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You are hereHome > Best Digital Cameras > Nikon D200 DSLR

Nikon Digital Cameras

   

Nikon D200 DSLR Review

Review Date: Nov 20, 2006

Category: Advanced Amateur - Prosumer

Nikon D200

Photoxels Editor's Choice 2006 Nikon D200 wins DIWA Gold Award Nikon D200 wins DIWA Platinum Award

 

IMAGE QUALITY

The Nikon D200 DSLR is as compact as the Nikon D100 that it replaces but, in image quality, it is closer to the professional Nikon D2X. It has 10.2 megapixel resolution on an APS-sized (23.6 x 15.8mm) CCD image sensor. It can be purchased with the 18-70mm AF-S DX f/3.5-4.5G IF-ED Nikkor Zoom Lens kit, the 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 G ED-IF AF-S VR DX Zoom-Nikkor lens kit, or body only and used with any AF-DX, AF-D, AF-G, AF-I, AF-S, and AF VR Nikkor lenses.

11x Optical Zoom
18-200mm f/3.5-5.6
Wide-angle 27mm Tele 300mm
Wide-angle 18mm
(27mm, 35mm equivalent)
Telephoto 200mm
(300mm, 35mm equivalent)

One of the advantage of a dSLR is the ability to use interchangeable lenses suited for specific jobs. We used the 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 G ED-IF AF-S VR DX Zoom-Nikkor lens for this review [27-300mm, 35mm equivalent].

"Macro"
Macro
120mm, Programmed Auto, Multi-Pattern, 1/125 sec., F5.3, ISO 800

The actual macro capability is a function of the lens you use, and the 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens we used allows us to focus only as close as 50 cm (20 in.). This does not provide coverage of a small enough area for what we generally call "macro." I find that I obtain my best macro results using this lens by zooming in.

If you are into macro photography, check out the 105mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor lens which features a silent wave motor and Vibration Reduction technology that Nikon claims allows photographers to shoot hand-held at up to 4 shutter speeds slower than otherwise possible.

ISO Comparisons
ISO 100
ISO 100
ISO 125 ISO 160
ISO 125 ISO 160
ISO 200 ISO 250
ISO 200 ISO 250
ISO 320 ISO 400
ISO 320 ISO 400
ISO 500 ISO 640
ISO 500 ISO 640
ISO 800 ISO 1000
ISO 800 ISO 1000
ISO 1250 ISO 1600
ISO 1250 ISO 1600
ISO H03 ISO H07
ISO H03 [HI + 0.3 = 2000] ISO H07 [HI + 0.7 = 2500]
ISO H10  
ISO H10 [HI + 1.0 = 3200]  

The Nikon D200 has 16 ISO settings going from ISO 100 to ISO 1600, plus the ability to "boost" to 3 more higher ISO settings dubbed "HI + 0.3," "HI + 0.7," and "HI + 1.0" where the "HI + 1.0" is equivalent to ISO 3200, The 100% crops above (area delimited by the white square) demonstrate the noise at the available ISO Speeds. At ISO 100 to 400, noise is under control and detail is preserved. Noise is also low at ISO 800 but at the expense of detail. Noise is visibly present above ISO 800. The boosted ISOs are very noisy.

Chromatic Aberrations

I have not been able to find much CA in everyday high-contrast shots, and where it is present it is minimal. The corner delimited by the red square at top left, and reproduced at 100% crop at bottom right, shows minimal purple fringing.

Long Shutter Speed

Long Shutter Speed

18mm, Shutter-Priority, Center-Weighted, 30 sec., F6.7, ISO 100
Manual WB, Self-timer 10 sec., Tripod Used
Noise Reduction ON
using the VR 18-200mm F/3.5-5.6 G lens

The Nikon D200 allows the use of a long shutter speed of up to 30 sec. in Manual and Shutter-Priority modes (plus Bulb in Manual mode), therefore allowing night photography. Generally, with image sensors, noise usually becomes more prominent at slow shutter speeds. When you set Noise Reduction to ON in the menu [Shooting Menu - Long Exp. NR - ON and Shooting Menu - High ISO NR - ON (Normal, Low, High)], the Nikon D200 has special noise reduction algorithm that automatically kicks in at shutter speeds at 1/2 sec. and longer and you'll notice a longer processing time (approx. twice as long) before the next picture can be taken.

To test this noise reduction algorithm, we decided to take a low-light indoors shot. To obtain a long exposure, I place Bamm-Bamm under my desk where it's dark.

I experiment a bit to obtain the optimum exposure, eventually settling on 30 sec. at F6.7. Even at this long shutter speed, the Nikon D200's noise reduction seems to be working great, producing a nice smooth blurring effect of the background.

We find that the AF is very responsive and images snap quickly into focus. There is a dedicated AF Illuminator to aid in focusing. The pop-up flash is quite powerful, and a hot shoe accepts external speedlights.

HistogramRGB Histograms

The Nikon D200 does not incorporate a live histogram. In Playback mode, press the Multi-Selector up/down and you can view a Histogram and also RGB Histograms.

The weak point in image quality for this professional-grade DSLR is the high ISO noise characteristics requiring post processing in a noise reduction software. The images also look soft but we recommend that you neither crank up the sharpening nor crank up the color saturation in-camera (see examples in Photo Gallery); better results will be obtained in an image editing software such as Photoshop. Otherwise, we find the overall image quality of the Nikon D200 up to ISO 400 to be excellent with details preserved in the shadows and highlights.

The pictures in the Nikon D200 Photo Gallery page provide a good sample of what the camera is capable of. I have provided unprocessed samples at 800x600 pixels (compressed to Quality 60/100 in Photoshop Elements) as well as the 3,872 x 2,592 pixels original size (click on the image for the original version). Any of the 800x600 image that is adjusted for levels and/or sharpened in Photoshop has "_adjusted" appended to the file name. Original images are never adjusted.

[Note that there seems to be a dead pixel on the image sensor. It is visible as a blue dot when the image is viewed at full size.]

You can safely assume that most macro shots and slow shutter speed shots required the use of a tripod.

I have defaulted the image size to 800x600 pixels. For those who have their monitor resolution set to 1024x728 pixels, everything should snugly fit and you should not have to scroll to see the whole image. If your monitor is set to 800x600 pixels resolution, start the slide show and then scroll to the right to position the image within your screen width. Then, press F11 (if you are using Internet Explorer) to switch to full screen mode, and the image should fill your screen nicely. Press F11 again at any time to switch your monitor display back to normal mode.

To return to this page from the Photo Gallery, click on the animated graphics of the camera.

Please open and download the original size version only if you need to and only once to your hard drive -- and save me some precious bandwidth. Thanks!

 

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