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Nikon D70s vs Sony RX1

The Nikon D70s and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in April 2005 and September 2012. The D70s is a DSLR, while the RX1 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on an APS-C (D70s) and a full frame (RX1) 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.

Headline Specifications
Nikon D70s
versus
Sony RX1
Nikon D70s Sony RX1
Digital single lens reflex Fixed lens compact camera
Nikon F mount lenses 35mm f/2.0
6 MP, APS-C Sensor 24 MP, Full Frame Sensor
no Video 1080/60p Video
ISO 200-1,600 ISO 100-25,600 (50 - 102,400)
Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
2.0 LCD, 130k dots 3.0 LCD, 1229k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3 shutter flaps per second 5 shutter flaps per second
500 shots per battery charge270 shots per battery charge
140 x 111 x 78 mm, 679 g 113 x 65 x 70 mm, 482 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D70s and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1? 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

The physical size and weight of the Nikon D70s and the Sony RX1 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 width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Nikon D70s vs Sony RX1
Compare D70s versus RX1 top
Comparison D70s or RX1 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony RX1 is considerably smaller (53 percent) than the Nikon D70s. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D70s nor the RX1 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the RX1 has a lens built in, whereas the D70s is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the D70s and their specifications in the Nikon Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the D70s gets 500 shots out of its EN-EL3a battery, while the RX1 can take 270 images on a single charge of its NP-BX1 power pack. The power pack in the RX1 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons 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 899 i
2.
 
Sony RX1 113 mm 65 mm 70 mm 482 g 270 n Sep 2012 2,799 i
3.
 
Canon Rebel 142 mm 99 mm 72 mm 649 g 400 n Aug 2003 899 i
4.
 
Nikon D5500 124 mm 97 mm 70 mm 420 g 820 n Jan 2015 899 i
5.
 
Nikon D5300 125 mm 98 mm 76 mm 480 g 600 n Oct 2013 799 i
6.
 
Nikon D5100 128 mm 97 mm 79 mm 560 g 660 n Apr 2011 749 i
7.
 
Nikon D5000 127 mm 104 mm 80 mm 590 g 510 n Apr 2009 749 i
8.
 
Nikon D40 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 470 n Nov 2006 499 i
9.
 
Nikon D80 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 668 g 600 n Aug 2006 999 i
10.
 
Nikon D50 133 mm 102 mm 76 mm 620 g 400 n Apr 2005 749 i
11.
 
Nikon D70 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 400 n Jan 2004 999 i
12.
 
Nikon D100 144 mm 116 mm 81 mm 780 g 370 n Feb 2002 1,999 i
13.
 
Sony RX1R II 113 mm 65 mm 72 mm 507 g 220 n Oct 2015 3,299 i
14.
 
Sony A3000 128 mm 91 mm 85 mm 411 g 470 n Aug 2013 329 i
15.
 
Sony RX1R 113 mm 65 mm 70 mm 482 g 270 n Jun 2013 2,799 i
16.
 
Sony NEX-7 120 mm 67 mm 43 mm 400 g 430 n Aug 2011 1,349 i
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 manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. 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.

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Sensor comparison

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. 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 Sony RX1 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the RX1 is 130 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.

Nikon D70s and Sony RX1 sensor measures

With 24MP, the RX1 offers a higher resolution than the D70s (6MP), but the RX1 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.96μm versus 7.85μm for the D70s). Yet, the RX1 is a much more recent model (by 7 years and 4 months) than the D70s, 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 RX1 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the RX1 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 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 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 are ISO 100 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-102400.

D70s versus RX1 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 consideration, the RX1 offers substantially better image quality than the D70s (overall score 43 points higher). The advantage is based on 4.7 bits higher color depth, 4 EV in additional dynamic range, and 2.3 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.

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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 2000none20.410.3529 50
2.
 
Sony RX1 Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.114.32534 93
3.
 
Canon Rebel APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.010.8544 55
4.
 
Nikon D5500 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.114.01438 84
5.
 
Nikon D5300 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.013.91338 83
6.
 
Nikon D5100 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.513.61183 80
7.
 
Nikon D5000 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.5868 72
8.
 
Nikon D40 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none21.011.0561 56
9.
 
Nikon D80 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.111.2524 61
10.
 
Nikon D50 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.910.8560 55
11.
 
Nikon D70 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.3529 50
12.
 
Nikon D100 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none...... ..
13.
 
Sony RX1R II Full Frame 42.2 7952 53041080/60p25.813.93204 97
14.
 
Sony A3000 APS-C 19.8 5456 36321080/60i23.712.81068 78
15.
 
Sony RX1R Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.013.62537 91
16.
 
Sony NEX-7 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60i24.113.41016 81

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The RX1 indeed provides for movie recording, while the D70s does not. The highest resolution format that the RX1 can use is 1080/60p.

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Feature comparison

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 RX1 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the RX1 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the FDA-EV1MK. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon D70s and Sony RX1 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.

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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)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Nikon D70soptical n 2.0 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 Y n
2.
 
Sony RX1optional n 3.0 1229 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
3.
 
Canon Rebeloptical n 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
4.
 
Nikon D5500optical n 3.2 1037 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
5.
 
Nikon D5300optical n 3.2 1037 swivel n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
6.
 
Nikon D5100optical n 3.0 921 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
7.
 
Nikon D5000optical n 2.7 230 full-flex n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
8.
 
Nikon D40optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
9.
 
Nikon D80optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
10.
 
Nikon D50optical n 2.0 130 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
11.
 
Nikon D70optical n 1.8 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 Y n
12.
 
Nikon D100optical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
13.
 
Sony RX1R II2360 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 1/4000s 5.0 n n
14.
 
Sony A3000202 n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
15.
 
Sony RX1Roptional n 3.0 1229 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
16.
 
Sony NEX-72359 n 3.0 921 tilting n 1/4000s 10.0 Y n

The D70s writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the RX1 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards.

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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 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 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
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Nikon D70sY-----2.0---
2.
 
Sony RX1YstereomonoY-mini2.0---
3.
 
Canon RebelY-----1.1---
4.
 
Nikon D5500YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--
5.
 
Nikon D5300YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--
6.
 
Nikon D5100YmonomonoY-mini2.0---
7.
 
Nikon D5000Ymonomono--mini2.0---
8.
 
Nikon D40Y-----2.0---
9.
 
Nikon D80Y-----2.0---
10.
 
Nikon D50Y-----2.0---
11.
 
Nikon D70Y-----1.0---
12.
 
Nikon D100Y-----1.1---
13.
 
Sony RX1R IIYstereomonoY-micro2.0YY-
14.
 
Sony A3000Ystereomono--mini2.0---
15.
 
Sony RX1RYstereomonoY-mini2.0---
16.
 
Sony NEX-7YstereomonoY-mini2.0---

Both the D70s and the RX1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D70s was replaced by the Nikon D80, while the RX1 was followed by the Sony RX1R. 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.

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Review summary

So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Nikon D70s and the Sony RX1? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Advantages of the Nikon D70s:

  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
  • More flexible: Can take a variety of interchangeable lenses, including specialty optics.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (500 versus 270) on a single battery charge.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in April 2005).

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Reasons to prefer the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 6MP), which boosts linear resolution by 100%.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (43 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (4.7 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (4 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (2.3 stops ISO advantage).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60p 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 (1229k vs 130k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Ready to shoot: Comes with an integrated lens, while the D70s requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (113x65mm vs 140x111mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens built in (unlike the D70s).
  • Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
  • More modern: Reflects 7 years and 4 months of technical progress since the D70s launch.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the RX1 is the clear winner of the contest (14 : 5 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

D70s 05:14 RX1

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D70s and the Sony RX1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Prime Lens Compact 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the D70s and the RX1 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.

Expert reviews

This is where reviews by experts come in. 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.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Nikon D70s........5/5 Apr 2005 899 i
2.
 
Sony RX15/5..79/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,799 i
3.
 
Canon Rebel....+ +.... Aug 2003 899 i
4.
 
Nikon D55005/5+79/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2015 899 i
5.
 
Nikon D53004/5+ +79/1004.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 799 i
6.
 
Nikon D51005/5+ +76/1004.5/54.5/5 Apr 2011 749 i
7.
 
Nikon D5000..+ +75/1004/54.5/5 Apr 2009 749 i
8.
 
Nikon D40..81/100+ +o4.5/5 Nov 2006 499 i
9.
 
Nikon D80..++ +o4.5/5 Aug 2006 999 i
10.
 
Nikon D50..78/100+ +4/54.5/5 Apr 2005 749 i
11.
 
Nikon D70....+ +.... Jan 2004 999 i
12.
 
Nikon D100....+ +o.. Feb 2002 1,999 i
13.
 
Sony RX1R II5/5..82/100..4.5/5 Oct 2015 3,299 i
14.
 
Sony A30003/5+..4/54/5 Aug 2013 329 i
15.
 
Sony RX1R5/5....4/54.5/5 Jun 2013 2,799 i
16.
 
Sony NEX-75/5+ +81/1004.5/55/5 Aug 2011 1,349 i
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. 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, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Nikon D70s:
Check Ebay offers
Sony RX1:
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 make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

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    Specifications: Nikon D70s vs Sony RX1

    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 Sony RX1
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Fixed lens compact camera
    Camera Lens Nikon F mount lenses 35mm f/2.0
    Launch Date April 2005 September 2012
    Launch Price USD 899 USD 2,799
    Sensor Specs Nikon D70s Sony RX1
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.7 x 15.6 mm 35.8 x 23.8 mm
    Sensor Area 369.72 mm2 852.04 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.4 mm 43 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 6 Megapixels 24 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3008 x 2000 pixels 6000 x 4000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 7.85 μm 5.96 μm
    Pixel Density 1.63 MP/cm2 2.82 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video 1080/60p Video
    ISO Setting 200 - 1,600 ISO 100 - 25,600 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 50 - 102,400 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 50 93
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 20.4 25.1
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 10.3 14.3
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 529 2534
    Screen Specs Nikon D70s Sony RX1
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
    Viewfinder Field of View 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.50x
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 130k dots 1229k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Nikon D70s Sony RX1
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Manual Focusing Aidno Peaking FeatureFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/8000s 1/4000s
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 5 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards MS or SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Nikon D70s Sony RX1
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI mini HDMI
    Microphone Port no MIC socket External MIC port
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Nikon D70s Sony RX1
    Battery Type EN-EL3a NP-BX1
    Battery Life (CIPA)500 shots per charge270 shots per charge
    In-Camera Charging no USB charging USB charging
    Body Dimensions 140 x 111 x 78 mm
    (5.5 x 4.4 x 3.1 in)
    113 x 65 x 70 mm
    (4.4 x 2.6 x 2.8 in)
    Camera Weight 679 g (24.0 oz) 482 g (17.0 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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