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D2X Testing experience


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#1 Virgil

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Posted 23 May 2006 - 02:01 PM

Iīll write this like a blog so donīt wonder about the layout. Oh and not to forget - the basic idea of what i start here is to share my personal experience. There is nothing scientific or profound in it - just findings and thoughts i have.

Iīm a experienced photographer with the Nikon D70 which i use for some 2 years with great success. The lenses used in this non-scientific "review" will include my lens line-up consisting of the Nikkor 50mm f/1.4, 17-55DX f/2.8 and the 70-200 VR f/2.8 as well as the TC17E-II teleconverter.

Day 1 - 23rd May 2006 - 8:40 pm

When i stopped my Triumph Tiger in front of the store and removed my helmet the shop-owner gave me this look saying "oh my god - and this guy is going to have such a precious body for testing?!?" Iīm not looking that wild but some people may have strange feelings as far as bikers are concerned. After the formalities i left the shop heading back to my office. One meeting and solid three hours i had to withstand the temptation to open the golden shiny Nikon box and start playing with the D2X i picked up before.

Arrived at home i opened the box, grabbed the battery pack and power supply to get it charged. Fortunately the enclosed 2nd battery pack was a bit loaded and quickly the 50mm f/1.4 was mounted. I inserted my 2GB microdrive and started to make the usual settings (thanks to Darrell for his great review on the AF system which helped to get faster to the right settings).

Really amazing in the first shots was the Whitebalance. The D70 does a good job but the D2X is really, really great in this respect. The Kelvin setting is something iīve to figure out - first changes didnīt make the results better (but thatīs a user problem then the one of the D2X).

What i also noticed is the different shutter sound. To be honest it sounds strange - like the mechanism is defect but i think iīll get used to it. Totally different is the feeling when pushing the trigger - a really sweet feeling where nearly no force is needed. Then the next surprise - this machine shots away like an Uzi! (and it was set to slow!!!). Without measuring it i would say that the D70 is slower then the slow-mode on the D2X (at the max equal).

AF is really amazing once it is correctly set up. With the 17-55DX f/2.8 itīs so incredible fast i canīt put it into words. I guess if it goes on like this i run out of superlatives i could use :-)

One last thing i did was a quick series of shots in available light. Folks - i wasnīt surprised at all. For sure AF was spot-on and WB was ok but i got loads of blurred shots. That confirmes that the D2X is unforgiving to shake - especially if shutter-speeds are not even close to the 1/focal range rule.

Well - thatīs all for today ... the women in my life thinks itīs time to notice her and put the D2X away - hard decission - believe me but iīm better off :D

Donīt miss tomorrowīs report ...
Cheers

Virgil

#2 photojazz

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Posted 23 May 2006 - 02:12 PM

I enoyed reading this... :rolleyes: Looking 4 tommorrow'a edition! B)

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#3 Luis V.

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Posted 23 May 2006 - 03:32 PM

You'll find the D2X is unforgiving in the shake area, you are right there. You mention blurry shots. I just wanted to make you aware that you'll need to put in some sharpening on the shots before you judge sharpness in the final photo. In other words, you'll apply some sharpening to the shot in the post process first. This will counteract the effect of the anti-aliasing filter. If not, the shots may look a little soft to you even when focused perfectly. Obviously some shots will show it more than others. A landscape with a clear blue sky will show it less. A portrait will show less hair detail, for example. Other than that........ go have fun..... enjoy.
Luis V.Nikon D800/D2X/D200/D100Nikon 17-35mm f/2.8 AFS | 24-70mm f/2.8 AFS | 70-200mm f/2.8 AFS VR-II | 200-400mm f/4 AFS | 50mm f/1.4D | 85mm f/1.4D | 105mm f/2.8 Macro

#4 Virgil

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Posted 24 May 2006 - 12:15 AM

@ Luis - Morning :-) thanks for your input as i shoot JPEG iīm used to use the highest setting for sharpening to get out of the box what i want (donīt tell me off cos of that but iīll never become a RAW shooter :) )

Day 2 - 24rd May 2006 - 7:07 am

Slept well, read Luis comments and rearranged the dividers of my Billingham-Bag to get the D2X with 17-55DX f/2.8 mounted in the bag as well as the 70-200VR f/2.8 and the TC17E-II. Not an easy task but it worked out. Today the weather-forecast sayīs cloudy and some rain for Vienna dmnd! Not the conditions i was looking for my testshooting. Anyway - iīll use lunchbreak to get some shots.

One thing i couldnīt write yesterday - it became obvious with the indoor shots that the D2X isnīt only prone to shake but also needs more light as the 12MP sensor isnīt as light sensitive then the 6MP sensor of the D70. I needed to crank up ISO at a earlier stage then iīm used to do when shooting my D70 - hmmm. Guess iīve to explore that more detailed. The other thing i noticed is that the front dial doesnīt turn as easy as the rear dial does - a feature? a bug? weīll see.

Now iīve to go off to work - will report later ...

EDIT to insert:

Couldnīt have lunch-break so i decided to took some quick snaps in the morning before i entered the office. All shots done with the 17-55 DX f/2.8 at Vienna Prater (some sort of entertainment park). The one shot with this green goblin is just a 100% crop of the orignal image i post here as well for reference. Astonishing was that - though in-camera sharpening is set to "medium high" every shot takes 50/5/0 in NC 4.4 without jaggies or other artifacts / problems (at least to my eyes). I could never sharpen D70 pics at this "high" level as they started to show jaggies /artifacts at 30/5/0 (and even sometimes before) when in-camera sharpening was set to "medium high". Seems that there is a real hughe difference between CCD and CMOS technology.

Enjoy the shots (but donīt judge me based on them :) )

Attached Files


Cheers

Virgil

#5 Virgil

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Posted 24 May 2006 - 12:22 PM

addition: Rain *argh* ... i canīt believe it that the weather doesnīt clear up. Reviewing the shots i did in the morning and before i drove home iīm very impressed from the clearity and the colourreproduction. Letīs hope weather getīs better tomorrow. The one thing i really, really like is the body itself. Itīs so comfortable to hold and carry it - even with a heavy lens mounted that itīs a real joy. Due to that the weight doesnīt really matter - you nearly donīt notice it. Donīt miss tomorrowīs entry :)
Cheers

Virgil

#6 Luis V.

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Posted 24 May 2006 - 12:43 PM

@ Luis - Morning :-) thanks for your input as i shoot JPEG iīm used to use the highest setting for sharpening to get out of the box what i want (donīt tell me off cos of that but iīll never become a RAW shooter :) )

....- it became obvious with the indoor shots that the D2X isnīt only prone to shake but also needs more light as the 12MP sensor isnīt as light sensitive then the 6MP sensor of the D70. I needed to crank up ISO at a earlier stage then iīm used to do when shooting my D70 - hmmm. Guess iīve to explore that more detailed.

....Astonishing was that - though in-camera sharpening is set to "medium high" every shot takes 50/5/0 in NC 4.4 without jaggies or other artifacts / problems (at least to my eyes). I could never sharpen D70 pics at this "high" level as they started to show jaggies /artifacts at 30/5/0 (and even sometimes before) when in-camera sharpening was set to "medium high". Seems that there is a real hughe difference between CCD and CMOS technology.

Enjoy the shots (but donīt judge me based on them :) )


Shooting JPG vs. RAW is a matter of taste for me. Shooting RAW is not for everyone. No problems there. I will however, suggest you bring the sharpening down to a low level in camera. Regardless of model. Then sharpen in your PC. You'll get better results in most cases. The in camera sharpening is more generic and not suited for all shots.

As for the light sensitivity, that's strange to me. I must be missing the point. Are you saying that the D2X needs to be set to a higher ISO than the D70 for the same light, in certain cases? That should not be the case. Could it be that you have more exposure latitude on the D2X? There could be a difference between the sensors, but usually not enough to warrant increasing ISO.

As for the ability to sharpen more.... This is a reseult of the MP count being higher. The higher the MP count the more sharpening you can apply. Using Photoshop's sharpening, it is not uncommon for me to sharpen portraits to Amounts of 175 to 200, Radius 1 to 1.5 and a threshold of 1. How that translates to Capture, I don't know, but you will definately see added ability to sharpen.
Luis V.Nikon D800/D2X/D200/D100Nikon 17-35mm f/2.8 AFS | 24-70mm f/2.8 AFS | 70-200mm f/2.8 AFS VR-II | 200-400mm f/4 AFS | 50mm f/1.4D | 85mm f/1.4D | 105mm f/2.8 Macro

#7 Virgil

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Posted 24 May 2006 - 01:10 PM

Hi Luis, what i did was to shoot in my living-room with the D2X and the D70 at similar settings and found that i needed to increase ISO on the D2X to get similar shutter-speeds which lead me to the idea that - due to the higher pixelcount - the sensor of the D2X isnīt as sensitive to light then the D70īs sensor. Dunno if that is correct or not - will investigate. For sharpening - thanks for the explanation - NC knows a maximum amount of 100 which is equal to 500% in PS - radius and threshold are equal.
Cheers

Virgil

#8 Luis V.

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Posted 24 May 2006 - 06:46 PM

...what i did was to shoot in my living-room with the D2X and the D70 at similar settings and found that i needed to increase ISO on the D2X to get similar shutter-speeds which lead me to the idea that - due to the higher pixelcount - the sensor of the D2X isnīt as sensitive to light then the D70īs sensor. Dunno if that is correct or not - will investigate.



The capture sensor sensitivity is not an issue. You are dealing with standards. Assuming you are metering the same thing, at a given ISO you should get the same shutter speed and aperture on both cameras. Within reason. There can be a slight difference becuase you have different metering systems.

For example, if you are using the matrix meter, forget it. They could easily be different b/c the cameras have different systems that are determining the exposure. However, if you are spot metering a grey card in the light you have, you should be the same.

You'll also find that the D2X has a slightly larger exposure lattitude. You'll have about an 8 stop range on it. The D100, D70, etc. have about a 7 stop lattitude. This can also lead to getting deeper shadows which could make the photo look darker.

Best bet to really figure this out is to spot meter a grey card. You should be almost perfectly matched. At worst 1/3 stop difference.
Luis V.Nikon D800/D2X/D200/D100Nikon 17-35mm f/2.8 AFS | 24-70mm f/2.8 AFS | 70-200mm f/2.8 AFS VR-II | 200-400mm f/4 AFS | 50mm f/1.4D | 85mm f/1.4D | 105mm f/2.8 Macro

#9 Virgil

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Posted 25 May 2006 - 05:44 AM

@ Luis - thanks for the input - what you wrote sounds logical for me (and has been my thought as well) as said iīll investigate that.


Day 3 - 25th May 2006 - 12:19 pm

Today is the day - though weīve a public holiday today i got up early. I checked everything twice - the battery pack and spare, the speedlight, the lenses and the microdrives. The latter ones are really causing me a headache. The 2 GB shows approximately 187 shots - the 1GB some 90 shots. Iīm not used to the file-size the D2X produces as the D70 figures are over 500 shots for the 2GB and roughly 250 shots for the 1 GB. Guess iīve to carefully review todayīs shots and delete at the scene the ones i wonīt keep. I hope i donīt run out of disk space ...

... 2 hours left before weīre heading to the location ... iīm a bit nervous as the band expects to get great shots like the last time. Though they are not paying for them (weīve a payment in kind deal) itīs my reputation and their expectations which put some pressure on me ... calm down ... take a deep breath ... these are the thoughts flashing thru my mind. Iīve never been on assignment with a tool i didnīt know a 100%. The D2X is a machine which has my full respect and today will show for sure deficits i may have ... not the sense / eye for scenes rather then sloppy techniques ... the X will today weigh and measure me and hopefully i will be adjudged for good.

Letīs see what iīve to report tonight ...

... arrived at home and some 24 minutes later (transfertime microdrive -> notebook) the 269 shots i did today are a mixed bag. After a first review i deleted more then 120 shots - the two major reasons have been: wrong focus and blurr due to camera shake (read: too slow shutter-speed). Definately my faults as i donīt fully understand the auto-focus and was so nervous that i obviously forgot some basics (shutter-speed). I didnīt expected to master the D2X with one shooting but iīm not used to have 50% trash and 50% so-so results cos even when i started shooting with my trusty D70 i never had such a miserable rate :(

Lesson learned: i need to re-read the AF review of Darrell and have to work more concentrated

Fortunately i was clever enough to tell the band-leader/manager about my new tool and that i canīt guarantee for the results. The other thing is that they are until Sunday in Vienna. So iīll spend tomorrow with reading and shoot them on Saturday again with the hope that i work much better then today.
Cheers

Virgil

#10 Virgil

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Posted 26 May 2006 - 12:40 AM

Day 4 - 26th May 2006 - 7:30 am

Couldnīt sleep well this night and reviewed the pictures i took over and over again. I picked a view shots and resized them to let the members have an idea which shooting situation i faced. A few notes - the long haired guy in front of the big drum is their frontman called Laghras, next you see their drummer Wulf. I was in front of the one guy spitting fire and had to cover myself as most of the mixture he spitted out got in my direction :( The other guy playing with the fire-stick is some sort of Joker - a funny guy (look in his face - was happy to capture this expression - heīs for sure a bit crazy :) ). Hope you enjoy them though they are any good.

Attached Files


Cheers

Virgil

#11 Virgil

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Posted 27 May 2006 - 03:58 AM

Day 5 - 27th May 2006 - 10:59 am

I re-read the AF review from Darrell and found that i didnīt do to much wrong. That doesnīt change my results but added a bit convenience. I reviewed my shots again and found that theyīre not really bad at all. Itīs more that i need to get acustomed to the new tool i use. Checking the settings over and over again i noticed that the body iīve got had the old firmware version installed which i upgraded yesterday. Fortunately iīve a CF card for that as this operation doesnīt work with microdrives. Maybe that also helps to overcome the one or other focus-error? Who knows ...

After i couldnīt read the AF review anymore i started to do some comparisons between my trusty D70 and the D2X. The first thing i noticed is the stiffness of every control on the D70. Itīs strange as i got quickly used to only tip any button of the D2X slightly and the function turns on/off or whatever and then switch to the D70 using much more force to get a button to work. Shutter sound is different but i wouldnīt like to decide which one sounds better - i got used to both. The D2X - due to her ease of use - grew on me during the last days and as Luis noted - it will be a hard time when iīve to give it back.

I did also some shots indoors and my original impression that iīve to crank up ISO more on the X then on the 70 wasnīt confirmed - using the same metering they both deliver the exact same results. Maybe the X exposed more to the right whilst the 70 exposes more to the left. I also compared noise a bit and would say that the 70 does a pretty good job in this field (even if the X pics are downsized to 6MP). Differences are there (in favour of the X) but i wouldnīt base my buying decission on that alone. The X has so much more to offer that each point for itself (WB to mention one) would justify the purchase.

I never had the impression that the D70 is small but if you handle both cameras the 70 seems to be shrunken in the last few dayīs i used the D2X - strange. Balance with mounted 17-55DX f/2.8 or 70-200VR f/2.8 is much better with the D2X then the D70. Using the X wasnīt a pain at all during the whole day - it was much more a sort of relief though its double the weight of the D70. Handling the X is a real joy - everyone no matter if interested in buying the X or not should see his local dealer and grab one - itīs a real lifetime experience :)

Today weather is mixed but i hope sun comes out soon then iīll go back to the stage and try again with hopefully better results then i brought home from the first run.

NOTE: donīt hesitate to pop in and give me your thoughts and advise - thx
Cheers

Virgil

#12 Virgil

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Posted 28 May 2006 - 01:02 PM

Day 6 - 28th May 2006 - 19:19 am

Hi Folks,

as iīve to return the D2X on monday iīll try to draw my personal conclusion about this 6 dayīs with the D2X.

First thing iīve to note is that we donīt had full 6 dayīs as it took me 2 days to understand how the AF system works (reading without the camera wasnīt enough). Weather was lousy so i had only 3 outings with the X with some rain-breaks inbetween.

I was most impressed by the handling. The D2X - or better phrased - the D2 series is definately unmatched in this area. Neither by competitors nor by other lines of their own heritage. Everything works with ease and is naturally located. From the very first time i grabbed this body i felt at home and after today i didnīt need to think about the functions i needed - i simply pushed the right button and that was it. Buttons work on the slightest fingertip - the shutter button is not the one to push rather then to roll over with your fingertip to let the D2X fire like heck. Speed is a dream - whether itīs the AF or the shutter speed - i never had the feeling that the X didnīt let me achive what i wanted (i guess she waited more often for me). AF was nearly hunt-free even in very bad light conditions - really great! That all might have added that i forgot what caliber iīm shooting ...

Itīs the most demanding and unforegiving body iīve ever the pleasure to shoot. If you came away with a slightly too slow shutter-speed using your D70 you wonīt with the D2X. Results are simply blurred - period. If there is camera shake - and i mean the slightest kind of - blurr is the result. Getting sharp results - even if you do anything right - is a bit like roulette as the AF is demanding too and will exhibit sloppy techniques due to not being a 100% concentrated without mercy. Getting the one shot far superior to what is at the max possible with the D70 and therefore would justify the purchase of the X without doubt wasnīt possible for me in everyday situations. I should have used a tripod to clearly work out the superiority of the 12MP sensor compared to the 6MP sensor of the D70 but i didnīt so iīll never know. The X turned - at least for me - the fun and joy the D70 gives me more into something like hard work with lesser fun and joy. The more trash results i produced the lower i felt ...

Bottomline - the X grew on me as far as handling is concerned but couldnīt convince me a 100% in the result area. Maybe my expectations were far to high. The other point is that i had far too less time to really get into everything the X offers which might add to my medicore results. However - it was a really great experience for me and iīm happy that i didnīt missed this opportunity. To give the X back leaves me still undecided whether or not iīll upgrade as it could be that this tool isnīt for me (or vice-versa). I wonder if the next dayīs and weeks working again with my D70 change my current feeling. To be continued ... maybe ...

Encl. some shots of yesterday.

Attached Files


Cheers

Virgil

#13 Joseph

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Posted 30 May 2006 - 11:40 AM

Glad you had an experience with the D2X. Experience is everything these days. I think the shots you took were unique and different, comparing to the photography i do. Just remember that your D70 is like driving a VW golf and the D2X is like a Audi A4. They both do the job, but one performs superior...you get what you pay for! I see many photographers using the D70 and it's not a bad camera. But sooner or later, you will need a superior camera...in the mean time follow your heart Virgil. Just remember on rainy days...they give you the opportunity to also play...macro shots of water beading, wet textures and some really cool night shots of the city when the roads and cars are all wet etc. Have fun!

#14 Virgil

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Posted 30 May 2006 - 12:36 PM

Hi Joseph, thanks for noticing my non-scientific "review" - what field of photography youīre in? EDIT to add: Talked to Nikon Austria about some misfocusing i encountered (also having Darrellīs "look for the AF sensor size"-article in mind) they confirmed that there can be a misalignment and theyīll check the body for that. That leaves another open question with me "was the misfocusing my fault or the one of a slightly but noticeably misaligned AF sensor(s)?" Something iīll probably never get an answer for. I add this in order to qualify my statement about the AF as it wasnīt the cameras fault by design rather then a lousy service which let Nikon give a camera away to a customer that wasnīt checked after the last use.
Cheers

Virgil

#15 Joseph

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Posted 31 May 2006 - 08:35 AM

Virgil I hope you didn't think I was patronizing you. My field of photography is vast, I'm either working in the studio, shooting a wedding or just shooting a big event. I also tackle concerts every now and then. My latest craze has been baby photography and it was really fun to get the pregnancy shots too. Women are in love these days with being pregnant...there is a demand for these photos! About Nikon, base on my experience. They are pretty rough around the edges when dealing with clients(at least it feels like it). I did take my D2X for back focusing adjustments, because my 70-200 lens was not locking in on infinity. Several people have had a back focusing issue or a lens issue, such as the one I experienced. The AF sensors have to be tested...another client from Nikon was there on the same day with me and he brought in prints to show Nikon where he was focusing! The sensors were off from his original 'point of targets'. I seem to be okay in this department...but routine testing should be exercised. Back to my car comparisons...timing belt or turbo not working properly =) The only thing I dislike about Nikon Canada's NPS department...is that they don't take a humble approach to their customers. They make us feel like the camera is invincible. And luckily I witnessed it in front of my eyes with another client on the spot! I hope you get answers Virgil...you should...we should expect that level of service. If you are a non-NPS client...that's another story...I've heard stories!

#16 Luis V.

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Posted 31 May 2006 - 10:36 AM

When I got my D2X I had some time before I could the same consistency I had from the D100. It is simply because I had to get used to the body, AF, etc. The balance and "feel" was easy because I shot the F5 various times and the D100 had the MB-D100 attachment. This made the D100 about the same size as the D2X. Everything else took time. I'd say it was about 2 months and a few thousand shots before I could consistently get what I wanted when I wanted it. Now..... well you'll have to pull it from my cold, dead hands if you want to use it. On another note, the D200. I would HEAVILY recommend this body as an alternative to the D2X's $4,500 price tag. The D200 far cheaper and you can get similar build, speed and image quality from it. No, it's not a D2X, but it's a GREAT camera. If you have teh D200 with the MB-D200 base, it's the same feel as the D2X. Well worth it. Many of the same points mentioned by Virgil above will be repeated if he shoots the D200.
Luis V.Nikon D800/D2X/D200/D100Nikon 17-35mm f/2.8 AFS | 24-70mm f/2.8 AFS | 70-200mm f/2.8 AFS VR-II | 200-400mm f/4 AFS | 50mm f/1.4D | 85mm f/1.4D | 105mm f/2.8 Macro

#17 Virgil

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Posted 31 May 2006 - 02:46 PM

Hi Joseph, well - i wonīt go into it as itīs not my personal camera but i guess iīm infected by the X - shooting the D70 just for fun wasnīt the same then before - what a pitty ;-) Hi Luis, thanks for the encouragement - Darrell told me something similar concerning tiem to get used to it. I know perfectly what you mean (cold hands and so on :-) ). I tested the D200 and didnīt felt at home the same way i did with the D2X so itīs not an option for me. It is for sure a great camera but it doesnīt give me the same feeling i had with the X. @ All - i assume iīll end up with an X - not this month or next month but pretty soon before my vacation or so ...
Cheers

Virgil

#18 Joseph

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 09:02 AM

Hi Joseph,

well - i wonīt go into it as itīs not my personal camera but i guess iīm infected by the X - shooting the D70 just for fun wasnīt the same then before - what a pitty ;-)

Hi Luis,

thanks for the encouragement - Darrell told me something similar concerning tiem to get used to it. I know perfectly what you mean (cold hands and so on :-) ).

I tested the D200 and didnīt felt at home the same way i did with the D2X so itīs not an option for me. It is for sure a great camera but it doesnīt give me the same feeling i had with the X.

@ All - i assume iīll end up with an X - not this month or next month but pretty soon before my vacation or so ...

I knew it...that's the spirit. The D2X is a superb camera Virgil...you already know what your heart is telling you. It is all a matter of time...I remember my d70 and d70s days...there were situations where I demanded more...more is better-dang it =) Resolution, speed and better AF...your hands do not foget the right fit. I had the D200 in my hands, it was not the same...mind you for the individual who is on a budget...I'm sure it is a fantastic camera. Good luck.

#19 Virgil

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Posted 03 June 2006 - 12:34 PM

After the feedback from Luis and Darrell as well as reviewing my shots over and over again i reconsidered everything and decided to go for a D2X. My dealer from the Netherlands has a demo version for sale which i hope i can get cheap and afterwards upgrade the firmware to the latest version should give me a Xs (appart from the hardware differences) and make me a veeeeeeeeery happy man :-) EDIT to add: never thought that the D2X - used once - can start an addiction at such an extreme level :-)
Cheers

Virgil

#20 Luis V.

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Posted 03 June 2006 - 01:10 PM

That's a smart move. The hardware differences are minimal. Frankly, a D2X at a very good price is better than the D2Xs at full price. There simply is nothing different that will effect picture quality. The "refresh" is just adding a few touches that were probably not ready when the original D2X was released.
Luis V.Nikon D800/D2X/D200/D100Nikon 17-35mm f/2.8 AFS | 24-70mm f/2.8 AFS | 70-200mm f/2.8 AFS VR-II | 200-400mm f/4 AFS | 50mm f/1.4D | 85mm f/1.4D | 105mm f/2.8 Macro

#21 Joseph

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Posted 05 June 2006 - 10:06 AM

well said Luis...i totally agree. This is something we all can benefit from, once the upgrade is officially announced to take place. It also keeps the anger control down, client vs. Nikon...besides why would we want the 's' when it's not a night and day difference. EXTRA-EXTRA...READ ALL ABOUT IT....VIRGIL HAS ORDERED A D2X! Congratulations =)




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