Conclusion - Pros
- Good color balance, tuned towards reds (skin tones?)
- Wide tonal range, good dynamic range, smart auto tone selection
- Clean image processing, almost no 'digital' artifacts, a more film-like look
- As much resolution as we could expect from a four megapixel D-SLR sensor
- Built as a digital from the ground up, superb design touches, excellent ergonomics
- Very solid and robust, new environmental sealing ensures reliability
- All controls are by default 'locked', no accidental change of setting
- The most responsive shutter release I have ever experienced
- Virtual 'blink of an eye' viewfinder blackout, extremely quick
- Zero startup time, almost no delays during the use of the camera
- Currently unbeatable eight frames per second into a 40 frame buffer
- Good image parameter control; tone, sharpness, hue, color mode
- Superb Nikon Matrix metering
- Excellent new eleven point AF system, new AF modes
- White balance memories show thumbnails of reference image
- Very flexible control system, lots of options for control and programmable buttons
- Huge range of custom settings
- Shooting and custom settings can be stored two sets of four memory banks
- Large LCD monitor (although didn't seem as crisp as I had expected)
- Very fast CF write performance
- RAW compressed mode is now extremely quick, delivers small RAW files (<4 MB)
- RAW+JPEG support, writes one RAW and one JPEG file for each frame shot
- Sophisticated interval timer feature
- Excellent battery life, lighter and more powerful, very clever battery design
- Excellent in-camera battery information
- Optional wireless WT-1 Wi-Fi transmitter (not tested)
- Value for money
Conclusion - Cons
- Slightly more noise at ISO 200 than the EOS-1D
- Noise levels similar to EOS-1D from ISO 400 to 1600, we had expected better
- Disappointing automatic white balance performance under artificial light
- Slower flash X-sync speed than competition (1/250 sec vs. 1/500 sec)
- Some photographers will miss Firewire (IEEE 1394)
- Odd Nikon Capture Editor sharpness inconsistency (bug?)
The Nikon D2H is one of a very few cameras which feels almost perfectly 'sorted'. By this I mean it's very difficult to use the camera and find faults, almost any faults, which will affect the camera's purpose in life, which is to be a very fast, flexible, robust and reliable photographic tool. It's very hard to live with the D2H and not love the way it feels in your hand and responds so quickly when that split second photographic opportunity arrives. I seriously can't imagine a digital SLR which could operate more quickly, both in terms of delays to shutter release (power up, AF, shutter release lag) and continuous shooting speed.
Build qualty, control layout and design are second to none, and as a personal opinion I believe it feels and handles better than the Canon EOS-1D/1Ds. Nikon's attention to detail and understanding of professional photographers needs is clearly on display with almost every aspect of this camera.
Of course the D2H is most at home in a sports photography environment. Our brief outing with the D2H to an Ice Hockey game proved its worth with excellent continuous AF tracking and burst continuous shooting which never came close to filling the huge buffer or taxing the CF interface (which proved to be one of the fastest we've tested). That's not to say the D2H isn't equally as suited to other types of photography.
Niggles, I had a few, not least of which my disappointment with Nikon's much lauded LBCAST sensor technology. I'm sure I'm not the only one who expected it to be competition for Canon's ultra low-noise CMOS sensors, unfortunately our tests and comparisons proved this not to be the case. Clearly on a camera like this noise levels come second to getting the data off the sensor as quickly as possible, perhaps we'll see significantly lower noise on future LBCAST sensors. I also hold out some hope that Nikon may be able to address some of our noisey complaints (pun) with a firmware update. Even so the D2H still deserves...
So which one should I buy? A question I get asked several times a day, and I wouldn't like to say. In a new addition to my reviews (after the amount of feedback I normally get) I've added a link to a specific forum in which you can discuss the review or ask me specific questions which I've not answered in these pages.