The Nikon D200 - the successor to the Nikon D100; it looks the part and has the specs to match. So how does the D200 fare when put to the test? The What Digital Camera Nikon D200 DSLR review investigates...
Design & Performance
Nikon D200 review – Design
The D200 has a magnesium alloy body, with a rubberised coating and grip. This is further enhanced with sealed seams to protect the camera from dust and moisture. The result is a strong-feeling camera that still maintains some lightness for carriage. Larger lenses will obviously add to the weight, but unlike with the D2X or Canon 1DS MkII, there’s less need for a spinach-enhanced diet to carry the kit around.
The D200 controls are well placed, with fast access to the necessaries such as WB, ISO and file quality controls on the left of the top-plate. These settings can also be changed in the menu, but that’s much slower to do.
The general high-quality build is continued with the various ports. All the D200’s ports are protected by a couple of tough rubber covers, while the flash socket has a standard screw-in button cover. On the left is the CF compartment, which is locked and released by a secure flip switch on the back of the camera.
Nikon D200 review – Performance
There’s not much to dislike about the Nikon D200. The controls are comprehensive and well placed. Start-up speed is good: turn it on and you’re ready to go. The frame rate is good too at 5fps, but this slows down to around a frame a second once the buffer is full. I was still able to rattle off 144 frames in a minute, using the best quality JPEG and recording to a SanDisk Ultra II 1GB card.
A speed issue which really impresses me is the AF; the D200 has few problems in most instances, though it struggles when trying to focus on a flat surface such as a blank wall. That’s par for the course though, the AF needs some area of contrast to recognise the subject. There’s a built-in AF illuminator, which can be turned off if you want to be less intrusive. Even when the feature is turned off, the camera manages to focus quickly in low light.
The 2.5in LCD is okay but I found that, for JPEGs at least, the brightness needs to be dropped by –2 in the set-up menu to match the results on my calibrated PC monitor. If you try to use the LCD as a guide to exposure then you are likely to end up with underexposed pictures, as they look brighter on the LCD. However, in bright light the monitor can be difficult to see.
The D200 menu follows the same style as previous Nikon systems, such as the D70 and is therefore easy to read with large type and with helpful explanatory comments accessed by pressing the Help (?) button. There is a vast array of choices to customise the camera, from digital control of colour and contrast for example, through to Folder naming, flash sync speed settings and ISO and EV increment options of ±1/2 or ±1/3. In short, you can make this camera handle the way you want, making it very user friendly.