Which Nikon Digital Camera Should I Buy?
Nikon Digital Camera Series
© Darrell Young  

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Nikon makes a bunch of great Digital SLR cameras (DSLR), and a number of non-SLR CoolPix types. How do I know which Nikon I would like best? Honestly, I think the answer comes from what you regularly take pictures of, and how you use them.

If your major concern is maximum quality in the largest print sizes, the D2x will do better. The D2Hs provides high quality images, and can take considerable enlargement without falling apart, so most of us would not see the difference in print sizes up to maybe as high as 13x19 (or A3).

But, the D2x simply has more pixels, and so will resolve more, and allow the largest prints.

I learned a lesson a while back about pixels. I bought a D100 (6MP), and at the same time I gave my young son a used CoolPix 990 (3.3MP). We went to the Smoky Mountains to take some images, and later printed some on my Epson 2200 in 8x10 size. I enlarged both his and my images of similar subjects, using Photoshop, and was quite surprised to see that at 8x10 I could see very little difference in the prints. I learned right there that a "quality" pixel can take enlargement (interpolation) better than a "cheap" pixel. Nikon has "quality" pixels in their excellent sensors, so it will be very difficult to see ANY difference in a Nikon-made image up to a certain size. For instance, I enlarged the 3.3MP image of my boy's to 11x14 and COULD see a difference between the D100 and CoolPix 990's images at that size.

So, for the average user of Nikon products, the D2x, D2h, D200, D100, D70, and D50 will all perform with the same level of quality up to a certain image enlargement size, at which point it will be come apparent that losses from interpolation are degrading the image. What size is that? I think that the D200, D100, D70, D2h, and D2x will all look the same up to at least 11x14 size, and maybe a bit more to as much as 13x19.

The Coolpix line probably has its best quality up to about 11x14, and with the latest 8-megapixel CoolPix cameras, maybe even more. After that, the extra megapixels in the 12-megapixel D2x will provide a better image on into larger print sizes.

The D2x's images hold well to at least 16x20, and with careful interpolation to 20x30. But, you have to pay for that in a large cash outlay for the D2x.

One of the things that marks the D2x as a somewhat higher quality camera is its control over things like "blooming." This is when an intense light source is in the image. In those cases the D2x seems to do better with controlling light bleedover into surrounding pixels, so that the intense light source stays close to its actual size instead of wiping out half of the image.

There are some quality differences, such as better noise control, and faster image processing in the D2 line also.

So really, I would choose the D2x IF I could afford the difference, simply because it gives me more flexibility.

But, the D50, D70, D100, D2h, and D2x are all superb cameras with marvelous sensors that will do a better job than most other camera brands. It might be best for many to buy better lenses than to spend the money on the biggest pro camera body. Don't discount the D100 through D50 line. And, I hear a 12+ Megapixel D200 is coming soon!

Several of my family members continue to surprise me with the excellent images they make with their CoolPix cameras. So, do not discount a CoolPix, either!

The D50, D70, and CoolPix line is "consumer" oriented, but the body size is smaller, there is a built-in flash, and the camera is created to provide a great image without a lot of postprocessing in a computer afterward.

We all tend to be "class" conscious. And, our camera ownership is usually no different. Is it higher-class to own a D2x? Hmmm, well...it costs more to own a D2x, but when I only owned a D100, my pants still went on one leg at a time.

My point is that the camera is a tool to capture your vision. If your vision is sweeping nature shots, maybe a D2x is best. If your vision is people moving very fast on motorcycles or race cars, maybe a D2h is better.

If your vision is cute kids chasing butterflies around the yard, or family travel pics, ANY Nikon DSLR or CoolPix will do a great job.

And, another factor to consider is that a person can use careful panoramic shooting with stitching software to create GIGANTIC images with ANY Nikon digital camera. Digital photography has changed many of the rules about imaging. Are you taking advantage of that fact?

Ask yourself, "What do I want to do with my camera?" Then get the camera that best fits the situation, and that you can best afford. The camera is merely a tool to express your inner thoughts. You choose YOUR Nikon!

Keep on capturing time...

Copyright © 2005 by Darrell Young, All Rights Reserved