Wednesday, March 1, 2006
A new D-SLR with pro-level resolution and features in a durable body
Whenever a new camera hits the market, there's an inevitable flood of information and misinformation surrounding the launch. In the case of the Nikon D200, the Internet rumor mills were fueled with all sorts of speculation about the camera's specifications and capabilities, mostly centered around the image sensor. Would Nikon introduce its first model with a full-frame image sensor? The answer is no. The D200 is built with a Dx-sized sensor just like all other Nikon digital SLRs, but to focus exclusively on that is to miss the forest for the trees. Like the pricier D2x, which debuted in the spring of 2005, the D200 is built with refinements and technology that question the need for the full-frame sensor in the first place.
So what does this impressive camera bring to the table? The Nikon D200 is essentially a little brother to the D2x professional D-SLR. The image sensor is a 10.2-megapixel CCD and, as mentioned, it's Dx-sized, which means there's a 1.6x magnification factor. Full-resolution image files open at 35+ megabytes! Working in conjunction with the sensor is the same Nikon image processing that's built into the D2x. We've written many times about the importance of the processing engine in any D-SLR—it's what builds the photograph from the data coming off the sensor—and the D200 has the most advanced engine Nikon offers. There's a lot of techno-speak associated with the processing engine to be found on the Nikon Website if you're into discussions about algorithms, pre-conditioning, etc.
The advanced digital technology inside the D200 is housed in a magnesium body that's lightweight and up to rigorous use. If you're ever shooting in inclement weather or places where dust and moisture can be a problem, you'll appreciate the sealing technology that's built into the camera.
Of course, this is an advanced camera from one of the premier manufacturers of advanced cameras, so it features the refinements and capabilities that you'd expect from Nikon. A new 11-area Multi-CAM AF system (Multi-CAM 1000 AF Sensor module) with 7-area Wide-AF finds the subject and locks on fast. In our shooting of fast-moving surf action, the system performed flawlessly.
We'd like to think that OP's constant badgering of manufacturers to place LCD monitors on their cameras finally convinced the companies that it's important, but in reality, the 2.5-inch monitor on the D200 is the result of better technology and manufacturing. Whatever the impetus, the large, bright LCD with large menu type will be welcome to any photographer.
Confirming composition is simple and you can zoom up to 400% to check focus. The menus are easy to read, thanks to the larger typeface and bright screen. Also, when you're looking through the viewfinder, you'll notice that your view is big and bright, an especially welcome refinement.
If you're an action shooter, you'll appreciate the D200's 5 fps maximum continuous shooting rate. The camera can fire off up to 22 RAW (NEF) files or 37 large JPEGs before it has to slow down and clear the buffer. In addition to the shooting speed, the D200 also powers up instantaneously, and there's essentially no shutter lag.
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