Conclusion - Pros
- Superb resolution, very good per-pixel sharpness, even more from RAW
- Multi-talented camera, also offers 'sports shooting' at eight frames per second
- Wide tonal range, good dynamic range, smart auto tone selection
- Clean image processing, almost no 'digital' artifacts, a more film-like look
- Built as a digital from the ground up, superb design touches, excellent ergonomics
- Very solid and robust, environmental sealing ensures reliability
- All controls are by default 'locked', no accidental change of setting
- Intuitive control system, easy to use common features (such as playback zoom)
- Extremely responsive, superb shutter release response, very short viewfinder blackout
- Zero startup time, almost no delays during the use of the camera
- Good image parameter control; tone, sharpness, hue, color mode
- Superb Nikon Matrix metering (now updated to version II)
- 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
- Very wide range of custom settings
- Shooting and custom settings can be stored two sets of four memory banks
- Large LCD monitor (improved sharpness over the D2H)
- Very fast CF write performance
- Sophisticated interval timer feature
- Unique in-camera features: Overlay, Multiple exposures
- GPS data recording feature (requires optional cable, NMEA compatible)
- Excellent battery life, lighter and more powerful, very clever battery design
- Excellent in-camera battery information
- In-menu help pages
- Optional wireless WiFi transmitter (802.11 b/g)
- USB 2.0 Hi-speed interface
- Value for money compared to the competition
Conclusion - Cons
- Higher noise at ISO 1600 and 3200 than we would hope (with NR off)
- Smaller default sensitivity range (ISO 100 to 800) than other digital SLR's
- Inaccurate color response from LCD monitor (green hue shift in reds)
- Disappointing automatic white balance performance under artificial light
- Some photographers will miss IEEE 1394 (FireWire)
- White balance recorded in RAW file not available to some converters
- Very poor memory management and performance from optional Nikon Capture
It wouldn't be harsh to say that some people were disappointed with the D2H, a great body with excellent performance let down by a slightly experimental sensor which didn't perform to the same level as the rest of the camera. With the D2X Nikon has shifted to a CMOS sensor, and although not yet as clean as Canon's second generation CMOS sensors at higher sensitivities there's no doubting the amount of detail captured combined with Nikon's image processing can produce stunning results.
As we have proved in our comparisons the step in resolution from 12 MP to 16 MP; 16% isn't as big as you may expect (it's not for instance as big as the step from 8 MP to 12 MP; 22%). Thus at a nice-lens-buying difference of $3,000 the D2X offers much better value for money than Canon's EOS-1Ds Mark II. Don't doubt Nikon's strategy of sticking to a cropped sensor. The advantage of only using the 'sweet spot' area of the lens is clear, full size 35 mm sensors may have long been the dream of the digital photographer but they do place much bigger demands on the lens.
The D2X is a camera which grew on me the more I used it, its instant response and solid build instill a level of confidence unavailable in lesser cameras. You know that every time you press the shutter release the camera will respond instantly and you'll get the shot. As a photographic tool it's as close to perfection as I could imagine, there's really very little else you could want from a camera.
The D2X is also two cameras in one, rather than concerning themselves with two models Nikon's inspired R&D team decided to simply provide a lower resolution mode which could shoot at a higher frame rate.
Hence we have a 12 MP, 5.3 fps camera and a 7 MP, 8.0 fps camera in one. This ability to switch between these two opposing capabilities becomes more useful the more you consider it. For instance, at a motor race you could be shooting the race with a telephoto lens getting the both high frame rates and the 2.0x gain of shooting in High-speed crop mode, once the race is over switch back to normal mode and get higher resolution stills of the winning driver.
It's fair to say that with the D2X Nikon are well and truly 'back', a killer combination of the superb D2 body, a high resolution CMOS sensor and the added bonus of high speed shooting when you need it. What can I say? The ratio of Pros to Cons really sums up my whole feeling for the D2X, it's exactly what we expect Nikon to produce, a solid robust high performance digital SLR with superb image quality, build quality and a confidence inspiring sense of presence. You know, I may well buy one myself!
East Coast Photo
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