Ming Thein | Photographer

Inspirations from older cameras: the Nikon D2H, part 1

Possibly one of the most unpopular Nikons ever, and certainly the most derided professional DSLR – the D2H had a mere 4.2MP (the 0.2 mattered, when you only had 4.2 in total) when launched in 2004; its direct competition, the Canon 1D Mark II, had double that at 8MP. Worse still, Nikon’s much feted low noise JFET LBCAST sensor was in fact extremely noisy and pretty much unusable at ISO 1600 and above; an updated version – the D2Hs – actually had very good high ISO performance, but by then, the damage was done.

What the camera did do well was be insanely responsive – from the lighting-fast AF system, to 40ms shutter lag and hair trigger buttons, to 8fps shooting, it just felt alive. It was also a great teaching tool, precisely because it was so unforgiving of exposure or WB errors that you just had to learn to get it right, or not get a useable shot at all. When you did get it right, the D2H punched way above its pixel class – it resolved about the same amount of detail as my 6MP D70, and had very clean, high-acuity pixels; the unique sensor architecture also made for a beautiful tonal response, which doesn’t seem to exist in any camera today – the closest we get is the Leica M8 and M9.

I shot nearly two hundred thousand frames with this camera – picking the best few is going to be tough, so we’ll do this in a few parts. Part one is here, and part two follows. Enjoy! MT

Blue mountains

Early watch work

Scarlet ibis

I wish it were real

Umbrellas in Bangkok

Rush hour in London

It’s suspicious because the book is upside down


Inside the Arc de Triomphe

Crowned pigeon


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