25th May 2005

Nikon D70


My 2nd Digital SLR


f i r s t   i m p r e s s i o n


Before the D70

After owning my first DSLR, Fujifilm S2 Pro, I am totally sold to digital. The quality is simply stunning and the convenient of using a Digital SLR is beyond what words can describe. Those who have not tried or own a DSLR should wait no more, especially with the price of new DSLR now at less than RM3k (D70 is only RM2800 body only ~ discontinued, and the update version of it, D70s is only RM100 more). IMO, no photographer should miss out the fun of what digital can bring nowadays. 2nd hand? Around RM2k, wait no more!!!


The Post Office call...

Since I sold off my Fujiflm S2 Pro in Oct 2004, I have always missed the convenient of a DSLR. I have been looking for a good deal of DSLR for a long time...but only till now I manage to find one myself and took the plunge to dive into it again. Today, 25th May 2005, at 11am in the morning, I received a call from my university Post Office, informing me that there is a big parcel for me to collect. Yeah...I have been waiting for the call since 8am in the morning, and finally it is here! :) Just the night before, I lost/broke my spectacle, so I can't really see things now. Yeah, I have very deep far sight problem, -650 and -700 each eye. Just imagine a man BLUR BLUR riding a motorcycle to the Post Office collecting a big box (H 1' x W 1.5' x L 1.5'). Thank God I arrive safely back home.


Big Box

The seller packed the D70 Nicely in its original box, which is a kit set box (bigger box to include the kit lens in it, but I didn't buy the kit lens from the seller, only the D70 body only, and the seller is generous enough to give me the box).  The kit box was packed inside a BIGGER box (H 1' x W 1.5' x L 1.5'), with polyester form fully covering the kit box. I have to dive into the polyester form to search for the kit box.



Anxiously but BLUR BLUR eyesight, I open up the box and browse through all the things inside. Of course the main item, Nikon D70, is my main concern. Perfectly fine condition body as described by the seller. Only the BM4 LCD protector is a bit scratchy, but that's to be expected (was told by the seller). Put the battery into the cam...press the shutter release, nah...no fire. As expected as I didn't put in the CF card yet. Pop out the Transcend 45x 1GB card from my Olympus C5050, slot into the D70 slot...viola...fire!


Mirror Lock Up?

Since I can't really shoot with my BLUR eyesight, thus I took my time to browse through the features and menu of the D70. I can understand most of the setting, and was surprise to see the MIRROR LOCK UP feature on the menu. Play with it...seems not right. The mirror just go up and wouldn't come down. I have to turn off the switch to make the mirror down. Hmm...this one I must refer to the manual. Flip the manual and the MLU feature is actually a CCD cleaning feature, making the mirror goes up so that one can clean the CCD, not the usual MLU feature we find in shooting mode. No problem with all other features of the D70. A very user friendly camera MENU.


1st Lens

The first lens I took out from my drybox to mount onto my new toy is...guess what...the Nikkor AFD 60mm f2.8 micro. Yeah...I am surprise too. Nikkor 60micro is still my favorite lens and I know I can't live without it. A sign indicating that I shouldn't sell off the lens again anyday. Still without my glasses, I can't even see the viewfinder LCD clearly. I can only rely on the autofocus feature of the camera, focusing in and out...snap snap...nah...nothing much to tell. Oh...one thing. I focus on the keyboard of my notebook and snap. I focus on the H button of the keyboard, and I can see that the Y and B buttons are blur. Good, indicating that at least my D70 is not suffering any serious back or front focus.


2nd Lens

The 2nd lens I took from my drybox ~ Sigma AF 400mm f/5.6 macro, a lens that I bought recently from my Nikon buddy in Sabah, after I sold off my first one long time ago. Just a week before I accidentally mount the lens on a wrong direction on my F80, took me quite some time to detach it from the cam, so now I make sure that it goes RIGHT and SMOOTH to my D70. At noon, pointing out from my 9th floor apartment, I shoot blindly for a few frames. When checking on the LCD, I am impressed. The photos look sharp and I can see the very details of the High Voltage Electric tower and the electronic emitter / transmitter. Good resolution of the camera and nice sharp lens :)


Continuous Shooting? Unlimited!

Checking out the image quality selection menu, like many other photographers, I wish to have the RAW + FINE not the RAW + BASIC. Anyway, not really that necessary and I can live with just FINE mode. So...what's the impressive3 buffer that many are talking about? I put the cam to FINE mode and change the firing mode to continuous. Change to M mode and shutter speed 1/8000s. Before pressing the shutter release, the buffer memory shows 9 frames (shows on the top LCD on the cam). Now pressing the shutter release, the buffer memory drops from 9 to 8 to 7 to 6...then 6...6...6...6...I just can't fill up the buffer!  That's impressive! It means I can shoot forever till my memory card full! Wow...! So, how about RAW mode? Initial buffer = 4 frames. Within two seconds I have filled up the buffer memory, but continuous pressing the shutter release and within the next second the memory frees up and I can shoot another frame...and another frame...and another frame. I must say that the writing speed of this D70 is really impressive! Unlike my previous S2 Pro, the buffer is only 7 frames (both RAW and HIGH Jpeg) and I have to wait for a few seconds in order to be able to shoot another frame (not really a problem, but you must understand and be ready for the limitation of it). With this D70, I don't think I will have to worry about shooting too fast too many... :))


3rd Lens

So I have tried the 60micro, the Sigma 400mm...what's next? With my still BLUR eyesight, I pull out my Nikkor Ais 85mm f/1.4 lens. Manual focus? You must be crazy...Hahaaa...not really. Though D70 will not meter with any manual lenses, but I there is still a focus confirmation button inside the viewfinder LCD. Didn't I mentioned previously that I can't even see the viewfinder LCD clearly? Right...but I can roughly see the focus confirmation light in the viewfinder LCD goes on and off. When it is ON, I know I can on focus. This has to be more of try and error...but since I am bored at home...so it is fun as well. I put a book on far, manual focus on it...fire. Check on the LCD, sharp. :) not bad huh for a blur man! :p


Can't wait to have my spectacle collected...err...it is 5.30pm now and I am typing with my face 2 inches from the LCD screen. Will be collecting my spectacle later in a few hours time and am definitely go shooting this weekend!


I am very happy with my new toy... :)


TTL Flash with Manual Lenses (NO GOOD!!!)

I got my glasses at 8pm in the evening, when reaching home...took out my new toy still mounted with the Nikkor Ais 85mm f/1.4. My wife is always my best model, pop up the flash, exposure in M mode, set my shutter speed to 1/60s, aperture to 1.4, pop up the built in flash...FIRE! Eeeee? No respond? How come shutter didn't fire? Hmm...the D70 with manual lenses in M mode can't have TTL FLASH! Arh!!! This is very very bad! For those newbies that bought the D70 as their first Nikon will most probably don't bother or even know the changes! On the previous Nikon camera (F80 & F60), though there won't be any metering available for manual lenses on these camera, but I can still use the M mode (just like what I did with the D70), and by poping up flash on the camera itself or use an external flash, I can still have TTL flash. Why is this important? With TTL flash, the camera is actually intelligent enough to fire the correct power to give the RIGHT EXPOSURE to my photos! In other words, I can choose the any (reasonable) shutter speed and aperture myself and let the camera fire in the extra needed light from the flash! Now this is bad...bad D70...bad Nikon :-((


Ok, disappointed, I search the menu again. In the flash setting, there is TTL, Manual and Commander Mode. After trying here and here...here's what I found:

1. No way I can fire the flash in TTL mode.

2. I can fire the flash in Manual Mode, but I will have to choose the power of the output flash in FULL, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, or 1/16. No good, as I don't want to have another setting to worry about with a manual lens.

3. In Commander Mode, there are TTL, AA and M. I can only fire in M mode (similar to 2.)


Am I happy? You bet...NO! :-( Now my last hope...hopefully the manual lenses + TTL flash is possible with an external flash (SB800)?


28th May 2005 (Saturday)

Went to have lunch and coffee with a PMer today, and by chance saw the "bee/spider eater" bird flying around. Was surprise to found a nest of the bird nearby, and it is flying around and back to the nest from time to time. My Nikon D70 and the Sigma lens was with me at that time (am glad that I bought the lens), so am testing/trying out the quality of of the combo.


Nikon D70 + Sigma 400mm


Original uncropped version



1/160s @ f/5.6

ISO 500




RAW / NEF format


Curved in Paint Shop Pro v9.01



Subject: Olive-backed Sunbird (female) ~ Cinnyris jugularis


100% zoom in of the above photo.


Considered that I was handholding for the shot, at effective focal length of 600mm in 135 format, I am actually quite happy with the sharpness that I manage to capture.


Nikon D70 + Sigma 400mm


Original uncropped version



1/160s @ f/5.6

ISO 500




RAW / NEF format


Curved in Paint Shop Pro v9.01



Subject: Olive-backed Sunbird (female)  ~ Cinnyris jugularis



Nikon D70 + Nikkor 60micro





1/1250s @ f/3.3

ISO 200




Jpeg Fine Quality

100% zoom



After shooting a few photos with the D70, I do feel that the colour produced are not as vibrant as what I can get straight from Fujifilm S2 pro. The LCD at the back of the D70 can't tell much about the exposure setting, rather than a rough preview of how a image is going to look like. Most of the shots that I took using this D70 have to go through some post processing using my favorite photo editing software, JASC Paint Shop Pro v9.01. Anywhere, to be all fair to the D70, I must admit that I am still not that familiar with the colour setting of D70 (S2 Pro is so much easier to select your prefered colour setting), so it might be my fault of not knowing the colour function. Somehow I have the feeling that my previous S2 Pro produces the best colour as compare to D70...



When shooting the bee-eater (bird) today, in Jpeg Fine mode I have not experienced any buffer full warning. In RAW+BASIC mode, I do encounter a little time being taken up to free the buffer, but that's still very short time. The time the camera takes to recycle the flash is even longer. Focusing is fast and hunt very little...by using AF, I can actually rely on the judgment of the camera whether the subject is in focus or not.


DX Flash? Nikon SB28DX & SB80DX

I borrowed a Nikon SB28DX speedlight from my friend, intended to try out if I can fire it in TTL flash with my manual lenses. After few minutes testing, here's my findings:

1. Nikon SB28DX is NOT COMPATIBLE with Nikon D70  in TTL mode. Not even with a AFD lens.

2. Nikon D70 can fire the SB28DX in A and M modes, but not TTL. The flash sign on the D70 will blink.


My friend who owns a SB80DX and D70 confirmed that no TTL flash with SB80DX too in any mode. Similar results as SB28DX as above.


Upon checking the specification of D70, it states that D70 will only have i-TTL, A auto, and M mode. There is no D-TTL or TTL. The only speedlight with i-TTL at the moment are SB800 and SB600. Obviously Nikon want to force D70 owner in buying a new flash. Considering D70 is the best selling SLR that Nikon has sold till now, I wonder how many new flash Nikon have sold.



Oct '05: Just bought myself a 2nd hand Nikon SB800. The extra bonus from this flash is that one can use the SB800 as a wireless TTL slave flash and put it at distance. This is very useful and convenient without the need to buy the expensive and bulky SU-4. To set the SB800 to work in TTL slave is a bit tricky, here in the SB800 page I have written the steps detailing out the procedures, hope this will be helpful to some :)


In my opinion, from the transition from film to digital, Nikon is putting another step forward in fine tuning their flash design and technology. I believe that SB28DX and SB80DX are the two testdrive speedlights (immature product) and can't really produce consistency results and not delivering the best flash quality as what Nikon is always proud of. I have heard my friends complained about the inconsistency of the SB80DX with their D100 cameras. After SB28DX and SB80DX, the Nikon SB800 has some extra surprises again (Auto Aperture, TTL slave) given to Nikon users and I believe this is the matured product in Nikon digital flash photography.


Nikon Capture 4

Want to shoot in RAW (NEF)? Nikon NEF converter doesn't come free. One has to buy the optional Nikon Capture 4 software in order to convert the NEF file to the processed JPEG or TIFF. Of course, you can use Adobe RAW Converter (ACR) as well, but you won't get the setting as exactly as if in your D70. Why am I saying so? With Nikon Capture, you can actually experimenting out the different colour settings as if it is in your camera. You an change the sharpness, tone, contrast...etc. and get the best setting the suit you most. So, in my opinion, every D70 owner should try out the Nikon Capture 4 software, even if one has no intention of buying, just try it within the 30 days trial period and fine tune setting of the Nikon Capture 4 as if it is in your D70 and finally get the best colour settings and transfer them to your D70. For RAW conversion, I do find Nikon Capture 4 is a bit slow. With the introduction from some other friends, I tried out the RawShooter Essential 2005 and love it! It is a freeware! Powerful and fast! I seriously recommend it to any RAW shooter.


That's all from my D70 report, review and story. Hope you will find my article useful and happy with your D70 purchase :) Happy shooting!