Nikon D2H Digital Camera Reviewed

by Bjørn Rørslett  

7. Ultra-violet (UV) photography with D2H

People familiar with my style of shooting 'invisible' light are well aware of the fact I'm partial to UV. So, one of the the first issues addressed with my new D2H was shooting UV with my trustworthy UV-Nikkor 105 mm lens. This time of the year none of my standard test subjects were available (no dandelions, etc.), but a local florist came to the rescue and provided some composite flowers (South-African daisies as it were) for testing. Comparison shots with D2H and D1H using the UV-Nikkor lens and various UV bandpass filters looked very similar, and the UV sensitivity of D2H was nearly similar to the D1H as well. Since D2H is much less sensitive to IR than D1H all of this makes UV shooting with D2H quite easy. It is literally set up, frame the subject, put on the bandpass filter, and shoot away. Just so simple. Unbelievable. The main caveat (well, there is always something) is to watch carefully that you don't blow out the red channel, because UV triggers a lot of response in this channel.

The camera designers don't like UV more than they do IR coming into their digital contraptions. However, unlike IR, the UV rays are quite efficiently filtered out by pure optical means long before they can reach the imaging chip inside. The optical glass in the lens, and in particular the multi-coating layers, prevent much of the impinging UV to pass through. Whether or not there is additional UV screening taking place in the AA filter pack in front of the LBCAST chip is unknown. Further testing may provide more information on this.

D2H responds to UV mostly in the red channel, just like D1, but there is useful response in the other two channels as well. However, the response in the green channel is lower than that of D1H, and this might cause a slight trouble for colour-balancing my UV flower shots the way I prefer to. Since I'm writing this in a non-UV time of the season, no suitable native flowers to be found here in deep winter, the final verdict on the suitability of D2H for being my new all-round UV camera has to wait*. For shooting landscapes, I relied on the excellent noise reduction of D2H to set ISO rating to 200 and let the camera take the resulting long exposures in its stride. The D2H behaves much better than D1H for this kind of photography since I no longer have to dial in high "ISO" settings.

* as events later turned out, I now prefer D70 to the D2H as my all-round workhorse for UV photography

Ultraviolet Landscape, by D2H
Ultra-Violet Landscape

Nikon D2H, EL-Nikkor 63 mm f/3.5 lens, Hoya U-360 filter on lens.

30 sec exposure at f/16 @ 200 "ISO"

I have shot UV details and landscapes with my D2H, using a variety of lenses. Most shots were obtained either with my UV-Nikkor 105 lens or its recently acquired companion, the vintage EL-Nikkor 63 mm f/3.5 lens which is specified to have flat spectral response down to 350 nm (the UV-Nikkor is rated to 200 nm, so is in a class of its own). Anyway the 63 EL provides crisp and clear UV imagery of landscape scenes, which was indeed my sole reason for getting this little-known optical gem, which now has found its new home on a makeshift focusing mount (made from an old Canon focusing extension tube).

Nikon D2H Reviewed

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Last update 29 July, 2004