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Because it's an entry level DSLR. Most people that buy a D70 will buy the kit lens or some other new D or G lens. To keep the price down Nikon had to cut features. Using older lenses on the D70 is a feature they felt could be left off to save money. IMHO I agree with them.
Actually, it's not only the D70 that omits this feature. All Nikon entry-to-mid-level AF SLRs cannot meter with manual-focus lenses: F65, F80, F60, F50, F55, F75, and even the D100 (as well as the Fuji S1 and S2 pro, Kodak 14n.) However, they can still be used in manual mode with MF lenses, with an external light meter or your judgement, of course. That should not be as big a problem with the DSLRs.
Nikon took that route more from a business perspective than a technical one. If you bought one of those SLRs, you'd have to buy new lenses for it instead of hunting for older lenses on the used market or using your existing old lenses, thus keeping Nikon in business! It's the lenses that are the money generator.
Pentax have been more generous in this regard: You can still use Pentax SMC lenses dating back to 1975 (when the K-mount was introduced) and any other K lens on modern entry-level SLRs like the ZX-L, but they seem to be doing like Nikon did with their new *ist/D line!
Some people call it progress.
However, the D70 works with the older AF lenses, like my 50mm 1.8 and the much maligned 35-70 f3.3, circa 1987, originally designed for the N2020, also a much unjustly criticized body because its focusing was slow. Frankly, I never found that true. I still use my solid 2020 with its great AF telextender, SB-18 TTL flash,flash cable and centering adapter. And it never seems to need AAA or AA cells. And the meter is flawless. Its interior is aluminum.
In order to move on to new technologies, we must be prepared to part with the old (don't tell me you are still driving a 30 year old car for regular commute). And yes, they do want you to buy new lenses. After all that is how business' remain prosperous and amass revenues to invest in newer and better products.
Hope this doesn't offend you. Just a fact of business economics.
I agree on Micheals point. I have nothing against changes as long as they are communicated. But on one hand there is this myth that Nikon did not change its lens mount and all old lenses would be compatible with the newer cameras.
But in fact it is a "soft" lens mount change, if all Nikon bodies below a ceratin price tag can not use essential functionalities if combined with older lenses.
There is no reason to buy a new lens, if you are satisfied with the results. But if you want to buy a new body and find out later on, you can not use basic functions with your old lens and have to buy therefore new ones, this is like changing the lens mount at the end of the day IMO
And nobody is communicating that in the nikon broshures, which makes it worse
Just a reminder to those of you who own a D70...there are two firmware updates for the D70 available at the NikonUSA website to download and load into your camera...all explanations and instructions are there for you to easily follow...