The D2X's automatic white balance does appear to be an improvement over the D2H, certainly it's fair to say that the color cast is less and the images would be easier to correct if required. Compared to other digital SLR's this is a good performance, although clearly still not ideal. There are of course a wide range of preset white balance options as well as the option to take a manual reading from a white or gray card.
Outdoor - Auto WB
|Fluorescent - Auto WB
Red: -2.6%, Blue: -1.1%
|Incandescent - Auto WB
Red: 4.5%, Blue: -8.0%
Long Exposure noise reduction / Night shots
The D2X provides optional dark frame long exposure noise reduction, when enabled (and the exposure is half a second or longer) the camera will take a second exposure immediately after the first but with the shutter closed. The noise pattern from this second exposure is then used to remove 'hot pixels' from the image. In our thirty second test exposure we only managed to find one or two hot pixels in the 'Off' image, however this was successfully cleaned up when noise reduction was enabled.
|Noise reduction Off||Noise reduction On|
|ISO 100, 30 sec, F11||ISO 100, 30 sec, F11|
The D2X supports Nikon's newer i-TTL flash metering system which is supposed to offer better flash metering by also taking into account subject distance information which it gets from the lens (type G or D lenses only). Our tests using the SB-600 were kind of disappointing, the direct flash shot was slightly underexposed and the bounce shot was very underexposed. I can only conclude that this occurred because of the white background, but still it's not a stellar performance.
|SB-600 direct flash, 1/60 sec, F4||SB-600 bounce flash, 1/60 sec, F4|
|SB-600 direct flash, 1/60 sec, F4|
Overall Image Quality / Specifics
The D2X is the first Nikon digital SLR to utilize a CMOS sensor. The D1 series all used CCD sensors, with the D2H Nikon moved to their own unique LBCAST sensor, now with the D2X we have a CMOS chip. Overall image quality was very good, just as we had expected at lower sensitivities with super clean images, good tonal response and lots of detail. Sharpening appears to be on the conservative side, turning up the sharpening or shooting RAW and converting with a higher sharpening setting can make the visual appearance of detail such as fine textures more noticeable.
In development terms this new sensor may not be as mature as those found in Canon's digital SLR's but it real terms it performs almost as well, the only difference seems to be Nikon's choice of standard sensitivity range which is ISO 100 to 800. Turn off the High ISO noise reduction and shoot at ISO 1600 equiv. (HI-1) and noise levels will be higher than we'd like, turn noise reduction back on and you begin to lose detail (my preference is keep the detail as the noise isn't that objectionable).