Seven worry-free scene modes augmented by a serviceable set of manual controls and advanced focusing options make this least-expensive Nikon digital SLR camera a viable alternative to the popular D70s. The family-oriented Nikon D50, which includes a kid-friendly Child mode that brightens colors while retaining accurate skin tones, joins the Pentax *ist DL, the Konica Minolta Maxxum 5D, and the original Canon Digital Rebel in the 6-megapixel SLR sub-$900 price arena.
Bargain-hunting digital-SLR consumers will find a few features missing from the D70s’s array, including a 1/8,000-second top shutter speed, a depth-of-field preview, and a second command dial; also, the kit lens has about 25 percent less telephoto reach: 27mm to 82.5mm vs. 27mm to 105mm (35mm-camera equivalent). But improved image-processing algorithms give the junior Nikon SLR better noise characteristics at ISO settings up to 1600 and offer gentler treatment of highlights. Budding shutterbugs looking for fast operation coupled with useful features such as a robust burst mode, accurate exposure metering, and iTTL electronic flash control (both internal and external) will find a lot to like about this budget digital SLR contender.
Experienced photographers seeking a backup Nikon camera body might be better off spending a few hundred dollars more for the Nikon D70s. The D50’s reliance on SD/MMC media instead of CompactFlash requires an investment in two memory card formats, and multiple differences in the control layout, including the absent subcommand dial, a cursor-pad function swap during playback, and a lack of backlighting for the control panel, complicate switching back and forth.