Nikon D2x® Review
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© Darrell Young  
Detailed Technical Specs in Regular English
See Nikon's Actual Technical Specifications

Image Sensor

With the D2x, Nikon has adopted a Nikon/Sony-designed, APS-sized CMOS sensor, 23.7 x 15.7mm in size. This is the first CMOS sensor that they've put in a Nikon DSLR. The former digitals like the D1, D1h, D1x, D70, D100, and CoolPix cameras all have CCD sensors, while the D2h has a Nikon invented LBCast sensor.

The CMOS sensor in the D2x has 12.84 million total pixels, with a claimed 12.4 million of them as usable (effective). But if you do the math on the published image size below, you'll find that the actual megapixel size of the D2x is only 12.2 megapixels. (4288x2848=12,212,224)

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Image Size

In the D2x, Nikon has created a digital camera with several useful resolutions in one camera. Here are the actual JPEG resolutions you can use, in megapixels: 12.2, 6.8, 3.8, 3.0, and 2.6 megapixels. Cool huh?

Using NEF (RAW): One can set the camera to two RAW mode resolutions, including 12.2 megapixel and 6.8 megapixel (cropped mode).

Using JPEG: The L or Large mode is 12.2 megapixels with an image size of 4,288 x 2,848 pixels. Next is the M or Medium mode which turns the D2x into a 6.8 megapixel camera with an image size of 3,216 x 2,136 pixels. And, finally, there is the S or Small mode, which makes the D2x a 3.05 megapixel camera with an image size of 2,144 x 1,424 pixels. These modes provide the normal 1.5x cropping factor for the lens in use.

If you switch the camera into "high-speed cropped mode," where only the central portion of the CMOS sensor is actually used, the resolutions change to 6.8 megapixels (3216x1236), 3.05 megapixels (2144x1424), and 1.7 megapixels (1600x1064) in the L, M, and S resolution modes. These modes provide a 2.0x cropping factor for the lens in use.

Here is a useful size chart. (See page 45-51 of your manual for detailed info on Image Sizes)

JPEG Option
High-Speed Crop Set to OFF
High Speed Crop Set to ON
Large (L)
4288 x 2848 = 12.2 MP
3216 x 2136 = 6.8 MP
Medium (M)
3216 x 2136 = 6.8 MP
2400 x 1600 = 3.8 MP
Small (S)
2144 x 1424 = 3.0 MP
1600 x 1064 = 2.6 MP
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Usable Lens Types

The D2x can use virtually all the lenses ever made by Nikon. Imagine that! They finally gave us back the usage of our older manual focus lenses, after nearly ten years of ignoring non-autofocus lenses. Sure, on the F5, N80, D100, and D70 you could mount an AI lens, but the light metering system shut off instantly. So, you had a nice camera body with no meter if you wanted to use your old 55mm Micro Nikkor, for instance. This always bugged me, and a lot of others! Well, Nikon finally listened to us, and gave us back a light meter with our older MF lenses. The D2x requires that you inform it of the minimum and maximum focal lengths and apertures, but then it will use our old Nikkors. Yay!

Here is a list of lenses accepted by the D2x with some form of metering system available:

3-D Matrix Metering and 3D Multi-Sensor Balanced Fill Flash in P, S, A, M Modes
Averaging Meter and Spot Meter in P, S, A, M Modes
Matrix, Averaging, and Spot Metering in A and M Modes
  • AF-S
  • AF
  • DX
  • VR
  • D
  • G
  • AI-P
  • AI
  • Non-AI
  • Any F Mount Non-CPU Lens
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The autofocus module in the D2x is a new, improved version called the Multi-CAM2000. It's also found in the Nikon F6 film camera. The D2x has several focusing screens available. The standard screen included with the stock camera is the B-Type BrightClear Matte Screen III. Other screens that are available include: Type-V screen for High-Speed Cropped mode, and the Type-E Grid screen.

At normal room temperature of about 68F (20C) and ISO 100, the focus sensors can detect and focus at EV -1 to +19. (Nikon also says that the Right and Left edge sensors will detect and focus from EV 0 to +19)

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Focus Modes

The D2x has four distinct focus modes, as follows:

  • Single Area AF
  • Dynamic AF with Focus Tracking and Lock-On
  • Dynamic AF with Closest Subject Priority
  • Group Dynamic AF

The focus is locked by partially pressing the shutter button, or by using the AE/AF Lock Button. There are 11 selectable focus areas in normal mode, and 9 in High-Speed Cropped mode.

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LCD Monitor

What a monitor! If you've been using any of the previous Nikon DSLRs, you'll be well pleased with new 2.5 inch image viewing monitor on the back of the D2x. No more will you struggle to see if the image looks sharp, because this monitor is large and colorful. There's plenty of room for a large image review, a single large luminance histogram, or four separate histograms, including a small one for each of the RGB channels and a small combined luminance histogram, all on one screen.

A really great feature is the ability to do a slide show that includes all your recorded voice memos.

It's an Active Matrix (TFT) 2.5-in., 235,000-dot, low-temperature, polysilicon LCD with white LED backlighting. Backlight/brightness adjustments are available.

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Storage Media

Nikon has long used the CompactFlash® (CF) Card as the media of choice in their DSLRs and the D2x is no exception. You can use a Type I or Type II CF card, or any of the Microdrives®.

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Memory Buffer

Below is a chart showing the maximum number of shots that can be taken in a single burst before the memory buffer is full and the camera slows down. This is for Continuous High mode (CH).

Image Quality
High Speed Crop OFF
High Speed Crop ON
RAW (Compression makes no difference)
RAW + JPEG (RAW Compression makes no difference)

In Custom Setting d2 (Max. No. of Shots), you can set the continuous mode maximum number of shots to any value between 1 and 35. But, the chart above reflects reality. The only way you will get 35 shots at 8-frames per second is by using high-speed crop mode and JPEGs. For sport shooters, this is probably ideal, since it gives you thirty-five 6.8 megapixel images in a little over 4 seconds. (4.375 to be exact) For wildlife shooters, shooting RAW and in full frame 12.4 megapixel mode, you will be limited to 17 frames in about 2 seconds. (2.125 to be exact)

Of course, if you slow the camera down to CL or continous low-speed mode, you allow more time for the buffer to clear and may get more frames. Using the Custom Setting d1 (Shooting Speed), you can vary the shooting speed of the D2x from 1 fps to 7 fps. So, to a degree you can control the buffer, and the resulting number of shots by varying the frame rate according to subject movement speed.

For more information, see the D2x manual on pages 41-51, and 194-195.

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Shooting Modes

Shooting Mode
High Speed Crop OFF
High Speed Crop ON
Single Frame Mode (S)
Continuous High Mode (CH)
Continuous Low Mode (CL) - (Varies per Custom d1 setting)
Self-Timer Mode (duration can be set to 2, 5, 10, 20 Secs)
Mirror-Up Mode (First press raises mirror, second fires shutter)
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Focus Area

The D2x gives you a selection of 11 focus areas, controllable by the thumb rocker-switch on the back, or by "Group Settings."

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To be continued...

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