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Nikon reveals details of upcoming D70 digital SLR - Continued

For those who've been considering a D100, and are now wondering whether a D70 might be worth waiting for, the D100's advantages appear to be few. They include:

  • The MB-D100 grip. This optional accessory for the D100 brings a vertical release (with main and sub-command dials), 10-pin remote socket, additional EN-EL3 battery slot (plus the ability to accept AA's) and voice annotation and playback to the camera. The MB-D100 is not compatible with the D70, and a similar grip is not planned for the D70.

  • TIFF file format. The D70 is JPEG and RAW NEF only. We rarely shoot TIFF on Nikon digital SLRs, so this option won't be missed.

  • Compressed or uncompressed NEF option. The D100 allows for the selection of either compressed or uncompressed RAW NEF files, while the D70's RAW NEFs are only the compressed variety. In both cases, the compression is said to shrink the files 50-60% and is visually lossless but numerically lossy. NEF compression is performed in a dedicated hardware circuit in the D70, which means there is no performance hit as there is with the D100, which requires about 35 seconds per photo for its microprocessor to perform the compression. In effect, the D100 offers uncompressed NEFS, while the D70 offers compressed NEFs; given the choice, we'd opt for the smaller file size of the compressed NEF. (Note: Nikon printed information suggests that the compressed NEF format in the D70 is completely lossless, while we were told in an interview that it will be numerically lossy as stated here)

  • Mechanical cable release option.

There may be other real or theoretical advantages to the D100, but based on what we've been able to glean so far, the list of advantages is as short as what you see above. The remainder of this section highlights key D70 features.

Nikon D70 features include:

  • Appearance and control layout similar to the D100, though the body is slightly smaller

nikon_d70_left.jpg

  • 5 area Multi-CAM900 AF system (centre sensor is cross-type)

  • 3 AF Area Modes: Single Area AF, Dynamic AF with Focus Tracking and Lock On and Closest Subject Priority Dynamic AF

  • Brief camera startup time and promised short shutter lag (no shutter lag specification has been released)

  • Ambient metering using the 1005 pixel metering CCD (also found in the F5, Nikon D1-series and D2H digital SLRs); metering modes include 3D Color Matrix, Center-Weighted and Spot (linked to the active focus point)

  • Top shutter speed of 1/8,000; top flash sync speed of 1/500

  • ISO range of 200-1600 in 1/3 step increments, plus Auto

  • Full i-TTL flash exposure metering. Auto FP High Speed Sync doesn't look to be possible with the D70, however, while Nikon Speedlights older than the SB-800 and SB-600, including the SB-80DX, will not work in TTL mode

  • Wireless TTL multiple flash possible (requires Speedlight SB-800 or new SB-600); built-in flash can be set to Commander Mode to wirelessly trigger SB-600 or SB-800

  • FV Lock; allows for the flash output to be maintained even when recomposing

  • Built-in, auto-popup flash supports i-TTL flash exposure metering, flash exposure compensation (-3.0 to +1.0 stops in 1/3 stop increments) and a manual output mode with ratios from full to 1/64 power. Flash exposure compensation is set by holding in the manual popup flash button and turning a command dial

  • Digital Vari-Program modes that, in addition to automatically setting shutter speed and aperture, also set white balance, sharpening, tone, colour, saturation and hue in a manner that Nikon considers ideal for the scene type. Modes are Auto, Landscape, Close-up, Sports, Portrait, Night Portrait and Night Landscape

  • When shooting in Program (not Digital Vari-Program), Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority or Manual, an Optimize Image menu allows for the selection of image enhancement sets suited to the photographer's preference. Settings are Normal, Vivid, Sharp, Soft, Direct Print, Landscape or Custom

nikon_d70_top.jpg
Nikon D70 - top view

  • Powered by removable, rechargeable 7.2V EN-EL3 Lithium-Ion battery pack or 3 disposable CR2-type batteries (the camera includes a CR2 holder). A fully-charged EN-EL3 provides up to 2000 frames per charge under Nikon test conditions (which include JPEG Basic as the file format, short lens autofocusing and regular use of the rear LCD monitor)

  • Viewfinder shows approx. 95% of picture-taking area

  • Orientation sensor indicates whether the camera is horizontal or vertical (90 left or 90 right) at the time the picture is taken; the image file is tagged with this information. Nikon PictureProject and other compatible software will automatically orient photos right way up

  • 6.02 million actual image pixel CCD sensor with bayer pattern RGB filter array, microlenses and optical low pass filter. Image dimensions are 3008 x 2000 pixels on the [L] resolution setting, 2240 x 1488 pixels on the [M] resolution setting and 1504 x 1000 on the [S] resolution setting

  • Sensor is Nikon DX-size (23.7 x 15.6mm); focal length cropping factor is approximately 1.5x (relative to 35mm film). Though the sensor is the same physical size and has the same number of pixels as that of the D100, Nikon indicates that the sensor is not the same as the one in the D100. Promised is "an improved signal to noise ratio and broader dynamic range," says a Nikon USA press release

  • Real-time noise reduction during image processing, as well as optional, additional non-real-time long exposure noise reduction. Long exposure noise reduction employs dark frame subtraction, though processing time is promised to be about 1/2 of the duration of the exposure itself

  • 12 bits per colour image capture (converted to 8 or 16 bits per colour, depending on file format and processing)

  • File format options are JPEG (three levels of compression), RAW NEF (compressed only) and simultaneous RAW+JPEG (Basic compression level only)

  • 12 frame JPEG Fine, 4 frame RAW NEF burst depth. Dynamic Buffer technology and speedy image processing, in some cases, permits many more frames in a burst than the specifications indicate. Nikon's internal testing, for example, found that the camera could shoot continuously for 144 frames when the camera was set to JPEG Normal and the CompactFlash card was a Sandisk Ultra II 256MB

  • Three Color Mode settings for different colour looks: Mode Ia (sRGB); Mode II (Adobe RGB); Mode IIIa (sRGB). Modes Ia and IIIa are not the same colour design as Modes I and III in the D100, hence the addition of the "a" to the Color Mode name, and are promised to deliver improved colour rendition

  • Auto White Balance (AWB) is calculated from data gathered from the 1005 pixel RGB metering sensor; both the Speedlight SB-600 and SB-800 communicate colour information to the D70, which forms part of the AWB calculation

  • Other white balance options include six Manual White Balance settings with fine-tuning; white balance bracketing; Preset White Balance (1 in total can be stored): it can be calculated from a reading of a neutral object, similar to other Nikon digital SLRs, or from a picture of an actual scene

  • Camera includes Automatic Tone Compensation option

  • 25 Custom Settings

  • Camera has a single CompactFlash Type I/II slot; cards over 2GB are supported. Even if the power switch is turned off, the camera will finish writing all images from its buffer to the card before powering down

  • USB 2.0 port for tethered operation, with the same range of camera control and image transfer options as other Nikon digital SLR models

  • Video out supports NTSC and PAL

  • Camera includes built-in remote receiver that's compatible with the Nikon ML-L3 infrared transmitter for remote triggering

  • No PC sync terminal (a Nikon AS-15 hot shoe adapter substitutes nicely, however), no 10-pin remote socket, no sound recording or playback, no GPS support

  • Image playback is via 1.8", 130,000-dot TFT LCD; brightness is adjustable. As with other Nikon digital SLRs, it's possible to review, scroll through and zoom on the rear LCD monitor even as photos are being written to the card

  • Playback modes include single frame, 4-up, 9-up, multi-step zoom (up to 4.7x magnification), slide show, histogram and saturated highlights display. Photos shot vertically are automatically oriented correctly on the display

  • Simple and advanced on-screen menu display options, as well as a help button for access to a short description of the camera's 25 Custom Settings

  • Nikon PictureProject software to be included with the camera, while Nikon View will be a free download from a Nikon web site. Note: some regions may bundle Nikon View 6.2 with the camera initially, as the camera is expected to ship before all language versions of PictureProject are complete

  • Nikon Capture will be an optional, extra-cost accessory. Version 4.1, required for compatibility with the D70, is expected to be released about 1 month after the D70 ships. It will include a single row thumbnail browser (similar to Nikon Capture 1.0, but in a separate window this time around) from which pictures can be opened for editing with a single click. It will also be possible to select multiple thumbnails and batch process them out to NEFs with new instruction set information or convert them to one of the program's other supported file formats, such as JPEG. In v4.1, it will be possible to edit pictures in the foreground even while photos are being converted/saved in the background. The program will also gain an LCH editor (similar to that of Nikon Scan) and a two-mode saturation boost control.

  • EXIF 2.2.1/DCF 2.0 file compatibility; the user can create and name folders on a card through an interface on the rear LCD monitor, as well as add an Image Comment to be stored automatically in the EXIF data of each photo

  • Direct printing to PictBridge-compatible printers supported
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