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There's No Excess Like Nikon's D2xs
Nikon's D2xs Raises The Bar For DSLRs

By Allan Weitz

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Nikon's latest update of its top-of-the-line DSLR adds a list of improvements to a camera series that has more than earned it’s right to sit at the head of the class. Full-frame '35' or not, Nikon's D2xs looks, feels, and shoots like the pro camera it was born to be. No matter whose camera system you are currently toting around in your camera bag, a quick spin around the block with Nikon's D2xs should remind you how a pro camera should fit in your mitt.

The camera's inherent good-looks and functionality are not accidental. The camera body was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, a world renowned designer primarily recognized for his adventurous automotive design including the Aston Martin DB4, Lotus Esprit, Maserati Merak & Quattroporte, BMW M1, and the Ferrari 250 GT Bertone. Like the word 'work-horsier', I'm not sure if 'intuitive ergonomics' is an actual term, but if it is, it's a great way to describe Nikon's D2xs.

A pretty face and sexy body alone, however, do not guarantee pro-quality performance. The D2xs is constructed like the proverbial brick outhouse. Instead of mortar, Nikon's engineers wisely decided to substitute tough, yet lightweight, magnesium alloy. To keep the elements at bay, all body seams are heavily sealed with weatherproofing materials to make sure dust and moisture do not muck up an otherwise good day (even the Command Wheels are rubber!). Nikon also took the time and trouble to design a locking mechanism that prevents the USB cable from being accidentally yanked out of the camera port while working.

Deadly accurate ambient and flash exposures have long been a hallmark of Nikon cameras. Nikon continues this tradition through the use of 3D-Color Matrix Metering II, which is utilized in both standard and High-Speed Crop modes. And while the D2xs continues to use the same 12.4 Mp CMOS sensor found in the previous-generation D2x, Adobe RGB is now available in all shooting modes along with the option of shooting Black & White (sRGB) images in-camera. For monochrome fans this should prove to be a huge time and effort saver.

The D2xs employs an 11-area AF system that includes 9 cross-type AF sensors, which remain 'live' when you are working in the ever-so-critical High-Speed Crop mode. A burst-rate of 5 frames-per-second (12.4Mp) and up to 8 frames-per-second in the High-Speed Crop mode (6.8Mp), along with a shutter release lag time of only 37ms, make the D2xs a true honker. To facilitate faster, more accurate image framing when shooting in the High-Speed Mode, the viewfinder is electronically masked to highlight the live area. The viewfinder allows you to view 100% of the total image area in either mode.

Shutter speeds range from 30-seconds to 1/8000th of a second, and top sync speed with electronic flash is 1/250th. If you are shooting with any of the current Nikon Speedlites, sync speeds of up to 1/8000th of a second (whew!) are possible when shooting in AUTO FP High-Speed Sync mode. The D2xs' ISO range goes from 100 to 800 and is adjustable in 1/3rd stop increments.

Because it's not always possible to access camera controls when working in trickier (or dangerous) shooting situations, the Nikon D2xs can be controlled using the optional Wireless LAN Camera Control Pro software (included with Nikon Capture 4.4). Images can also be transmitted wirelessly from remote locations using the optional Nikon Wireless Transmitter WT-2/2A.

For reviewing images on the fly an improved 2.5" 230,000-pixel TFT screen delivers snappy images that can viewed at angles of up to 170-degrees. Not sure if your picture is dead-nuts sharp? Zoom in to 27x magnification and eyeball the model's lashes.

Color-coded menus, larger type fonts, and RGB histograms that can be broken down into individual color channels add up to one of the better DSLR image editing screens on the market.

Power usage, long a point of concern for digital shooters, is another area where the D2xs takes a notable leap forward. Nikon's newest EN-EL4a lithium-ion battery will deliver up to 3800 bursts per charge. A handy 'fuel gauge' keeps you posted on the remaining power. A simple scroll through the menu tabs will reveal how many exposures you have taken since the last charge, the percentage of power remaining, as well as a real-time rating of the battery's condition. The battery can be recharged at any point without having to worry about 'memory', and can handle cold temperatures better than previous batteries of this type. A simple calibration procedure maintains the battery's performance levels. It even reminds you when it's time to run the recalibration process.

On the creative side, the Nikon D2xs has a Multiple Exposure function that allows you to combine up to 10 exposures into a single image as well as an Image Overlay function that allows you to merge 2 non-sequential NEF files on your CF card into a single image.

Though not as dramatic an update as previous Nikon Top-Guns, the refinements Nikon has incorporated into the D2xs are worth more than a casual nod. As Yogi Berra might have once said "the details are in the details".

Demand is very high for the Nikon D2Xs; continue to check the website or register your email address on the Nikon D2Xs page on the B&H website to be notified when it is in stock.

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