Nikon D200

After three years from the launch of the D100, Nikon introduces the new D200, filling the gap existing between the entry-level reflex (D50 and D70) and the high-end professional cameras (D2Hs and D2x). The new D200 is designed to suit the needs of advanced amateurs, semi-professional, as well as professional users. Photocameramag offers you a preview of the forthcoming full test.

Sensor and lens
The new D200 offers bags of additional features compared to the D100, thanks to the upgrade to the latest technologies, starting with those developed by Nikon for the D2x. So the 6 MP CCD becomes an effective 10,2 MP (10.92 total MP) with 6.06×6.06 microns (thousands of mm) diods. The format is still a 23.6×1.18 Nikon DX, designed in order to optimise the use of the central part of the lens. The A/D conversion is 12 bit and a new low-pass filter has been added before the sensor in order to reduce the moiré effect and chromatic aberrations. The ISO equivalent speed ranges from 100 to 1600 with two intermediate steps and up to 3200 with dedicated settings. The F Nikon bajonet is compatible with all the Nikkor lenses (up to now the AF lenses alone are 45), with limitations concerning programs and automatic functions when non-DX (those specifically designed for) lenses are used. The conversion factor of focal lengths to 35 mm is 1.5x.

Reaction time and shutter speed
One of the most interesting and important elements when choosing an SLR camera is the response speed to controls. Data supplied by Nikon relevant to the D200 are: time to start, 0.15 sec; shutter delay, 50 msec; burst at 5 fps, sequences of 37 shots in Jpeg and 22 in Raw format (with professional cards, like SanDisk Ultra II or Extreme III). Shuer speed ranging from 1/8.000 to 30 sec. The additional optional flash and synchronizes up to 1/8.000 of a second. The shutter is tested for abour 100.000 cycles. Times indicated for data recording: 6.3 MB/sec, reading 7.5 mB/sec on CF (this value may vary depending on the type of card used).

Focusing and light meter
The camera has a double metering system: 11 standard areas or 7 “wide” areas, i.e. with wider metering points. Several modes are available: single AF, Continuous Servo AF dynamic mode with focus tracking (shifts from single to continuous when the subjects keep moving), Closest Subject Priority Dynamic AF, Group Dynamic AF.
The light meter is the same of the D2x, the Color Matrix 3D II, using a sensor measuring different parameters of a scene: brightness, either of the whole scene or of the selected AF area; overall contrast, AF area and distance from the subject. Data are compared with the internal database of real scenes, about 30.000 on the whole.
The average weighted metering evaluates the 75% of the central area and the the 25% of the surrounding area. The spot metering is available in both standard AF 11-areas and AF 7-wide areas modes.
Shooting modes: Besides the classic auto modes with shutter or aperture priority or both, multiple exposure is available that joins in a single file up to 10 shots, and an ovelayer mode of two shots in Raw format, without missing the original.

Colour control
The D200 uses the same software for colour control, with dedicated programs for portraits, lanscapes and an extended dynamic range mode (Adobe RGB colour space, the other two programs support sRGB as well).
As far as colour control is concerned, we can also mention the white balance: it has bracketing, colour temperature setting in Kelvin degrees, the fine regulation on the classic pre-selections based on the type of lighting.
Besides, the camera offers a range of settings for sharpness, contrast, colour, saturation, and some “digital filters”: softer, normal, vivid, more vivid, portrait, black and white.

Customised settings
One of the new features of the D200 that will please the advanced photographer is the wide range of customisable functions. Options are 38 altogether, subdivided as follows: 10 for the autofocus, 7 for the exposure, 5 for the shutter speed and the AE/AF block, 8 for the monitor, 8 for the braketing, 7 for the built-in flash.

Power supply
A new Li-ion battery has been designed for the D200, it’s the EN-EL3e; this canot be replaced by the previous EN-EL3a. To better distinguish it from the old one, the new battery pack is grey instead of black. According to Nikon, battery life is the equivatent of about 1,800 shoots (depending of course on how the camera is used), while the time to recharge is about two hours and a half. An advanced control system is provided by a software able to detect the incompatible or defective batteries, and an indicator of the remaining charge (percentage), of the shots taken from the latest recharge and of the general status of of the battery pack.
An additional battery compatment can store either a second battery or the 6 common AA batteries.

Available kits and pricing
Prices are as follows:
D200 body only: € 1940 or £ 1299.99
D200 with 18-70 mm zoom lens: € 2240 or £ 1499.99
D200 with 17-55 mm zoom lens: € 3435 or £ 2299.99
First looks

After several months of speculations, gossip, and forecasts from all over the world, on 1st november Nikon officially presented the D200, the new professional SLR camera that will replace the three-year-old D100 and stands a step under the D2h and D2x. We believe that the D200, despite being a professional camera, thanks to the affordable price, will be tempting for the non professional users who want to extend their range of possibilities and enter the world of Nikon.

Our preview was based on a pre-production specimen, therefore, no sample image could be taken.

The first impression is that, compared to the D100, the new D200 made a giant leap forward. In terms of quality of the hardware and care for the detail, the D200 is similar o the D2x, and some hardware components are the same as well. The D200 is really solid and well built. Ergonomics is also very good as far as the grip is concerned, thanks to its shape and the rubber coating that prevents skiddings.

The rear and upper parts of the camera are very much similar to the D2x: large and within easy reach buttons in the rear part and large display giving all settings information on the upper right part (the number of information you can get by this secondary display is astonishing).
Another outstanding component is the 2.5” LCD monitor that, besides being very bright, offers a very wide visual angle. Compared to the D2x, software and menus have further been improved: we particularly appreciated the “online help” that shows up when the “?” button is pressed: this is a very useful function in a camera offering hundreds of menus (and sub-menus).

The optical viewfinder of the D200 is very bright and large enough, but not a s good as the one you have on the D2x, that includes a sensor of the same size as the D200, but with a 12 Mpixels CMOS. The 11 areas focusing system of the D200, the same adopted by the D2x, is excellent and works very well when you need to take moving subjects.

Flash
The built-in manual pop-up flash is correctly positioned. Its guide number is 13 and it covers the focal length up to 18 mm. It synchronises with the first or the second shutter blind, the red eyes reduction can be combined with the slow shutter speeds and with a -3 to 1 EV compensation by 1/3 or 1/2 steps. It can be used as a master to control the additional external ones.

Viewfinder
The viewfinder magnification is 0.94x, and its coverage is 95% both orizontally and vertically. It offer dioptric adjustment and a rubber shell protecion. It is also possible to eliminate the chequered field from the vision screen.

Upper LCD screen
Absolutely new about the D200 is the second status display, the one placed in the upper part. Nikon claims it is the widest in its category; it has a green backlight and displays the main data: the running program, shutter speed and aperture, battery status, remaining frames, information on the memory card.

Body
The D200 has a magnesium alloy frame with sealed joints, therefore the camera is protected against dust and humidity. Few but significant retouches have been made compared to the D100: the camera is 3 cm shorter and 3 cm wider. The grip is lower and wider, the controls near the upper cap are more slanting: right-angled to the cap, the shutter release; on the left, the control dial. The D200 (830 g) is slightly heavier than the D100 (700 g).

Connections
Besides the classic cable connections, the D200 supports both the GPS modules to record the place of a shot, and the wireless module to send files through wireless networks, and the PTP/IP protocol for software control. The WT-3 wireless module is optional and will be available starting from next April.

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