Price: 680 . 850
For users of SLR cameras, going digital can have a major impact on the wallet. SLR prices jump from hundreds of pounds for a film camera to thousands for a digital model, which is why most digital SLR manufacturers have concentrated on the professional market – until recently.
Nikon’s 6.1-megapixel D70 is the company’s first model designed for photographers of all stripes. Sold body-only for £680 or as a kit with a 27-to-105mm lens (35mm equivalent) for £850, the D70 is relatively inexpensive for a digital SLR. This is approximately the same as Canon’s 6.3-megapixel EOS-300D, which can be picked up for around £640 for the body alone. The D70 faces strong competition from our top-rated non-SLR, Sony’s £765 Cybershot F828 – and from Olympus’s E-1, which recently dropped in price to £850.
The D70 boasts features you don’t typically find in today’s digital SLRs. It provides six scene modes – useful for photographers who aren’t comfortable with arcane camera settings – and a Help button that explains the menu-based settings.
But that doesn’t mean advanced photographers get shortchanged – The D70 has a slew of fine-tuning options for exposure settings, such as a variety of autofocus modes, and the camera’s exposure-bracketing options are flexible. The D70 works with most of Nikon’s modern lenses, including AI models. However, the older the lens, the less automation you get. G series lenses provide the best combination of lens and body.
Still, a day’s shooting with the D70 was somewhat disappointing. The eye-level viewfinder seems small and slightly awkward to use, especially when you’re wearing glasses. Shooting in default mode produces slightly underexposed or muted colour shots, though you may be able to improve these by adjusting the camera settings before trying again. Alternatively, you could run the shots through a photo-enhancement filter in Nikon’s bundled Picture Project software.