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Nikon D2X

By: Dave Etchells and Shawn Barnett

Nikon introduces a 12.2 megapixel hybrid pro SLR that can be either high resolution or high speed as the job requires.

<<In-depth Image Analysis :(Previous) | (Next): Print-Friendly Review Version>>

D2X Test Images!

Review First Posted: 04/14/2005, Updated: 06/10/2005

For an even more detailed scrutiny of the D2x's imaging performance, see the D2x In-Depth Image Analysis page.

I've begun including links in our reviews to a Thumbnail index page for the test shots. The data on this page includes a host of information on the images, including shutter speed, ISO setting, compression setting, etc. Rather than clutter the page below with all that detail, we're posting the thumbnail index so only those interested in the information need wade through it!

 

"Sunlit" Portrait:
(This is my new "Outdoor" Portrait test - read more about it here.)

Excellent resolution and strong detail, with great color. Contrast is just slightly high, but detail is good in the midtones and excellent in the shadows.

  • Exposure compensation: +1.0 EV, about average.
  • Contrast/Tone: Slightly high (even with the low contrast setting), some highlight detail lost, though bright midtones
  • White Balance: Auto is best, slightly cool toned. (Here's Daylight, Manual, and 4,800 Kelvin)
  • Color accuracy: Excellent, blues are almost exactly right, as are the strong reds and greens look about right.
  • Skin tones: Natural and fairly accurate.
  • Resolution/sharpness: Excellent, great definition in the finer details.
  • Shadow detail: Excellent, very low noise.

Under harsh lighting, the D2x tends to lose highlight detail fairly rapidly, but the shadow detail is just extraordinary. Loads of detail, with very low noise, at least until you get into the really dark parts of the image.

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.3 EV, see files D2XOUTAP0.HTM through D2XOUTAP4.HTM on the thumbnail index page.

Contrast Series:
A good contrast adjustment option, but I'd really like to see more steps in the low-contrast direction.
Contrast Series
Low
Normal
High



 

Closer Portrait:

Even better resolution and detail, though again, slightly high contrast.

  • Exposure compensation: +1.0 EV, slightly higher than average.
  • Exposure/Tone: Slightly high contrast creates strong highlights in the skin, but midtones are bright.
  • Detail: Even stronger detail and higher resolution, good clarity and sharpness.
  • Distortion: Good, zoom lens avoids distortion close-in like this.

 

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.3 EV, see files D2XOUTFACAP0.HTM through D2XOUTFACAP4.HTM on the thumbnail index page.



 

Indoor Portrait, Flash:

(The D2x has no built-in flash, so this test shot doesn't apply)



 

Indoor Portrait, No Flash:
Auto White Balance
Incandescent White Balance
Manual White Balance
2,800-degree Kelvin White Balance

Very good color with the Manual white balance (just slightly cool), acceptable with Auto and Incandescent settings, 2800K setting doesn't quite do the trick. Good exposure.

  • Exposure: +0.7 EV adjustment needed, lower than average
  • White Balance: Manual very good (if slightly cool), though 2,800-degree Kelvin nearly accurate as well (a bit warm). Auto and Incandescent settings were rather warm. (A momentary brain-freeze here led me to shoot the Kelvin example at 2800K. The camera's Kelvin adjustment extends as far down as 2500K, which would certainly have handled this light source. - It measures out to about 2650 on my Minolta Color Meter II.)
  • Color: Skin tones a little cool and magenta, blue flowers have slight purple tints but are still good. Good overall color.

 

To view the entire exposure series from zero to +1.0 EV, see files D2XINMP0.HTM through D2XINMP3.HTM on the thumbnail index page.

ISO Series:
The Nikon D2X produces low image noise on average, with good results at the 100, 200, and even the 400 ISO settings. At ISO 400 though, the camera starts to trade away some subtle subject detail to maintain the low noise levels. At ISO 800, the noise is slightly higher, but the loss of subtle detail is a bit more noticeable. At ISO 1,600, noise jumps a fair bit, and the loss of detail is pronounced. At ISO 3,200, the image is extremely noisy, a great deal of detail is lost, and the color saturation suffers considerably. ISO 3200 shots from the D2x will likely be marginal for most uses. These comments are all based on on-screen inspection of the images though, which doesn't correlate well with how images look when printed. Looking at prints from our Canon i9900 studio printer, ISO 800 images actually looked very good, even at 13x19 inch print sizes, despite the slight loss of subtle detail. (As is typical of noise-suppression algorithms, the approach used in the D2x at ISOs of 800 and below suppresses detail in areas of subtle contrast, but leaves things alone near high-contrast edges. Prints from the resulting images therefore look quite crisp to the eye, the (slight) lost detail apparent only if you scrutinize them very carefully.) Even at ISO 3200, the D2x's images looked surprisingly good at output sizes of 8x10 and lower.

ISO Series
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400
ISO 800 ISO 1,600 ISO 3,200



 

House Poster:
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance

Good color with both white balance settings tested. Very high resolution and a lot of fine detail. (Please note that this is a poster we prepared for the purposes of this test so that it looks the same from camera to camera. As such, the trees and foliage will look the same from camera to camera. It is intentional, and not a sinister plot. To see the trees grow and the seasons change, look to the Far Field shots below.)

  • Sharpness/Detail: Strong detail, though slightly soft throughout the frame.
  • Sharpness in Corners: Consistent from corner to corner.
  • Color: Auto white balance the most accurate and natural. Daylight slightly warm and Manual slightly cool and magenta.
  • Detail lost to anti-noise processing?: Essentially none at the ISO 100 level, at which these shots were captured.





 

Far-Field Test

High resolution and strong detail, with a slightly limited dynamic range.

This image is shot at infinity to test far-field lens performance, and to present a near-infinite range of detail to the camera. NOTE that this image cannot be directly compared to the other "house" shot, which is a poster, shot in the studio.

  • Sharpness/Detail: Very good, strong fine detail and great definition.
  • Sharpness in Corners: Excellent. (A function of the lens, this was shot with the Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 DX, which appears to be an excellent optic.)
  • Color: Good, though slightly dark due to the conservative exposure.
  • Dynamic Range: Exceptional, strong detail in both highlights and shadows. (The exposure system left the midtones slightly dark, but the important thing for pros is that there's no detail lost in either the shadows or highlights, despite the very harsh lighting.)
  • Detail lost to anti-noise processing?: None detectable.


Resolution Series:

Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
"Economy"
JPEG
4,288 x 2,848
D2XFAR4288F
D2XFAR4288N
D2XFAR4288E
3,216 x 2,136
D2XFAR3216
-
3,216 x 2,136
Cropped
D2XFAR3216SC
-
2,400 x 1,600
Cropped
D2XFAR2400SC
-
2,144 x 1,424
D2XFAR2144
-
1,600 x 1,064
Cropped
D2XFAR1600SC
-


ISO Series:

ISO Series
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400
ISO 800 ISO 1,600 ISO 3,200

 

Sharpness Series:
The D2x's in-camera sharpening is fairly conservative. The default setting leaves images slightly soft-looking, but thankfully with almost no sharpening artifacts. The highest setting produces images that look very sharp to the eye, but at the cost of some coarsening of fine detail. The lowest setting produces images that take strong/tight unsharp masking in Photoshop or other imaging software very well.

Sharpness Series
Very Soft
Soft
Normal
Hard Very Hard


Contrast Series:

Contrast Series
Low
Normal
High


Color Space Options:

Color Spaces
sRGB
Adobe RGB




 

Lens Zoom Range

Performance here will vary with the lens in use.


 

Musicians Poster
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance

Good overall color, though slightly warm. Excellent resolution and strong detail.

  • White Balance: Auto and Daylight white balance very similar, both good but slightly warm Manual setting was much cooler.
  • Color: Good skin tones, though slightly red. Blue robe a little greenish in the highlights and slightly purplish in the shadows, but overall color is still good.
  • Sharpness/Detail: Very good. (Far exceeds the limits of the poster though.)




 

Macro Shot

Results here will depend on the lens in use.


 

"Davebox" Test Target
Auto White Balance
Daylight White Balance
Manual White Balance

Good color (though slightly cyan) with the Auto white balance. Good exposure but just slightly dark (shot with default exposure, it probably needed +0.3 EV or so.)

  • White balance: Auto setting produced the best results, despite a slight cyan tint. Daylight was warm and Manual magenta.
  • Color Accuracy: Very good color accuracy when white balance is correct. When the slight color casts of these shots are adjusted out, the fundamental color accuracy of the D2x is excellent. The bright red swatch here is oversaturated, as it is with essentially all digital cameras I test, but the other colors are all very close to their correct values.
  • Shadow detail and noise: Excellent detail in the briquettes, low noise.

ISO Series:

ISO Series
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 400
ISO 800 ISO 1,600 ISO 3,200


Contrast Series:

Contrast Series
Low
Normal
High



 

Low-Light Tests

Excellent low-light performance, though color balance is warm. Low image noise, however. Autofocus system works to about 1/10 foot-candle (with an f/2.8 lens), a very low light level.

  • Exposure limit: Easily handles 1/16 foot-candle at all ISO levels. (About 1/16 as bright as typical city street lighting at night.)
  • Autofocus Limit: About 1/10 foot-candle with an f/2.8 lens, light limit will depend on maximum aperture of the lens in use.
  • White Balance: A little warm-toned.
  • Noise Levels: Generally low, even at 400 ISO. Though stronger noise at the highest sensitivity levels. Good performance with the Noise Reduction.
  • Detail loss to anti-noise processing?: Almost none, until you hit ISO 1600
  • General Notes: Excellent low light AF ability, and very clean images even at elevated ISOs, up to ISO 800. Images do fall apart significantly at ISO 1600 and 3200 though.

(Note: If you'd like to use a light meter to check light levels for subjects you might be interested in shooting, a light level of one foot-candle corresponds to a normal exposure of two seconds at f/2.8 and ISO 100.)

  1 fc
11 lux
1/2 fc
5.5 lux
1/4 fc
2.7 lux
1/8 fc
1.3 lux
1/16 fc
0.67 lux
1/16fc
No NR
ISO
100
Click to see D2XLL0103.JPG
1 sec
f2.8
Click to see D2XLL0104.JPG
3 sec
f2.8
Click to see D2XLL0105.JPG
10 sec
f2.8
Click to see D2XLL0106.JPG
20 sec
f2.8
Click to see D2XLL0107.JPG
25 sec
f2.8
Click to see D2XLL0107XNR.JPG
25 sec
f2.8
ISO
200
Click to see D2XLL0203.JPG
1/2 sec
f2.8
Click to see D2XLL0204.JPG
1.6 sec
f2.8
Click to see D2XLL0205.JPG
5 sec
f2.8
Click to see D2XLL0206.JPG
10 sec
f2.8
Click to see D2XLL0207.JPG
13 sec
f2.8
Click to see D2XLL0207XNR.JPG
13 sec
f2.8
ISO
400
Click to see D2XLL0403.JPG
1/4 sec
f2.8
Click to see D2XLL0404.JPG
1/1 sec
f2.8
Click to see D2XLL0405.JPG
2.5 sec
f2.8
Click to see D2XLL0406.JPG
5 sec
f2.8
Click to see D2XLL0407.JPG
6 sec
f2.8
Click to see D2XLL0407XNR.JPG
6 sec
f2.8
ISO
800
Click to see D2XLL0803.JPG
1/8 sec
f2.8
Click to see D2XLL0804.JPG
1/2 sec
f2.8
Click to see D2XLL0805.JPG
1.3 sec
f2.8
Click to see D2XLL0806.JPG
2.5 sec
f2.8
Click to see D2XLL0807.JPG
3 sec
f2.8
Click to see D2XLL0807XNR.JPG
3 sec
f2.8
ISO
1600
Click to see D2XLL1603.JPG
1/15 sec
f2.8
Click to see D2XLL1604.JPG
1/5 sec
f2.8
Click to see D2XLL1605.JPG
1/1 sec
f2.8
Click to see D2XLL1606.JPG
1.3 sec
f2.8
Click to see D2XLL1607.JPG
1.6 sec
f2.8
Click to see D2XLL1607XNR.JPG
1.6 sec
f2.8
ISO
3200
Click to see D2XLL3203.JPG
1/30 sec
f2.8
Click to see D2XLL3204.JPG
1/10 sec
f2.8
Click to see D2XLL3205.JPG
1/3 sec
f2.8
Click to see D2XLL3206.JPG
1/1 sec
f2.8
Click to see D2XLL3207.JPG
1/1 sec
f2.8
Click to see D2XLL3207XNR.JPG
1/1 sec
f2.8



 

Flash Range Test

The D2X does not have a built-in flash, so no tests in this section.



 

ISO-12233 (WG-18) Resolution Test

Full Resolution
"Speed Crop" Mode

Excellent resolution, 2,100 lines of "strong detail" in full resoluttion mode, 1,550 in "Speed Crop" mode.

  • Full Resolution Mode:
    • Resolution: 2,100 lines both vertically and horizontally
    • Artifacts begin at: ~1,400 lines
    • Extinction point: None on this chart (2,000+ lines)

  • "Speed Crop" Mode:
    • Resolution: 1.600 lines horizontally, 1,500 vertically
    • Artifacts begin at: ~1,200 lines
    • Extinction point: 1,800 lines

  • Barrel/Pincushion distortion: (n/a, depends of lens)
  • Chromatic Aberration: (n/a, depends of lens)
  • Corner Sharpness: (n/a, depends of lens)

Excellent resolution in both modes. The full-resolution mode delivers around 2,100 lines/picture height, and Speed Crop gives about 1,550 lines of "strong detail."

(Unfortunately, a last-minute shot of my 2x res target with the D2x before we had to bundle it back to Nikon was slightly soft-focused. The result isn't good enough for public consumption, but interestingly does show "strong detail" extending to 2,100 lines/picture height, both horizontally and vertically.)

Resolution Series, medium focal length
Wide Angle "Fine"
JPEG
"Normal"
JPEG
"Economy"
JPEG
4,288 x 2,848
D2XRES4288F
D2XRES4288N
D2XRES4288E
3,216 x 2,136
D2XRES3216
-
-
2,144 x 1,424
D2XRES2144
-
-
SPEED
D2XRES_SPEED
-
-

Sharpness Series:

Sharpness Series
No Sharpening
Very Soft
Soft
Normal
Hard Very Hard



 

Viewfinder Accuracy/Flash Uniformity

A very accurate optical viewfinder.

  • Optical Viewfinder Accuracy: 99 percent at the large/fine resolution, 97 percent at the 3,216 x 2,136 Speed Crop setting.
  • LCD Viewfinder Accuracy: N/A, digital SLR design



Reader Comments! --> Visit our discussion forum for the Nikon D2X!



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