Nikon D70 vs Sony A7 III
The Nikon D70 and the Sony Alpha A7 III are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in January 2004 and February 2018. The D70 is a DSLR, while the A7 III is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (D70) and a full frame (A7 III) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 6 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 24 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D70 and the Sony Alpha A7 III? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The physical size and weight of the Nikon D70 and the Sony A7 III are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A7 III is notably smaller (22 percent) than the Nikon D70. Moreover, the A7 III is slightly lighter (4 percent) than the D70. It is noteworthy in this context that the A7 III is splash and dust-proof, 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 compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Nikon Lens Catalog (D70) and the Sony FE Lens Catalog (A7 III). Mirrorless cameras, such as the A7 III, have moreover the advantage that they can use many lenses from other systems via adapters, as they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance.
Concerning battery life, the D70 gets 400 shots out of its EN-EL3 battery, while the A7 III can take 610 images on a single charge of its NP-FZ100 power pack. The power pack in the A7 III can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Nikon D70||140 mm||111 mm||78 mm||679 g||400||n||Jan 2004||999|
|2.||Sony A7 III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||610||Y||Feb 2018||1,999|
|3.||Canon Rebel||142 mm||99 mm||72 mm||649 g||400||n||Aug 2003||899|
|4.||Nikon Z6||134 mm||101 mm||67 mm||675 g||310||Y||Aug 2018||1,999|
|5.||Nikon D5100||128 mm||97 mm||79 mm||560 g||660||n||Apr 2011||749|
|6.||Nikon D5000||127 mm||104 mm||80 mm||590 g||510||n||Apr 2009||749|
|7.||Nikon D90||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||703 g||850||n||Aug 2008||1,299|
|8.||Nikon D40||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||470||n||Nov 2006||499|
|9.||Nikon D80||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||668 g||600||n||Aug 2006||999|
|10.||Nikon D50||133 mm||102 mm||76 mm||620 g||400||n||Apr 2005||749|
|11.||Nikon D70s||140 mm||111 mm||78 mm||679 g||500||n||Apr 2005||899|
|12.||Nikon D2X||158 mm||150 mm||86 mm||1252 g||3800||Y||Sep 2004||4,999|
|13.||Nikon D100||144 mm||116 mm||81 mm||780 g||370||n||Feb 2002||1,999|
|14.||Sony A7R IV||129 mm||96 mm||78 mm||665 g||670||Y||Jul 2019||3,499|
|15.||Sony A7R III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||650||Y||Oct 2017||3,199|
|16.||Sony A9||127 mm||96 mm||63 mm||673 g||650||Y||Apr 2017||4,499|
|17.||Sony A7 II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||599 g||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The D70 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 50 percent) than the A7 III, 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.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have 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 tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D70 features an APS-C sensor and the Sony A7 III a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A7 III is 129 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 24MP, the A7 III offers a higher resolution than the D70 (6MP), but the A7 III has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.94μm versus 7.85μm for the D70). Yet, the A7 III is a much more recent model (by 14 years and 1 month) than the D70, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The resolution advantage of the Sony A7 III implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A7 III for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D70 are 15 x 10 inches or 38.2 x 25.4 cm for good quality, 12 x 8 inches or 30.6 x 20.3 cm for very good quality, and 10 x 6.7 inches or 25.5 x 16.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
The A7 III has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Nikon D70 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha A7 III are ISO 100 to ISO 51200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-204800.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the A7 III offers substantially better image quality than the D70 (overall score 46 points higher). The advantage is based on 4.6 bits higher color depth, 4.4 EV in additional dynamic range, and 2.8 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.
| DXO |
|2.||Sony A7 III||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3730||96|
|4.||Nikon Z6||Full Frame||24.3||6048||4024||4K/30p||25.3||14.3||3299||95|
|14.||Sony A7R IV||Full Frame||60.2||9504||6336||4K/30p||26.0||14.8||3344||99|
|15.||Sony A7R III||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||14.7||3523||100|
|16.||Sony A9||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.9||13.3||3517||92|
|17.||Sony A7 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The A7 III indeed provides for movie recording, while the D70 does not. The highest resolution format that the A7 III can use is 4K/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the A7 III has an electronic viewfinder (2359k dots), while the D70 has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The viewfinder in the A7 III offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the D70 (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the A7 III has a higher magnification (0.78x vs 0.50x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Nikon D70 and Sony A7 III along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|2.||Sony A7 III||2359||n||3.0||922||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|14.||Sony A7R IV||5760||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|15.||Sony A7R III||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|17.||Sony A7 II||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The D70 has one, while the A7 III does not. While the built-in flash of the D70 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the A7 III is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The Sony A7 III has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The D70 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the A7 III uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The A7 III features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the D70 only has one slot.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Nikon D70 and Sony Alpha A7 III and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|2.||Sony A7 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|14.||Sony A7R IV||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|15.||Sony A7R III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|17.||Sony A7 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the A7 III offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the D70 does not provide wifi capability.
The A7 III is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Sony. In contrast, the D70 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the D70 was succeeded by the Nikon D70s. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon and Sony websites.
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Nikon D70 and the Sony A7 III? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D70:
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (50 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in January 2004).
Advantages of the Sony Alpha A7 III:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 6MP), which boosts linear resolution by 100%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (46 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (4.6 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (4.4 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (2.8 stops ISO advantage).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 4K/30p video.
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 95%).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.78x vs 0.50x).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 1.8") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (922k vs 130k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More compact: Is smaller (127x96mm vs 140x111mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (610 versus 400) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.1 vs 1.0).
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More modern: Reflects 14 years and 1 month of technical progress since the D70 launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A7 III is the clear winner of the contest (29 : 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. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D70 and the Sony A7 III place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the D70 or the A7 III perform in practice. 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 hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Nikon D70||..||..||+ +||..||..||Jan 2004||999|
|2.||Sony A7 III||..||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2018||1,999|
|3.||Canon Rebel||..||..||+ +||..||..||Aug 2003||899|
|4.||Nikon Z6||5/5||..||..||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2018||1,999|
|5.||Nikon D5100||5/5||+ +||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2011||749|
|6.||Nikon D5000||..||+ +||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2009||749|
|7.||Nikon D90||..||+ +||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2008||1,299|
|8.||Nikon D40||..||81/100||+ +||o||4.5/5||Nov 2006||499|
|9.||Nikon D80||..||+||+ +||o||4.5/5||Aug 2006||999|
|10.||Nikon D50||..||78/100||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2005||749|
|11.||Nikon D70s||..||..||..||..||5/5||Apr 2005||899|
|12.||Nikon D2X||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2004||4,999|
|13.||Nikon D100||..||..||+ +||o||..||Feb 2002||1,999|
|14.||Sony A7R IV||5/5||+||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2019||3,499|
|15.||Sony A7R III||..||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2017||3,199|
|16.||Sony A9||5/5||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||Apr 2017||4,499|
|17.||Sony A7 II||5/5||+||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Nov 2014||1,999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
Specifications: Nikon D70 vs Sony A7 III
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Nikon D70||Sony A7 III|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||January 2004||February 2018|
|Launch Price||USD 999||USD 1,999|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D70||Sony A7 III|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.7 x 15.6 mm||35.6 x 23.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||369.72 mm2||847.28 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.4 mm||42.8 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||6 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3008 x 2000 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||7.85 μm||5.94 μm|
|Pixel Density||1.63 MP/cm2||2.83 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 1,600 ISO||100 - 51,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||50 - 204,800 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||50||96|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||20.4||25.0|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.3||14.7|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||529||3730|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D70||Sony A7 III|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2359k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||1.8inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||130k dots||922k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D70||Sony A7 III|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||On-Sensor Phase-detect|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||3 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||50 000 actuations||200 000 actuations|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||YES|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D70||Sony A7 III|
|USB Connector||USB 1.0||USB 3.1|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Nikon D70||Sony A7 III|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||400 shots per charge||610 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
140 x 111 x 78 mm
(5.5 x 4.4 x 3.1 in)
127 x 96 x 74 mm
(5.0 x 3.8 x 2.9 in)
|Camera Weight||679 g (24.0 oz)||650 g (22.9 oz)|
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