Since the Nikon D2x has an APS-sized digital imaging sensor your long lenses act like even longer lenses. A 400mm on my Nikon F5 is only a medium powered lens, but on the D2x with its 1.5x lens factor, moves into the range of the "big gun" telephotos. With the lens factor, the field of view of my 400mm VR Nikkor is 600mm.
With the extra "reach," I can easily get images I couldn't before. Here is one of my favorite examples, an American Goldfinch male sitting in a Cherry tree in my front yard.
When you add in the "crop factor" of the High-Speed Crop Mode the lens' apparent field of view springs to double the normal focal length (2x), so my 400mm lens becomes effectively an 800mm lens. And, the speed of my D2x maxes out at 8-frames-per second, instead of the normal five FPS. There is a trade off in maximum resolution since only the center section of the sensor area is being used in HS-Crop mode. The D2x's megapixel rate drops from 12.4 to 6.8 megapixels.
Many sports and wildlife shooters prefer to use this mode, both for the extra apparent reach, and the increased motor drive speed it allows.
Below is a comparison for the two modes side-by-side. I used an AF Nikkor 24-120 VR lens at 120mm for both pictures. The 1.5x lens factor in normal mode, on the left, makes this lens perform like a 180mm lens. The 2.0x lens factor, on the right, makes it perform like a 240mm lens instead. Cool, huh?
Have you ever used the High-Speed Crop Mode on your D2x? Many that I've spoken to haven't, simply because they have not taken the time to figure out how to enable it on the D2x. Why not get your D2x and the user's manual, and let's look at how it's done.
Basic Camera Settings - Method One
There are two ways to use high-Speed Crop Mode effectively. My favorite way is to simply set up one of the D2x's four Shooting Banks as a special cropped shooting mode, and switching to that mode when I need the cropped 2x capability.
The second method involves setting Custom Setting f4 so that the FUNC button on the front of the D2x turns crop mode on. It's not my favorite way to set HS Crop, because I like to use the FUNC button for Spot Metering instead. But, I shoot a lot of nature stuff, where others don't. I'd say the second method is the most popular, so we'll look at it first.
Look at the pictures above for a sequence of screens to set the FUNC button:
Once you have Custom Setting f4 set to High-Speed Crop, you can then use the FUNC button and Main Command-Dial (rear) to turn crop mode on and off.
Simply hold in the FUNC Button and rotate the command dial one click in either direction. (see pages 4 and 205 in your manual) You'll see a little rectangle start flashing in the bottom left hand side of your camera eyepiece viewfinder, and some tiny brackets will appear in the tiny rectangle on left bottom side of the Top Control Panel LCD. See picture below:
Other than these small changes, the only way you'll be able to tell that you are in cropped mode is that the four corners of the crop rectangle in the viewfinder will light up at the same time the selected focus indicator does. I'm sure it will be easy to forget that the camera is in crop mode, so pay attention once you've selected it. (See pages 41 and 42 of your D2x manual for details)
Remember that the FUNC button/Command-Dial toggles the High-Speed Cropped Mode on and off. Learn to recognize when your camera is in cropped mode, and when it is not, if you are using this method.
Using a Shooting Bank for Cropped Mode - Method Two
This method allows the less frequent user, or one who assigns the FUNC button to some other function, the ability to use High-Speed Cropped Mode.
You may want to review Nikon D2x - Using the Shooting and Custom Banks before using this method.
I generally assign Shooting Bank A to my best uncompressed RAW mode, Bank B to compressed RAW, Bank C to High Quality JPEG, with Cropped mode (easier to remember ... C for Cropped), and Bank D to straight JPEG. I find that I can switch between these banks with little thought. High Speed Cropped is always on Bank C, and ready to go!
Here's how to set a Shooting bank to always be ready for cropped mode shooting. First, select one of your banks to dedicate to High Speed Cropped Mode. Like I mentioned, I use Bank C. Here is the sequence of menus:
Once you've set the bank for high-speed crop, be sure and name it for easy reference as explained in the Shooting Banks article. You can switch between the banks for normal shooting, and then to cropped mode with a quick menu selection. I find this to be very convenient, and I've conditioned myself to always check which bank I'm in when I first start shooting. One of these methods ought to work well for you!
Now your D2x is able to double the apparent length of your longest lens, with no aperture loss. Plus, in cropped mode, your camera becomes a speed-demon at 8-frames per second. Give the High Speed Cropped Mode a few frames, and you'll be hooked like the rest of us!
Keep on capturing time ...