Nikon D200 Review

Short evaluation

Pros

  • very fast response times (AF, shutter release, on-time, continuous shooting, data transfer, etc.)
  • polyvalent autofocus system
  • iTTL flash exposure metering and control
  • extended backward compatibility to manual lenses (Ai, AiS)
  • competitive resolution
  • advanced expansion options (GPS, WLAN, battery handle, etc.)
  • distinct robustness, tropical protection
  • well thought-out operation
  • excellent price/performance ratio

Cons

  • Nikon Capture only against surcharge
  • no mechanical cable release connection (as with the F80 & Co.)
  • not compatible with other battery types (EN-EL3a and some other brands)
  • Rubber coating comes off at different parts of the housing (at least on the pre-series model)
  • bright white AF auxiliary light
  • limited flash compatibility (iTTL only)

Nikon D200 Review

 

Nikon D200 Review

Ergonomics and workmanship

The first thought that comes to mind when you hold the D200 in your hand is “this is heavy!” And this in the actual as well as in the figurative sense of the word. The camera body alone weighs just under a kilo (exactly 930 grams including battery), and even the lightest lens is enough to catapult the weight over the kilo mark. No wonder, because almost the entire housing is made of metal. The fact that the D200 is not even heavier is due to its lightweight construction and the use of a relatively light magnesium alloy. But what use is an armored “battleship” if it can’t hold the water? For this reason, the D200 is equipped with rubber seals at all important points (see pictures below) to prevent moisture and dust from penetrating.

Nikon D200 Review

Nikon D200 Review

As one might expect from a camera of this class, the handling and operation of the D200 is uncompromisingly good. The camera lies perfectly balanced and bombproof in the hand; the placement, shape and assignment of each control element is thought through down to the smallest detail. In terms of appearance and operation, the D200 – more than its predecessor, the D100 – is based on the big sisters of the Profi series (D2X, D2H, D2HS). It clearly dissociates itself from the appearance of the D70(s) and D50, whereby the entry-level models are already considered to be the most user-friendly cameras in their class. The fact that miniaturization was not necessarily one of the top priorities in the development of the D200 is shown by the generously dimensioned controls and the large LC screen. Directly copied from the D2X is the large, round multifunction rotary knob on the top of the camera, which allows convenient and quick adjustment of the most important image parameters (image quality, sensitivity, white balance) and the image mode (continuous-advance settings, self-timer and mirror lock-up). The optional MB-D200 battery handle promises even more comfort. It can hold either two lithium-ion batteries or six AA/Mignon cells (disposable batteries or rechargeable batteries), makes the camera look even more professional and is especially useful for portrait shots. But even without a battery handle, the D200 is a model of ease of use, and in this respect it undoubtedly meets the needs of advanced users.

 

Nikon D200 Review

 

All settings relevant for recording can be made without going into the menu. The settings can be checked on the upper liquid crystal display panel, which is not only illuminated but also sets new standards in terms of size. The 5 cm wide status display with switchable green backlight allows you to display more information at a glance than ever before. In addition to typical recording data such as exposure values, frame rate, battery status, metering mode and frame rate, it also displays data such as the selected function set (more on this later), the GPS status (the D200 can be connected to a standard GPS receiver with the optional MC-35 adapter) or the activation of the image comment function. But even with a camera like the D200, you don’t want to do without an LC colour screen. Even if an image preview is not possible due to its construction, the “small” color monitor has a right to exist for at least two reasons. On the one hand, the colour LCD is used to display the camera’s menu system, where you will find a multitude of further setting options and functions. In addition, images can be conveniently checked on site after shooting and deleted if necessary. The TFT colour monitor of the D200 fulfils all the wishes that can be made of an LCD. It is pleasantly large (screen diagonal of 2.5″), has a high resolution (the 230,000 pixels in combination with the 8x screen magnifier allow a fairly precise control of the sharpness of the image and other details), is always easy to read thanks to automatic brightness control and also allows lateral views with a viewing angle of 170°.

Nikon D200 Review

The menus on the D200 are as eye-friendly as the LC screen is. Color codes make it easier to visually distinguish individual menu items, and by using a large font with improved contrast you can also look at the LC screen from a certain distance. The menu of the D200 consists of five main sections (Playback, Recording, Individual functions, System, Last settings) with a total of 59 menu items. Nikon has – according to his own statements – chosen the menu terms in such a way that they are immediately understandable; if you still need additional information or are “dull” in nature, just press the round help button in the key bar to the left of the LCD screen to get a more detailed description of a menu item or setting. The last main section called “Last settings” is particularly practical. As the name already indicates, the last settings made are listed here or the last 14 menu items are displayed, the settings of which have been changed somewhat. In addition, more than 40 individual functions allow the camera to be adapted to personal taste (e.g. the direction of rotation of the setting wheels can be changed). They are divided into six groups (Autofocus, Exposure Metering/Exposure, Timer/ Meter Lock, Monitor, Exposure Brackets, Control Functions) and are also color-coded. The image reproduction benefits from the usual functions like a magnifying glass, a histogram display (optionally with display of the tonal value distribution for each single colour channel), the highlighting of the highlights and the index display (with 4 or 9 thumbnails per screen page).

Also when looking through the viewfinder one notices that Nikon has cleverly placed the D200 between the entry-level models and the professional models. Thus, the luxury of a 100% field coverage is reserved for the D2 & Co., but the viewfinder of the D200 displays a significantly larger image than the D50, D70 and D70s thanks to 0.94x magnification. The D200 also has to do without another privilege of professional cameras: that of the replaceable viewfinder matt screens. But Nikon has a technological ace up its sleeve with the liquid crystal technology embedded in the viewfinder matt screen (BriteView II Mark B on the D200), and so a grid can be displayed in the viewfinder as if by magic. Similarly, the viewfinder displays information about the active AF area, the possible absence of a memory card, a weak battery, and white balance errors; the green LED below the viewfinder image summarizes the usual shooting information (including focus confirmation, metering mode, exposure program, exposure values, exposure compensation, sensitivity, frame counter, etc.). The individual adjustment of the viewfinder to your own visual acuity is done via the diopter wheel on the eyepiece (-2 to +1 dpt.). The large rubber eyecup DK-21 and the comfortable eye distance of 19.5 mm contribute to the fact that one can look comfortably through the viewfinder both with and without glasses. A built-in eyepiece shutter is not available.

 

Nikon D200 Review

 

Optics

In April of this year, Nikon celebrated the production of its 35 millionth Nikkor lens. Hardly any other manufacturer can claim something like this, and this says a lot about the tradition and experience Nikon can look back on in developing and manufacturing high-quality optics. The website of the manufacturer lists 50 different autofocus lenses, and this does not cover the entire Nikon lens range. In principle, the D200 can fall back on an even larger range, as there are still several third-party manufacturers (such as Sigma, Tamron and Tokina) that offer compatible lenses, and the so-called “F-Mount” of the Nikon cameras is also backwards compatible to older lens series without autofocus. In any case, it might be difficult not to find the right lens for your purposes or budget, and if you want to cover as large a focal length range as possible with one lens, Nikon has an adequate solution to offer with the universal zoom AF-S VR DX 18-200mm/3.5-5.6G IF-ED, introduced parallel to the D200.

Very pleasing for owners of older Nikon lenses is the fact that the D200 ensures full compatibility with the Ai and Ai-S series lenses (non-Ai lenses may be converted to Ai) and lenses without processor control. Like the cameras of the D2 series, the D200 is equipped with an aperture pick-up, which enables mechanical transmission of the aperture set on the lens to the camera. If you have entered the light intensity and/or the focal length of the lens under the menu item “Lens data” in the shooting menu, even the color matrix measurement (more about this in the section “Image quality”), the adjustment of the zoom reflector of external flash units, the display of the aperture value on the camera (LC status display, viewfinder) and in the image data as well as the adjustment of the flash output when the aperture is changed work. Only the program automatic and the aperture automatic are omitted, because the aperture transmission logically only goes in one direction (from the lens to the camera). The focus is then manually adjusted for non-AF lenses.

But no matter if old or new: The right lens has to be chosen correctly. With digital SLR cameras, the image quality is more closely tied to the lens than with 35 mm SLR cameras, and not every lens that can be mounted on the D200 will perform at its best with the camera. Although a new purchase is no guarantee for the highest imaging performance, newer lenses are often specially designed for use with digital SLR cameras. Nikon uses the abbreviation DX for corresponding lenses; Sigma uses DG/DC for Sigma, Tamron Di and Tokina DX. Further abbreviations provide information about other lens characteristics. At Nikon, for example, the abbreviation AF-S lenses with so-called “Silent Wave” technology (the Nikon counterpart to Canon’s USM lenses) characterizes the lens; VR stands for “Vibration Reduction” and reveals that an optical image stabilizer is built into the lens. You should also remember the terms ED (lenses with a particularly low refractive index) and G (lenses without an aperture ring that do not work together with mechanical Nikon cameras). All you then have to consider is the focal length extension factor or the reduction of the image angle; thanks to the uniform sensor size of the cameras of the Nikon D-series, you only need to multiply the focal length indication on the lens by 1.5 in order to calculate the 35mm equivalent.

Nikon D200 Review

Nikon D200 Review

 

With the D200 a totally new autofocus module enters the stage. What distinguishes the Muti-CAM1000 from earlier AF modules (Multi-CAM900, Multi-CAM1300, Multi-CAM2000, etc.) is not only the number and orientation of the AF sensors, but also their arrangement. For example, cameras with Multi-CAM900 modules (including D50, D70, D70s and D100) have 5 AF field markings in the viewfinder and display a corresponding number of AF sensors (2 horizontal line sensors, 2 vertical line sensors and 1 middle cross sensor). In the viewfinder of cameras such as the D2, D2H, D2HS, D2X, there are 11 AF field markings to be seen, since a Multi-CAM2000 module with 9 cross sensors and 2 vertical line sensors is used here. The D200’s new Multi-CAM1000 module ranks between the Multi-CAM900 and Multi-CAM2000 in terms of performance. It has 7 AF sensors (4 horizontal line sensors, 2 vertical line sensors and 1 cross sensor), but their special feature is that they can divide their measuring area into more or less large AF fields. With the D200, you can therefore choose whether the subjects are “targeted” with 11 small or 7 large or wide AF field markings. Due to the different orientation of the AF sensors (horizontal, vertical, cross-shaped), the autofocus works equally well with portrait and landscape shots. And this even in low light, since the autofocus of Nikon cameras is traditionally very sensitive (the AF already responds at -1 IL). However, a lens with a speed of at least F5.6 should be used in order to guarantee perfect autofocus operation. For particularly difficult cases, the D200 offers a built-in AF auxiliary light whose bright white light is by far not as discreet as the “red light” of older autofocus SLR cameras. The problem-free operation of the camera with the red AF auxiliary light emitted by external system flash units proves that a red light spot would work. So there’s no technical reason why newer DSLRs shouldn’t be given a red AF auxiliary light.

Nikon D200 Review

The way in which the D200 makes use of the 7 or 11 AF points can be selected using a switch. In selective mode, the navigation keys are used to select a single field of view (there is a visual check via the corresponding AF field marker in the viewfinder), which the camera then focuses on. The dynamic measurement field control, on the other hand, can be compared with the target device of fighter planes, where the “crosshairs” or in this case an AF measurement field marking are used to locate the “target” and then leave the tracking to the system. The “target movements” are calculated in advance, and if the target changes position, the next AF field is automatically activated. However, it is not possible to trace which AF field is currently active in the viewfinder; the AF field that was originally selected remains highlighted in the viewfinder. The dynamic measurement field control works similarly with measurement field groups. The only difference is that instead of one measuring field, an entire measuring field group around a selected main measuring field is used for “target acquisition”. There is one last AF mode left, where the focus is set on the area that is closest to the object or part of the subject. Which AF mode you prefer is a question of taste or application (for sports photos you will choose a different mode than for portraits, for example), and you really can’t say that the autofocus of the Nikon cameras is not adaptable.

Nikon D200 Review

The only thing to say about the AF speed is that the D200 is “very fast”. And it doesn’t matter whether you have set the single-frame focusing (S) or the focus adjustment (C) on the small switch under the lens release button. It will be difficult to be more concrete because our current test method reaches its limits when measuring the autofocus speed in single-frame focusing mode (see table of measured values). Especially when lenses with ultrasonic motor (AF-S series) are used. Using the camera in Focus Tracking mode makes it a bit easier to make a reasonably firm statement. We can at least say that the autofocus has no problems to follow motifs up to 50 km/h fast. The only domain where the sisters of the D2 series (D2H, D2Hs, D2X) are really superior to the D200 is when photographing very fast motion sequences, such as in motor sports. Not that the D200 wouldn’t be able to focus at all (the D200 still does quite well there), but the image yield is significantly higher with the professional bolides. AF-S lenses, by the way, allow direct manual focus adjustment (without changing AF mode); the D200’s connection to the lens world is exemplary and offers unparalleled versatility.

Nikon D200 ReviewFlash

Whether or not it is a sign of professionalism to take out the built-in miniature flash of a camera like the D200 is a question on which people are divided. What’s certain is that it’s very unprofessional when you’re embarrassed to use the excuse “I didn’t have a flash at hand” as a reason for a failed photo. In any case, the D200 has an on-board flash, and with an output of more than LZ 13 (see table of measured values) what is quite decent.

The light source hidden in the viewfinder box is unlocked manually (something else would be considered too intrusive in this camera class), and on its “stilts” it protrudes high enough from the camera to avoid shadowing effects (at least when using normal sized lenses) and to keep the phenomenon of red eyes to a minimum. According to Nikon, the small flash should be able to illuminate the entire image angle of a lens with a nominal focal length of 18 mm. The colour neutrality of the flash light is guaranteed; in any case, we could not detect any colour casts caused by the flash on our test shots.

However, the camera’s own miniature flash has an additional benefit over and above its function as a small useful aid: it can be used as a control unit for wireless flash control (not to be confused with the comparatively primitive wireless flash release). Thus, while retaining all automatic systems, it is possible to trigger flash units freely installed in the room (as far as they are compatible with the technology) wirelessly, without having to mount a so-called “master” on the camera. The whole thing even works with distribution of the flash power and triggering on different channels. All flash devices from the “Nikon Creative Lighting System” such as the SB-800, the SB-600, the newly introduced SB-R200 or compatible external devices can be considered as “slaves”. Those who prefer a cable connection or a direct connection of a flash unit will find a TTL flash shoe and a PC sync socket (X contact) on the D200. This makes the D200 ready for any situation and gives the photographer the choice of which way to flash.

Nikon D200 Review

However, there is one downer: support of the so-called iTTL technology is required for everything that goes beyond triggering a flashgun. If you still have a flash unit that is not up to date with Nikon technology, you inevitably have to operate it in its own automatic mode and make certain settings by hand. The i-TTL exposure metering and control stands above all for a plus in precision in flash exposure and is offered both in wireless flash mode and via the flash shoe. The advantage over more conventional TTL systems is that the natural ambient light and the flash light are no longer separated (which could lead to deviations in the measurement), but measured by a single measuring cell. For this purpose, the camera emits an ultra-short (invisible to the human eye) measuring flash directly in front of the main flash. The 3D color-matrix measuring cell, which is actually dedicated to measuring ambient light and has just measured the ambient light, then measures the flash reflected from the subject, determines the correct flash exposure and adjusts it to the exposure for the ambient light – all before the actual exposure begins. The result is a much more natural balance between the two light sources.

In this respect, the D2 series cameras are even superior to the D200 because they support iTTL technology and integrate a separate flash measuring cell for backward compatibility with the “old” D-TTL system. The D200, on the other hand, is a full iTTL flash, and if you don’t have a compatible flash, you either have to come to terms with the idea of being able to use only a fraction of your camera’s possibilities with flashes, or bite the bullet and buy a new flash. In flash mode, all basic functions and special functions (synchronisation to the 1st or 2nd shutter curtain, flash exposure correction function, flash long time synchronisation, automatic adjustment of the zoom reflector to the set focal length, automatic flash bracketing, etc.) are available with flash sync times of max. 1/250 s (normal) or 1/8,000 s (high-speed synchronisation).

Picture quality

The heart of the D200 is a new high-performance image sensor in DX format with a resolution of 10.2 megapixels. Of course, the idea is obvious that this is the sensor of the Sony DSC-R1. But this is probably not the case, as there are different sensor technologies (CMOS for the R1 and CCD for the D200) as well as different sensor sizes (21.5 x 14.4 mm for the R1 and 23.6 x 15.8 mm for the D200). The individual pixels on the CCD of the D200 are 6.05 x 6.05 µm in size. In addition, the new CCD, the origin of which is open to further speculation, should be very frugal when it comes to power consumption. The images can be output in NEF/RAW format (12 bit) with JPEG image or as JPEG image only. The maximum image size is 3,872 x 2,592 pixels (10 megapixels), with a selectable resolution of 2,896 x 1,944 pixels (5.6 MP) and 1,936 x 1,296 pixels (2.5 MP). It may be that as an ambitious photographer you don’t want to be “beaten to death” with countless resolution levels, but in practice you could gain a little more flexibility in setting the resolution by a slightly finer gradation of the camera.

Nikon D200 Review

On the other hand you can choose whether the NEF/RAW images should be compressed or not. This is the first time we have seen such a feature on a digital camera. For ordinary JPEG images, three quality levels (Fine, Normal, Basic) are available for each of the three resolution levels, with different compression factors applied. Compressions start relatively high at 1:10 (fine). As an alternative, the second stage with 1:13 (Normal) is the ideal solution, which already produces smaller files without really noticing any difference in quality. The third stage with 1:42 (Basic), on the other hand, already compresses extremely, whereby the artifact rate (compression-related block artifacts) is surprisingly tolerable compared to the other settings. The D200 also offers the option of file size or quality fixation. When fixing the file size, the images are compressed to an approximately uniform file size. With quality fixation, however, the camera tries to achieve the best possible image quality regardless of the file size by making the amount of compression dependent on the subject being photographed. These are very useful functions that are very much in demand in the professional environment (e.g. for complex productions) and are also used.

But of particular interest is the way in which the D200 evaluates the information of the CCD. Here the D200 works in the same way as the D2X, D2H and D2HS, where the CCD is read out via 4 channels. This 4-channel system can be compared with a 4-lane motorway, where each lane is reserved for a different “freight”. In this case, the different loads are the red, green and blue information from which the finished image is later calculated. Since there is twice as much green information as red and blue information (the reason for this is the special division of the Bayer color mosaic filter), the “greens” may use two tracks at once. It is probably clear that such a motorway is faster than a single-lane road. This affects, among other things, the speed of the serial shot (more on this in the next test section). A further advantage of such an infrastructure is also that the image signal is nicely “cleanly” divided and so each freight can get its own “treatment”. This happens before the analog signal is converted into a digital signal, and each channel has its own 12-bit analog-to-digital converter dedicated to it. Only later are the individual signals or channels merged again. This in turn affects the quality of the image signal (color fidelity, fineness of color transitions, color optimization in white balance).

Nikon D200 Review

And indeed, the picture signal is of very high quality. The camera/lens combination (in this test the D200 was “paired” with an AF-S Nikkor 18-70 mm 1:3.5-4.5G ED from the DX series) delivers a beautifully detailed picture without the signal having to be “post-treated”. The best way for the camera to exploit the lens is in the middle zoom position. In this position and with a long focal length, the measured values drop slightly towards the edges of the image due to focal length-dependent resolution losses (in the short focal length, the results are somewhat more homogeneous), but even if the richness of detail is determined exclusively by the (generally also somewhat direction-dependent) resolution, everything remains at an absolutely justifiable level. How little the signal processing interferes with the image result can be seen, for example, in the sharpening, which only raises the edge contrasts in the medium image brightness – and then only slightly. In spite of the low sharpness of the D200, the images look anything but blurred when viewed visually, and an increase in the sharpness parameter in the camera menu is only necessary if you need “crisp” images ready for use quickly (as may be the case with press photographers). In any case, the subsequent processing of the images on the computer is not affected by any image interference (such as sharpness artifacts or signal clipping); the edge reproduction is very neutral and inoffensive in all orientations. In general, the D200 – at least in combination with the test lens – hardly tends to artifact formation. The contrast is very good and uniform with all orientations, the brightness moirés occurring with inclined structures in almost every orientation do not really disturb because of the low self contrast. Even the slight aliasing of diagonal structures does not prevent the D200 from being generally well to medium suitable for demanding image processing.

Nikon D200 Review

Nikon D200 Review

The CCD and the connected signal processing electronics (ASIC/LSI, CDS, PGA) of the D200 have even more features. Due to the optimized signal amplification, adjustable sensitivity levels according to ISO 100 to ISO 1,600 (adjustable in third steps) can be offered; the additional steps H0.3 (according to ISO 2,000), H0.7 (according to ISO 2,500) and H1 (according to ISO 3,200) extend the sensitivity range even further. It would be a pleasure to venture into the higher sensitivity regions, as the noise behavior of the D200 is expected to be exceptionally good. Until noise becomes visible in the images, you have to turn the “sensitivity screw” a lot, and then you can – from ISO 400 – still activate the appropriate noise reduction setting (which knows 3 levels) in the menu. Even without switching on this function, one has to search for the noise on most pictures for a long time. You will find them mainly in areas of medium brightness as well as in darker image areas. There one finds practically only the relatively little disturbing brightness noise and almost no color noise in non-aggressive form. Also found in the menu is a noise reduction setting especially for long exposures, which takes effect from exposure times of half a second and uses the dark image subtraction method.

You can choose between two color spaces (Adobe RGB, sRGB) and three color modes for color reproduction. Depending on the colour mode, the colour reproduction is matched to the lifelike reproduction of skin tones (portraits, etc.), green and blue tones (nature photos, landscape photographs, etc.) or to the print reproduction. The color mode settings can be found beside other parameterization possibilities (sharpening, image contrast, color saturation, color mode, hue) under the user-defined image optimization settings; “ready for use” is available in the form of various presettings (normal, soft, brilliant, intensive, portrait, black and white). By the way, the newly developed optical low-pass filter of the D200 is intended not only to compensate for color fringes in addition to its intended Moiré protection, but also to counteract red stings with an additional IR layer. This does not seem to be a marketing gossip either, because the D200 reproduces colours very neutrally (even without the amateur camera typical intensification of colours) and finely differentiated. Since the white balance also works with a high degree of precision, there is no need to worry about colour casts caused by the light source or colour temperature. The D200 owes this above all to the ability of the 3D color matrix measuring cell (more on this in the next paragraph) to recognize certain “color tendencies”. Nevertheless, the D200 offers all possible settings for the white balance (automatic, 6 presets, color temperature value input, automatic white balance bracketing, manual white balance). What is new, however, is the convenience with which the manual white balance is carried out. For the D200, simply press and hold the WB button on the top of the camera for a few seconds until the “PRE” (for Pre-Set) indicator starts flashing. Then you only have to point the camera at a white or neutral-grey reference object (wall, paper sheet or similar) and save the measured value by pressing the trigger (4 memory locations are available). This is almost as fast and easy as with compact digital cameras.

An important criterion for the image quality is of course also the quality of the exposure. This should be beyond any doubt, as the D200 uses the same technology (3D color matrix metering II) as the cameras of the D2 series for exposure metering. In 1996, Nikon inaugurated the F5 for 3D color matrix measurement. Until then, cameras only analyzed the light distribution (more or less coarse depending on the number of measuring cells) and were thus able to incorporate the brightness and contrast of a scene into the exposure measurement. The F5 or 3D color matrix metering revolutionized exposure metering by incorporating new factors. This was first of all the spatial position of the main subject in the image, which was determined by the AF sensors (vertical/horizontal position) and by a chip in each lens (for transmitting the distance information). Hence the 3D in the name. But the real innovation was that “color” came into play. Using an RGB sensor with 1,005 pixels (a kind of mini CCD), the color distribution in the image could be roughly taken into account. This was enough, for example, to identify a scene with a lot of blue (sky) and a lot of green (meadow green, foliage, etc.) as a landscape by comparing it with a database (which already contained 30,000 reference situations at that time) and to adjust the exposure accordingly. The 2nd generation of 3D color matrix metering can do all this, but it now has refined algorithms for detecting and compensating for shadows and lights in the image, and thus not only allows the overall contrast in the image, but also the contrast of the brightest and darkest areas of the image to flow into the exposure metering.

Speaking of contrast, the D200 has excellent input dynamics of 8.9 f-stops, very good output dynamics (252 of 256 possible brightness levels) and very linear tonal reproduction. This results in images with even contrast and exceptionally precise light and shadow reproduction. Actually, there is hardly anything to criticize regarding the image quality, because the only weaknesses that the camera revealed in our test are rather due to the lens. Thus, the AF-S Nikkor 18-70 mm 1:3.5-4.5G ED DX on the D200 produces a clearly visible barrel distortion – in wide-angle position – coupled with a vignetting of almost an entire aperture. However, the distortion and vignetting values improve with increasing focal length, so that the lens can still meet the requirements of the camera well.

Special functions

To list all the possibilities that are given to you with the D200 would certainly go beyond the scope of this – already very long – test report. Therefore, we simply want to state at this point that the camera leaves nothing to be desired in terms of setting and intervention options, and only deal with the most important special functions.

The D200 can take pictures with a time delay (the self-timer has lead times of 2, 5, 10 or 20 s, and an interval shutter release is also available), with variations in exposure or white balance (bracketing), from a distance (wireless or via cable) or as a series. In continuous shooting mode, it takes 18 to 22 consecutive frames at a minimum of 5 frames per second in RAW/NEF format. For continuous shooting in JPEG format, the “forced pause” may only occur very late (at the earliest with the 29th picture) or not at all. Everything depends on the speed of the memory card used. In the test we used a 1 GByte Extreme III card from SanDisk with an advertised data throughput of 20 MByte per second and waited in vain for the trigger to block when taking serial pictures. But he didn’t, the only thing that happened was a progressive deceleration of the frame rate. So it dropped from a maximum of 5.8 frames per second (at the first 10 frames) to about 5.3 frames per second (at the 25th frame) and then broke down shortly after and settled down to 2.2 frames per second at some point. Thus, in practice, there is no limitation of the number of frames in the continuous shooting mode; the maximum amount of 29 to 37 frames officially stated by Nikon is probably only the limit up to which the frame rate does not fall below the 5 frames per second that are praised.

Of the D2 series cameras, the D200 takes over the multiple exposure and image mounting function. These are extended functions which – in addition to merging several images or individual image parts – allow control over the image result (the “cross-fade effect” can be controlled). In conjunction with the outside world, the D200 also makes for professional. For the D200, there is the optional WLAN/WiFi transmitter unit WT-3, which enables wireless image transmission (IEEE standards 802.11 b/g are supported) as well as wireless remote control of the camera from the computer, and with the optional interface cable MC-35, any GPS receiver with a serial interface (10-pin) can be connected to the camera. The GPS data (longitude, latitude and altitude of the recording location as well as the world time in UTC format) are then recorded in the EXIF data. This and much more can be evaluated with the included software Picture Project, which is available since last week in the brand new version 1.6.1. Images can be transferred, managed and edited with it; a small foretaste of what is also possible with the optionally available software Nikon Capture 4 (among other things the processing of the 12-bit data and the display of the images with 16 bits per colour channel) is given by the enclosed trial version of this program.

Nikon D200 Review

 

As far as energy supply is concerned, the D200 also operates at a professional level. The new lithium ion battery EN-EL3e (7.4V at 1,500 mAh) was specially developed for the D200. With one charge, it supplies the D200 with current for at least theoretically up to 1,800 shots (see table of measured values). The EN-EL3a battery of other Nikon cameras cannot be used in the D200, by the way. The fact that the D200 refuses to serve when using some external batteries will certainly trigger controversial discussions. Officially, it is said that this is to prevent damage to the camera, but evil tongues will assume that Nikon is only pursuing “brand protectionism” in this way. The battery diagnosis function in the system menu provides very precise information on the charge status and condition of the battery. It shows the remaining capacity of the battery in percent, the number of images taken since the last battery charge, and the estimated “remaining life” of the battery. “Heavy users” can add the MB-D200 battery pack to the D200. This not only gives the camera a more professional look, but also accommodates 2 EN-EL3e batteries or 6 standard AA/Mignon cells (disposable or rechargeable). Two additional control dials, a side-mounted shutter release button, and a separate AF start button are designed to make it easier to operate the camera when taking portrait shots.

Finally, a few words about the camera technology itself. The vertical high-speed shutter of the D200 with double lamellas is designed for at least 100,000 releases and can achieve shutter speeds as short as 1/8,000s (normal operation and FP short-time synchronization). In standard flash mode, the shortest synchronisation time is 1/250 s. The dark phase in the viewfinder only takes 105 milliseconds, and the USB 2.0 high-speed interface is supposed to achieve a transfer rate of approx. 9 MByte/s. With exposure metering, 75% of the center-weighted integral metering is weighted on a center circle (whose diameter can be set to 6, 8, 10 or 13 mm) and 25% on the surrounding image area, while with spot metering, the 3 mm measuring point can be linked to the active AF metering field (in 11-point as well as in 7-point mode and even with dynamic metering field control). A dipping button, a mirror lock-up function and an ISO automatic are of course also part of the game. The latter function goes a bit further than the ISO automatic of other digital cameras, since you can set a shutter speed between 1 and 1/250 s as a “limit”. The camera then tries not to fall below this value by automatically increasing the sensitivity in a range between ISO 200 and ISO 1,600

Bottom line

Probably the answer of the archrival Canon won’t be long in coming, but those who haven’t become the “enemy” because they either wanted to stay loyal to Nikon or find the Nikon products more convincing will be rewarded by Nikon with a camera that will inspire technology freaks and the most demanding photographer natures alike. The D200 is the camera the “Nikonists” have been waiting for for a long time, and it has what it takes to achieve the same cult status as the F801 and the F90X in analogue times. In terms of possibilities, equipment and image quality, the D200 is even likely to appeal to some professionals, as it can certainly meet their demands. So it remains to be seen how consumers react to the D200 – at any rate, we wish it every success.

Fact sheet

Fact sheet
Manufacturer Nikon
Model D200
Price approx. 1.700 EUR
Resolution CCD sensor 10.2 million pixels
Max. Image size
(aspect ratio)
3.872 x 2.5922
.896 x 1.9441
.936 x 1.296
Video recording Resolution levels with

sound Video format Frame rate Recording duration

––––––
Audio recording with
video voice memo
––
optical viewfinderDioptre compensation yesyes
Mirror reflex yes
LCD Monitor Resolution Rotatable Swivels as

Viewfinder Delay Free

230.000 pixels — Yeah
Light measurementMatrix/Multi-field measurementCenter-weightedIntegral measurementSpotMulti-SpotMeasurement value memory

(AE-Lock)

yesyes

yes-yes

Display of exposure values Viewfinder
, LC status display
Program automation yes
Aperture priority 1/8.000 to 30
sin 55 steps
Aperture priority Aperture settings depending on
lens
manual exposureaperture shutter speedBULB long-time exposure Aperture settings depending on lens1/8
,000 to 30 s in 55 stepsja
Scene modes
Automatic exposure bracketing 3, 5, 7 or 9 shots

1/3, 2/3 or 1 LW

Sensitivity Automatic Manual ISO 200-1.600ISO 100, 125, 160
,200, 250, 320, 400, 500, 640, 800, 1.000, 1.250, 1.600, H0.3 (corresponding to ISO 2.000), H0.7 (corresponding to ISO 2.500),H1 (corresponding to ISO 3.200)
White BalanceAutomatic Presets Manual (

White Point Memory
)
other

yesDaylight
sunny, Daylight cloudy, Shadow, Incandescent light, Fluorescent light, Flashyes auto
. White balance bracket, Manual color temperature input, White balance fine correction
Focal lengthalSmall image equivalentZoom factor lens dependent —
Luminous intensity
(wide angle to telephoto)
object-dependent
Digital zoom
AutofocusNumber of
fields of viewTarget field selectionSingle AF continuous

AFAF auxiliary lightyes11
/ 7 automatic
and manual yea

(predictive)
yesClosest focusing distanceobject-dependentFilter threadsobject-dependentWide-angle converter*–Teleconverter*–

Flash modesAuto manual

onRed-eye correctionLong-term sync

to 2nd shutter curtainFlash exposure correction functionSlave function

yesyyyyyy+

1 LW to -3 LWin
1/2 or 1/3 step wireless

iTTL flash control*

Flash connectionFlash shoe sync socket

can be triggered by
external flash common

TTL flash shoe with central contact and manufacturer-specific contacts

(in wireless flash mode)

PC TransferUSB
2.0 InterfaceUSB Mass
Storage Class CompatibilityFirewire InterfaceMini B socket
(High-speed class) yes-CompatibilityPTP image transfer protocolyes

Video output

PALNTSC

Video-Out jack-jack jack-jajajaRechargeable batteryEN-EL3eLithium ion battery
(7.4 V, 1,500 mAh)
Charging time: approx. 2 h, charging outside the cameraStandard batteries can be usedyesMains inlet9 VMemory typeCompactFlashMicrodrive compatibleyesyesSelf-timer2, 5, 10, 20 sRemote releaseoptionalInterval ShootingyesImage Fine Adjustment Sharpening Image Contrast Color Saturation6 levels3
levels + own gradation curve3
levelsMenu languagesde, en, es, fr, it, nl, pt, ru, se, jp, cn, koPlayback functionsIndex, slide show, multi-level playback zoom
, histogram display
, EXIF recording data display
, highlights and shadows display

 

, and more.

Image EffectsGrayscaleSepiaBlack & White

(2 Bit)

yes–

Printing FunctionsDPOFPictBridgeEXIF

2.2/PrintEpson
Print Image Matching II

jajajak

.

A.

Reset to factory settingyesFirmware update by
useryesSwitch-on timeapprox. 0.15 sOne-hand operation
(zoom + shutter release)–Weight (ready for operation)930 g (without lens)- = “not applicable” or “not available”* optional accessories required, offered by camera manufacturer

 

Short evaluation

Pros

  • very fast response times (AF, shutter release, on-time, continuous shooting, data transfer, etc.)
  • polyvalent autofocus system
  • iTTL flash exposure metering and control
  • extended backward compatibility to manual lenses (Ai, AiS)
  • competitive resolution
  • advanced expansion options (GPS, WLAN, battery handle, etc.)
  • distinct robustness, tropical protection
  • well thought-out operation
  • excellent price/performance ratio

Cons

  • Nikon Capture only against surcharge
  • no mechanical cable release connection (as with the F80 & Co.)
  • not compatible with other battery types (EN-EL3a and some other brands)
  • Rubber coating comes off at different parts of the housing (at least on the pre-series model)
  • bright white AF auxiliary light
  • limited flash compatibility (iTTL only)

Nikon acknowledges “banding” phenomenon in early D200 specimens

So-called “early adopters” are sometimes punished for their spontaneity. Now some owners of a Nikon D200 have to experience this, who may have to send their camera to the workshop for repair or readjustment. Because, as Nikon himself admits on his support pages, some early specimens of the digital SLR camera may show striped interference patterns in the images.

Nikon describes the phenomenon – also known as “banding” – in FAQ article 16505 as follows:

“In rare cases, a pattern of vertical lines may appear in images with extreme contrast. This only affects a limited number of D200 cameras from an early production phase. Under normal shooting conditions, however, even with these cameras, no pattern appears in the images.

The pattern only becomes visible when the image is displayed on the monitor at a display size greater than 100%. The extent to which the pattern appears may vary depending on the ISO sensitivity setting. When set to ISO 100, it does not appear. On printed images in A3 format (29.7 x 42.0 cm) or smaller, this line pattern is virtually undetectable and should therefore have little effect on general photography and printing.

If you notice such a line pattern in pictures of your D200, please contact a Nikon service centre. This will adjust the image output signal so that a line pattern will practically no longer be visible.”

In order to avoid so-called “blooming” (in a certain way an “overflow” of the pixels) and the resulting image disturbances (usually in the form of color fringes), the maximum amount of light the pixels are allowed to absorb is normally determined ex works. If this threshold is set too low, the dynamic range (i.e. the range of tonal values that can be displayed) suffers; if it is set too high, it leads to blooming or – as in this case – to an imbalance between the four data transmission channels, which is noticeable on the images in the form of striped interference patterns.

This once again clearly shows what a “balancing act” it is to adjust the camera’s internal signal processing in such a way that the finished image contains as few image distortions of all kinds as possible. Every shot, even the smallest, needs to be chosen carefully, as even the slightest deviation – in a kind of “chain reaction” – has a more or less direct effect on other shots and ultimately on the image result. Early D200s didn’t seem to have all the fine tuning done yet, but luckily in this case a readjustment of the control electronics is enough to get the problem out of the way. D200 owners affected will therefore have to part with their latest acquisition for a short time, but the reunion will then be all the more enjoyable.

HSM lenses from Sigma And Compatibility Issues With Nikon D200

In an official press release Sigma has admitted compatibility problems between its HSM lenses and the Nikon D200. The error, which the foreign lens manufacturer attributes to himself, causes various Nikon-compatible lenses with ultrasonic-driven focusing to not function correctly if the automatic focusing is triggered – unlike usually via the AF-ON button – on the back of the D200 camera. But the problem is not one that cannot be solved.

 

Nikon D200 ReviewUsually, autofocus cameras automatically focus by pressing the shutter release button lightly. This also applies to Nikon’s latest digital SLR camera D200, the delivery of which has just begun. But with this camera there is also another way to get the autofocus going. Alternatively to the shutter release button, you can press the AF-ON button on the back of the camera, which does the same thing. Except for some lenses of the Sigma HSM series, which work correctly in normal operation (i.e. when using the shutter release to start autofocus), but don’t want to know about the other method or don’t react to the AF-ON button.

Sigma regrets this in an official service note published today and admits that this is a malfunction that is not due to the camera but to an error in the firmware of the HSM lenses. The Japanese lens manufacturer wants to correct this firmware error as quickly as possible and asks all affected customers to contact their local customer service.

Fixed focal length
14mm F2.8 EX ASPHERICAL HSM
30mm F1.4 EX DC HSM
APO MACRO 150mm F2.8 EX DG HSM F2.8
APO MACRO 180mm F3.5 EX HSM / APO MACRO 180mm F3.5 EX DG
APO 300mm F2.8 EX HSM / APO 300mm F2.8 EX DG HSM
APO 500mm F4.5 EX HSM / APO 500mm F4.5 EX DG HSM
APO 800mm F5.6 EX HSM / APO 800mm F5.6 EX DG HSM

 

Zoom lenses
10-20mm F4-5.6 EX DC HSM
12-24mm F4.5-5.6 EX DG ASPHERICAL HSM
17-35mm F2.8-4 EX DG ASPHERICAL HSM
APO 50-500mm F 4-6.3 EX HSM / APO 50-500mm F 4-6.3 EX DG HSM
APO 70-200mm F 2.8 EX HSM / APO 70-200mm F 2.8 EX DG HSM
APO 100-300mm F4 EX HSM / APO 100-300mm F 4 EX DG HSM
APO 120-300mm F 2.8 EX HSM / APO 120-300mm F 2.8 EX DG HSM
APO 300-800mm F 5.6 EX HSM / APO 300-800mm F 5.6 EX DG HSM

 

Nikon D200 Datasheet

Electronics

Sensor CCD sensor APS-C 23.6 x 15.8 mm (crop factor 1.5
)10.9 megapixels (physical) and 10.2 megapixels (effective)
Pixel pitch 6,0 µm
Photo resolution
3.872 x 2.592 pixels (3:2)
2.896 x 1.944 pixels (3:2)
1.936 x 1.296 pixels (3:2)
Picture formats JPG, RAW
Color depth 36 bits (12 bits per color channel)
Metadata Exif (version 2.21), DCF standard

Lens

Lens mount
Nikon F

Focusing

Autofocus mode Phase comparison autofocus with 11 sensors
Autofocus Functions Single autofocus, Continuous autofocus, Tracking autofocus, Manual, AF Assist Light
Focus control Dipping key

Viewfinder and Monitor

Reflex viewfinder Reflex viewfinder (prism viewfinder) (95 % image coverage), 19 mm interpupillary distance, diopter compensation (-2.0 to +1.0 dpt), replaceable focusing screens, grille can be faded in
Monitor 2.5″ TFT LCD monitor with 230,000 pixels, trans-reflective
Info display additional info display (top)

Exposure

Exposure metering Center-weighted integral measurement, matrix/multi-field measurement over 1,055 fields, spot measurement (measurement over 2 % of the image field)
Exposure times 1/8,000 to 30 s (Manual
)Bulb Function
Exposure control Program automatic, Aperture automatic, Time automatic, Manual
Bracketing function Bracket function with maximum 2 shots, step size from 1/3 to 1 EV
Exposure compensation -5.0 to +5.0 EV
Sensitivity to light ISO 100 to ISO 3.200 (manual)
Remote access Remote tripping
Scene modes 0 further motif programmes
Picture effects Image montage, multiple exposure
White balance Auto, White balance bracketing, Fine tuning, Kelvin input, Manual
Color space Adobe RGB, sRGB
Continuous shooting Continuous advance mode max. 5.0 fps at highest resolution and max. 37 stored photos, CH continuous advance mode with max. 18-22 RAW/NEF consecutive images at 5 B/sCL continuous advance mode
with 1 to 4 B/s
Shooting functions Mirror lock-up, live histogram

Flashgun

Flash built-in flash (hinged
)flash shoe: Nikon, standard center contact
Flash number Guide number 13 (ISO 100)
Flash functions Auto, Fill Flash, Flash On, Flash Off, Slow Sync, Flash On Second Shutter Curtain, Red-Eye Reduction

Equipment

Image stabilizer no optical image stabilizer
Memory
CF (Type II, Type I)
Microdrive
Internal memory yes
GPS function GPS external
Power supply Power supply connection
Power supply 1 x Nikon EN-EL3e (Lithium ion (Li-Ion), 7.4 V, 1,500 mAh
)Nikon MB-D200 Rechargeable battery/battery grip
Playback Functions Playback histogram, image index, slide show function
Picture parameters Noise suppression
Special functions Orientation sensor
Ports Data interfaces: USBUSB type
:USB 2.0 High SpeedWLAN
: available
Supported direct printing methods PictBridge
Tripod socket 1/4″
Features and Miscellaneous Mirror lock-upPlayback zoom
(8x)
Help
menuLast setting
display
Auto
image adjustmentalphanumeric
text inputWorld time clock functionAF measurement range

:

LW -1 to LW 19AF measured value memory Spot metering

can be linked to active AF measuring fieldExposure measured value memory Simultaneous

recording of JPEG and RAW/NEF image files possibleReal-time noise suppressionTrigger delay of

50 ms (manufacturer’s specification)
Switch-on time of 0.15 s (manufacturer’s specification)
Viewfinder dark phase of 105 ms (manufacturer’s specification)

Size and weight

Dimensions W x H x D147 x 113 x 74 mmWeight930 g (ready for operation)

Other

included accessoriesNikon DK-21 (Eyecup
)Nikon EG-D2 Audio / Video CableNikon
EN-EL3e Special BatteryNikon
MH-18a Charger for Special BatteriesShoulder StrapCamera Software

 

Picture Project 1.6.1 for Windows and Macintoshoptional accessoryNikon CF-D200 Camera BagNikon
EN-EL3e Special Battery PackPower Supply
EH-6WLAN Transmitter
WT-3WLAN Accessory Antenna
WA-E1Eye Correction LensesEnlargement Eyepiece

DK-21MLupenocular
DG-2 Angle Viewfinder
DR-6Cable Remote Trigger
MC-36/30GPS Adapter Cable
MC-35Battery Handle
MB-D200Nikon
System Flash Units and AccessoriesNikon
F Lens PaletteOther Nik

on

System Accessories

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