Nikon D2X SLR Review

Steve's Digicams

Nikon D70

Image Sensor

The D2X features a new Sony manufactured CMOS image sensor that captures 12.4 million effective pixels per image and delivers high resolution and sharp detail needed for professional results. It gives the D2X a sensitivity equivalent range of ISO 100 to ISO 800. This APS-C size (23.7 x 15.7mm) sensor has four output channels (one red, two green, one blue) providing a high continuous shooting speed of 5 frames per second and 8 fps in the 6.8 megapixel High Speed Cropped mode.

Approx. Buffer Depth
Nikon Professional D2X

Buffer Write Times (1GB SanDisk Ultra II)
Nikon Professional D2X

Nikon Professional D2X

This CMOS sensor will deliver top-class sensitivity (signal/noise ratio, or S/N) in comparison with other sensors of the same pixel area. Pixel pitch, a key indicator of S/N, is 5.49µm, which is probably the finest pitch of any imager ever used in a relatively large-format SLR, including CCD imagers. It is optimized for use with DX lenses and is compatible with the full lineup of quality Nikkor lenses.

Image Processor

Nikon's new generation system LSI greatly improves the precision of processing during the analog/digital conversion. After digital conversion, a new processing method has been added to increase image-processing precision in the ASIC for smoother display of tones from highlight portions to shadow portions of the image. With optimized distribution of analog and digital white balance gain, the new engine produces smoother gradations with consistent and smooth transitions, all with exceptionally pure color rendition.

Two new Adobe RGB color modes further expand professional color space options with the new engine achieves beautiful reproductions of skin tones. Support for sYCC color space produces JPEG files with a gamut wider than sRGB to fully exploit the output capabilities of the latest color printers.

An improved metering system in the D2X, called 3D-Color Matrix Metering II, allows Nikon's acclaimed 1,005-pixel RGB Exposure/Color Matrix Metering Sensor to better determine the position and size of shadow or highlight areas and achieve optimum exposure for each shot.

Shutter and Mirror

Nikon Professional D2X

Working in conjunction with the high-speed imaging components are newly designed mechanical assemblies such as a 150,000+ cycle, duralumin double-bladed shutter mechanism with a top speed of 1/8000 second. The already incredibly brief shutter lag time of 37ms is shortened to just 2ms when the mirror lockup function is enabled.

All this speed is meaningless if the photographer can't follow the subject in the viewfinder. Nikon built a mirror balance mechanism for the D2X that completes its motion and reaches a full stop without any mirror bounce. This stable mirror movement allows for faster AF detection which provides for more accurate focus tracking and only blacks out the viewfinder image for only 80ms.

Focus System

Nikon Professional D2X

The D2X's Multi-CAM 2000 AF Sensor Module is an 11-point AF system with 9 cross-type AF sensors. It ensures quick response and razor-sharp focus, even in the most challenging of shooting conditions, including dim lighting conditions as low as EV -1. The AF areas provide coverage for 75% of the frame horizontally, the widest cross-type sensor coverage in its class.

The nine cross-type sensors work with AF Nikkor lenses that are f/5.6 or faster. The new AF sensor array is able to properly focus on subjects in upper or lower portions of the frame as easily as in the center. The large area covered by each sensor virtually eliminates "focus hunting" even when acquiring very-out-of-focus subjects.

The AF system provides for a selection of different operating modes, each designed to ensure maximum speed and accuracy that action photographers require.

    Single Area AF lets you choose any of the eleven AF spot sensors, the selected area is displayed on the top LCD and is confirmed in red in the viewfinder.

    Dynamic AF with Focus Tracking and Lock-on sounds like something from Star Wars but it means that the AF system will follow a subject as it moves from a priority focus area to any of the other AF areas. Focus Tracking follows a moving subject and Lock-on continues to track the main subject even if the subject is blocked or moves off an AF sensor.

    Closest Subject Priority Dynamic AF will automatically identify one or more focus areas as needed to capture the subject closest to the camera.

    Group Dynamic AF lets you narrow the AF range to a group of three or five active sensors and have the AF system focus on the closest item in the group.

Taking the D2X's remarkable autofocus system one step further is its capability for 'extreme focus detection.' A typical camera can detect focus in a scene up to a certain 'defocus' limit, beyond which the camera enters a scanning mode. During this mode, the camera's autofocus system scans through the entire focusing range of the lens before detecting a focus point. This process can waste precious time, especially when photographing high-speed action. The D2X's autofocus system can detect focus in scenes with about twice the defocus limit of other cameras, ensuring more accurate and consistent operation.

White Balance

Nikon Professional D2X

The D2X features an intelligent white balance system that measures and calculates color temperature and white balance settings for complex conditions. It achieves this by employing Triple Sensor metering, and determines values from three different sources: a "third eye" incident meter located on the prism of the camera measures environmental light, Nikon's exclusive 1,005 pixel RGB color meter sensor continuously measures reflected light from the viewed image, and the DX image sensor measures color temperature in real-time during exposure.

The white balance system covers the range of 2,500K to 10,000K, and is able to detect and compensate for artificial light flicker. There are five preset-memory settings that can be alphanumerically labeled in the camera so photographers can store white balance settings for places they frequent. White balance can be manually set by:

  • Photographing a gray card
  • Copying WB data from an existing photo
  • Measuring the scene with the ambient sensor
  • Anayzing an existing photo
  • Manually selecting the color temperature

White balance bracketing can capture two to nine frames and vary the color temperature in 10, 20 or 30 mired increments. And of course you can use the WB presets for incandescent, fluorescent (7 settings), sunlight, cloudy, shade and flash. Most of these presets also have +/-3 fine tuning as well.

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