Digital Camera Home > Digital Camera Reviews > Nikon Digital Cameras > Nikon D70

Nikon D70

The Nikon D70 is an "entry-level" SLR loaded with features at a sub-$1,000 price.

<<Image Storage & Interface :(Previous) | (Next): Test Results & Conclusion>>

Page 13:Video, Power, Software

Review First Posted: 04/14/2004

Video Out

US and Japanese models of the D70 come with an NTSC video cable for connection to a television set or VCR (European models come with the appropriate PAL cable). The camera's video timing can be switched back and forth between NTSC or PAL via a menu option. Any and all screens visible on the rear panel LCD are also visible through the video port.

 

Power

The D70 uses Nikon's EN-EL3 lithium-ion battery pack or an optional AC adapter for power, and also comes with a little battery holder that lets you power it (expensively) from three CR2 non-rechargeable Lithium cells. An indicator on the status display panel lets you know approximately how much battery power is left.

I didn't have access to the external AC adapter when testing the D70, so wasn't able to conduct my usual direct measurements of power consumption. - And battery life on a d-SLR will also vary greatly depending on the lens used and how much the focus motor has to operate.

In the manual, Nikon themselves offer the following characterizations of the D70's battery life:

Example 1
Zoom Nikkor AF-S DX 18–70 mm f/3.5–4.5G IF ED lens; continuous shooting mode; continuous-servo autofocus; image quality set to JPEG Basic; image size set to M; shutter speed 1/250s; shutter-release pressed half way for three seconds and focus cycled from infinity to minimum range three times with each shot; after six shots, monitor turned on for five seconds and then turned off; cycle repeated once exposure meters have turned off.

Number of shots (EN-EL3): 2000
Number of shots (CR2): 560

Example 2
AF-S DX 18–70 mm f/3.5–5.6G IF ED lens; single-frame shooting mode; single-servo autofocus; image quality set to JPEG Normal; image size set to L; shutter speed 1/250s; shutter-release pressed half way for five seconds and focus cycled from infinity to minimum range once with each shot; built-in Speedlight fired at full power with every other shot; AF-assist illuminator lights when Speedlight is used; cycle repeated once exposure meters have turned off; camera turned off for one second with every ten shots.

Number of shots (EN-EL3): 400
Number of shots (CR2): 160

My own experience seemed to thoroughly support Nikon's battery life claims. The D70/EN-EL3 combination seemed to offer really excellent battery life, as I could shoot literally hundreds of photos without draining the battery. Despite the long battery life though, I still heartily recommend purchasing a spare battery pack and keeping it charged for long shooting days or for shooting in cold weather (which can greatly reduce battery capacity). Nikon says they will not be offering an external battery pack/vertical grip for the D70.

 

Included Software

The D70 ships with Nikon's new PictureProject software, as well as a 30-day free trial of Nikon Capture, their higher-end program for much more extensive manipulation of NEF-format images. Both packages are compatible with both PC and Mac computers, big kudos to Nikon for that.

PictureProject is a new piece of software for Nikon, replacing the previous Nikon View. Nikon had talked up PictureProject quite a bit prior to my receiving a copy of it, so I approached it with a pretty positive mindset. My initial reaction was disappointment over how clunky it was to use with NEF files, and its rather lightweight features, but as I spent more time playing with it, I found myself liking it quite a bit more. (Unlike some other reviewers, I do think it's a bit of a step up from Nikon View.)

Some of my negative reaction to PictureProject may be that I'm just not the sort of user it's intended for: It's clearly aimed at novices and first-time digicam owners, so it's long on automation of file import and simple organizational tools, but rather short on any sort of workflow to support effective use of NEF files, or for efficiently processing large numbers of images. Granted, Nikon wants to protect sales of their high-end Capture 4 software program, but I do think PictureProject could have been made a good bit more capable without treading on Capture 4's toes. As it is, I'm afraid that PictureProject puts the D70 at something of a disadvantage relative to the software package that ships with Canon's Digital Rebel, which includes Adobe's excellent Photoshop Elements right in the box with the camera.

That said, PictureProject does have some nice features for organizing your images, and I liked its email integration quite a bit. I don't normally review bundled software in my camera reviews, but given the change that PictureProject constitutes in the Nikon lineup, I'll make an exception and devote a little time to it here. Here's a brief look at PictureProject's interface and a few of its features. (The screenshots below are all from the Windows version of the program.):

 

Main Screen

PictureProject is a reasonably competent organizing tool, you can assign keywords to images, tag interesting ones for easier recall, and group them into multiple "collections." Images can belong to more than one collection, making it easy to create multiple groupings. The main screen shows an array of thumbnails, and you can mark individual pictures as being tagged for quick reference, protected, or hidden. Clicking the "Keyword" tab in the left panel lets you create keywords and assign them to images. Finally, you can search by file name, keyword, or date, and can restrict your searches to only those files that have been tagged, protected, or both.

By double-clicking on an image, you can edit it in several ways, including rotating, cropping, redeye removal, and adjusting its brightness, color saturation, and sharpening. You can also convert it to Sepia or Black/White, using the Photo Effects option.

The screen shots above show the controls available for each of the options in the Photo Enhance panel of the Edit screen. The capabilities are fairly modest, particularly in relation to NEF (RAW) files.

Speaking of NEF files, that was one of my primary beefs with the program. You can convert NEFs to JPEG format en masse, but if you want to save to TIFF, the only way to do so is by exporting the file to another program like Photoshop. The screen shot above shows the Export window, and I've clicked on the White Balance window to show the options available. (No click balance?) Note that you can adjust the exposure compensation here in 0.01 EV increments, whereas the adjustment in Edit mode is in terms of "brightness" only. The Export option lacks the other adjustments available in Edit mode, but if you're exporting to a program like Photoshop or Elements, you'll presumably have much more powerful adjustments available to you there.

This does touch on a major workflow limitation in PictureProject though. While you can export NEF images to another application, you can only do so one at a time. If you want to make any adjustments to a NEF file inside PictureProject, it forces you to save the whole NEF file back to disk before you can go back to Organize mode, export the file as a JPEG, or transfer it to another application. There's no way to export a modified (or unmodified) NEF file directly from Edit mode.

 

File Menu, Organize Mode
File Menu, Edit Mode
Edit Menu
     
View Menu
Image Menu Collection Menu
     
Tools Menu    
   

 

Since I just mentioned the export capability (or lack thereof) in Edit mode, the shots above show the program's various menus. Only the contents of the File menu vary between modes.

As you'd expect, PictureProject can display essentially all the information embedded in the file headers, including exposure information and even provides access to the IPTC fields. (Rather strange IMHO, in a very consumer-oriented program, as these fields are really only of interest to photojournalists or others working inside large organizations.)

One of PictureProject's weakest points is its online help system. There's just not much there. (The screen shot above shows all there is to see.) While there's a moderately good electronic (PDF file) manual shipped on a second CD, I don't think it begins to make up for the paucity of help within the program itself. - And frankly, the electronic manual could stand to have better detail in several areas as well.

PictureProject's printing capabilities are actually quite nice. There are plenty of options for printing one or more images per page, and to include EXIF exposure information as well. Besides the screen shown above, there's also a screen oriented toward outputting index prints, which also includes the ability to show full EXIF data. (I could actually see myself using this to create hardcopy catalogs of my shots.)

Finally, there's a very nice email option, that takes care of resizing the images for you, and packaging them in an outgoing email message. You can select the size you want the emailed images to be, and whether you want to present them as a single index print photo, or as individual files. From my playing with it, it looks like PictureProject actually sends the emails itself, without having to launch your email application. This is a very nice feature that I suspect even a lot of advanced users would use.

Overall, as I said at the beginning, I started out expecting great things from PictureProject, became more than a little disappointed, but finally ended up liking the package fairly well. If you're an advanced user, you'll probably find yourself frustrated with its lack of an effective workflow for plowing through large numbers of images, tweaking as you go. It's wholly inadequate for working with NEF files, and I think Nikon has committed a serious error there, crippling PictureProject in that regard, to try to protect sales of Capture 4. This is one area where Canon's d-SLRs win hands down over Nikon's.

If your shooting and photo usage profile is more that of a consumer though, PictureProject is a very nice little package. I think purchasers of Nikon's lower-end consumer cameras will be a lot happier with it than D70 owners, but even for sophisticated users, it'd make a nice tool for the Significant Other to use to manage the family photo archives.

Not Included: "Brainware"
Every manufacturer includes some level of needed software with their cameras, but what's missing is the knowledge and experience to know what to do with it. For lack of a better term, I've called this "Brainware." There's a lot involved between snapping the shutter, and watching a beautiful, professional-quality print spool off your printer, and there's sadly very little guidance as to how to get from point A to point B.

Fortunately, Uwe Steinmueller of OutbackPhoto.com has come up with an excellent series of e-books that detail every step of the process, show actual examples of files moving through the workflow, and the final results. If you want to get the absolute best prints possible from your digital files, you owe it to yourself to purchase one of the Outback Photo Digital Workflow books.

 

In the Box

Included in the box with the D70's body box are the following items: 

  • Nikon D70 body with body cap and LCD monitor cover.
  • Neck strap.
  • Eyepiece cap.
  • Quick Charger with AC power cord.
  • Video cable.
  • USB cable.
  • EN-EL3 Li-ion battery.
  • Nikon Picture Project software. (Two discs, program and manual.)
  • Instruction Manual.
  • Quickstart guide.
  • Registration kit. 

 

Reader Comments! --> Visit our discussion forum for the Nikon D70!



<<Image Storage & Interface | Test Results & Conclusion>>

Follow Imaging Resource:

Enter this month to win:

1 $300 Adorama Gift Certificate

2 $200 Adorama Gift Certificate

3 $100 Adorama Gift Certificate