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December 15, 2004

THE PRESSURE, THE PRESSURE: Reader Steve Hill emails:

Since YOU are now my digital camera connection . . . How about discussing the differences between the [Nikon] D2H and the D70 as you see them. Why is a 4MP camera higher priced than a 6MP camera? Is it that much more capable?

Thanks for writing about all this - it's been really useful.

Well, it's apples and oranges to a degree. The Nikon D2H is a pro-level camera, with much more robust construction, and a variety of features (especially very fast autofocus) aimed at sports photographers.

On the other hand, the D70 is aimed more at people like me -- serious amateurs who won't knock the camera around nearly as much, and don't need quite the speed of operation.

That said, I recently had my picture made by a very serious professional photographer who used a D70, and it's hard for me to see why very many people would spend $2000 on the D2H at this point, with far more capable equipment coming down the pike. (For example, here's a review of the forthcoming Nikon D2X, a 12-megapixel digital SLR that I mentioned earlier. But this review, by Ken Rockwell, notes that the D70 is superior in some ways.)

So there you are. Pro cameras are tougher and will last longer, but that construction comes at a price. With 35mm equipment it was worth it -- I got over 20 years out of my 35mm SLRs, and they never wore out. But with the technology curve as steep as it is right now for digital SLRs, I'm not sure that longevity is as important. In 20 years, or even 2, that D2H will be woefully obsolete. So is it worth $2000? Only if you really need what it offers, and need it right now.