution does make it difficult to judge the quality of a picture, especially one taken in borderline shooting conditions. However, it gets the job done well, and a cheap plastic glare-proof snapon screen is a Godsend for outdoor shooting.


I've never been especially cruel to my Nikon, but it's been through a lot, from a year of heavy-duty sports photography usage, multiple shooting trips in the desert, life in a dorm room, and more, and so far everything is in perfect condition without a dent or scratch to show for it. The weather-sealing does leave a bit to be desired, as shots in the desert have always required nightly cleaning sessions afterwards to get the dust out of the mirror and housing. Apart from that, though, this baby is as close to a tank as a non-metal camera can be.

Battery Life

I've consistently been able to get a few hundred shots off per charge, usually filling my memory card three to four times, before needing to charge. The battery can last a few days of light shooting, or a day and a half of heavy shooting; or less than a day left on accidentally while copying photos.

The Bottom Line

The Nikon D70s is an amazing, solid camera. It's a great starter for those new to serious photography, and an excellent back-up body for everybody up to the semi-professional level. It can be easily found on eBay or B&H in the $650-$1000 range, usually bundled with one or more lenses.