Nikon D70s vs Panasonic GX850
The Nikon D70s and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX850 (labelled Panasonic GX800 in some countries) are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in April 2005 and January 2017. The D70s is a DSLR, while the GX850 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (D70s) and a Four Thirds (GX850) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 6 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic provides 15.8 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 D70s and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX850? 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 D70s and the Panasonic GX850 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.
The GX850 can be obtained in three different colors (black, silver, red), while the D70s is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic GX850 is considerably smaller (55 percent) than the Nikon D70s. Moreover, the GX850 is substantially lighter (60 percent) than the D70s. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D70s nor the GX850 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. 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 (D70s) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (GX850). Mirrorless cameras, such as the GX850, 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.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Nikon D70s||140 mm||111 mm||78 mm||679 g||500||n||Apr 2005||899|
|2.||Panasonic GX850||107 mm||65 mm||33 mm||269 g||210||n||Jan 2017||549|
|3.||Canon 300D||142 mm||99 mm||72 mm||649 g||400||n||Aug 2003||899|
|4.||Nikon D5100||128 mm||97 mm||79 mm||560 g||660||n||Apr 2011||749|
|5.||Nikon D5000||127 mm||104 mm||80 mm||590 g||510||n||Apr 2009||749|
|6.||Nikon D40||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||470||n||Nov 2006||499|
|7.||Nikon D80||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||668 g||600||n||Aug 2006||999|
|8.||Nikon D50||133 mm||102 mm||76 mm||620 g||400||n||Apr 2005||749|
|9.||Nikon D70||140 mm||111 mm||78 mm||679 g||400||n||Jan 2004||999|
|10.||Nikon D100||144 mm||116 mm||81 mm||780 g||370||n||Feb 2002||1,999|
|11.||Olympus E-330||140 mm||87 mm||72 mm||637 g||750||n||Jan 2006||999|
|12.||Panasonic GF7||107 mm||65 mm||33 mm||266 g||230||n||Jan 2015||499|
|13.||Panasonic G6||122 mm||85 mm||71 mm||390 g||340||n||Apr 2013||599|
|14.||Panasonic G5||120 mm||83 mm||71 mm||396 g||320||n||Jul 2012||599|
|15.||Panasonic G3||115 mm||84 mm||47 mm||336 g||270||n||May 2011||599|
|16.||Panasonic GX1||116 mm||68 mm||39 mm||318 g||320||n||Nov 2011||699|
|17.||Panasonic L1||146 mm||87 mm||64 mm||606 g||750||n||Feb 2006||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 obviously take relative prices into account. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The GX850 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 39 percent) than the D70s, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better 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 D70s features an APS-C sensor and the Panasonic GX850 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the GX850 is 39 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 2.0. The sensor in the D70s has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the GX850 offers a 4:3 aspect.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the GX850 offers a higher resolution of 15.8 megapixels, compared with 6 MP of the D70s. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.77μm versus 7.85μm for the D70s). However, it should be noted that the GX850 is much more recent (by 11 years and 8 months) than the D70s, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the GX850 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Panasonic GX850 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the GX850 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 23 x 17.2 inches or 58.3 x 43.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.7 x 35 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 15.3 x 11.5 inches or 38.9 x 29.2 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX850 are ISO 200 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-25600.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the GX850 offers substantially better image quality than the D70s (overall score 23 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.8 bits higher color depth, 3 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.1 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.||Panasonic GX850||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||4K/30p||23.2||13.3||586||73|
|11.||Olympus E-330||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||..||..||..||..|
|12.||Panasonic GF7||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
|13.||Panasonic G6||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||21.3||11.5||639||61|
|14.||Panasonic G5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
|15.||Panasonic G3||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60i||21.0||10.6||667||56|
|16.||Panasonic GX1||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||20.8||10.6||703||55|
|17.||Panasonic L1||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||..||..||..||..|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The GX850 indeed provides for movie recording, while the D70s does not. The highest resolution format that the GX850 can use is 4K/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the D70s has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the GX850 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon D70s and Panasonic GX850 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The GX850 has a touchscreen, while the D70s has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.The GX850 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the D70s does not have a selfie-screen.
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 GX850 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 Panasonic GX850 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 D70s writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the GX850 uses SDXC cards.
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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX850 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
It is notable that the D70s has a hotshoe, while the GX850 does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.
The GX850 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Panasonic. In contrast, the D70s has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the D70s was succeeded by the Nikon D80. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon and Panasonic websites.
So how do things add up? Is the Nikon D70s better than the Panasonic GX850 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Nikon D70s:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/500s) to freeze action.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (500 versus 210) on a single battery charge.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in April 2005).
Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX850:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (15.8 vs 6MP), which boosts linear resolution by 59%.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (23 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2.8 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (3 EV of extra DR).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 4K/30p video.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.0") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k 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.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- 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 (107x65mm vs 140x111mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 410g or 60 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (39 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 11 years and 8 months of technical progress since the D70s launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the GX850 is the clear winner of the contest (20 : 6 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 sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape 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 D70s and the Panasonic GX850 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 D70s or the GX850 perform in practice. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is why expert reviews are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear 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 D70s||..||..||..||..||5/5||Apr 2005||899|
|2.||Panasonic GX850||..||+||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||549|
|3.||Canon 300D||..||..||+ +||..||..||Aug 2003||899|
|4.||Nikon D5100||5/5||+ +||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2011||749|
|5.||Nikon D5000||..||+ +||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2009||749|
|6.||Nikon D40||..||81/100||+ +||o||4.5/5||Nov 2006||499|
|7.||Nikon D80||..||+||+ +||o||4.5/5||Aug 2006||999|
|8.||Nikon D50||..||78/100||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2005||749|
|9.||Nikon D70||..||..||+ +||..||..||Jan 2004||999|
|10.||Nikon D100||..||..||+ +||o||..||Feb 2002||1,999|
|11.||Olympus E-330||..||..||+||o||..||Jan 2006||999|
|12.||Panasonic GF7||4/5||+||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2015||499|
|13.||Panasonic G6||4/5||+ +||..||5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2013||599|
|14.||Panasonic G5||3/5||+ +||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2012||599|
|15.||Panasonic G3||3/5||+ +||75/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2011||599|
|16.||Panasonic GX1||3/5||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2011||699|
|17.||Panasonic L1||..||85/100||+||..||3.5/5||Feb 2006||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. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. 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? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, 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.
Specifications: Nikon D70s vs Panasonic GX850
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 D70s||Panasonic GX850|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||April 2005||January 2017|
|Launch Price||USD 899||USD 549|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D70s||Panasonic GX850|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.7 x 15.6 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||369.72 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.4 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||6 Megapixels||15.8 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3008 x 2000 pixels||4592 x 3448 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||7.85 μm||3.77 μm|
|Pixel Density||1.63 MP/cm2||7.04 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 1,600 ISO||200 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||50||73|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||20.4||23.2|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.3||13.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||529||586|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D70s||Panasonic GX850|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||no viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||130k dots||1040k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D70s||Panasonic GX850|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/500s|
|Continuous Shooting||3 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/16000s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D70s||Panasonic GX850|
|External Flash||Hotshoe||no Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Body Specs||Nikon D70s||Panasonic GX850|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||500 shots per charge||210 shots per charge|
140 x 111 x 78 mm
(5.5 x 4.4 x 3.1 in)
107 x 65 x 33 mm
(4.2 x 2.6 x 1.3 in)
|Camera Weight||679 g (24.0 oz)||269 g (9.5 oz)|
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