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I currently have a Nikon D70 that I purchased back when it was the "bees knees" and it has served me well for a long time. I get some great shots from it, but I really struggle in low-light situations. I hesitate to push it past 1000 ISO due to excessive graininess, but then need to fight with excessive flash (the cave effect), low shutter speeds, or unforgiving DoF. I think it may be time to upgrade...on a budget, of course.

I've been considering a D700, since it seems to be the cheapest way to upgrade to a solid camera with a larger sensor (and compatible lens mount). I feel like this will help me where I need it most; low-noise low-light imagery. However, even used it's a big purchase for me. Especially since my zoom lens is DX so I'll need a new one. I'm having trouble justifying the purchase unless I can really be sure of a substantial improvement.

I have seen a lot of comparisons online from automated camera database sites. What I'd really like to know is how these two cameras compare in sharpness and noise in low-light situations, though. This would be best seen through comparison photos (photos of the same subject taken with both cameras), especially with comparison crops, but surprisingly Google has failed to show me any...I guess because the D70 was more often compared to the D7000.

Can someone provide comparison photos with full resolution crops between these two cameras?

  • Have you searched Flickr for photos taken by each camera? It's pretty easy to do. – Michael C Jun 7 at 19:23
  • @MichaelC I've done a little searching, but even if I find two photos with similar camera settings, different subjects and different lighting conditions create vastly different results, especially in regards to noise. The only way to get near an accurate comparison is with a controlled set of comparison photos. – Nicholas Jun 9 at 2:23
  • I think it would be highly unlikely in a community with only as many active users as are here to find anyone presently shooting with both a D70 and D700. One is a 2004 APS-C/DX model. The other is a 2008 FF/FX model. The chances of one person here still using those two bodies in 2019 is statistically nil. – Michael C Jun 9 at 2:57
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This may end up being closed as 'opinion-based' but before that, my own opinion.

Unless you're picking it up for pence, I wouldn't trade up from a DX 6mp camera from 2004 to a 12mp camera from 2008.
10 years is a long time in electronics.

I'd be looking at a 24mp camera - the 3xxx or 5xxx - where focus speed & low light performance will literally be years ahead.
Both also DX so you can bring your lenses with you.

  • Thank you. I considered that, but I've seen comparisons showing a FX 2008 camera performing better in low-light vs a 2018 DX camera. Electronics can only go so far against the gains that all that extra incoming light gets you. I'm not so worried about sharpness; in my experience anything beyond 6MP is invisible at any size print on a properly taken photo anyway. – Nicholas Jun 7 at 16:38
  • @Nicholas, Can you post some links to that comparation? To take a look and see how valid the claim is. – Rafael Jun 7 at 17:56
  • @Nicholas electronics have actually come a long, long way. My 5Dmk2 is great compared to even my 60D, but I’d guess that it can’t hold a candle to an 80D... – Hueco Jun 7 at 19:27
  • @Rafael I've closed most of the tabs that had them, but here is one good one: dxomark.com/Cameras/Compare/Side-by-side/… . If you look at the SNR graph it shows the D700 ahead by a generous margin. The only area where the D5500 stands a chance is in dynamic range. The D5500 is a bit older, but tests very similarly to the D5600. – Nicholas Jun 9 at 2:28
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In my opinion, the best tool to do such a comparison is DpReview.com. Here is a link for the tool, you need to invest some time to find similar cameras.

https://www.dpreview.com/reviews/nikon-d7500-review-speed-and-capability/8

If you want to see the specs, use this other comparison page

https://www.dpreview.com/products/compare/cameras

The problem is that the D70 is too old for these tests. But you probably can dig in to find the old comparison test page.

For your specific case, you need to take into account if you really need or want to go for a larger sensor, because any DX lens you have will not be usable on an FX format.

If you only have one DX lens, there is not much to lose there.


But I would not go for an oldie full frame camera, in my opinion, a newer DX camera will have better features. You probably do not think you want or need video, or better battery performance or more megapixels.


I love Nikon, my first camera was an FM2. But as you seem not having a lot of already purchased Nikon gear (lenses) you might consider other brands to suit your specific needs. Canon, Sony, Fuji?


Reading the comments you posted, probably the real issue is low light performance. Remember that you can go for a faster lens, a noise reduction software. But in any case, still, a newer sensor will perform better in low light than an old one.

In some other cases, having a 24 Mpx image with good enough low noise will be a heck more smooth if you resample to your mentioned 6Mpx. This way, with a 24Mpx sensor you can push your maximum ISO you are normally willing to accept.

  • Thanks. I do actually have some gear, including a very expensive full frame 24-70 f/2.8 lens left over from my old wedding photography business, plus my SB-800 flash; starting over would be financially rough right now. I don't really need the additional features; just high performance in RAW. I do well with my D70, but f/2.8 makes focus unforgiving, and shutter speeds under 1/60 are tough with teenagers. The ability to push the ISO up several steps would be invaluable. Every time I see discussions between owners of a D700/D3 who also have a new DX, they say the D3 wins in noise hands down. – Nicholas Jun 8 at 23:09
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The fact that the camera with the significantly larger (2.25X) sensor and higher resolution (2X) is also five years newer and from the same manufacturer at a time when digital sensors were improving rapidly should be all you need to know, especially since the individual photosites ("pixel wells") of the larger, higher resolution sensor are still slightly larger than those of the older, smaller, and lower resolution sensor.

It shouldn't even be close.

Every time I see discussions between owners of a D700/D3 who also have a new DX, they say the D3 wins in noise hands down

There you are. The original D3¹ had the same sensor as the D700. Just pull the trigger if sensor performance is the only criteria not being met by your current D70. Current DX models offer a lot more bells and whistles, video, better AF performance, etc., but high ISO performance is not an area where they have exceeded the D3/700D yet.

¹ Not to be confused with the D3s - which had a completely different sensor with even better high ISO performance that just happened to have the same resolution as the D3 sensor

But, as always, a better camera will not make anyone a better photographer. A better photographer can take better advantage of better gear.

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