Nikon D2H Review
A short explanation of RAW to the uninitiated - RAW simply means data direct from the sensor's analog to digital converter (in the case of the D2H 12 bits per pixel) which hasn't been processed in any way. The actual RAW file written to the storage card consist of a header which contains the current camera settings (parameters, exposure, white balance selection etc.) followed by this RAW data itself. The D2H writes RAW files in Nikon's .NEF format which has a compression option delivering RAW files under 4 MB in size. RAW is considered to be 'the digital negative' as it represents the unaltered image data directly as it was captured and can therefore be processed in many different ways.
Unfortunately there is no industry standard for RAW (lots of reasons for this, not least of which are the variances in sensor design and image processing). This means you can't view RAW files in most photo applications like you can with JPEG (although more and more are adding specialized RAW support).
To convert RAW images you have an expanding range of options, supplied with the D2H is the free Nikon Viewer 6.1 which has basic RAW conversion with digital exposure compensation and white balance adjustment. There is also the excellent Nikon Capture 4.0 which provides very advanced RAW conversion, a 30 day trial of this is included with the D2H. Third party RAW conversion tools include Adobe Photoshop CS (although it doesn't yet officially support the D2H) and Phase One's Capture One (again official D2H support coming soon).
JPEG vs. RAW (Nikon View Editor) vs. RAW (Nikon Capture Editor)
Below are two 100% crops taken from images shot within seconds of each other. The first crop is from a Large / Fine JPEG straight from the camera, the second from a RAW converted to TIFF using Nikon View 6.1 Editor, the third from the same RAW converted to TIFF using Nikon Capture 4 Editor.
Nikon View Editor bug or Nikon Capture Editor bug?
First of all their appears to be a bug in Nikon Capture Editor and Nikon View Editor related to sharpening. The resolution chart was taken with a Sharpening setting of 'Auto'. Nikon View Editor appears to interpret this as a sharpening level of 'None', Nikon Capture Editor interprets this as a sharpening level of 'Normal'. The camera appears to apply a sharpening level of 'Low'.
Thus to make the comparison worthwhile I had to forced both Nikon View Editor and Nikon Capture Editor to use the Sharpening level of 'Low' (which appears to then match the camera output).
|JPEG||RAW (Nikon View Editor)||RAW (Nikon Capture Editor)|
As you can see both Nikon View Editor and Nikon Capture Editor deliver images which are to all intents and purposes identical. This is hardly surprising as Nikon View Editor will use the same RAW conversion engine as Nikon Capture Editor. Both converted RAW images deliver slightly more resolution and certainly less artifacts than the JPEG original from the camera.
Adobe Photoshop CS vs. Nikon Capture Editor
Disclaimer: Adobe Photoshop CS does not officially support the Nikon D2H although it will open D2H .NEF files. As you can see from the crops below Adobe Photoshop CS can't (at the moment) match Nikon Capture Editor for absolute resolution, nor elimination of artifacts, however I do prefer the crisp appearance of the numbers on the chart and the lack of sharpening halos. Lets hope Adobe will add full support for D2H RAW soon.
|RAW (Adobe Photoshop CS)||RAW (Nikon Capture Editor)|
RAW vs. JPEG appearance
Below are a set of crops from the same shot taken in JPEG and RAW modes. The crops shown are from a TIFF converted, linked from the thumbnail is an 'Excellent quality' JPEG. The RAW converted image appears to be slightly sharper with better contrast, that said there don't appear to be any color or resolution advantages (with a default conversion).
|JPEG||RAW (converted using Nikon Capture Editor)|
|1,831 KB||4,125 KB|
Overall Image Quality / Specifics
As we would expect from Nikon's new flagship professional digital SLR the D2H's image quality is on the whole excellent. It maintains that 'SLR like' clean look that we first saw from the D1 and which has remained the benchmark for image delivery on all digital SLR's since. There's just something about the image processing and wider dynamic range which gives digital SLR images a far more film like appearance.
The D2H delivers about as much resolution as we could expect from a four megapixel sensor and it can be as smooth / without sharpening artifacts or sharp / with some artifacts as you prefer thanks to a wide range of image processing options in-camera. Add RAW into the mix and you clearly have a wide range of image 'finishes' to suite your particular output medium.
Color balance was very good, we got the best color shooting in Color Mode II (Adobe RGB) which of course maintains the maximum color gamut. Tonal range was good, the D2H exhibiting at least as much dynamic range as the camera it replaces and tending towards a lower contrast image when using the 'Auto' tone setting. I wasn't overly impressed with automatic white balance, especially in artificial light, I had expected the hybrid sensor setup to work better.
One slight disappointment must be the performance of the LBCAST sensor in terms of noise. Our noise tests show that the camera isn't as 'clean' at its lowest sensitivity (ISO 200) as the CMOS based Canon EOS-10D (ISO 200), nor the CCD based EOS-1D (ISO 200). From ISO 400 to 1600 the D2H appears to be a match for the EOS-1D but isn't as clean as the EOS-10D at ISO 1600. Remember also that the D2H's pixel area is quite a bit larger than that of the six megapixel Canon CMOS sensor. We had hoped to see low noise at high sensitivity from Nikon's LBCAST technology.
|Owens Valley Milky Way by ed rader|
from Sign, sign, everywhere a sign..
|Break by Hank3152|
from Motion blur
|Camp by T bird|
from A Big Year - birds
|The Maasai Shepherd by cgravel|
from - African Man - (Portrait in Black and White + A Border)
Stanley Greene captured 'brutally honest' photographs in the war zones of the Middle East, Chechnya and Georgia. He was also one of the few African-American photographers working internationally.
Owners of Leica M cameras that suffer from peeling CCDs will be able to claim a free repair in the future so long as the camera was purchased within five years of the fault becoming apparent, the company has announced. Read more
No mic socket? No problem. In this video, Daniel Peters at Photo Gear News shows you how to make a lapel microphone using just a smartphone and a pair of earbuds.
The Carl Zeiss Jena BIOTAR 75mm F1.5 Red T lens is very rare and priced accordingly. It can be yours today for the low, low price of $15,000.
The MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) has developed a drone that does not require any human control for recording tracking shots. Read more
In this terrifying video, Iraqi journalist Ammar Alwaely narrowly misses a sniper's bullet, which takes out his chest-mounted GoPro. Warning: strong language. Watch the video
A new report expects action camera growth to increase about 15% by 2021, with Ultra HD cameras driving demand. Read more
Profiles for Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom have been released for Irix's ultra-wide 11mm and 15mm primes. Like all profiles, these correct for distortion and vignetting.
An upcoming firmware update from DJI will cripple its drones unless they are 'activated' on the company's website. Live streaming will be turned off and flight radius/altitude will be limited.
Brent from ShareGrid rounds up the 10 most common products filmmakers are renting from one another for productions; chances are good you own one or more of them.
DaVinci Resolve is making strong moves to compete with Premiere and Final Cut Pro, including affordable control panels for colorists. According to Premium Beat, they're really good.
If you are not planning to fly your drone commercially you are not required to register it with the FAA anymore. This decision was handed down by a federal court in Washington, D.C.
Whether you're syncing a flash, wondering why banding is appearing in your image or getting strange images from your camera's silent shutter mode, the way your shutter works has a role to play. Here's what happens when you press the shutter button. Read more
William Vazquez travels all over the world documenting humanitarian work. He spoke to us about the challenges of his work, the importance of research and why a multitool and duct tape are your best friends in the field. Read more
These ten film cameras stand the test of time. They are easy to find, affordable and capable of excellent results. Read more
Photographer Aydın Büyüktaş uses a drone, 3-D rendering and Photoshop to create mind-bending landscapes.
They're offering tips for composing selfies and converting to black and white.
Whether you're seeking ultra-high resolution, first-rate autofocus or 4K video capture, there are some supremely capable 'semi-pro' cameras available. Find out which models we liked best in our updated semi-pro camera roundup. Read more
With composition specified by the director, drones may one day be able to navigate a movie set on their own.
Canon has made the previous version, 1.1.0 available for download again.
Impossible? Not if you have a fast lens and 5 stops of stabilization.
This 'strictly limited edition' is a refurbished original Polaroid 600 redesigned with a custom two-tone paint job.
Nikon today announced a reorganization of its corporate structure which will see several divisions and business units closed or merged. Read more
High school students from New York got he chance to shoot along with award-winning photojournalist Ron Haviv in Morocco.
VentureBeat reports that Monday's Surface Pro announcement will bring evolutionary updates to Microsoft's high-end Windows 10 tablet.
The Japanese Camera Journal Press Club has awarded Olympus three out of its four annual prizes after voting by photographic magazine editors and readers.
The photos are great, but whether drones should have been flying in a couple of these places is debatable.
It's not dead yet! A few years ago several high profile filmmakers convinced Kodak to keep making motion picture film. Now they need more facilities to process it.
We made a vlog about vlogging with the M6 (which we used to make the vlog).