Digital Outback Photo
- Photography using Digital SLRs


Nikon D200 Experience Report

A review diary by Uwe Steinmueller @Digital Outback Photo

Also photos by Bettina Steinmueller


Diary Index


Note on image processing:

As usual we work only with raw files and use this time Nikon Capture 4.4 or Capture One 3.7.3 (we did no have a version of RSP and ACR for the D200 yet).

All images are also sharpened using EasyS Plus Sharpening Toolkit.

12/20/2005 Diary Start

We reviewed in the past all major Nikon DSLRs. We bought this camera as we have no idea when we would get a review sample and we wanted to help our readers early on. As some readers may know we use both top of the line Nikon and Canon cameras. Read our field reports:

It is clear that the D2x is the real benchmark for the D200. But while the D2x costs about $4,500 US the D200 has a price of $1,700 US. What are the main differences?

  • D2x 12.4MP and the D200 10.2 MP (this 20% difference is not really huge)
  • D2x more rugged pro camera (though the D200 feels very solid)
  • D2x features a 8 fps "High Speed Crop" mode and that can make for a few photographers a difference (e.g. sports and birds). The D200 can do 5fps and also has a pretty large buffer.
  • D200 has a built-in flash. This is not considered to be real "pro" but comes handy once in a while.
  • The chip in the D2x is CMOS and in the D200 CCD. We have the feeling that in terms of image quality it does not make a difference. We care about the result and only if technology shows makes difference we care.
  • D2x has higher frame coverage (100% vs. 95%).

For a more complete feature comparison read this page in Phil Askey's D200 preview.

The overall handling (menus and buttons) are very much like the D2x and this means the ergonomics are excellent.


Some Los Gatos test shots


Ristorante @ISO 100

Crop @100% magnification

We used for this test our top AF-S 28-70mm f/2.8. This is one of the best zooms we know. The resulting image is sharp (after sharpening with EasyS Plus) and the colors are very good.

You can download the original RAW from here (>10MB).

Note: Remember that the service we provide is financed by selling our ebooks and PS tools.

Antique store @ ISO 400

@ 100% magnification

Shadow noise at ISO 400 is really good (the lens we used is slighly softer 24-120 VR).

ISO Test

We converted with Capture One 3.7.3 (noise removal to zero) and then sharpened with the same level of EasyS Plus.

Bear Coffee Shop

Nikon D200

ISO 100
ISO 200

ISO 400

ISO 800

ISO 1600

ISO 3200


Remember all these shots are with all noise removal off 9in camera and raw converter). Up to ISO 200 very smooth with virtually no noise. ISO 400 still excellent, ISO 800 very good. At 1600 some fine grain but very useable and if you need 3200 you still may risk it. For images at 1600-3200 we would use some good noise removal tools like Noise Ninja, Neat Image, PS CS2 "Reduce Noise" or Helicon Pro.

Here is the ISO 3200 crop after some quick treatment in Noise Ninja (and also befor the default Capture One noise removal):


Filtered with Noise Ninja

Some random observations:

  • Shutter noise lower than D2x but louder than the Canon 5D (which is on the other side not that fast)
  • very solid feel
  • good viewfinder (image not as big as from a Canon 5D though)
  • The LCD display is top class and the 3 channel and luminosity histograms are first rate (much easier to evaluate than the Canon counterparts)

We think we are at an excellent start with the D200. We will try to use the D200 with the Nikkor AF-S 24-120 f/3.5-5.6 VR (effective 36-180 in 135 terms) .This combination may become our "body + single lens" travel kit.

Over the next weeks we will mostly use the D200 instead of our D2x. We are very optimistic after these initial tests that the D200 will not let us down in terms of image quality. Most of the time the 2MP resolution difference does not make or break images for us.

Note on Nikon Capture 4.4

Nikon Capture can deliver a very good image quality. We just find the workflow way to slow compared to Capture One, RSP or ACR. We still recommend to all Nikon shooters to also get Nikon Capture because in many cases is is good to see the different color rendering of the alternative raw converters. Read our article "RAW Converters and "good" colors?".


12/22/2005 Sigma confirm issue with Nikon D200 (Source DPReview)

If you use Sigma lenses with the D200 check out this note.


1/9/2006 Nikon D200 Gallery online

We now used the D200 the first time for some real photos and not just tests. We are very pleased with our results. The D200 is a very close match to the Nikon D2x which is a great camera too.



1/21/2006 Nikon D200 Banding?

We ourselves did not yet experience this banding so far but the banding is clearly confirmed by many sources. Our friends at Imaging Resource checked into the issue in more detail.


1/21/2006 Nikon confirms banding

Best you read this note by DPReview.




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