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Nikon D70s vs D80

The Nikon D70s and the Nikon D80 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in April 2005 and August 2006. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The D70s has a resolution of 6 megapixels, whereas the D80 provides 10 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Nikon D70s
versus
Nikon D80
Nikon D70s   Nikon D80
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Nikon F mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
6 MP, APS-C Sensor 10 MP, APS-C Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 200-1,600 ISO 100-1,600 (100 - 3,200)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.0 LCD, 130k dots 2.5 LCD, 230k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
500 shots per battery charge600 shots per battery charge
140 x 111 x 78 mm, 679 g 132 x 103 x 77 mm, 668 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D70s and the Nikon D80? 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.

Body comparison

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Nikon D70s and the Nikon D80 is provided 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 width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Nikon D70s vs Nikon D80
Compare D70s versus D80 top
Comparison D70s or D80 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D80 is notably smaller (13 percent) than the Nikon D70s. Moreover, the D80 is slightly lighter (2 percent) than the D70s. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D70s nor the D80 are weather-sealed.

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. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can compare the optics available in the Nikon Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the D70s gets 500 shots out of its EN-EL3a battery, while the D80 can take 600 images on a single charge of its EN-EL3e power pack.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Nikon D70s 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 500 n Apr 2005 899i
2.
 
Nikon D80 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 668 g 600 n Aug 2006 999i
3.
 
Canon 300D 142 mm 99 mm 72 mm 649 g 400 n Aug 2003 899i
4.
 
Nikon D5100 128 mm 97 mm 79 mm 560 g 660 n Apr 2011 749i
5.
 
Nikon D5000 127 mm 104 mm 80 mm 590 g 510 n Apr 2009 749i
6.
 
Nikon D90 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 703 g 850 n Aug 2008 1,299i
7.
 
Nikon D40 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 470 n Nov 2006 499i
8.
 
Nikon D50 133 mm 102 mm 76 mm 620 g 400 n Apr 2005 749i
9.
 
Nikon D70 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 400 n Jan 2004 999i
10.
 
Nikon D100 144 mm 116 mm 81 mm 780 g 370 n Feb 2002 1,999i
11.
 
Olympus E-330 140 mm 87 mm 72 mm 637 g 750 n Jan 2006 999i
12.
 
Panasonic L1 146 mm 87 mm 64 mm 606 g 750 n Feb 2006 999i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The D70s was somewhat cheaper (by 10 percent) than the D80 at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. 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

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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.

Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the D80 is 1 percent bigger. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Nikon D70s and Nikon D80 sensor measures

With 10MP, the D80 offers a higher resolution than the D70s (6MP), but the D80 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.11μm versus 7.85μm for the D70s). Yet, the D80 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 3 months) than the D70s, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.

The resolution advantage of the Nikon D80 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D80 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 19.4 x 13 inches or 49.2 x 32.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 15.5 x 10.4 inches or 39.3 x 26.3 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 12.9 x 8.6 inches or 32.8 x 21.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D70s 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 Nikon D70s has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D80 are ISO 100 to ISO 1600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-3200.

D70s versus D80 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 D80 offers substantially better image quality than the D70s (overall score 11 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.7 bits higher color depth, 0.9 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0 stops of reduced low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

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Sensor Characteristics
    Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
1.
 
Nikon D70s APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950
2.
 
Nikon D80 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.111.252461
3.
 
Canon 300D APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.010.854455
4.
 
Nikon D5100 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.513.6118380
5.
 
Nikon D5000 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.586872
6.
 
Nikon D90 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.597773
7.
 
Nikon D40 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none21.011.056156
8.
 
Nikon D50 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.910.856055
9.
 
Nikon D70 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950
10.
 
Nikon D100 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none........
11.
 
Olympus E-330 Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352none........
12.
 
Panasonic L1 Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352none........
Neither the D70s nor the D80 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

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D70s and the D80 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 viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (95%), but the viewfinder of the D80 has a higher magnification than the one of the D70s (0.62x 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 D70s and Nikon D80 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Nikon D70soptical n2.0 / 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 Y n
2.
 
Nikon D80optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
3.
 
Canon 300Doptical n1.8 / 118 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
4.
 
Nikon D5100optical n3.0 / 921 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
5.
 
Nikon D5000optical n2.7 / 230 full-flex n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
6.
 
Nikon D90optical Y3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 4.5 Y n
7.
 
Nikon D40optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
8.
 
Nikon D50optical n2.0 / 130 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
9.
 
Nikon D70optical n1.8 / 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 Y n
10.
 
Nikon D100optical Y1.8 / 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
11.
 
Olympus E-330optical n2.5 / 215 tilting n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
12.
 
Panasonic L1optical n2.5 / 207 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n

The D70s writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the D80 uses SDHC cards.

Connectivity comparison

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 D70s and Nikon D80 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
    Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Nikon D70sY- / ----2.0---
2.
 
Nikon D80Y- / ----2.0---
3.
 
Canon 300DY- / ----1.1---
4.
 
Nikon D5100Ymono / monoY-mini2.0---
5.
 
Nikon D5000Ymono / mono--mini2.0---
6.
 
Nikon D90Ymono / mono--mini2.0---
7.
 
Nikon D40Y- / ----2.0---
8.
 
Nikon D50Y- / ----2.0---
9.
 
Nikon D70Y- / ----1.0---
10.
 
Nikon D100Y- / ----1.1---
11.
 
Olympus E-330Y- / ----2.0---
12.
 
Panasonic L1Y- / ----2.0---

Both the D70s and the D80 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D70s was replaced by the Nikon D80, while the D80 was followed by the Nikon D90. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon website.

Review summary

So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Nikon D70s and the Nikon D80? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


Arguments in favor of the Nikon D70s:

  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in April 2005).


Advantages of the Nikon D80:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (10 vs 6MP), which boosts linear resolution by 29%.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (11 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.7 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (0.9 EV of extra DR).
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.62x vs 0.50x).
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.5" vs 2.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (230k vs 130k dots).
  • More compact: Is smaller (132x103mm vs 140x111mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (600 versus 500) out of a single battery charge.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 3 months) more recently.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D80 is the clear winner of the contest (10 : 2 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. 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.

D70s 02:10 D80

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D70s and the Nikon D80 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing 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 partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the D70s or the D80. 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.

Expert reviews

This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], 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.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Nikon D70s..........5/5 Apr 2005 899i
2.
 
Nikon D80..+..+ +o4.5/5 Aug 2006 999i
3.
 
Canon 300D......+ +.... Aug 2003 899i
4.
 
Nikon D51005/5+ +..76/1004.5/54.5/5 Apr 2011 749i
5.
 
Nikon D5000..+ +..75/1004/54.5/5 Apr 2009 749i
6.
 
Nikon D90..+ +..+ +4/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299i
7.
 
Nikon D40..81/100..+ +o4.5/5 Nov 2006 499i
8.
 
Nikon D50..78/100..+ +4/54.5/5 Apr 2005 749i
9.
 
Nikon D70......+ +.... Jan 2004 999i
10.
 
Nikon D100......+ +o.. Feb 2002 1,999i
11.
 
Olympus E-330......+o.. Jan 2006 999i
12.
 
Panasonic L1..85/100..+..3.5/5 Feb 2006 999i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Nikon D70s:
Check Ebay offers
Nikon D80:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Nikon D70s vs Nikon D80

    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 Specifications
    Camera Model Nikon D70s Nikon D80
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Nikon F mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date April 2005 August 2006
    Launch Price USD 899 USD 999
    Sensor Specs Nikon D70s Nikon D80
    Sensor Technology CCD CCD
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.7 x 15.6 mm 23.6 x 15.8 mm
    Sensor Area 369.72 mm2 372.88 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.4 mm 28.4 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 6 Megapixels 10 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3008 x 2000 pixels 3872 x 2592 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 7.85 μm 6.11 μm
    Pixel Density 1.63 MP/cm2 2.69 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 200 - 1,600 ISO 100 - 1,600 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 100 - 3,200 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 50 61
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 20.4 22.1
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 10.3 11.2
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 529 524
    Screen Specs Nikon D70s Nikon D80
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.50x 0.62x
    Rear LCD Size 2.0inch 2.5inch
    LCD Resolution 130k dots 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Nikon D70s Nikon D80
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy50 000 actuations100 000 actuations
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards SDHC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Nikon D70s Nikon D80
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Nikon D70s Nikon D80
    Battery Type EN-EL3a EN-EL3e
    Battery Life (CIPA)500 shots per charge600 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 140 x 111 x 78 mm
    (5.5 x 4.4 x 3.1 in)
    132 x 103 x 77 mm
    (5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0 in)
    Camera Weight 679 g (24.0 oz) 668 g (23.6 oz)

    Did you notice an error on this page? If so, please get in touch, so that we can correct the information.

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