• Price: 470 . 595

  • Company: Nikon

  • Pros: D50: Compact body with responsive AF, 1/500 flash sync and bags of auto and manual control. Impressive buffer and file handling allow extended burst depth.
    D70s: Super durable body with ultra-fast handling, plus there’s low-noise and great colour from raw files. Sophisticated metering works well to preserve dynamic range.

  • Cons: D50: Some handling quirks due to a single-command dial to the rear. Kit lens not a patch on the 18-70mm supplied with the D70s. Still only six-megapixel resolution.
    D70s: cons Pricey for a six-megapixel digital SLR, but the kit lens is by far the best of its type. Picture Project software has limited raw processing options.

  • Our Rating: We rate this 8 out of 10 We rate this 8 out of 10

Nikon’s latest brace of digital SLRs lower the entry-price into the professional camera market still further. Both will challenge the wave of high-end, closed-system prosumer models, such as Sony’s Cyber-Shot DSC-F828 and Nikon’s own Coolpix 8800.

While the D50 is a completely new model, the D70s is a makeover of the popular D70, previously Nikon’s entry-level offering. Surprisingly, both eschew eight-megapixel sensors found on the likes of the recent Canon EOS 350D, and Olympus E-300 in favour of a six-megapixel CCD. If either one had matched the resolution, it would have been a first for an APS-C size CCD, as the Canon utilizes a proprietary CMOS chip, while Olympus’ E-300 features a smaller Kodak-sourced CCD sensor based on the new digital Four Thirds standard.

So, there hasn’t been an eight-megapixel CCD nor CMOS sensor at Nikon’s disposal. Nevertheless, while there’s a third increase in pixel count, the extra two million pixels equates to just a 15 per cent boost in image size. Most users looking to print A4 at 300dpi are unlikely to notice the difference.

If it ain’t broke

 border=0 />As the successor to the extraordinarily successful D70, Nikon has decided to leave well alone, except for a few key improvements. Externally, not a great deal has changed – there’s still the rugged build and excellent ergonomics, but the 1.8-inch screen has been replaced by a 2-inch version, though there’s no increase in detail. 
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Elsewhere, support for PictBridge direct printing and a socket for an optional remote control has been added, but most users will appreciate the much larger and clearer menus and longer-lasting battery performance, said to be up to 2,500 shots. Battery life is certainly impressive now, but other improvements are less tangible. Auto-focusing speed and accuracy have been tweaked, especially subject-tracking in the dynamic-area AF mode, but it’s difficult to tell in real-world use. 
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Start-up and powering-down times are practically instantaneous and shutter-lag is negligible. Autofocus feels very accomplished as a result. Many of the improvements have been incorporated into the new D50. Existing D70 owners can take advantage of the new menu layout, AF enhancement and PictBridge support by downloading the latest Firmware update. 
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In kit form, AF is noticeably quicker and quieter using the D70s, but this is due mainly to the different lens spec. Whereas the D70s kit is supplied with the great 18-70mm DX zoom, included with the original D70, the D50 comes with an 18-55mm DX lens. Not only does the former lens feature the silent-wave focusing technology from the pro-range, but it has a 4x zoom range, as opposed to 3x, and it’s up to 2/3 of a stop faster through the range. Thanks to a slightly smaller chassis, though, the D50 body has the better proportions, and with the 18-55mm kit lens attached, it’s significantly lighter. 
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<b>In command</b>
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The layout and controls of the two cameras are virtually identical – with the exception of the D50’s command dial. Nikon users will bemoan the lack of a forward dial for controlling apertures. 
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