Body & Design

Anyone familiar with the D2H will note that Nikon has made virtually no changes to the physical design and layout of the body in the D2X, in fact the only noticeable change is a few millimeters movement of the AF-ON button on the vertical grip and the addition of the help (?) icon. The D2X has almost square proportions (from the front), is made from a very strong magnesium shell and feels 'brick solid', you only have to pick up the camera to realize that it is built to last, ready for any type of environment. We were mightily impressed with the D2H's finish quality and robust build and of course that's the same for the D2X, it's truly an amazing piece of engineering which give you with a feeling of absolute confidence that the camera will always be ready to shoot.

Environmental seals

As you can see from the skeleton diagram below Nikon has applied numerous rubber gaskets between body portions, controls and compartment doors to improve the camera's environmental sealing. They aren't claiming the camera to be waterproof but at least more 'weather proof' than the previous D1 series. Remember that the camera is only as weather proof as its weakest link, this is includes the lens mount and only a few of the more recent Nikkor lenses have rubber seals around the mount ring.

Side by side

Here you can see the D2X beside it's direct competitor, the sixteen megapixel, Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II. Both cameras have similar proportions and similar levels of build quality (although Canon make stronger claims about environmental sealing). The D2X weighs in at 1.25 kg without a lens but with its battery compared to the EOS-1Ds Mark II's 1.55 kg, a weight saving of about 300 g. This can be in part attributed to the D2X's lighter (yet higher capacity) Lithium-Ion battery pack which is about half the weight of the Mark II's NiMH pack.

In your hand

In your hand the D2X really does feel like it was hewn from a solid block of metal, very robust and yet very natural. The design of the camera's grip is really excellent with soft rubber and good ergonomics, it's the small details that matter and the D2X has those in spades, there's a small 'finger tuck' on the inside lip of the hand grip which provides a little more support. Control layout is also excellent with big buttons and clear labeling. For me the D2X beats the EOS-1D series for real world ergonomics.

LCD Monitor

The D2X has a very large and high resolution 2.5" 235,000 pixel LCD monitor. I did comment in my D2H review that its big screen was bright but not as sharp as I had expected in image playback, I'm happy to confirm that the D2X's newer and slightly higher pixel count LCD monitor is noticeably better in this respect. My only slight disappointment with the new LCD is that its color response doesn't appear to be quite right, certain tones have a slight green hue shift (this most noticeable with the subtle gradients of skin tone). The screen doesn't have an anti-reflective coating and so can suffer from reflection in bright conditions. The camera is supplied with a clip-on screen protector which has a clear center which has no detrimental effect on image brightness and will help to protect the screen.

Top & Rear Control Panels

The D2X has two control panels, the top panel concentrates mostly on photographic settings (shutter speed, aperture, bracketing, focus etc.), where as the smaller rear control panel covers the digital aspects such as sensitivity, white balance, image size/quality. Both panels have a green backlight which can be illuminated by flicking the power switch to the lamp position, it's spring loaded and returns to 'ON', the backlight stays on for the 'auto meter-off' time (CSM c3). You can also choose to have the backlight's come on with any button press (CSM d6). You can customize the information displayed on the rear control panel and viewfinder display via CSM d5. Each panel is shown below along with a diagram of all information displayed.

Top Control Panel

*1 • Shutter-speed
• Exposure compensation value
• Number of shots in bracketing sequence
• Number of intervals for interval timer photography
• Focal length (non-CPU lens)
• Sensitivity (ISO equiv.)
• "Busy" indicator
*2 • Aperture (f-number / number of stops)
• Bracketing increment
• Number of shots per interval
• Maximum aperture (non-CPU lens)
• PC mode indicator
*3 • Number of frames remaining
• Number of shots remaining before buffer fills
• Capture mode indicator
*4 • Electronic analog exposure display
• Exposure compensation
• Bracketing progress indicator
• PC mode indicator

Rear Control Panel

*5 • Sensitivity (& high gain)
• Number of frames remaining
• Length of voice memo
• White balance fine tuning
• White balance preset number
• Color temperature
• PC mode indicator

Diagrams reproduced with permission from the Nikon D2X manual.