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Canon 1D Mark II versus Nikon D70

The Canon EOS-1D Mark II and the Nikon D70 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public in January 2004. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-H (1D Mark II) and an APS-C (D70) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 8.2 megapixel, whereas the Nikon provides 6 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Canon 1D Mark II vs Nikon D70

The physical size and weight of the Canon 1D Mark II and the Nikon D70 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also toggle the display to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the 1D Mark II – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Canon 1D Mark II vs Nikon D70
Compare 1D Mark II versus D70 top
Compare 1D Mark II and D70 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D70 is considerably smaller (37 percent) than the Canon 1D Mark II. Moreover, the D70 is substantially lighter (56 percent) than the 1D Mark II. It is worth mentioning in this context that the 1D Mark II is splash and dust resistant, while the D70 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can find an overview of optics for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (1D Mark II) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D70).

Concerning battery life, the 1D Mark II gets 1200 shots out of its NP-E3 battery, while the D70 can take 400 images on a single charge of its EN-EL3 power pack.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Canon 1D Mark II» 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 54.1 oz 1200 Y Jan 2004 4,499- i Canon 1D Mark II
Nikon D70« 5.5 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 24.0 oz 400 n Jan 2004 999- i Nikon D70
Canon 5DS R« » 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 32.8 oz 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS R
Canon 5DS« » 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 32.8 oz 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS
Canon 1D Mark IV« » 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 43.4 oz 1500 Y Oct 2009 4,999- i Canon 1D Mark IV
Canon 1Ds Mark III« » 5.9 in 6.3 in 3.1 in 48.9 oz 1800 Y Aug 2007 7,999- i Canon 1Ds Mark III
Canon 1D Mark III« » 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 40.7 oz 2200 Y Feb 2007 4,499- i Canon 1D Mark III
Canon 5D« » 6.0 in 4.4 in 3.0 in 31.6 oz 400 Y Aug 2005 3,299- i Canon 5D
Canon 1D Mark II N« » 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 55.2 oz 1200 Y Aug 2005 3,999- i Canon 1D Mark II N
Canon 1Ds Mark II« » 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 42.9 oz 1200 Y Sep 2004 7,999- i Canon 1Ds Mark II
Canon Rebel« » 5.6 in 3.9 in 2.8 in 22.9 oz 400 n Aug 2003 899- i Canon Rebel
Canon 1Ds« » 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 44.6 oz 600 Y Sep 2002 8,999- i Canon 1Ds
Canon 1D« » 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 55.9 oz 500 Y Sep 2001 6,499- i Canon 1D
Nikon D80« » 5.2 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 23.6 oz 600 n Aug 2006 999- i Nikon D80
Nikon D50« » 5.2 in 4.0 in 3.0 in 21.9 oz 400 n Apr 2005 749- i Nikon D50
Nikon D70s« » 5.5 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 24.0 oz 500 n Apr 2005 899- i Nikon D70s
Nikon D100« » 5.7 in 4.6 in 3.2 in 27.5 oz 370 n Feb 2002 1,999- i Nikon D100

The camera’s price is obviously a critical decision-making factor. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The D70 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 78 percent) than the 1D Mark II, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down.

 

Sensor comparison: Canon 1D Mark II vs Nikon D70

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 1D Mark II features an APS-H sensor and the Nikon D70 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the D70 is 32 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.3 and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Canon 1D Mark II and Nikon D70 sensor measures

With 8.2MP, the 1D Mark II offers a higher resolution than the D70 (6MP), but the 1D Mark II nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 8.17μm versus 7.85μm for the D70) due to its larger sensor. It is noteworthy in this context that the two cameras were released in close succession, so that their sensors are from the same technological generation.

1D Mark II versus D70 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under review, the 1D Mark II provides substantially higher image quality than the D70, with an overall score that is 16 points higher. This advantage is based on 1.9 bits higher color depth, 0.8 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.9 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Canon 1D Mark II» APS-H 8.2 3504 2336-22.311.1100366Canon 1D Mark II
Nikon D70« APS-C 6.0 3008 2000-20.410.352950Nikon D70
Canon 5DS R« » Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/60p24.612.4230886Canon 5DS R
Canon 5DS« » Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/60p24.712.4238187Canon 5DS
Canon 1D Mark IV« » APS-H 16.0 4896 32641080/30p22.812.0132074Canon 1D Mark IV
Canon 1Ds Mark III« » Full Frame 21.0 5616 3744-24.012.0166380Canon 1Ds Mark III
Canon 1D Mark III« » APS-H 10.1 3888 2592-22.711.7107871Canon 1D Mark III
Canon 5D« » Full Frame 12.7 4368 2912-22.911.1136871Canon 5D
Canon 1D Mark II N« » APS-H 8.2 3504 2336-22.311.297566Canon 1D Mark II N
Canon 1Ds Mark II« » Full Frame 16.6 4992 3328-23.311.3148074Canon 1Ds Mark II
Canon Rebel« » APS-C 6.3 3072 2048-21.010.854455Canon Rebel
Canon 1Ds« » Full Frame 11.0 4064 2704-21.811.095463Canon 1Ds
Canon 1D« » APS-H 4.1 2496 1662-----Canon 1D
Nikon D80« » APS-C 10.0 3872 2592-22.111.252461Nikon D80
Nikon D50« » APS-C 6.0 3008 2000-20.910.856055Nikon D50
Nikon D70s« » APS-C 6.0 3008 2000-20.410.352950Nikon D70s
Nikon D100« » APS-C 6.0 3008 2000-----Nikon D100
Neither the 1D Mark II nor the D70 offer Live View, so that they cannot project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen. Moreover, both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.
 

Feature comparison: Canon 1D Mark II vs Nikon D70

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 1D Mark II and the D70 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon 1D Mark II and Nikon D70 along with similar information for a selection of comparators. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Canon 1D Mark II»optical Y 2.0 230 fixed n 8000 8.3 n n Canon 1D Mark II
Nikon D70«optical n 1.8 130 fixed n 8000 3.0 Y n Nikon D70
Canon 5DS R« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n Canon 5DS R
Canon 5DS« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n Canon 5DS
Canon 1D Mark IV« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 10.0 n n Canon 1D Mark IV
Canon 1Ds Mark III« »optical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n Canon 1Ds Mark III
Canon 1D Mark III« »optical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 8000 10.0 n n Canon 1D Mark III
Canon 5D« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 3.0 n n Canon 5D
Canon 1D Mark II N« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 8.5 n n Canon 1D Mark II N
Canon 1Ds Mark II« »optical Y 2.0 230 fixed n 8000 4.0 n n Canon 1Ds Mark II
Canon Rebel« »optical n 1.8 118 fixed n 4000 2.5 Y n Canon Rebel
Canon 1Ds« »optical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 8000 3.0 n n Canon 1Ds
Canon 1D« »optical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 16000 8.0 n n Canon 1D
Nikon D80« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Nikon D80
Nikon D50« »optical n 2.0 130 fixed n 4000 2.5 Y n Nikon D50
Nikon D70s« »optical n 2.0 130 fixed n 8000 3.0 Y n Nikon D70s
Nikon D100« »optical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Nikon D100

Both the 1D Mark II and the D70 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D70 was replaced by the Nikon D70s, while the 1D Mark II was followed by the Canon 1D Mark II N.

Review summary: Canon 1D Mark II vs Nikon D70

So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 1D Mark II or the Nikon D70 – has the upper hand? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS-1D Mark II:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (8.2 vs 6MP) with a 17% higher linear resolution.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (16 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.9 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (0.8 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.9 stops ISO advantage).
  • Easier setting verification: Has an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.0" vs 1.8") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (230k vs 130k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (8.3 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (1200 versus 400) on a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.

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Arguments in favor of the Nikon D70:

  • More compact: Is smaller (140x111mm vs 156x158mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 856g or 56 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (78 percent cheaper at launch).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 1D Mark II is the clear winner of the match-up (11 : 4 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision.

1D Mark II 11:04 D70

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the 1D Mark II and the D70 in practical situations. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate. This is why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Canon 1D Mark II»-HiRec-rev- Jan 2004 4,499- i Canon 1D Mark II
Nikon D70«-HiRec-rev- Jan 2004 999- i Nikon D70
Canon 5DS R« »Rec83/1005/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS R
Canon 5DS« »Rec83/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS
Canon 1D Mark IV« »-89/100-5/5- Oct 2009 4,999- i Canon 1D Mark IV
Canon 1Ds Mark III« »-HiRec4.5/5-- Aug 2007 7,999- i Canon 1Ds Mark III
Canon 1D Mark III« »---rev- Feb 2007 4,499- i Canon 1D Mark III
Canon 5D« »88/100HiRecrevrev- Aug 2005 3,299- i Canon 5D
Canon 1D Mark II N« »----- Aug 2005 3,999- i Canon 1D Mark II N
Canon 1Ds Mark II« »-HiRec--- Sep 2004 7,999- i Canon 1Ds Mark II
Canon Rebel« »-HiRec-rev- Aug 2003 899- i Canon Rebel
Canon 1Ds« »-HiRec--- Sep 2002 8,999- i Canon 1Ds
Canon 1D« »-HiRec--- Sep 2001 6,499- i Canon 1D
Nikon D80« »RecHiRecrev4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2006 999- i Nikon D80
Nikon D50« »78/100HiRec4/5rev4.5/5 Apr 2005 749- i Nikon D50
Nikon D70s« »---rev5/5 Apr 2005 899- i Nikon D70s
Nikon D100« »-HiRecrevrev- Feb 2002 1,999- i Nikon D100

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

 

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, kindly get in touch, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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