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D2Hs to the test...

Discussion in 'Nikon DX DSLR Forum' started by Sandro Bravo, Jun 12, 2007.

  1. Sandro Bravo

    Sandro Bravo

    Nov 18, 2005
    Well, finnaly i had the time to use the new camera and draw some first conclusions...well...lots of them, please bare with me...apart from the amazingly rough camera-body, there a more couple of more things to this camera...

    PART I

    - I used it first on a surfing photo-shoot, with the 500 F4 (no TC) only ISO 200, good light and the 1st thing i noticed ( apart from 8FPS being ALOT faster than 5FPS...) is that from the 140 photos i took, NONE was oof and all were tack-sharp....surfing can be a very fast sport and easy to misfocus a shot, so not an easy task on lense and camera....the D200 would probably be noticeably below this ratio, even without TC. CAM 2000 isn't just better in low-light (will get to that later...) but way better in good light, more accurate and faster, believe me....

    - The LCD isn't good to judge sharpness from what found (specially on higher ISO values), the D200 wins this one hands down..i had to download some photos to my pc first to get a real notion on how sharp they were..after expecting them to be a bit soft or oof....i shot only in RAW ( Sharpening High or Medium High), don't know if this changes anything...

    - The colour rendition is excelent, specially while using AWB with artificial light...with daylight, the D200 can be set to give a punchier "look" to its colours.

    - Interpolation is very good up to 10MP ( 8MP, Mark II native resolution holds IQ even better) when the right program is used, Fred Miranda's plugins and GFractals will do a better job than NX, with zero-noise on these two...but on the D200, i've upsized up to 24MP (roughly 6000x4000) a shot taken with the 500 F4 + 1.4TC at 1/1000s F9 that looks nothing short of amazing....:eek: 

    Now that i'm done with this initial part, i went for the low-light shooting that still makes people change brands and cash-out on the newest and greatest camera bodies...:biggrin:


    I went on vacations to the Dominican Republic recently and the D2Hs was taken out every single night to be used at ISO 1600 to 3200...even so, i took some 400 and 800 ( those don't have any NR applied) in the mix. I shot only in RAW, with NR off, even though NX always applies NR to ISO 3200 shots that has to be taken off. So, some conclusions....

    - well....CAM 2000 alows my 50 1.8 to focus in almost no light and contrast in a way the D200 would be embaraced in decent light...

    - ISO 400 in bad light looks as good if not better than ISO 200 on the D200 with good light...same for 800 vs 1600...

    - the noise is there at ISO 1600, good exposure will always make the difference, but shooting with NR set to Normal ( shown as 8% NR + 5% Sharp on NX) will make all the cleaning you might need, even High can be used, something i would not dare on the D200 since it would smear the shot in the worst way possible, killing all detail....

    - 3200 can be good or terrible....i'd save it for when i need the speed and there's some half-decent light going. For really low light stuff, 1600 is the one you can dial with confidence. Even so, with bad light the results can be rather good, but not excellent....the camera is rated for 1600 anyway..:wink:

    - 6400....don't even bother, i haven't....there's a Mark III that seems to make good use of that, if someone really needs it.

    For those of you curious enough to check my results, i'm providing a link to some high-iso photos i took, the Jpegs resulting from the RAW files (which i tried to upload but Pbase doesn't seem to accept that format...:rolleyes:  ) had the NR NORMAL equivalent applied on NX (except on the 400 and 800 shots), so they will look like if i had taken them with that same setting...


    I'm curious to hear some opinions or different experiences so i might learn a couple more "tricks"...:wink:
  2. CAJames


    Sep 6, 2006
    Lompoc, CA
    Very interesting. My experience has been the same: the auto-focus is amazing, ISO 1600 is great but any higher can be a problem. I love my D2Hs, for me it is pretty much the perfect camera.
  3. Sandro

    Thanks for posting these pics! The 1600 shots look very good. I'm actually a bit surprised at how good they look. :eek: . I don't recall my D200 looking anywhere near that good at 1600.

    BTW, have you ever used a D2H?

    OH, VERY nice surfing pics too! :cool: 

    Thanks again
  4. It doesn't change anything, RAW is RAW, simple as that - it's the RAW data from the CCD not manipulated in any way. Some of these settings such as color space, NR, color mode, sharpening etc can be read by RAW converters to apply what that program thinks you wanted that image to come out as, but the file itself is intact and straight from the heart of the camera.

    Great shots and thanks for the comparison :) 
  5. Thanks for posting this Sandro. I'm glad I didn't sell my Nikon glass yet.

    Expecting my 1D mk II, hopefully by the weekend.
  6. fks


    Apr 30, 2005
    sf bay area
    hi sandro-

    i have a D2H, so i can't compare the image quality. but i do agree that the AF on the D2-series (i've used a D2X and it's the same) is miles ahead of the D200 even using just the cneter sensor.

    as for juding sharpness using the LCD, do you have sharpness set to maximum (+2 i think)? this works great if you're shooting NEF as you can set it to zero when you convert.

  7. Sandro Bravo

    Sandro Bravo

    Nov 18, 2005
    This is all right and i know how it works, my only doubt regarding what i usually see on the LCD doesn't match in sharpness what i get to see afterwards after downloading the shots to the pc, and this doesn't happen with the D200. This is also true on higher ISO shots. Well it´st just be a minor detail anyway...
  8. sclamb


    Jan 2, 2007
    Sandro, I would be more than happy with the ISO 1600 and 3200 shots. At least at 3200 you can get the shot with an acceptable degree of quality. A good comparison and thanks for posting.
  9. ckdamascus


    May 14, 2005
    New Jersey
    Hey there Sandro.

    Thanks for the quick review, very helpful for those who needs feedback from someone who has "hands on" experience! :) 

    Regarding the upsizing, have you tried going higher up with the D2Hs? Is it just not as good?

    From my experience, viewing at 100% is a lot like viewing the paper at 100%. I have not seen very very good D200 images at 100% that made me think it was that much better.

    The only difference I can imagine is potential for viewing distance and greater detail as you get up a bit closer. Either that or effectively printing at levels where you never see the D200 at "100%" but at it's "75%" and such.

    Anyway, I have done D2H prints at 24x36 which I think look great. I'm sure a D2XS would look better, but I am always curious by the big question... HOW MUCH better? :) 

    What do you say? D2H upsized vs D200 upsized at the same size, D200 always looks better?
  10. Sandro Bravo

    Sandro Bravo

    Nov 18, 2005
    Well, from my limited experience while upsizing D2Hs files, i can say that a sharp D200 shot (even at 100%) will hold IQ on a upsize to 24MP much better than the D2Hs, but i guess that's were the extra resolution comes in play.

    But 8 or 10MP will look just fine, maybe 12MP resolution if the original file is sharp enough.
  11. ckdamascus


    May 14, 2005
    New Jersey
    Wow! Ok, thanks for the info. This is going to hurt my wallet one day. :) 
  12. Thanks for your tests and insight Sandro:smile: I'll be receiving my D2HS Monday (bought from a cafe member) and can't wait to give high iso a whirl. I really liked using a D2H in the past, the pics were sharp and colors vibrant but found I didn't have the skills necessary to capture acceptable ISO 800 shots. Yours btw are stellar!! Next to decide on keeping both D2 series Nikons.:confused: 
  13. ckdamascus


    May 14, 2005
    New Jersey
    You might want to try overexposing a tiny bit with the D2H to get better "high ISO" shots. Matrix metering tends to underexpose on a lot of shots. Yeah, everyone says that highlights are the ruiners of everything, but I think it only matters if you blow out too many significant highlights.

    D2H is extremely unforgiving with improper exposure. However, when you hit it, I think it is a lot better than most people give it credit for.
  14. Sandro Bravo

    Sandro Bravo

    Nov 18, 2005
    You can check 4 photos i just upsized to 10MP using Nikon NX, with a custom setting i made. They won't be there for too long....i'm trying to restrict the workflow to NX, so i'm putting in an effort to make "standard" upsize settings that will deliver the best IQ possible without having to go through 2 or 3 Photoshop plugins to get the same result.

    Those were all taken (on half-cloudy days, so not perfect and a bit noisier since i underxposed quite a bit.....) with the D2Hs and 500 F4 + 1.4 TC at F9, one of them, probably the sharpest was taken in the worst light and at 1/500s (nr 4)....

    It is absolutely necessary to have a sharp shot to begin with...the sharper, the better the results...

    I'd appreciate any comments.

  15. Carroll, that's the balance I just could never achieve with the D2H. Expose to the right while holding highlights....hopfully the D2HS will allow a hack like me to shine:smile: Sorry for hijacking this thread
  16. Sandro

    Those uprez's look very good! Even at 'original' display the edges look "real" and not uprez'd.

    I especially like image 1997.

    Just my personal taste but I would push the saturation a bit more on these pics.

    Question for you: In your opinion how does PS uprez compare to NX?

    Thanks for posting
  17. Sandro Bravo

    Sandro Bravo

    Nov 18, 2005
    From what i've tested so far, if you use a PS plugin like Fred Miranda Upsize Pro or Genuine Fractals the result is a bit better, and cleaner noise-wise. Upsizing using only PS won't look better than NX.
  18. Thanks VERY much for the response.

    Just to beat this once more: Will PS uprez "as well" as NX? The few times I've used the PS resize function I liked the results, but I don't have anything to compare it too.

    Would you recommend the FM plug-in then?

    Thanks again for posting these excellent images.
  19. Nuteshack

    Nuteshack Guest

    i'm certainly impressed with your night shooting ....this cam does wonderfully @1600iso...;-))
  20. ckdamascus


    May 14, 2005
    New Jersey
    If you are a poor guy, the D2H can achieve similar D2HS image quality since all the D2HS is really doing is FORCING some level of Noise Reduction and saturation boost no matter what to all high iso images. This is only true if you shoot RAW though.

    That's not to say the D2HS doesn't have advantages over the D2H, it definitely does. Better out of the camera JPEG performance being one of them. However, the high ISO perf from what I am hearing, is reproducible in postprocess. Of course, that COULD suck up a lot of time and convenience. The D2HS does a FANTASTIC job of this out of the camera. Out of the camera means less processing, and that is definitely worth money to people. Yes, even the RAW will have this benefit out of the camera. This is 2 less steps.

    So, for shots you can reproduce, just potentially risk blowing out, bracket to underexpose. :)  Or go the other way around and matrix meter, bracket to overexpose a stop.

    For the rest of the poor folk, there is always noise ninja and saturation boost in the post process.

    For those who can't waste time with that, D2HS, no question. (40 RAW buffer is...oooh so nice, bigger LCD, better matrix metering, possible fix on IR/casts, etc.).

    Very nice shots!

    Yes, proper "Nikon" exposuring but underexposed faces. I hate those situations... and you can't fillflash or use a reflector on a surfer that far away. :) 

    Yeah, I know everyone hates highlights (even the camera in matrix metering hates it :)  ), but I would argue that the primary subject is still the surfer, not the wonderful water.

    Maybe try a rendition where you blow out the rest, just to get the face exposed well. You could try selective brightness via Color Point; your faces still look reasonably exposed. The danger of course is if you went too far... blotchy skin or nasty weird reddish skin comes out when you recover in the Color Points. It can be fixable, just a PITA. You can also raise about half-to a full stop if you raise just GLOBAL brightness, but at the cost of GLOBAL contrast. Good news is, it raises the stop WITHOUT a noise penalty. Rework the contrast with curves and voila. Be careful though, as sometimes it is hard to regenerate the original contrast using that technique. Also, nothing stops you from selective noise ninja via masks. Oooh post processing sucks.
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