The Nikon D200 is fast, fast, fast. It’s fast out of the box to get setup. It’s fast when you turn it on, and it’s fast when you push the shutter release. And it will shoot at a fast 5 fps. It’s like having all of the best attributes of the D2x in a smaller package.
I fell in love with this camera as soon as I picked it up. It’s about the same size as my former favorite camera, the Nikon F2, which means it’s a delight to carry around all day with my 85mm f/1.4 and 135mm f/2 lenses. The new 11:1 zoom (18-200mm f/3.5-f/5.6 VR) is pretty astounding also. More on that later.
If you are familiar with previous digital Nikons, this one works the same way. All the buttons and dials are in the right place. The instruction book is thorough and the Start-up Guide will get you going in no time flat.The menu is even easier to read than that of the D2x. I love the fact that you can change the first 3 letters of the file name in the menu (I use my initials). This is great if your cards are mixed together with other photographers’ on an assignment. You have a choice of shooting in sRGB or AdobeRGB. You can select a variable ISO. If you mostly shoot at 100 ISO, you can put in a higher ISO just in case the light drops and the ISO will automatically shift up and you’ll still get a photo at a usable minimum speed that you can choose.
The little pop-up flash comes in real handy when you least expect it. If you need an ‘eye-light’ or a little flash fill and you left your Nikon SB-800 Speedlight in the car, presto, pop it up and shoot. You can even adjust flash exposure compensation quickly. In addition to the hot shoe there is a PC connector.
You can shoot for a long time on a battery charge. Nikon claims 1,800* images on a single charge for the little lithium-ion battery that fits in the grip. A full charge requires no more than 2.15 hours; and that from a very small charger 1/3 the size of the D2x. If you want want more power, an optional MB-200 battery pack can be added. It uses two of the EN-EL3e lithium-ion batteries or six AA batteries.
I was in New York City for three days recently and took only the D200 and the 18-200mm zoom. That combination pretty much covers any situation you might encounter. I shot wide, I shot tight, I shot slow speed blurs, I shot closeups. It’s a great little lens to work with and gave surprising good results, especially if stopped down two stops to f/11. Now, a $700 zoom is not going to be the equal of a $1,500 prime lens, but this little package is great. And it’s only four-inches long. It’s the kind of lens you can carry around all day, then if you need speed, switch to the 85mm f/1.4 and 28mm f/1.4 at night.
Make no mistake, this is a professional camera. It has a nice feel in the hands due to the excellent ergonomics. It just feels great; and it works great. The D200 is compatible with all older Nikkor AI lenses you might still have in your collection. I used it with my 35mm f/2 AI and a few other special lenses I have in my collection. They all worked flawlessly. Now I’m really happy.
The image area is a few pixels less than the D2x (23.6x15.6mm vs 23.7x15.7mm) and it’s a CCD rather than CMOS. What’s the difference? CCD sensors run cooler than CMOS, making for potentially less noise on higher ISOs. Lenses still have a 1.5x magnification factor compared to the 24x26mm film format. That means the image area is taken out of the ‘sweet spot’ of the lens. And with Nikon’s 3D Color Matrix Metering II system, I think hand meters are becoming a thing of the past. Spot Metering (3mm-diameter area) is also available. I set the Function button on my camera to activate the Spot Meter so I can instantly read a very small area of the frame. The viewfinder offers 95 percent frame coverage with a Type-B BriteView Clear matte screen that shows all of the 11 AF sensors. Auto focusing or focusing by eye is fast; focus pops in and out.
The 11-area AF sensors are fast to hit the mark (focus) and can be easily selected using the rear multi-selector. The large 2.5-inch LCD monitor has up to 400 percent magnification, making it easier to check sharpness of the image. Histograms are available for single or all three color channels. And the magnesium alloy body is well sealed against the extremes.
Like I said, this is a professional camera. You can shoot in Manual, Aperture-Priority, Shutter-Priority or Auto Multi program mode. And you can quickly change the ISO, White Balance, File type/size, and Shooting Modes using controls on the top left of the camera.
My only problem was I occasionally opened the door for the CF card bay by catching the latch on my clothes. Small thing for a camera that does more than you can possibly hope for. For approximately $1,700 you can’t beat it. If you’ve got a D2x, you’ll want one. If you have a D100 or less, you will most definitely want this ‘A’ camera.