Thanks for the comment re the tiger picture. But now you have me worried. I am attaching the original picture so you can see that I was shooting through a very dirty window and that I did some very significant cropping. I hope this explains the noise. I have had the d2x for about six months and feel I still have alot to learn using the camera and with the image processing. When I took the tiger picture I was more concerned with focusing through the blowing leaves than with the composition(something I really need to work on). It wasn't until I got home that I even thought of zooming in so tight to her face.
If you feel that the dirty window and cropping don't account for the noise please let me know with any ideas you might have where it came from. I respect any input you might have.
The reason my nick name is 'bigcat' is because I'm fanatical about them, especially Tigers.
I think, for what it is worth, the full picture is best, to me it gives the cat character and shows the whole body, the crop is nice as well.
As you have found out, time people have left their mark on any protective glass it becomes very difficult to get a good photo, you have done well with this wonderfully composed shot. There is noise but out weighed by the final photo.
bigcat ps - It would be nice to get these photos in the wild but that is for the few and very brave.