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Nikon D2H vs Nikon D3

Nikon D2H VS Nikon D3


November 16, 2008

Ok, so you are into action/sports photography and you're wondering if theNikon D3 is worth $4,599.95 USD compared to a used Nikon D2H for less then $500 USD? Personally for snowboard/skateboard sequences the D2H does an amazing job. Working with the files is a pretty easy task as well.


The D2H has 26 shots vs 13 with all the bells and whistles turned on on the D3*. This is the max buffer. True you can squeeze in more shots with a fast CF card.
With the D3 set to DX crop the buffer is 21 shots with same settings as on the D2H. If you set NEF recording to compressed we are at 26, not good enough Nikon. Seems we are taking a step backwards and not forwards. *There is now a D3 Buffer upgrade available for the D3( @ $ 500 USD), but this buffer should have been included in the camera in the first place. Also big kudos to Nikon for not actually mentioning the .NEF Buffer on any of the new cameras out there. It doesn't matter if a camera can do 8 FPS if the buffer is 8 shots.


The FPS is better on the D3 with its max FPS 11, but for snowboard/skateboard shooting I don't use more then 8 anyway. The D3 also has a slight edge on the mirror black out and the shutter delay. It's not so big that you will feel a difference though. On paper it is faster


Nikon D2H vs D3 resolution
This chart represents the image sizes of the D2H(s) and the D3 in pixels. In the DX mode on the D3 there is not really much of a difference compared to the D2H(S) when it comes to pixels, the D3 shots are quite a bit cleaner compared to D2H(S) shots though. Still the D2H(s) files are good enough for a spread, or a cover shot for that matter with ease.


What's better on the D2H

  • Price
  • Buffer*

*If you don't count the buffer upgrade for the D3 or the usage of the fastest CF cards on the market.

What's better on the D3

  • Resolution. Can be a bad thing though, file sizes goes through the roof in Photoshop when you do sequences
  • LCD screen, way better!
  • Dynamic range.
  • FPS, 11 on the D3 vs 8 on the D2H.
  • ISO noise, best there is.
  • weather sealing.
  • Dual CF slots.
  • Viewfinder
  • The list goes on and on.


If you are on a budget, or you don't have much, or any Pro optics, spend your money on a D2H(s) and some good lenses. If your budget is unlimited, get the D3 and 14-24mm, 24-70mm and the 80-200mm f/2.8 and you are set. There is no doubt that the D3 is a better camera, but the D2H(S) gets the job done. The price difference is insane, Nikon D3 $4,599.95 USD compared to a D2H for less then $ 500 USD in great condition second hand. One of the things you have to watch out for with the D2H(S) is when you have poor lighting conditions, you have to watch your shadows as these gets really muddy.

Recommended accessories for the D2H/D3



The reason I added the DK-17M as an recommended accessory for the D3 is that it helps you while shooting through goggles which I find myself doing 90% of the time when I do snowboard shots. I still wish Nikon would go back to modular cameras, the sports finder on the F5 is simply amazing!

Sample Pictures

Images have been imported to photoshop CS3 through Capture NX 2 thus leaving the original image settings as shot, I. E white balance, sharpening, etc .etc. Full resolution sample images are in RGB color mode. Check out my copyright page for information about usage of these images.

  Life Pixel Infrared Conversion

B&H Photo - Video - Pro Audio
Camera Nikon D2H Nikon D2H, Rider: Kai-Ove Skaftnesmo Folgefonna 2005
ISO 200
Picture control None
Focal Length 80mm
Exposure 1/8000sec f/2.8
Camera Nikon D2H Nikon D2H, Rider: Fredrik A. Rasmussen, Folgefonna 2005
ISO 200
Picture control None
Focal Length 105mm
Exposure 1/8000sec f/2.8
Camera Nikon D3 Folgefonna 2008
ISO 200
Picture control Vivid
Focal Length 50mm
Exposure 1/1000sec f/11
Camera Nikon D3 Folgefonna 2008
ISO 200
Picture control Vivid
Focal Length 200mm
Exposure 1/1000sec f/11
Camera Nikon D3 Kai-Ove Skaftnesmo Myrkdalen 2008
ISO 200
Picture control Vivid
Focal Length 17mm
Exposure 1/500sec f/8
Camera Nikon D3 Kai-Ove Skaftnesmo
ISO 200
Picture control Vivid
Focal Length 185mm
Exposure 1/1000sec f/8
Kai-Ove Skaftnesmo Folgefonna 2008
Nikon D3, AF Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8, Rider: Kai-Ove Skaftnesmo, Folgefonna 2008

© 2009 Fredrik A. Rasmussen. All rights reserved.