Thoughts on the new Nikon D2Xs from a D2x Owner
On June 1, Nikon announced the D2Xs, a modestly upgraded version of the hugely successful D2x. As an owner of a D2x, I read the press release for the new model with curiosity. I've also read a number of internet posts expressing various points of view and talked with other D2x owners. Opinions from fellow owners seem to fall into one of three categories.
The new D2Xs does feature a number of improvements over the current model. The LCD has a wider viewing angle and better color rendition. The High Speed Crop (HSC) mode will now mask the cropped area in the viewfinder and the matrix meter is smarter about not metering the portion being cropped. Improvements have been made in how settings are selected and the menus have gotten a makeover with new colors. The mirror can now be locked up with battery power rather than requiring AC current and the D2Xs includes a new battery that has even longer life.
The D2Xs features in-camera black and white, improvements in AF performance, additional ISO settings, more flexibility in how the Function button is configured, improvements in selecting custom tone curves, and a larger buffer to permit even more shots when shooting continuously. It also features an odd in-camera cropping function that allows the user to crop shots already taken, a cable locking mechanism for those who shoot tethered frequently, and an Image Authentication feature that permits the verification that images have not been altered post capture.
All in all, nothing earth shattering, but many of these would indeed be nice to have access to.
Some people's initial reaction seems to have been that now the camera that they spent $5,000 on has now been rendered obsolete. Now that Nikon has a new flagship camera in the D2Xs, there is a tendency in some to lament that they no longer own the best camera Nikon makes. Especially those who invested in a D2x recently may feel cheated in a sense.
Others seem to remain relatively uninterested in the new D2Xs since they are not in the market for a new camera. The D2x is still and amazing camera that produces stunning results just as it did with it first started shipping. The new model doesn't change that at all. Those who choose to simply ignore the D2Xs will find that their D2x is just as capable of a camera as it always has been.
So some D2x owners view the release of the new D2Xs in a negative light while others are more neutral about it. But it is also possible to view things more positively. Nikon has confirmed that they will be releasing a firmware update for the D2x by this fall that will add to it many of the usability and performance enhancements being introduced with the D2Xs. That's great news in my book. In the old days of film cameras, Nikon developed a reputation for supporting their existing customers to a remarkable degree. Old lenses continued to fit on new camera bodies and new lenses worked on old bodies. The longstanding universality of the Nikon "F" mount was legendary in a time when other manufacturers were constantly divorcing themselves from their past and concentrating only on new models and new customers. Although a lot has changed with the introduction of AFS lenses and VR, "G" lenses that lack aperture rings and so on, they reached a point where changes were necessary to keep up with technology. It's nice to know though that Nikon has reaffirmed their commitment to backward compatibility and support in terms of firmware.
Hats off to Nikon for going the extra mile by doing this.
Update 6/14/2006 - It's official! Nikon has now confirmed details of the D2x firmware update scheduled for this fall.
Update 10/04/2006 - Nikon has now released firmware 2.0.0 for the D2x. Mirror lock-up for cleaning now works either with AC or battery power. Nikon has added new ISO speeds between the existing 800 and H1 settings along with new Max. sensitivity and Min. shutter speed options for ISO auto. Autofocus tracking and acquisition have been improved A new Black-and-white (sRGB) mode has been added, and you can now download up to 3 custom tone curves (with Nikon Capture version 4.4.2 Camera Control). The Function button has been enhanced to include FUNC and FUNC + command. Nikon's new Image authentication system has been added. GPS support has been enhanced. Lots more. Well worth the free download. The process of upgrading is the same as the last firmware I wrote about here.