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Nikon D200 DSLR Review
|Review Date: Nov
Advanced Amateur - Prosumer
HANDLING & FEEL
The Nikon D200 DSLR is in all respect
a pro digital camera not only in its exhaustive
number of features, but also in superb handling,
operations and excellent image quality. Positioned
between the affordable D100 and the professional
D2X, the Nikon D200 is priced closer to the D100
but performs closer to the D2X. No wonder then
that the D200 is a favourite of pros and advanced
amateur photographers alike.
As far as DSLRs go, the D200 is considered compact
with a rugged, lightweight magnesium alloy chassis
and body (the D100 is high impact plastic). The
metal in the body adds about an extra 130 g (body
only) to the D100; the D200 is approx. 240 g lighter
than the D2X. Another reason why it is a favourite
for pros is that not only is it built tough but
it is also sealed against dust and moisture.
The lens mount system used in the Nikon D200
is the Nikon "F" mount with a 1.5x field
of view crop. All AF-DX, AF-D, AF-G, AF-I, AF-S,
and AF VR Nikkor lenses provide full AF and metering
operation. AI-P lenses provide manual focus w/
electronic rangefinder and full metering operation.
AI lenses provide manual focus w/ electronic rangefinder,
Aperture Priority and Manual exposure mode, C/W
and Spot metering operation.
The Nikon D200 uses the CompactFlash (CF) Card
(Type I and II ) and Microdrive.
Here's how the top DSLRs measure up against one
another, without lens attached and without battery
As you can see, it's not so much the dimensions
but the weight of the D200 that you'll notice.
If you attach the 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G ED-IF AF-S
DX Zoom Nikkor lens, add in a further 390g (14.8
If you attach the 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 G ED-IF
AF-S VR DX Zoom-Nikkor lens, add in a further
560g (19.8 oz.).
||Colours: black body with white letterings
||Looks: very professional
||Ergonomic but heavy
||Controls & menu are overwhelming
at first until you get used to them
||Controls feel soft, mushy
|| Hefty and feels heavy even carried
with neck strap
||Dimensions: 147 x 113 x 74mm
||Takes 1 rechargeable Li-ion battery
EN-EL3e 7.4V 1500mAh
SPEED OF OPERATION
||Startup is quasi instant
||Shot to shot time as fast as you can
press the shutter.
Burst: H - 26 frames in about 5 sec.;
then slows down
Burst: L - 22 frames in about 5 sec.;
slows down after about 32 frames
I used a SanDisk Ultra II SDCFH 512MB
and the camera was set to Manual mode.
The burst rate slows down to about
3fps when the battery displays 2 bars.
||No practical shutter lag
||Overall, superb performance
Included in the box is a rechargeable Li-ion
battery that can take from anywhere between
340 to a remarkable 1,800 shots (depending on
lens used, servo motor used, flash used, etc.)
on a fresh charge (CIPA) and a Battery Charger
BCM-2 (with power cord) that will recharge a new
battery in about 2.15 hrs. An optional MB-D200
Multi-Power Battery Pack (which can also function
as a vertical grip) provides an AF-on button,
vertical firing release with lock and front and
rear command dials; you can use two EN-EL3e or
six AA batteries in it.
Even though there are a total of 7 control buttons
on top of the camera, the design is clean. The
D200 has a nice handgrip and your index finger
falls naturally on the shutter-release button.
The Power Switch is around the Shutter-release
button with 3 settings: OFF, ON and backlighting
for the information LCD. Behind it are the Mode
and Exposure Compensation buttons. The Mode button
allows you to select PASM.
The large rectangle is the LCD information panel
that displays all your exposure settings.
Just in front of -- and a little under -- the
shutter-release button is the Sub-command dial.
This Sub-command dial is operated with your index
finger. On the left side there are 3 push buttons
for Image Quality, WB and ISO. Depress the lock
release pin just to the left of Image Quality
and you can also rotate the Mode Dial to set the
Drive mode, select self-timer or lock the mirror
in the up position.
The D200 has a large 2.5-in. high resolution
LCD monitor with wide-angle viewing and the 230K
pixels are put to the best use with beautifully
legible text and graphics. There is no live view
and this LCD is strictly used for Playback. There
is bright and large viewfinder with approx. 95%
coverage. AF is lighting fast: half-press the
Shutter-release button and your subject snaps
Nikon recommends blocking the viewfinder when
using the self-timer to avoid stray light from
the viewfinder skewing the exposure metering.
To do that, you need to remove the eyepiece cup
and insert the eyepiece cap. It would have been
nice to have a built-in eyepiece shutter.
There are many control buttons on the D200 so
there is not much need to resort to the Menu.
Falling under your thumb is the Main command dial.
You use the Main command dial and Sub-command
dial to quickly set your exposure values.
In Manual mode, the Main command dial and Sub-command
dial allow you to control the shutter speed and
aperture, respectively (you can switch this in
Custom Setting Menu - f Controls - f5 Command
Dials - Change Main/Sub - On).
In Shutter-Priority mode, use the Main command
dial to change shutter speed.
In Aperture-priority mode, use the Sub-command
dial to change aperture.
In Programmed Auto [P] mode, rotating the Main
command dial switches you into Flexible Program
[P*] mode (i.e. Program Shift) and allows you
to select different combinations of shutter speed
and aperture while keeping the same exposure.
This all gets a bit tricky if you select Easy
Exposure Compensation (Custom Setting Menu - b
Metering Exposure - b5 Exposure Comp. - On). Now,
to dial in an Exposure Compensation, you do not
need to press the [+/-] button down and rotate
Main command dial. In P and S modes, simply rotate
the Sub-command dial; in A mode, rotate the Main
I love the fact that exposure compensation is
defaulted and can be easily and directly dialed
in. However, the "0" mark blink continuously,
which I find unnecessarily irritating. Neither
the viewfinder nor the Control Panel displays
the actual value dialed in but tiny bars display
along a bar to give an indication of the value.
In addition, the [+/-] graphic is also displayed
to indicate an exposure compensation has been
dialed in. You'll have to press the [+/-] button
to see the actual value. Which kind of defeats
the whole purpose of not having to press that
button in the first place. Improvement suggestion
is to display the actual exp. comp. value.
Note that even with Easy Exposure Compensation
ON, you can still press the [+/-] button and rotate
the Main command dial to set an exposure compensation.
Using the Multi selector, you can specify one
of 11 AF areas you want the camera to focus on.
There are 4 AF Area Modes to choose from. The
Framing grid and the focus brackets are fine black
lines which blink red when you half-press the
Underneath the camera, as expected, the metal
tripod mount is located in line with the center
of the lens and the imaging focal plane. You should
be able to change the battery with the camera
mounted on a tripod.
As you would expect, there are tons of customizable
settings to choose from, more than we can reproduce
here (unless we reproduce the whole manual).
SHOOTING MENU 1 of 3
- Shooting Menu Bank (A-D)
- Menu Reset
- File Naming
- Optimize Image
- Color Space
- Image Quality
SHOOTING MENU 2 of 3
- Image Size
- JPEG Compression
- RAW Compression
- White Balance
- Long Exp. NR
- High ISO NR
- ISO Sensitivity
SHOOTING MENU 3 of 3
- Lomg Exp. NR
- High ISO NR
- ISO Sensitivity
- Image Overlay
- Multiple Exposure
- Intvl Timer Shooting
- Non-CPU Lens Data
SETUP MENU 1 of 2
- LCD Brightness
- MIrror Lock-up
- Video Mode
- World Time
- Image Comment
SETUP MENU 2 of 2
- Auto Image Rotation
- Recent Settings
- Dust Off Ref Photo
- Battery Info
- Formware Version
RECENT SETTINGS 1 of 2
- Screen depends on the settings you recently
RECENT SETTINGS 2 of 2
- Screen depends on the settings you recently
- Bank Select (A-D)
- Menu Reset
- Times/AE&AF Lock
EASY EXPOSURE COMPENSATION
- Easy Exposure Compensation (found by
following "b5", i.e. Setup - Metering/Exposure
("b") and then the 5th option.
PLAYBACK MENU 1 of 2
- Playback Folder
- Slide Show
- Hide Image
- Print Set
- Display Mode
- Image Review
PLAYBACK MENU 2 of 2
- After Delete
- Rotate Tall
PLAYBACK INFO 1 of 2
PLAYBACK INFO 2 of 2
The Nikon D200 is probably not the camera
you want to "move up" to if you are
coming from the world of compact non-DSLR digital
cameras. But it certainly makes a perfect second
backup (and affordable) digital SLR for a pro.
I like the exceptional ergonomics of the Nikon
D200 (though it took me some time to get used
to the controls, as you'll read in the User's
Experience section) and the fact that you
can customize the camera to almost any way you
like. A thorough read of The Nikon Guide to
Digital Photography with the D200 (aka User
Manual) is necessary to make the most of this