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Camera Reviews

Nikon D70 Review - Shooting for a year


Keywords: nikon, d70, camera, bodies

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On that morning in Death Valley I managed to take some "nice" pictures with the 17-35mm wide angle zoom showing my hand holding the remote in front of the camera. It would be convenient to have an additional sensor on the back of the body.

The sun is rising above the horizon and starts illuminating the mountains far across the valley to the west.

Death Valley panorama

Death Valley

The subdued paste like colors of the landscape before dawn are being replaced by more intense vibrant colors. It is always a marvelous experience when the light of the golden hour is working its magic. Actually, "golden hour" is a vast overstatement at that time of the year in Death Valley.


In early May, the sun rises fast above the horizon and the golden glow last merely minutes. I have to work quickly to capture those special moments of the early morning desert landscape. Especially the strong side lighting which created long and deep shadows and enhances the three dimensional texture of the landscape surrounding Manly Beacon at Zabriskie Point.

The right gear is essential to keep up with the fast changing light conditions. A quick release system is a must. I use a Markins M10 ballhead with quick release shoe. In combination with the Kirk L-bracket I can quickly change between horizontal and vertical composition. The M10 has a drop notch for tilting the camera to a vertical position, but that would shift the center of gravity to a less stable setup. With the L-bracket the center of gravity remains in the center.

Before I could use the Nikkor 70-200mm AF-S VR in my system, I had to make its quick release ready and I replaced the original Nikon tripod foot with the Kirk LP-45 foot/quick release lens plate.

The short morning and the great distances in Death Valley allow me to capture only one location at sunrise. Nevertheless I head south to Badwater -the lowest point in the United States. 282 feet below sea level. The light will not be perfect anymore but still more pleasing than the harsh light later in the day.


Markins M10 Ballhead

Kirk Bl-D70 L-bracket

Kirk LP-45 replacement foot

To my surprise the location has changed dramatically since I have been there a few years ago. The National Park management has built a pier to protect the fragile salt crust. In addition, the small 'lake' has turned into nothing more than a puddle. No more shots with the reflections of the mountains in the water -the pier would be in the way anyhow.

I decide to take a couple of panorama shots.
That is the situation where I first notice the D70's incredible speed. For panorama pictures I rotate and capture several frames within a few seconds.
I shoot compressed raw format and the D70 is always ready to take the next picture. In similar situations with my D100 using uncompressed raw file format I had to wait for a few seconds once in a while. I tried compressed raw format on the D100 only once and avoided it like the plague from that moment on. It takes forever to write the buffer to the card.

Talking about writing pictures from the buffer to the card. In my first weeks with the D100 I lost several pictures becasue the D100 is switched off, only the current picture being written to the card will be completed. All remaining pictures in the buffer will be lost. The D70's write speed is so fast that I have not lost a single picture so far.

Click for enlargement


A few days later: The D70 has replaced the D100 as main body.

(2 Votes )
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Originally written on August 14, 2006

Last updated on January 20, 2021

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