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Nikon D2H Digital SLR
Questions and Answers

See our Nikon D2H First Look here

August 28th, 2003
Recently, we had the opportunity to discuss the new Nikon D2H digital SLR with a representative from Nikon Tech. The questions we asked and the answers that were provided follow below:

Q. Can you tell us more about the new image sensor Nikon is using in the D2H?
A. The D2H is equipped with the JFET image sensor LBCAST developed solely by Nikon. It is a Nikon DX format size sensor. The size of one pixel is 9.4µm x 9.4µm and the actual size is 23.3 x 15.5 mm.

Q. What is LBCAST?
A. The LBCAST is an X-Y addressing imaging sensor with JFET transistors and a buried photodiode (BPD) embedded in each pixel. In short, a sensor that receives light and converts it into a digital signal as well as an amplification circuit (using the JFETs) is attached to each pixel of the LBCAST imaging sensor. The amplified signal travels laterally through the sensor's circuitry in a design that differs from CMOS, despite the similarity of X-Y addressing. The sensor design differs from that of a CCD as well.

LBCAST stands for Lateral Buried Charge Accumulator and Sensing Transistor.

Q. How would you describe the technical features of the LBCAST sensor?

(a) Nikon's LBCAST sensor makes high-speed data capture possible:
LBCAST does not attempt to boost speed by dividing the image area. In contrast, LBCAST takes advantage of the X-Y addressing that is a feature of the technology to create an architecture that reads the data for two colors at once, and thus achieves higher speed compared to other sensor designs.

(b) Main advantages over CMOS type sensors:
With the LCAST sensor, JFETs are used to reduce the number of transistors, so fixed noise is minimized, and production yields are extremely high. With this design, the transistors can also be fitted in a smaller space to make more place for the photodiode. Increasing the photoelectric load in this fashion broadens the dynamic range.

(c) Main dvantages over CCD type sensors:
LBCAST is highly power efficient and consumes less than CCDs. CCDs require separate supplies of power to operate each of its related devices, while these can be unified with LBCAST. The LBCAST sensor also operates faster, which helps in keeping band noise to a minimum.

Q. What does the 'JFET' of JFET Image Sensor LBCAST stand for?
A. JFET stands for Junction Field Effect Transistor. They are used in many audio devices, and are known to deliver superior performance when used as boost amps in analog equipment.

Q. We understand that the shutter release lag time on the D2H is very short. Can you tell us more?
A. The shutter release lag is only 37ms. The response is very fast, even when considering film-type SLR cameras.

Q. What is the continuous shooting speed?
A. In JPEG mode, you can capture up to 40 continuous shots at a rate of 8 frames per second. The capture rate is up to 35 frames in TIFF. Up to 25 shots in NEF (RAW).

Q. How does the D2H achieve a frame rate of eight frames per second?
A. The LBCAST image sensor draws the signal through two channels to enable high-speed reading. A process to generate an electric charge to draw out the signal, like that in a CCD, is not needed, so drawing the signal from the image sensor is extremely fast. Other important features include optimizing the method for sending the image to the buffer for image processing and using a higher performance mirror balancer that stops the mirror's bound instantly .

Q. Can you tell us more about the new Multi-CAM 2000 AF sensor?
A. It is a newly developed AF sensor module. A first on the D2H, this sensor module brings out-of-focus elements into focus more quickly and accurately than any previous module. There are eleven AF sensors of which nine are cross-type sensors that effectively provide easier focusing over a wide area.

Q. What kind of color filter is employed?
A. An RGB filter with a Beyer arrangement is employed to match the sensor.

Q. Can the built in low-pass filter be removed?
A. Similar to the D1 series, the low-pass filter is a thin layer attached directly in front of the image sensor and cannot be removed. The new filter has been optimized to match the characteristics of the D2H.

Q. How soon is the camera ready after the power is turned on?
A. Pictures can be taken immediately after the power is turned on. The camera's operation feels similar to that of a 35mm film SLR camera.

Q. What type of AF system is employed in the D2H?
A. A TTL phase detection AF system is employed, similar to as on the D1 series, F5 and F100 cameras. The number of focus areas was increased, however, fro
m 5 to 11 (9 of which are cross-type sensors), allowing photographers greater latitude and freedom to choose the optimum shooting position, in either the horizontal or vertical format. New Group Dynamic AF Mode can be choosen in addition to Single Area AF Mode, Dynamic AF Mode and Dynamic AF mode with Closest Subject Priority.

In Group Dynamic AF Mode, 3 to 5 of the 11 focus areas are selected and Dynamic AF with Closest Subject Priority is limited to those areas. There are two sets of focus area patterns available, with switching done between them in the custom settings menu. The mode is effective for situations that call for some constraints to compositions involving moving subjects.

Q. What is the image processing like in the D2H?
A. The image processing of the D2H augments the faithful color reproduction delivered by the D1X/D1H and the D100, with advances in the the essence of color reproduction. The image processing engine provides smoother processing of contours than seems possible with respect to the number of pixels employed.

Q. What are the advantages of the new Ambience Light Sensor in relation to White Balance?
A. The new Ambience Light Sensor located high on the front of the camera complements a 1,005-pixel RGB sensor (photometer) and the image sensor. Information from these three sensors enables the D2H to calculate white balance matched precisely to a wide variety of shooting situations. Accurate white balance is even possible in situations where white cannot be detected, for example, when only greens or reds are coming through the lens. In such circumstances, information regarding the available light is collected from the Ambience Light Sensor. The accuracy of the auto white balance is very high, since the camera uses information from all three sensors.

Q. What is the real time noise reduction function of the D2H?
A. It is a processing function that suppresses the spot noise that occurs in long exposures over a second long. The image processing engine does the processing, so a second exposure is unnecessary and processing happens quickly. Similar to with the D100 and other Nikon D-SLR's, double exposure-type noise reduction can also be turned on through the menu settings for even greater spot noise reduction in longer exposures.

Q. What kind of file storage system is used?
A. A 8-bit JPEG standard format is used for storing compressed images. Compression of approximately 1/4, 1/8 or 1/16 can be selected. For uncompressed images, images can be saved in 8-bit RGB-TIFF or in NEF file format , Nikon's exclusive image format. (12-bit raw)

Q. Does the D2H support FAT32? Does it support Lexar Media's WA function CF cards?
A. FAT32 is supported, so larger CF cards over 2GB can be used. Nikon recommends that the initialization of the CF card be done within the camera and not on personal computers using the Windows XP OS. Lexar Media's WA (write acceleration) function is supported, so fast recording and reading is possible with these types of cards.

Q. What is the magnification of the viewfinder and the frame coverage?
A. The magnification is .086x, and the frame coverage is 100%. Both offer improvements over the 0.8xand 96% frame coverage of the D1H.

Q. Can you tell us more about the features of the new SB-800 Speedlight and its compatibility with the D2H?
A. The major features are as follows:

  • i-TTL flash control, developed exclusively for Nikon digital SLR cameras as an advanced evolution of Nikon's D-TTL flash control. i-TTL provides improvements in monitor pre-flash performance. It fires a stronger pre-flash of much shorter duration than D-TTL to achieve greater accuracy.

  • New wireless remote multi-flash system (Advanced Wireless Lighting)
    Wireless remote multi-flash is a feature available for the first time on a Nikon digital SLR camera when using the SB-800 with the Nikon D2H.

  • AUTO FP High-Speed Sync Flash
    This feature allows the photographer to select a shutter speed faster than the camera's 1/250-second flash sync speed to realize automatic fill-in flash in bright daylight. (When the SB-800 is used in combination with the Nikon D2H digital SLR).
    Shooting with the aperture wide open to achieve effective blurring of the background is one possibility this feature adds.
  • In the Custom Settings of the D2H, the feature can be set to function automatically when a shutter speed faster than the limit of the camera's built-in flash sync is selected, or if one is already set.

  • FV Lock
    When set using the Function button on the D2H, a single press of the AE-L button lets the photographer lock the flash output level for the shot.

  • Modeling Flash
    In addition to the functions of previous generations of modeling flash, new Advanced Wireless Lighting adds the ability to fire a modeling flash from the camera and have each remote group use the flash output ratio set for the shot. (When using the Advanced Wireless Lighting functionality of the new Creative Lighting System, each Speedlight in the remote groups and the master flash unit all fire at once. If only one unit is in use, the Modeling Flash button on the Speedlight can be used to fire the modeling flash.

  • Quick recycle time
    Recycling time as short as a class-fastest 2.9 seconds between flashes is possible,
    (when using the supplied SD-800 Quick Recycle Battery Pack and five (5x) Ni-MH batteries.)

  • Flash color information for superior color reproduction
    When the SB-800 is used with the D2H, flash color information is communicated to the camera to achieve optimum white balance.

  • Wide Area AF Assist Illuminator
    Tailored to the new 11-area Multi-CAM 2000 AF Sensor Module and designed to fire an auxiliary flash to assist autofocus.

  • Dot matrix LCD
    The large LCD clearly displays necessary information in an easy-to-understand format. It combines well with the ergonomic back-panel button and control layout inherited from the SB-80DX to make settings easy to make and confirm.

  • Color filters add new possibilities for lighting with minimal blend and creative lighting
    Filters for tungsten and fluorescent lighting are supplied with the SB-800, and a lineup of optional SJ-1 filter packs that offer a wide variety of other colors to augment lighting conditions or create interesting expression.

  • Compatible with both digital and film cameras
    The Speedlight SB-800 is compatible with previous generations of TTL and D-TTL flash control. Non-TTL Automatic flash can be used on any Nikon camera (since the Nikon S) with a Sync Terminal (hot shoe).

Q. What are the main optional accessories for the D2H?
A. The main accessories include:

  • Wireless transmitter WT-1
  • Rechargeable Li-ion battery EN-EL4: Developed exclusively for the D2H. (One is included in the main kit.)
  • AC adapter EH-6: Developed exclusively for the D2H. The power cable will differ by region.
  • Quick Charger MH21: Will charge one EN-EL4 battery. (One is included in the main kit.)
  • Nikon Capture 4: Software that offers myriad image processing possibilities and control over the camera.

Q. Can you tell us more about the wireless transmitter WT-1?
A. The wireless transmitter attaches to the bottom to the camera and connects to the camera's USB port. It transmits images to an ftp server via a wireless LAN selected in the camera's menu. There are two possible methods of transmissions. With the infrastructure mode, the images are sent to an FTP server via an access point that is on an intranet. With the ad hoc mode, the images are directly transmitted to an ftp server on a laptop with a wireless LAN adapter. Creating the wireless LAN settings for the WT-1 is easy, as settings created on a personal computer can be saved on to the memory card.

Q. What is required to activate communication with the WT-1?
A. An access point that supports IEEE802.11b, in other words a wireless base station and an ftp server within a network connected to the base station, is needed. (In the ad hoc mode, a wireless LAN adapter-equipped laptop computer that can serve as an ftp server can also be used.)

Q. What is the maximum operating range of the wireless transmitter WT-1?
A. There are two types of antennas. With the standard antenna, data transfer is possible for approximately 30m. With the extended antenna, transfer is possible to approximately 150m.

Q. What kind of battery does the D2H use?
A. The D2H uses a rechargeable Li-ion battery, EN-EL4. This intelligent battery precisely displays the remaining charge. A six increment remaining charge indication can be displayed on the display panel atop the camera. The remaining charge, expressed in percentage, can also be displayed on the LCD monitor on the back of the camera. The level of degradation and the timing needed for calibration are also displayed.
The capacity is higher than that of the Ni-MH battery used in the D1 series.

Q. What is comment recording?
A. Comments that will be recorded on the Exif tag area can be added to the files by presetting them. Up to 36 roman letters, numbers and symbols can be input.

Q. What is the voice memo function?
A. There are two available settings. With one, recording automatically starts right after taking the shot. With the other, the voice memo can be added during playback. The message is played back through a built-in high-performance speaker.

Q. What functions can be assigned to the function button below the aperture preview button?
A. It can be assigned to do the following from the menu:

  • FV Lock: (default setting); used when the SB-800 is attached.

  • FV Lock, lens information manual setting: Setting is possible with the button and the main command dial when a non-CPU lens is attached.

  • Shutter and aperture one-increment selection: Regardless of the step setting during exposure, one step can be set.

  • AE-L/AF-L button: Same function as the one in the upper part of the camera's back.

  • SB flash stop: Pushing it temporarily prevents the SB from firing.

  • BKT automatic continuous shooting: In drive mode S, the set number of bracketing shots are automatically taken in succession. Once they are taken in CH or CL, shooting continues with the next bracketing shots.

  • Multipattern metering: Temporarily activates multipattern metering.

  • Center-weighted metering: Temporarily activates center-weighted metering.

  • Spot metering: Temporarily activates spot metering.

Q. Why is the information displayed in the viewfinder divided into two areas, one on the bottom and one to the right?
A. In the D2H, digital-related information is displayed on the right, and camera-related information on the bottom. Separating the information enables a wide variety of valuable data to be displayed in an easy-to-understand format when shooting.

Q. What are the major features of the included Nikon View software?
A. Its major features include:
  • Effortless transferring of images from the camera (card reader) to a personal computer
  • Browsing and viewing of images stored on the hard disk; basic editing functions
  • Slide show; layout printing; online album registration; e-mail attachment
  • Search function; labeling function
  • Easy red-eye correction
  • Printing with the option of including the date
  • HTML export
  • Export to CD-R/RW (Windows XP and Mac OS X only)
  • Sharpness control; black and white conversion; sepia conversion
  • Full complement of batch processing functions: changing names of files or folders, moving and copying of files, etc.
  • Tiling of browser and viewer windows
  • Adding of file-type icons displayed with the thumbnail images
  • Transfer of only files with specified dates
  • Automatic date setting when cameras without date settings are connected to the computer
  • CMS support for the viewer window
  • Automatic rotation of images taken by the D2H on its side
  • Intelligently designed display screens and indicators, etc.

Q. Can older versions of Nikon Capture or Nikon View be used with this camera?
A. Only Nikon Capture Ver. 4 or newer can be used. Nikon View 6.1 or newer is necessary for processing NEF files.

Q. Does Nikon Capture 4 support remote control over D2H settings and shooting?
A. Nikon Capture 4 is the first version to offer remote operation. The function is not available in earlier versions.

Q. What new features does Nikon Capture 4 have?
A. In addition to the full function set of version 3.5, Nikon Capture 4 features the following new functions:

  • Digital DEE (Digital Dynamic Exposure Extender): Back lighting or inadequate flash sometimes results in somewhat murky images. Digital DEE lightens the darker areas of these images for greater definition while also bringing out definition in the highlight sections that are close to being washed out.

  • Image Dust Off: This feature uses reference data to reduce the shadows left by dust on the imaging sensor. A reference shot is needed, but it only needs to be shot once either at the start or end of shooting as the small dust particles do not move very much. This feature works only with RAW (NEF) files.

  • DX Fisheye lens (AF DX Fisheye-Nikkor 10.5mm f/2.8G ED) ultra-wideangle image conversion: This feature converts the rounded fisheye images created by the namesake lens into ultra-wideangle images. Two types of image are available, with transformation being performed using either the width or the height as the base.

  • Highlight and shadow indication: Switching from the normal screen to one that shows only highlights or to one that shows only shadows enables quick and easy checking of the image.

  • Workspace reset: Editing the images sometimes results in numerous tool palettes spread all over the screen. One-touch operation closes these palettes and returns the working windows to their original state, for easier checking of the images.

Q. What is vignette control?
A. This feature is for raw images taken by a D2H, D1-series or D100 camera fitted with a lens. The degree of vignetting that occurs on the lens periphery can be adjusted. It is particularly effective on images shot with a full aperture. Vignette control works only with raw (NEF) files.

Q. What is the red-eye reduction feature of Nikon View?
A. This feature identifies humans in the selected images and corrects red eye caused by a speedlight. It will do this automatically in most cases, but correction may not occur in certain conditions. (For example, correction may not occur if the eyes appear gold.) The eyes can still be corrected in these situations by manually selecting them. This feature only corrects red-eye in humans and not in animals, such as dogs.

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