Went to the suburb of Shanghai this weekend to shoot some flowers in the annual Peach Blossom Festival. Firstly, the festival is a typical modern chinese attraction, in summary, slightly boring, and manufactured for tourists. Armed with prime lenses: 50mm f1.8D, 20mm f2.8D, 35mm f1.4AIS and 105mm f2.5AIS, I set about testing out the performance on the D2H. I used only the 50 and 105mm. 50mm for the wider shot (would be better with the 35 or 20mm but I dont like the corner performance on the 20mm, even on a D2H, and the wide shots were not good today because there were too much clutter in the background). Autofocus was quick and snappy on the D2H, however needs a quick eye stable footing as with large aperture and close focus, a few cm of body movement would throw the flower out of focus. I'ved tried the usual focus when pressing the shutter button halfway style, and the focus only when pressing the Auto Focus-ON button, and I think I'm torn between the two. The first way is a little simpler to remember since I'm a little more used to it, but I do think that for some cases, AF-ON is the way to go. At least you just focus once and then once you press the shutter it just snaps. Sometimes you could focus first and then a breeze sets in and you wait a few seconds for the wind to stop, and then just snap. I found that it also helps to set the D2H to snap whether its in focus or not. The number of setting for just releasing the shutter is mind boggling! But slowly I'm getting used to it.
Manual focus on close up flowers were not that good however. I threw away almost 50% of the shots for being out of focus. Just slightly. Using f2.5 to isolate the background and with strong winds, it was not that easy to shoot with AIS lenses. The bright and large view finder on the D2H helped, but still requires some luck when you release the shutter. Luck because if the flower or you moved a little during the shot, it will be out of focus. Obviously shots which requires focusing out to infinity were amazing with the 105mm f2.5 AIS. Now I understand why its rated as a good lens almost everywhere its reviewed.
Battery life: Brought a second battery for the shot, and I never had to use it. After the trip, I had 3% more battery life on the 3 year old EN-EL4 battery, after shooting about 500+ shots and with a lot of LCD usage. Amazing. I want to see if I can run all the way to 0% before swapping the new battery. But have been very impressed by the camera so far. Also helps being able to squeeze 400+ NEF pictures with fine JPEGs into a 2Gb card! 4Mpix is good enough, but if I can get my hands on a D2X at the same price as this D2H, I don't mind.