You probably know by now that I bought a used D2H, recently. They go for around 400 euros here (compared to 640 for a new D90). The main point of this review is: is the D2H still competitive in today's market?
Let me start out with some quick specs:
8 FPS burst rate
Pro-quality magnesium allow body
Built-in battery grip
1/8000th shutter speed
Ability to meter with non-cpu lenses
ISO range from 200-6400
So, let's analyze!
One might think that 4 megapixels truly cannot keep up with moder cameras, often boasting 12 or 24 megapixels. I, too, was under that impression, until I did the math: 4 megapixels essentially gives you enough resolution to print up to 60 cm at full res.
After a day of shooting with it, I was pleasantly surprised: not only was 4 megapixels more than adequate, it also upscaled quite well if I used a good lens! It also kept the RAW filesizes down, which is good since I only have a slow 1 GB CF card.
It also causes awkward silences when someone tells you your camera is awesome, and they ask how many megapixels it has, but that's another story).
8 FPS burst rate
Need I say more? It's like doing 4 FPS, but twice as fast! Prepare to see heads turning when you "unleash the beast".
It makes the camera heavy, large, and confident to hold. I'm pretty sure I can smash someones head in with it, so that's a plus if someone wants to steal it (I guess?). It's also a disadvantage: When carrying my D90, I sometimes sling it casually over my shoulder, it bumps into my hips/ribs, but all is wel. You can of course imagine the look on my face when that Kilo of Magnesium hit my bone. Ouch.
I'm seeing it over and over again: the bigger your camera/lens, the more professional you look. I once dubbed my D90 + batterygrip the "wannabe D3", but it looks like the D2H just took over that name (maybe I'll name my D90 "plastic fantastic"). Seriously, that thing is HUGE, and heavy. Carry that, and people have absolutely NO doubt whatshowever about you being a professional photographer, which of course helps with my confidence when I'm shooting in public. It also gives interesting possibilities for social engineering, but that's something else.
This may sound like a small thing, but it definitely comes in handy. With my D90, I often found myself hitting the shutter speed roof on sunny days with fast lenses. Pictures becoming overexposed, having to adjust settings etc.. Now with the D2H, it automatically scales higher up to 1/8000th (which I hit regularly on sunny days at F/2.8 or less). Nice!
Metering with non-cpu lenses
Like it says, maybe I can score a cheap AI-S macro lens, or get one of those samyang fisheyes.
Well, as Canon owners know all too well, ISO range
does not matter one bit. Yes, that 450D can get 128.600 ISO or something, but I think we can all agree it looks terrible. Same story with the D2H. 1600 is in my opinion still acceptable, and 3200 can be used in a stretch, but 6400 truly is a step too far. Still, I'd rate the difference with the d90 at about 1-2/3 stops, which isn't too bad when you realize the 4 years difference.
so, that brings us to the conclusion
. Is the D2H still relevant today?
The answer is yes, but it comes with a few snags. Don't expect to be snapping away at ISO 6400 and get clean images. ISO 1600 was already my max with the D90 (fast lenses) so I don't worry about it too much. The camera is also pretty heavy, so I wouldn't recommend it for a holiday (that's OK, I'll just remove the grip of my D90). It's also a VERY complicated machine, do NOT hand the camera to a friend/family member and expect a sharp picture (or any picture at all).
However, for sports, action, and events....this is what I'd bring. Can it replace my D90? Nope. Can it complement it? Perfectly!
Here's some pictures from the first day: