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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 2006-07-30

The Photographer's Toybox: Nikon D2Xs User's Report
By Matt Brown

Photo by Matt Brown

Photo by Matt Brown

160 ISO, f4 @ 1/640
(Editors' Note: This is the first in a series of columns on new, interesting or just plain cool gear for photographers.)

Let me start off by saying I am a Nikon Guy and I have always been a Nikon Guy. I have always felt that Nikon's best camera is the F5… until now. The new D2Xs is now the best camera Nikon has ever made.

The viewfinder masking, with the high-speed cross mode, is just what this camera needed. The red bright lights and blinking corners in the D2X just didn't cut it. At times I would cut off heads or toes while looking for little red lights. The masked area makes it much easier to view your shooting area, making composition, especial in fast-moving situations, a lot easier

I preferred the D200 viewfinder to the D2X, with the D2Xs having the new LCD viewing screen makes viewing details easy. The LCD screen, which was taken from the D200, is perfect: Large and crystal clear which makes scene and color evaluation easier than ever.

Auto-focus performance improvement is easily noticed in the D2Xs. I always felt the Nikon auto-focus and I worked well together. But I have shot 12 baseball games in the last 3 weeks with the D2Xs and the Nikon 200-400 zoom and all I can say is, "Oh Boy!"

The buffer now tops out at 60 frames in any file format and is perfect because I shoot often in high-speed crop mode. At 8 FPS, the high-speed crop mode can chew up that buffer quickly. I have also noticed an improvement with the new battery; I went 4 baseball games on one battery. It does help that I am a light chimper.

Another area of improvement is a huge jump in the image quality in the higher ISO. For those of you who have ever shot a night game at Dodger Stadium you know what I am talking about. I recently shot from the 7th inning through the 11th inning at 1250 ISO. I was absolutely stunned by the quality. The D2Xs has increments of 1/3 stops making shooting as 1250 ISO a breeze. (Plus H 0.5 when CSM b2, ISO Step Value, is set to 1/2-step increments.)

In the past I had to jump up one full stop with D2X and knowing the noise was going to be there was never fun. But with the change in the 's', I have no trouble shooting it 1600 or above. I talked to the Orange County Register head imager, Ken Steinhardt about the images from last Monday night's Dodgers game and he was shocked to find out they were shot at 1250 ISO. He said he would have guessed the files were shot at 640 or 800 at the most.

I have not gotten around to all the new bells and whistles, which would include GPS data, black and white mode and USB locking clip. I have only had the camera for a month, so give me time and I will get back to you.

The new D2Xs exceeded my wildest expectations and the wait is over that my hope for a new camera that performed better than my trusty F5. It is an upgrade worth any price with just the features that I have used to date.


(Matt Brown is a freelance photographer based in Southern California, whose clients include the Big West Conference. He is also on the faculty of the Sports Shooter Academy. You can check out his work at: http://www.sportsshooter.com/mattb and http://www.mattbrownphoto.com.)

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