D2H, Why so Much for a 4MP Camera?

Started Jun 7, 2013 | Questions thread
RedFox88 Forum Pro • Posts: 28,974
Re: Try one before you buy one; aim for a D2Hs over D2H

MarkJH wrote:

Gpruitt54 wrote:

I currently have a D200 I recently upgraded to the D200 from a D70.  During my search which ended with the D200 (a 10MP camera), I saw lots of D2H cameras.  I passed on the Dh2 because it only delivered 4MP.

So, I pose this question.  Why is the D2H so expensive when it delivers 4MP images?

I shot my first pro commission with a D2Hs and used it happily until 2012.  Many satisfied clients.  Some things about the D2H/D2Hs that others haven't pointed out:


  • Off-center AF points are cross-type and *very* widely spaced.  Makes for killer AF speed / accuracy with radically off-center subjects.

That's only because it is aps-c image sensor which is cropped which is why it "seems" they are spaced wide.

  • 4MP DX sensor is *very* forgiving with lenses and pinpoint AF accuracy--not only are you imaging in the center "sweet spot" of FX lenses, but a 100% view of a 4MP image just doesn't enlarge enough to really show lens or minute focus calibration defects the way 16MP or 36MP would.

Sounds like more nikon pre-2007 marketing, when they said dx aka aps-c was superior to 35mm.

  • 4MP images fly through post-processing software on even modest computers.  You could easily roll through D2H/D2Hs RAW on a netbook.  Not much data to crunch, not much data to store.
  • D2Hs has excellent D2-era color modes: exceptional skin tones, wonderful vivid shades.  (D2H, by comparison, has more trouble controlling the red channel response.  I've heard it's due to near-IR interference.)
  • Battery life is outrageous.  Thousands of shots per charge.
  • I've seen some big 4mpx prints that look great.  Depends on the subject and how important detail is to making the point.


  • High-ISO performance is terrible by modern standards.  (Honestly, it was only mid-pack when the camera was released.)  It's about on par with C41 film in many ways.  It's not just that individual pixels don't perform; it's that with only 4 megapixels, it's harder to "dilute" noise the way larger, high megapixel sensors do.   (For the sake of rough comparison, it's about a stop behind your D200.  ISO 800-1600 shots will look pretty rough.)
  • The viewscreen is tiny, coarse, and not at all visible in direct sun.  It's a generation behind your D200, and looks it.  Modern 3" / 921K screens make it look outright primitive.
  • No on-board flash = no CLS control without an accessory of some kind.
  • 4mpx means little-to-no margin for cropping.  Cut even a little out of your frames and you've got a tiny 2mpx image.
  • We're a year into "retina" displays; the first "4K" monitors / TVs are hitting the market.  So we're entering a world of 220 - 300 DPI everywhere, even at big sizes.   At a lowly 72 DPI, the D2H's RAWs won't even fill today's 30" computer monitors.

LCD screens have a native ppi (not dpi) and you should not deviate from the design specs.

You really need to get your hands on one and sample the output before you make any decisions.  It really was a wonderful camera for a long time, but I have a hunch you'll conclude you're better off just using your D200.

If you do shoot one and like what you see, try hard to find a D2Hs rather than a D2H.  They aren't much (if any) more expensive on the used market, but there were a few meaningful improvements--a fix to the near-IR pollution issue and viewscreen improvements (which needs all the help it can get) to name a few.

Good luck!


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