Last September, I bought myself a digital SLR camera – a Nikon D70. Whilst the D70 has been an excellent camera (on which I’ve taken over 4000 photos in the last year – that would have been more than 108 rolls of film at about Â£3.50 and, after taking processing costs of around Â£4 a roll into account, the camera has pretty much paid for itself), it does have some drawbacks compared with my film body – a Nikon F90x:
- Firstly, in common with all Nikon DSLRs, it uses an APS-sized (23.7×15.6mm) sensor, meaning that all lens focal lengths effectively increase by about 1.5 – great for distance work (my 170mm-500mm lens becomes a 255-750mm) but putting extra demands on the quality of the glass at the centre of the lens, and a pain for wide-angle work. I’d much rather have a full-frame sensor, although even Canon (who seem to be the market leaders for DSLRs) only have full-frame sensors on their professional models.
- Secondly, the auto-focus seems slow in comparison to my film body and doesn’t have a continuous evaluation mode (although I must confess I hardly use the F90x now, so it may just be the way that I remember things).
- Thirdly, the D70’s slowest ISO setting is 200.
- Finally, the D70 doesn’t have a remote cable release socket, so I can’t use my MC-30 remote cord to reduce camera shake on slow exposures (one workaround is to use the self timer).
Then a few months back, Nikon launched a new budget DSLR – the D50 – and upgraded the D70 to the D70s, adding improved auto-focus, new menus, a 10% larger screen (up from 1.8″ to 2.0″), flash support for wide angle lenses and a remote cable release socket. I was really annoyed as many of these were the features I had lost when I moved from the F90x to the D70. It will come as no surprise then, that I was pleased to find out it is possible to upgrade the firmware on the D70 to a similar level to the D70s and a few days back I did exactly that.
The firmware is upgraded in two parts (A and B) and is available from the Nikon European Support Centre. Nikon do require registration to download the update but the instructions are clear and concise and I had no problems in to taking my D70 from A1.01 and B1.02 to A and B2.00.
It won’t help out with the hardware-related constraints, but does give me a much clearer menu layout and (allegedly) improved auto-focus (the jury is still out on that one but it’s certainly no worse).