Throwback Thursday: Nikon D70

In 2004 I had to make the same grueling decision as many fellow photographers: Canon EOS 300D (Digital Rebel) or Nikon D70 – which one was to become my first digital SLR? The Canon, which had been launched in August 2003 was the first true consumer-level DSLR and had been on my wish list for a few months when, in January 2004, Nikon threw a curve ball and launched a direct competitor to the EOS 300D: the D70, the company’s first sub-$ 1000 digital SLR.

The D70 shared quite a lot with its 2-year-older sibling D100, including a six megapixel CCD sensor and the MultiCAM 900 autofocus system. It did not have the option to attach a hand grip and came with fewer custom functions and a plastic body but offered better  performance as well as improved image sharpness and detail when compared to its more expensive cousin. 

The D70 also had more manual controls and was more customizable than the Canon EOS 300D. After reading Phil Askey’s D70 review in April 2004 it quickly became clear to me that the D70 was the way to go. Phil wrote in his article that the Nikon D70 was ‘a camera which is a significant step ahead of the EOS 300D in terms of build quality and feature set and a match, and in some instances better from an image quality point of view.’ He went on to conclude that ‘There’s no risk involved in the D70’s slightly higher price compared to the EOS 300D (Digital Rebel), it’s absolutely worth it.’

 The Nikon D70 next to its closest rival, the Canon EOS 300D (Digital Rebel).

Despite Phil’s in-depth testing and analysis, I have to admit that one of the main reasons I favored the D70 over the Canon did not have anything to do with image quality or manual controls: with its black body and slightly beefier dimensions the Nikon simply looked much more professional and business-like than the silver-colored and slightly plasticky-feeling Canon.

Eventually the final decision about which camera to get was taken out of my hands anyway. My parents gave me a D70 kit with two entry-level Sigma lenses for my 30th birthday and they had no idea what they’d just done. I had been a keen amateur photographer before, but the D70 took things to a whole new level and triggered a true obsession with digital imaging. Virtually my entire spare time was spent either shooting and editing images, reading about photography or communicating with other photographers in online forums such as the ones on this very website. 

Three years later I applied for the position of camera reviewer at Dpreview.com and, after a fairly intense interview process, Phil and Simon offered me the job. Working at Dpreview meant that I suddenly had access to virtually any camera on the market and the Nikon got less use but I still own the camera today. It has simply had too much of an impact on both my career path and life to ever sell it.

Read our Nikon D70 review

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