The long-awaited, high-megapixel and high-capability flagship camera arrives
By Rob Sheppard
Certain cameras just fit well right from the first time you pick them up. For me, the new Nikon D2x provided exactly that experience. This is a solid, full-featured, high-megapixel camera in which Nikon can take great pride. The D2x is the company's flagship camera and is perfect for that role. I shot with it for several weeks and the results never disappointed me.
The camera's 12.4-megapixel files are stunning, with very high resolution obviously, but even more important, these files are very clean with little noise. The only real problem is that the files are big: high-quality JPEGs are around 6 to 7 megapixels each, and a NEF RAW file is nearly 20 megapixels at its basic size. Be prepared to buy bigger memory cards and more storage for your computer.
The D2x is well sealed against the elements, which made me feel comfortable shooting spring wildflowers on a cold, wet day in northern Georgia in March. Controls are well thought out and easily used. Plus, there's a 2.5-inch LCD screen that's a pleasure to use.
Nikon has designed a special wireless unit that attaches to the bottom of the D2x and it offers wonderful capabilities. You can shoot and instantly transmit your photographs to a laptop, for example, and even connect to a Wi-Fi network. For nature photographers needing to put a camera in awkward positions, such as near a bird's nest, this wireless feature lets you shoot from the laptop at distances of up to 450 feet with the optional antenna and see exactly what you're shooting in a matter of a single second. You even can change exposure from the computer. In addition, the computer/camera connection makes a great intervalvometer setup so you can capture movement in nature, from clouds streaming across the sky to a flower unfolding (or it can be set via the camera alone as well).
The camera does an outstanding job with flash and its unique iTTL exposure system. I tried Nikon's SB-800 and SB-600 Speedlights with a success that I hadn't achieved before when using multiple flash. You get full TTL flash exposure with up to three different "banks" or sets of flash, the output of each being fully controllable at the camera with an attached SB-800. The SB-800 and an extension cord also consistently gave me perfectly exposed photos of wildflowers in the rain, with just the right amount of fill light from the flash.
The D2x uses a small-format, APS-sized sensor so the image area captured is smaller than 35mm, making lenses act as though they were 1.5 times their focal length when compared to 35mm. In addition, the camera offers an interesting feature, the High-Speed Crop Mode. This makes the camera crop a central part of the image to give a 6.8-megapixel photo (for a 2.0x lens factor) and increases the speed of the camera (a potentially high value for wildlife photographers). Normally, the camera will shoot at 5 fps (up to 35 consecutive shots in JPEG). With the High-Speed Crop Mode, it increases to 8 fps.
The Nikon D2x includes many additional features, from faster reading and writing to the memory card to new image-processing algorithms in the A/D converter (the part of the camera that translates analog data from the sensor into digital information)—all of which promise better color and tonalities. The images I shot with the camera looked beautiful in terms of both characteristics.
[ Specifications ] Camera Type:35mm digital SLR Sensor Size: 12.4-megapixel APS size (Nikon DX format) Lens Equivalent Factor: 1.5x Lens Mount:Nikon F Exposure Modes:program, aperture-priority, shutter speed-priority, manual Metering Modes:3-D 1005-point Color Matrix II, center-weighted, spot (2% of frame) on any of the 11 AF sensors Exposure Compensation:±5 EV; 1/3-, 1/2- or 1-stop Focus System:11 focus areas; single-area AF, dynamic AF with focus tracking and Lock-On‚ closest subject-priority dynamic AF and group dynamic AF Shutter Speeds:30 to 1/8000 sec., and Bulb Flash Sync:Up to 1/250 sec.; 1/8000 sec. with Auto FP Hi-Speed Sync ISO Equivalency:100-800, plus extended range to 3200 (Hi-1 & Hi-2) Shooting Speed: To 5 fps (8 fps in Crop Mode) Power Source: Li-Ion Storage Type: CompactFlash Size: 6.2x5.9x3.4-inches Weight: 2.4 pounds Price: $4999.95 (MSRP)
1. 12.4-megapixel sensor with high-speed 6.8-megapixel Crop Mode
2. 2.5-inch LCD for image review and easy menu navigation
3. Continued use of Nikon F lens mount
4. Wireless connection capabilities for in-the- field flexibility
5. Weather-resistant construction to keep you working in the elements