Nikon D2HI think new camera features in many ways are just as important as new sensors. The camera body is a tool in every sense and its features make it so for me. So I look for new features as much as anything else with in a new camera. The engineers at Nikon didn't let me, us down because I think there are some pretty cool, pretty simple new updates and features making the D2X a better tool then past bodies. This is by no means a complete list, just some of the ones think are pretty useful and neat to have.

High-speed Crop (HSC)

Like I already mentioned, reading about this, it sounded pretty darn hokey. Now that I've used it, and used it a lot, I really find it to be a great tool. I'm just in love with being able to attach a 200f2VR and having the effective focal length of 400f2! Or how about attaching the 200-400VR and having the effective focal length of 400-800VR, f4! The increase in effective focal length I'm sure will be the first main attraction of this new feature as it should be. But there is more, there is the increase in speed.

XC Raciers © Moose Peterson
XC Racers, 200f2VR, HSC

What is HSC? High-speed Crop is a feature in the D2x, and no other camera, that does exactly as the name implies. When in HSC, the D2X fires at 8fps for a total of 35 frames (Jpeg) which is where the high-speed comes in. This is compared to 5fps for a total of 16 frames in full sensor more. The crop is just that. In the viewfinder is a crop line, just like in Leica rangefinders. It represents what you'll capture in HSC mode. When in HSC you not only physically crop the image (which is why there is an increased in effective focal length) but the megapixels as well. Full sensor is 12.4mp where in HSC you're shooting at 6.8mp. Keep in mind that with the D2H/D2Hs your shooting at 4.1mp at 8fps 40 frames / 8fps 50 frames respectively (Jpegs). Note: shooting HSC Raw +Jpeg you have a 28 frame buffer at 6.8MP. The first question in your mind should be, “does this work?” Next should be, “why do I need that feature?” And lastly, “is it worth $5k?”

D2X with 200f2
200/f2VR... just made for the D2X

Does it work, it most certainly does! I really didn't think I would like it, thought the crop marks in the viewfinder would be really distracting when I wasn't using the HSC mode. The crop marks don't bother me and in fact, I found them kind of useful, a subconscious suggestion of how getting closer might just improve the photograph. The first time I really used HSC (as in not playing around in the office with it) I was photographing my son's xc ski race. Shooting with the 200f2VR, the results were simply amazing!

But is it a valid tool, or just a gimmick? After one incident, I think now it's a valid tool. I was shooting in Death Valley and there was a baby Barrel Cactus. I was shooting with the 70-200VR with a Canon CU filter. The cropping just didn't work, way too loose. It was on the side of a gully and there was no way for me to get physically closer. Looking through the viewfinder I saw the crop marks and it dawned on me I could simply go to HSC and get the shot I want. That shot is now on the splash page of this website. Ever since that moment, I've been a big fan of HSC.

Stovepipe Wells, Death Valley © Moose Peterson
Stovepipe Wells, Death Valley, 70-200VR

On a side note, when in HSC mode, you only have use of 9 of the 11 AF sensors. The two outer most sensors in the middle row, the two that are not cross-type sensors, are not active. All other sensors/groups/ patterns are working as normal. Further more, rather then having to select HSC from the Shooting Menu, you can activate it by depressing the FUNC button and rotating the Cmd Dial. You'll know the HSC is active by the HSC indicator in the AF window on the top LCD. Very cool!

Recent Setting Menu

So cool, so simple…why did it take so long? There are five menus now (D2H has four) with the fifth one, the one on the bottom of the list, being the Recent Setting Menu. The RSM displays the last eight selected menus/functions from the Shooting and Custom Setting menus. Let's say you turned on HSC via the Shooting Menu rather then the FUNC button. If you want to turn HSC off, rather then pecking through the Shooting Menu, you can go to Recent Setting Menu and it would be at the top of the list where you can quickly find it and turn it off. Pretty slick…and they went one step further on their menus.

* Custom Setting Menu

When you change any of the Custom Settings in the Custom Setting menu from the default, a * appears on the very left edge at the submenu level. You can very quickly see by the * what settings have been changed. No more memorizing or making a list which setting has been changed.


Pinyon Pine © Moose Peterson
Pinyon Pine, 24-120VR

This is a feature that I can report being present, but I can't say I have any test results or a complete understanding of how it works. The instruction book isn't really clear on this and to be honest with you, I don't really remember what I was told about how exactly this works.

You have three options for High ISO NR, Off, Normal and High. Off is obvious but the rest isn't. As I understand it (I will revise this once I have confirmation), Normal is for ISO 400-800 and High is for HI-1 and HI-2 (though the IB states that increased noise reduction is performed if set to Normal and you shoot HI-1 or HI-2). I highly recommend you head to the Noise User Report pages and look the images over to make your own judgment call on the D2X noise. And when I have a definite answer on the High ISO NR, I'll report it.

Dave Black reported that he photographed an indoors diving competition at ISO 800 with High ISO NR set to Normal and he really liked his results. That's a pretty darn good testimonial for me!

Jpeg Compression

The D2X provide two Jpeg compression mode, Size Priority and Optimal Quality. Don't confuse this with the Image Size setting of Large/Medium because they are not connected. Size Priority sets the compression so the file size is the same which speeds up the process. Optimal Quality setting varies the size of the file to maximize image quality. Personally, I only used the Optimal Quality setting and I was very, very pleased with the results.

Image Overlay – Multiple Exposure

The D2X has the ability of doing multiple exposures and in fact, the D2X gives you two methods for doing double/multiple exposure. Image Overlay is a double exposure feature. Multiple Exposure permits you to take 2 – 10 exposures and combine them into 1. This is all being done in camera, Nikon Capture or some other program is not required to make this happen.

This is a semi complicated feature. You have the ability to change the gain between frames during the processing with Image Overlay or during the capture with Multiple Exposure. The resulting single image from this process is saved to the CF card as a new image.

Why might you want to use these new features when you have Photoshop? Being able to combine two photographs on the fly where 1 is over exposed for shadows and 1 is under exposed for highlights, you can see instantly while still shooting if it will work or not. There is of course the obvious, taking a photo of the moon and then doing a multiple exposure placing it where you want in the next shot. It's a pretty cool feature that has lots of creative potential.

GPS Support

The D2X accepts GPS data input for a number of GPS units. It's an improved system. You need to have the Nikon MC-35 GPS connector which connects to the D2X via the 10 pin terminal. You then use the PC cable from the GPS unit to plug into the MC-35.

World Clock

The D2X sports a World Clock which makes setting the time no matter where you are quick and simple.

Artist Drive, Death Valley, 70-200VR HSC © Moose Peterson
Artist Drive, Death Valley, 70-200VR HSC

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