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Nikon D2Xs Digital SLR
First Look Review

Nikon D2Xs: The digital SLR blending 12.4 effective megapixels
and high precision with high speed for greatly refined performance

Nikon D2Xs Digital SLR





June 1st, 2006. Nikon has today introduced the Nikon D2xs digital SLR camera. Following in the footsteps of the 12.4 MP Nikon D2x digital SLR, the professional Nikon D2xs shares many performance and design innovations with the Nikon D2x. It also offers the same Nikon DX-format image sensor.

Compared to the Nikon D2x digital SLR, manageability and convenience has been enhanced in the Nikon D2xs through a number of refinements.

The D2Xs includes improvements to the viewfinder for easier viewing during High-speed crop mode, an updated 11 area AF system designed to perform even faster and with greater precision, the addition of a new LCD with a 170-degree wide viewing angle, significantly increased battery life with a new EN-EL4a battery, the use of a new color scheme for menu displays offering easier viewing, and new custom settings options, to name but a few.

Nikon has confirmed that a Nikon D2X firmware update will be made available by this Fall, which will extend the majority of the performance and usability improvements incorporated in the new Nikon D2Xs to existing Nikon D2X owners. Kudos to Nikon for once again supporting their past loyal customers in this way. (Nikon offered a similar firmware upgrade on the Nikon D70 digital SLR after the Nikon D70s was released)

The manufacturer's estimated street price on the Nikon D2Xs is $4699 in the US. Nikon Canada has said that a price will be made available closer to the release date of the D2Xs in July.

The Nikon D2X is currently selling for around $4449 US from reputable dealers such as Adorama and B&H Photo less a $500 Nikon USA mail-in rebate for a total price of $3949. A quick check of Canadian authorized dealers this morning found some selling the Nikon D2X for under $4600 CDN.

Nikon D2Xs Digital SLR Back View
Nikon D2Xs Digital SLR Back

Nikon D2Xs Digital SLR
Major New Features vs Nikon D2X

Nikon D2Xs Improvements to 11-area AF system
Updated to perform even faster and with greater precision in the Nikon D2Xs digital SLR, the 11-area AF system employs Nikon's advanced Multi-CAM 2000 AF Sensor Module. Of these 11 widely spread AF sensors, 9 are cross-type sensors positioned in the logical rule-of-thirds array (same as Nikon D2X).

9 AF area sensors are active in high speed crop mode on the Nikon D2Xs

Specific enhancements to the Nikon D2Xs focus system

  • Reduced AF hunting (similar to the Nikon D200). In single-area AF-area mode, AF hunting is reduced even for low-contrast subjects.

  • Improved subject acquisition capability in Dynamic AF mode (similar to the Nikon D200)

  • Improved subject-tracking performance (similar to the Nikon D200)

  • Expanded selection of options for Focus Tracking with Lock-On (almost same as the Nikon D200). Lock-On auto focus suitable for different shooting scenes is available. Four options are available: Long, Normal, Short, and Off. Selected under Custom Setting menu a4. Only two options, “On (default)” and “Off”, were available with the Nikon D2x. Scenes for which each option is effective:

    Long: Scenes in which the distance between the primary subject and the background is rather short, as with wild bird photography.

    Short: Scenes in which the distance between the primary subject and the background is greater and immediate tracking is required when the frame composition changes.

Improved viewfinder performance when in High-speed Crop mode

The viewfinder on the Nikon D2xs now darkens the peripheral area not included within the High-speed Crop mode frame, making it faster and easier to frame the shot. On the Nikon D2X the High-speed Crop frame is indicated by the red corner markers.

Nikon D2Xs viewfinder indicator compared to Nikon D2X (right) in High Speed Crop Mode

3D-Color Matrix Metering for High-speed Crop mode

Calculation areas in high speed crop mode on the Nikon D2Xs digital SLR have been optimized for Matrix Metering and i-TTL Flash Control. When center-weighted metering is used with High-speed Crop turned on, the diameter is automatically changed to 10mm even if it has been set to 13mm coverage. This is because a circle with a diameter of 13 mm is larger than the High-speed Crop area.
When spot metering is used with High-speed Crop turned on, the AF areas on the left and right edges cannot be selected.

New ultra-wide angle LCD for improved viewing
The new 2.5- inch LCD monitor on the Nikon D2Xs delivers a wider viewing angle with 170-degree horizontal and 170-degree vertical viewing performance (same as the 230,000-pixel TFT LCD on the Nikon D200). In addition each Nikon D2Xs LCD monitor is calibrated at the factory before the camera ships to ensure consistent playback color fidelity.

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Maximum shots per burst (continuous shooting)
With the Nikon D2Xs digital SLR. the maximum number of shots that can be taken in continuous shooting mode has been increased to 60 frames. As in the D2x, the number of shots remaining before memory buffer becomes full is displayed on the top control panel and in the viewfinder. Using Custom settings menu d2, the maximum number of shots that can be taken in a single burst in continuous mode with the Nikon D2Xs can be set to any value between 1 and 60. With the Nikon D2X the maximum number of frames was 35.

Improved battery performance with new rechargeable lithium-ion battery EN-EL4a

The new Nikon EN-EL4a Li-Ion battery supplied with the Nikon D2Xs digital SLR is the same physical form (size and shape) as the EN-EL4 supplied with the Nikon D2X, but with significantly increased capacity.

The Nikon EN-EL4 battery is rated at 1900mAh capacity versus 2500mAh capacity with the EN-EL4a.

The Nikon D2Xs is fully compatible with earlier Nikon EN-EL4 Li-Ion batteries, and the new EN-EL4a battery is backwards compatible with the Nikon D2X digital SLR.

Nikon EN-EL4a Li-Ion Battery for the Nikon D2Xs

Revision to the “Recent Settings” menu (same as the Nikon D200)

The list of Recent Settings can be locked, or all items can be deleted. When Recent Settings are locked, no items are added or removed as new settings are applied. Users can keep a list of frequently used settings here. The entire list of Recent Settings can also be deleted at once.

A “Save and Load Camera Settings” option has been added on the Nikon D2Xs.
With the "Save & Load Camera Settings" function in the Setup Menu, it is now possible to store or load camera settings to or from a memory card. This new feature is particularly useful when multiple Nikon D2Xs cameras are to be used with the same settings.

Addition of multiple custom tone curves
A total of three custom tone curves can be downloaded to the Nikon D2xs (the Nikon D2X allowed for one custom tone curve).

Nikon Camera Control Pro software (available separately) can be used to download up to three custom tone curves to the camera. Choose Custom in the Nikon D2X menu to select a user defined curve. If no custom curve has been created, this option is equivalent to the Normal setting.

Addition of Black and White Option in Colour Mode Settings Menu
Additional color rendering option. A monochrome (black and white) setting has been added. Take pictures in black-and-white with a wide tone range suited to a wide variety of subjects, from portraits to landscapes. This option is only available when sRGB is selected for Color Space.

Additional ISO increments to ISO 800 or higher sensitivity
Three finer increment settings have been added between ISO 800 and Hi-1 on the Nikon D2Xs. Addition of HI 0.3, HI 0.5, and HI 0.7 provides closer ISO control to suit a wider variety of scenes.

EV steps over ISO 800 ISO equivalent Control panel display
Approximately 1/ 3 * 1000 H 0.3
Approximately ½ † 1100 H 0.5
Approximately 2/ 3 * 1250 H 0.7
Approximately 1 1600 H 1
Approximately 2 3200 H 2

*Available only when 1/3 step is selected for Custom Setting b2 (ISO step value).
†Available only when 1/2 step is selected for Custom Setting b2 (ISO step value).

Maximum sensitivity and minimum shutter speed settings
Under the Nikon D2Xs ISO Sensitivity Auto Control menu (found under Custom Setting Menu b1), a maximum auto ISO sensitivity setting can be selected in the ISO range from 200 to 800 to maintain fine detail and image quality.

The effects of camera shake can be prevented when shooting in Aperture Priority and Program exposure modes by specifying a minimum usable shutter speed from 1/250 - 1s.

New In-camera image trimming feature
Trimming that was previously only available through the use of image editing software can now be performed in the Nikon D2Xs. When immediate image transfer through a network is required, this function eliminates time taken for software editing and improves work efficiency.

The Nikon D2Xs trimming feature allows you to create a cropped copy of the original image. You can select the size and position of the crop. Cropped copies are saved as FINE-quality JPEG images. Depending on the size of the crop, copies will be 2,540 × 1,920, 1,920 × 1,440, 1,280 × 960, 960 × 720, or 640 × 480 pixels in size.

Images that have been cropped include the same white balance, shooting data, and image optimization settings as the original. Camera orientation is not included in the new cropped file, with the result that all copies are shown in landscape orientation when played back from the camera. Any voice memos associated with the original image are also not included.

Trimming is available only with photographs taken with the Nikon D2Xs. The D2Xs can not be used to tirm photographs taken with other cameras. If a photograph taken at a setting of NEF (RAW) + JPEG is selected, the trimming will apply to the NEF (RAW) image.

New USB cable with locking mechanism provided with Nikon D2Xs
A new locking mechanism has been added to the Nikon D2Xs to prevent the USB cable from being yanked out of the port. This mechanism also supports a reliable connection by eradicating movement within the USB port.

Enhancements to the Nikon D2Xs Function Button with new Custom Setting f5
Custom setting f5 allows the user to set the camera operation that will be performed when pressing the Function button and rotating the command dials.

Option Description
No operation is performed if command dials are rotated while FUNC.
button is pressed.
FUNC. button and main command dial can be used to turn highspeed crop mode on and off. Hi-speed crop mode can not be changed after the first shot in multiple exposure.
1 step spd/
If FUNC. button is pressed when rotating command dials, changes
to shutter speed (exposure modes S and M) and aperture (exposure
modes A and M) are made in increments of 1 EV.
lens data
FUNC. button and command dials can be used to specify focal length
and aperture of non-CPU lenses


Nikon D2Xs Digital SLR top view

Nikon D2Xs Digital SLR Major New
Features vs Nikon D2X
Comparison Chart


Nikon D2xs

Nikon D2x

Effective Pixels

12.4 million

Image Sensor

CMOS sensor, 23.7 x 15.7mm, 12.84 million total pixels

Image Size


Full Image: [L] 4,288 x 2,848-pixel / [M] 3,216 x 2,136-pixel /[S] 2,144 x 1,424-pixel

High Speed Crop Image: [L] 3,216 x 2,136-pixel / [M] 2,400 x 1,600-pixel /[S] 1,600 x 1,064-pixel

LCD Monitor

New 170 degree ultra-wide viewing angle 2.5-in., 230,000-pixel LCD with white LED backlighting

2.5-in., 232,000-dot, low-temp. polysilicon TFT LCD with white LED backlighting


In High-speed Crop mode, viewfinder darkens peripheral area not included in cropped frame. Optical-type fixed eye-level pentaprism; Built-in diopter adjustment (-3 to +1m-1), Eyepiece shutter provided

Optical-type fixed eye-level pentaprism; Built-in diopter adjustment (-3 to +1m-1), Eyepiece shutter provided

Sensitivity (ISO)

100 to 800; HI-0.3, HI-0.5, HI-0.7, HI-1 and HI-2 available

100 to 800; HI-1 and HI-2 available

Storage Media

CompactFlash (CF) Card (Type I/II) and Microdrive


19.9mm (at -1.0m-1)

Viewfinder Frame Coverage

Approx. 100% (High-speed Crop mode: Approx. 97%)

Exposure Metering

3D Color Matrix Metering II , Center-Weighted Metering and Spot Metering (also optimized for Matrix Metering and i-TTL Flash Control in High-speed Crop mode)

3D Color Matrix Metering II , Center-Weighted Metering and Spot Metering

Continuous shooting

Max. No. of shots: 60; Accelerated continuous shooting at max. 38 frames when taking long exposures with noise reduction ON (approx. same rate when OFF)

Max. No. of shots: 35

Exposure Modes

Programmed Auto (Flexible Program possible) [P], Shutter-Priority Auto [A], Aperture-Priority Auto [A] and Manual [M]

Color modes

Mode I (Adobe RBG/sRGB) Mode II (Adobe RGB), Mode III (Adobe RGB/sRGB)
Black-and-white (sRGB)

Mode I (Adobe RBG/sRGB), Mode II (Adobe RGB), Mode III (Adobe RGB/sRGB)

Focus Area

Selectable from 11 focus areas (High-speed Crop: 9 focus areas)

Autofocus Features


Improved subject acquisition capabilities


Selection of options for "Focus Tracking with Lock-On"; Long, Normal, Short and Off

Off/On only

Image Authentication

Compatible (optional software required)


In-camera Trimming

RAW, TIFF, and JPEG images (sizes ranging from 640 x 480 to 2,550 x 1920)


Camera Settings Data

"Save and Load Camera Settings" option added


Shooting Data

Displays Autofocus and VR information data in shooting information


Maximum Sensitivity/Minimum Shutter Speed Settings in Auto ISO Control

Maximum sensitivity can be selected from ISO 200 to 800; effects of camera shake can be prevented in exposure modes A and P by specifying a minimum shutter speed of 1/250 - 1 sec.

Auto ISO Control available; max./min. setting N/A

Recent Settings Menu

List of Recent Settings can be locked, or all items can be deleted.

Locking and deletion of all items is not available

Tone Compensation

Maximum 3 custom tone curves can be downloaded to the camera.

Single custom tone curve can be downloaded to the camera

Function Button

Offers functions accessible via "FUNC. Button + main command dial"


Mirror Lock-up/Shutter Open

Ability to raise and lock-up the mirror with just the EN-EL4a battery.


GPS Information

Addition of one digit to GPS longitude and latitude values; GPS heading information can also be displayed

Longitude and latitude values up to seconds is available; GPS heading information is not available


USB 2.0 (Hi-Speed) with USB locking mechanism

USB 2.0 (Hi-Speed)

Battery Life

Up to 3,800 shots per charge (with supplied EN-EL4a)

Up to 2,600 shots per charge (with supplied EN-EL4)

Shutter release time lag

Approx. 37ms

Viewfinder blackout time

Approx. 105ms


Approx. 157.5 x 149.5 x 85.5mm (6.2 x 5.9 x 3.4 in.)


Approx. 1,070g (2.4 lbs) without battery and storage media

Update: For another perspective on the Nikon D2Xs digital SLR and a handy quick comparison chart, check out the Nikon D2Xs preview from our good friends at

See our earlier review of the Nikon D2X Digital SLR



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