D2H vs D90

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by steve_vh, Oct 18, 2009.

  1. Would it be worthwhile to buy a used D2H ($640) instead of a new D90 for sports photography?
  2. Maybe. I've owned a D2H for almost five years. Recently I tried a D90 and was impressed with its autofocus capabilities in dim lighting with a slowpoke variable aperture zoom.
    Depends on several factors:
    • What lenses do you own now? AF-S or AF Nikkors? The D2H will drive AF Nikkors faster than the D90.
    • What's the end product? Newspaper? Web size JPEGs? Prints or posters for sale?
    • Do you need a weather resistant camera and prefer to work without a "raincoat" for the camera?
    • Do you need a vertical grip for handier operation in vertical/portrait orientation?
    • What's the typical lighting? If artificial, especially metal halide, are you prepared to deal with the odd color cast problem with the D2H?
    • Do you need to qualify for Nikon Professional Services?
    There are probably a dozen other factors to consider. Most folks will also bring up the usual stuff about high ISO noise and autofocus speed. Those aren't necessarily applicable or relevant.
    If your end product is newspaper or web size JPEGs, the high ISO noise issue with the D2H is overblown - it's not really that big an issue unless you need 8x10 or larger fine quality prints. I have several samples in my photo.net portfolio showing that high ISO noise is unnoticeable in downsized JPEGs or when noise reduction is used in editing.
    Autofocus speed is another bugbear that's too often exaggerated. In daylight even my old N6006 can autofocus quickly enough with AF Nikkors to shoot sports. Sure, the D2H is quicker, but many "lesser" Nikons can easily cope with action photography in bright light. But if your venues include night games and indoor gyms the D2H might be a better choice.
    On the other hand, as I mentioned earlier, I tried a D90 with a 55-200 VR Nikkor last month in a local shop with rather dim lighting, probably less than EV 7. I had no trouble tracking people walking quickly through the store, even at 200mm where the maximum effective aperture is f/5.6. The D90 has very capable autofocus, at least with AF-S Nikkors. I didn't try it with screwdriver type AF Nikkors. And the D90 handles mixed lighting much better than my D2H. Overall the image quality is much better.
  3. If you're mostly shooting sports outside (i.e. football, soccer, biking, etc.), get a D2H in a heartbeat, but you should be able to find them for more like $400.
    Best AF, durability and IQ for under $1000. Though you may also want to check out a D2X for about $900.
    I have a pair of D700s and I still use my D2H for outdoor sports, mostly as a remote.
  4. The D2H is a lot more durable than a D90; and it does have quite a few nice high end features.
    The D90 would win in low light (noise wise); and it would be the better choice if you want to print large or crop your images extensively. The D90 is newer, so it does come with things like that nice D300 style high res 3" LCD and video capture capabilty.
  5. I have a D2X (not D2H) and a D90. The D90 has better dynamic range and less noise for high ISO and/or low light shots. The D2X has a much more rugged, weather sealed body, better viewfinder, better AF, better ability with mechanical drive AF lenses, faster frame rate, and more responsive shutter. Overall, I'd say the D2X would be far preferable for sports and action photography unless high ISO capability was critical. The D2H I believe has a very similar body to the D2X, with less resolution, one stop higher ISO, and faster frame rate (although D2X has a high speed crop mode) so the D2H should be even better for sports photography unless you need the additional megapixels of the D2X.
  6. John, since you've used both the D2X and D90 (the D2X and D2H share identical autofocus systems), what's your impression of the overall autofocus capability of the D90? I tried it only for an hour with one lens in a local shop but came away very impressed that it could be suitable for stuff like school sports with a fast AF-S lens.
  7. The D90 uses Nikon's CAM 1000 AF system while the D2_ models have the better CAM 2000 system. With an AFS lens and good light, the D90 is fine, particularly with high contrast subjects. Compared to the D2X however, the D90 is more likely to have trouble finding focus in low light or with less contrasty subjects. The D90 has just one cross hatch AF sensor while the D2X has nine, so the differences in AF performance will be more noticeable in situations where you need AF off center. The D90 is a great all-around camera, so don't interpret my comments in a negative light--for many situations it is much better than the D2X in terms of pure image quality. As a disclaimer...I'm not a sports photographer so others may be able to offer greater insights. But the D2H model is targeted at photojournalists and (assuming it performs like the D2X) handles so well in fast moving situations. For something with a lot of action, I'd want the D2X not just for the AF but for the overall responsiveness.
  8. The D2H is a 5 year old 4MP camera. To your original question, I vote no... t

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