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Advice needed: D2HS or D2X?

Discussion in 'General Technical Discussion' started by Nikam, May 24, 2005.

  1. I'm going to order my first DSLR. I want the fast focus and speed of either the D2HS or D2X. I am currently shooting with a Coolpix 4500 - so this is going to be a big step up both in terms of investment and cost. This is a hobby for me. I'm definitely not a professional photographer, however, I am a professional engineer and appreciate the use of the correct tool to get the job done right. I like to shoot nature in all its forms - wildlife, macro and landscape.

    I have been saving for quite a while and $ wise I am prepared to purchase one of the following 'starter kits' for now (I'm sure lens lust will set in as time goes by :)  :)  ):

    Option A: D2X, 17-55, 70-200VR, TC1.7EII, SB800

    Option B: D2HS, 17-55, 70-200VR, TC1.7EII, SB800, 60 Micro and either the 12-24 or a 300f4

    I'm a little concerned that the D2X might be a bit too much camera for me as I've read some posts that state that it requires quite a bit more care because of the closeness of the 'pixels' on the sensor array. On the other hand the ability to crop wildlife shots would be a big plus and the landscape shots would certainly benefit. What to do? :?: what to do :?: :?: You're opinions very much appreciated.
  2. Either option is going to provide excellent results.
    Option A has the advantage of changing capture size
    to HSC mode effectively giving you a D2H and a D2x
    all in one camera body.
    Option B does give you more lenses but are you going
    to want the resolution of the X six months from now and
    end up selling the H?
  3. heiko


    May 15, 2005
    Dear Nikam,

    A year ago I moved to my first DSLR and bought the D70 upon a recommendation and much Internet reading and comparing pictures. There is little I can complain about my choice, and much to be said for getting this camera.

    However, after one year I have acquired some additional lenses and - at the end of the day - it's the lens that really counts. I learned it the hard way, buying a cheap 70-300mm zoom lens just to keep waiting until it focuses (which takes time..................).

    I also got myself an Epson 2200 to print pictures up to A3. Well, my 6 megapixel camera delivers enough data to print A3 without finding the slightest pixelization. The D2Hs will probably also do.

    It's not easy to make a choice between the D2X and the D2Hs. But if you can get the D2Hs with another good lens that you couldn't afford when buying the D2X, you should give it another thought.

    I once shot with the D2Hs from a friend of mine, and it definitely is a nice cam.

    Hope you'll get some more replies here in the forum to help you make up your mind.

    Good luck!
  4. GeneR

    GeneR Guest

    First, I'd make sure I needed the megapixels before I'd get a D2X ("X"). Ron Reznick has some posts on the "other" forum regarding how big a pain the huge X files can be, both in processing and storage. Maybe you have that covered if you are still practicing engineering.

    Second, I would not worry much about the X being any more complex than the D2Hs ("Hs"), as the bodies are essentially identical. The menus may be more detailed on the X, but you're a PE, so I suspect you will be able to comprehend the menus.

    Third, Ron has opined on the "other" forum that the Hs is better than the X in high ISO performance, and that there are many shoots for which he would prefer the Hs over the X if he did not need the pixels. I do a fair amount of low light, non-flash shooting that would give an edge to the Hs.

    Fourth, what sizes do you expect to print? If you need huge prints, then that may justify the X. If you don't, then you may spend your money more wisely on an Hs.

    I'm happy with a D2H right now (I'd perfer an Hs but can't justify the cost difference). However, I'll be very interested in the much anticipated replacement of the D100.

    Your list of lenses is excellent. I went for the 28-70 over the 17-55 because I chose to cover the wide end with the 12-24 and the 17-35, and 28-70 was a better fit for shots of my kid and candids. I'd like to have the 70-200, but will "make due" for now with the very good 80-200. I just picked up a 300mm f/4 yesterday. I think it is a keeper as well. The SB800 is excellent. And I'd like to have the 1.7x TC. Well done job of putting together your list.

    Good shooting,

  5. Hi Robin. That's one of the things I'm concerned about. I know it will be hard to convince my wife I need a new camera a few months down the road if I'm not happy.

    Heiko, thanks for your comment. The glass that I'm looking at in either option is not cheap glass. If its one thing I've heard on this forum and while lurking on dpreview is that it pays to buy quality glass and your comment just echos that opinion. I think the high-speed crop or just the ability to crop a lot without losing too much detail is of more value to me than printing larger that A3.
  6. heiko


    May 15, 2005
    Hi Dennis,

    Your lens list is certainly good. But for $1500 difference you may be able to add a nice tele (which you did in your B list) so you won't need to crop that much.

    Well, I wish I were in your position now - sounds like choosing between Porsche and Ferrari.
  7. Gene,

    Thanks for responding. You bring up some very good points. My home computer is getting a bit long in the tooth and one thing that bothers me going with the D2X option is that, at the very least, I would have to upgrade the RAM and get a new hard drive - and I would also need a couple of 4 Gig memory cards that wouldn't even hold as many pictures as a couple of two Gig cards for half the price that would be needed for the 2Hs.

    As far as high ISO noise goes, my coolpix is so poor in this regard, that I rarely take it off ISO 100. However, I would like the ability to shoot at up to 400 and possibly 800. I don't think I'd need to go above this.

    As, I stated in my previous post, it's not so much the large print ability as the cropping ability that makes me consider the 2X. This may change down the road.
  8. GeneR

    GeneR Guest


    You really can't go wrong with either camera in my opinion. Like you, I'm also a PE (inactive) and am very picky about my gear, which all greatly exceeds my skill. I bought the D2H primarly for sports, and it is fantastic for that use. I already had a D70, which I seldom use since buying the D2H, but will pull it out if I feel I really need more resolution. For the price of the D2X, you could have a D2Hs and a D70 (or D70s) for backup with enough left over to cover a substantial part of the cost of a nice lens. While I seldom use my D70 anymore, having it makes me feel much better when I'm on a photo rich trip that would be severely impaired by my DSLR dying on me. Of course you can eventually acquire all the lenses and the backup body even if you buy the D2X, it might just take a little longer.

    Now to change gears, if you like landscapes, the 12-24 would be nice. While 17mm is wide enough to cover most of the landscape shots I take, I saw enough 17-55 shots with some flare that I decided against it for use as a landscape lens. FYI, the 17-35 is excellent as well, and very resistent to flare; I use the 17-35 much more than the 12-24 when hiking.

    Finally, my solution for the need to crop was initially adding a 1.4x TC for the 80-200, and later adding the 80-400 VR, which is similar to what Heiko advised you. I understand that the 70-200 is excellent with the 1.4x and 1.7x converters.

    Good shooting,

  9. Greg


    Apr 5, 2005
    Fayetteville, TN
    Dennis, I recently switched from the Minolta 6.1 MP to the D2H with quality glass. I haven't missed the pixels. well, maybe on one particular shot.

    I thought about the D2HS but at double the price of a good used H, I couldn't see it. Went for glass instead.

    And boy do I like the ability to go to 8 fps vs the 3 fps with the minolta. Good used H's are going from 1400 to 1600.

    Here's what I ended up with
    D2H Used and like new.
    70-200 VR
    300 2.8 used and like new!
    1.4 and 1.7 TC

    I got the H and the 300 for what the X body would have cost.

    just more to cloud your mind. they are both good cameras as reported in these forums. Good luck and make sure you show us your firsts.
  10. bpetterson

    bpetterson Guest

    I would suggest the D2HS.

  11. Gene, thanks for your comments. I'm not actually doing any consulting either. I teach at our local university. We have kind of a unique institution which has its roots in a community college. We offer trades, technology, bachelor's and starting this year, with a change to full university status, master's programs.

    Anyway, back to the question at hand. I also considered the idea of buying a D70s as well, but I think I'd go for the glass first. I know Ron R. recommends the 17-35 and I believe he uses a 45P to fill the gap. I have considered going that way but thought I'd be doing a fair bit more lens changing. In our dry dusty climate (about 13 inches of total precip./yr.), I thought that this might create a lot more sensor cleaning problems.

    Greg, although I seriously considered buying a used D2H, my wife wasn't too keen on the idea of me spending that kind of money on a used body. Another hassle is that I would have to ship it across the border for any service, unless I could find a used Canadian body - which seems to be quite a bit harder to find.
  12. Thanks Birger. I think I'm leaning that way myself.
  13. Tosh


    May 6, 2005
    Hi Dennis,

    While ordinarily I am a big proponent of buying quality glass that will outlast several generations of camera bodies, given your 2 stated choices I would recommend the D2X over the D2HS.

    As much as I like my D2H, it is only 4 mp and future DSLR's will only increase in mp's. I think the D2HS will "age" a lot quicker than the D2X. The HS is a step up from the H on several fronts, but the price difference between the two is tremendous.

    Steve S is only asking $1600 for a meter-replaced D2H in the For Sale Forum and his photos show a cosmetically excellent body. That's less than half the price of the D2HS, one-third of the price of the D2X.

    If you ever decided to sell your DSLR, I think the X would retain a lot more of its value than the HS. The H has already dropped so much from its initial price that it will probably lose the least percentage value from the price you would pay for it now.

    All three are fine cameras and will serve you well as you enter the Nikon DSLR world. If you can afford to go right to the top, by all means jump in and get the X. But if you want to take a more cautious approach, get a gently-used, meter-replaced H and allocate the saved funds towards quality glass. After you become more adept with an H, you can sell it and move up to the X. By that time the X should be significantly cheaper. Please let it be so!

    Good luck with your decision. I'm sure you'll make the choice that works best for you.

  14. Thanks for posting a reply Glenn. I hadn't really thought too much about resale value but I should take that into consideration.
  15. Hi Dennis,

    I faced that decision myself, and thought about it for a couple of months. After having enjoyed a D70 for about a year, I felt I needed a bigger viewfinder, a quicker and more accurate focus and perhaps, sometimes, a few more fps. In other words, a pro body! :lol: I looked at a used D2H, a D2HS, and of course the D2X and went back and forth, and in circles about the arguments pro and con...

    I can't say that I could justify the need for the additional megapixels (yes, cropping can be easier with lots of megapixels, but I'll get by without...), and didn't really want to deal with the huge raw files and the needed PC hardware to support them. The D2HS looked very tempting for its improved color, WB and noise handling, but for nearly half that amount, I went for a used D2H and I feel like I made the right choice, for me. Your mileage may vary of course. ;-)

    Whichever way you go, however, you will thoroughly enjoy the benefits of an SLR over a Coolpix (I had the 990 and 5700 myself...). It looks like you have done your research on lenses and that is a very good kit. Unless you really need to get to 500mm with the 300/4 + 1.7TC, you can get very good results with the 70-200VR + 1.7TC, perhaps not totally on par with the 300/4 by itself, but really close...
  16. Flew


    Jan 25, 2005
    Dennis, if you think that you will regret not buying the X six months from now, ignore what I say below. 8)

    I have a D2H, and I love it. With the exception of some noise in the darker areas of images when you underexpose at the higher ISO settings, it is just about the perfect camera. I love the manageable file sizes, and the fact that I can get 250 - 280 compressed RAW + Basic .jpg images on a 1GB card. I process my RAW files to .tiff in Capture, and the resulting file is ~25MB. I quiver to think what the file size would be with a 12MB X image.

    You are getting into the DSLR game at an ideal time. With the recent price reductions in the H, you can pick up an excellent used cam for about half of what many of us paid. Or you can get the Hs, and get the latest electronics and features. I personally don't believe that I need 12MP, so the X doesn't really appeal to me.

    If I were you, I would strongly consider a used H, and then spend your $$ on glass (you have some excellent choices in your lists). I wouldn't worry about the resale value of the cam. It doesn't matter which one you get. You ain't going to be able to sell it for anything near what you paid. If you get an X, and decide to sell it after a year, you'll lose more than the price of a used H. If you buy a used H, and sell it after a year, you probably won't lose more than $600 - $800, and that is after shooting several 10,000's of shots. Even if you get a new Hs, you would probably only give up about $1,000 to $1,200.

    Good luck with your choice. To be honest, you really can't go far wrong no matter which way you go. Nice position to be in. :wink:
  17. heiko


    May 15, 2005
    Hi Dennis,

    I really enjoy this discussion and the fact that the people here are not taken by the Megapixel and lab test craze you find so often in other places.

    Although my experience is very limited with digital SLR, I can say the following:

    1. I always shoot RAW (which is compressed NEF in my D70), and the file size is around 6MB per picture. RAW gives many more possibilities to fix or adjust things afterwards, and let's me concentrate on the main issues while shooting (framing, exposure, focus, DOF, lighting). I also use the Adobe RGB color space which gives a slightly bigger color gamut.

    2. I spend at least the same time if not more doing minimal post-processing in Nikon Capture (and very little in PS) than actually shooting pictures.

    3. I always keep an original, untouched NEF file as a copy. While this is not really necessary, since you can revert all changes on the NEF file without any loss, it's often easier to start from scratch and the likelyhood that a file gets corrupted is very small.

    4. I use the NC to output TIFF files, which I then convert in PS to sRGB and then jpeg for web or printing small size (which I do outside, since it's much cheaper - however, they usually don't process Adober RGB correctly).

    5. On a 2.4GHz AMD with 768MB RAM Nikon Capture just about works OK, but it isn't the fastest. Converting 50 NEFs into TIFF takes some 5 minutes more or less, using the Batch utility. Using the D-Lighting feature will slow down things even more. A TIFF file takes around 32MB disk space.

    6. I use 1Gbyte flashs which can hold around 180 pictures in NEF format only (without jpegs).

    7. To back up my stuff, I use a second hard disk. In addition, I burn the files on DVD. Each picture, with multiple NEF and jpeg copies (original NEF, modified NEF, jpeg print and jpeg web and sometimes TIFF or psd) takes then around 12-14 MB space on the backup media. On a DVD I can thus save around 300-400 pictures. I store the DVDs at a relative to make sure that I have a real backup should a burglar decide to snatch my PC or a fire destroy the hardware and the DVDs. You can never know.

    I go into these details since you will have to consider larger flashs (or more of them) as well as a serious PC for processing, and will still spend more time waiting for the PC to finish the job on a 12 megapixel file.

    Although flash prices have come down a lot, this and the PC (fast hardware, memory, disk space, etc.) would be things you would have to add to your $$ calculation. But more than the actual money which you may be willing to spend, are you willing to take the additional time you may need to process larger files?

    On the other hand, the D2X is state of the art and very tempting, even to me. If I were printing on A2, this would be the camera. However, a week ago I saw a selfmade A2 size poster hanging on the door of a local photo equipment store. The guy told me he shot this picture with the D2H. Only at very close inspection - after he told me that - did I notice some slight pixelization. From normal viewing distance you wouldn't notice it at all!

    The posters I saw at a World Press Photography exhibition some time ago were nearly all taken at around 4-6 megapixel and enlarged to A1. They still looked fine at normal viewing distance. It was the best photography exhibition I can recall. (Wish I were able to do what they've done!)

    The real advantage of the D2X - to my humble opinion - is at large landscape prints in high resolution, with lots of details. And this is usually the domain of mid or large format film cams.

    If you want to use your DSLR for landscape photography, consider using some stitching software (Panotools, for example) to stitch together several pictures. If done properly (both shooting and stitching), the results can be fantastic. All that you need is a good tripod and perhaps a tripod head where you can adjust the picture plane on the axis.

  18. Hi all,

    First of all, thanks for all the great input! :)  :) 

    It sure seems the concensus is to pick up a used D2H if I can. My biggest problem in that regard is I would prefer a Canadian camera. I purchased a computer once from California, and had quite a few problems with service and repairs sending parts across the border all the time. If I have to buy new, I think I may just go for the D2X.

    Here's my reasoning. Computer technology changes quite rapidly. I will probably have this camera for at least 4 or 5 years. While the handling, storage and processing of the large files may be an issue now, it won't be that long before it's a non-issue and I do regularly upgrade my computer equipment. The difference between the two cameras (D2Hs and D2X) is only a little over 20% of what I'm spending (I can get one for about $4700 US with 2 year Can. warrantee).

    It's been a tough decision, but here's what I think I'm going to do. It will take at least 2 or maybe three months before a D2X becomes available (still 30 to 40 people on the waiting list). So I think I will order one and in the mean time, following all the good advice here, I will look out for a good quality used Canadian D2H and if I find one I'll cancel my order and apply any deposit to the purchase of glass.

    Thanks again for the input.
  19. marc

    marc Guest

    get a d70s and your lenses, will make you very happy
    a d70 is 6mp and a great camera

    if you are going from a coolpix 4500 to a d70, even that is a huge leap

    you will be very happy with the d70s

    save your money for good lens
  20. Cory Cooper

    Cory Cooper

    May 24, 2005
    Salem, NH
    So, is the consensus here in deciding between the D2Hs and D2X (not including the D2H, D100, D70 in the mix) as follows:

    1. For high resolution landscape photography
    2. For very high quality studio/stock photography
    3. For prints/enlargements greater than 13x19
    4. Greater cropping flexibility
    5. Money no object

    1. For sports/action photography
    2. For journalism
    3. For the benefit of smaller files/faster workflow
    4. For photography foe the Internet/prints smaller than 13x19
    5. For high-speed motio/bracketing
    6. Better fit for general use/semi-pro/advanced amateur

    I have an original D1 and love it, yet I would like to replace it with either the D2Hs or D2X. I like the form factor of the D1/D2 families. Most of my work will end up on the Internet or in prints that are 13x19 or less (actually, most 8x10 and 4x6.

    I am really looking for the following:
    1. More resolution
    2. Better color without the "magenta" issue
    3. Better TTL flash performance (SB800 or SB-600?)
    4. Faster focusing/tracking
    5. Correction to occasional back-focus issue
    6. Better exposure metering

    I am currently heavily leaning towards the D2Hs, but I would like to hear even more comments and recommendations from everyone here. The previous posts in this thread have been most helpful.

    Thanks in advance,

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