Nikon D200 Digital Camera Review

$1,799.00 at Amazon

Testing / Performance

Color*(8.24)*We tested the color reproduction of the Nikon D200 by shooting several photographs of a GretagMacbeth color chart at the camera’s various settings.  We imported the results into Imatest Imaging Software, which contrasts the camera’s produced tones with the correlating ideal from the chart.   Most prosumer and professionally-designed cameras will provide multiple color modes and image parameters which impact the tone, saturation, and contrast. In this section we are evaluating the camera’s color accuracy in its default setting – with NR on Normal. We elaborate on the individual parameters available in the Image Parameters *section of the review. * Below is a modified GretagMacbeth color chart produced by Imatest imaging software, illustrating the camera’s produced tones in the outer square, while the corresponding ideal is in the vertical rectangle.  The inner square is the ideal, corrected for luminance. 

Below is another chart produced by Imatest displaying the D200's color accuracy. The information is the same as above, but displayed in a more quantitative manner. 

When set to its default parameters, with high ISO NR on Normal, the D200 earned an overall color score of 8.24. This is a bit lower than expected, but given the degree of post-processing that most users will employ, the camera shouldn’t stand in the user’s way. In its default settings, the D200 over-saturates color 4.9% and had an overall color error of 7.37. **Still Life Scene**Loyal readers with recognize the image below, but for those new to, permit us to introduce you to our standard still life scene. This is a shot of it captured with the Nikon D200.


Click on the image above to view the full resolution file (CAUTION: the linked file is VERY large!)](

Resolution / Sharpness*(5.73)*The D200 is backed by a 23.6mm x 15.8mm DX-sized CCD sensor, with 10.92 million total pixels, 10.2 of which are effective for imaging. To test the resolution and sharpness of the D200, we recorded a series of images of an industry standard resolution chart at varying aperture values and import the files into Imatest Imaging Software. We report the highest score attained.    The image below was shot at f/6.3 using a Nikkor 60mm macro lens and the camera’s default parameters. 


Click on the above image to view the full res. image](

Typically, resolution results in analog cameras were given in lp/ph, representing line pairs per picture height, although this does not account for varying digital camera sensor dimensions. Therefore, we report our results resolution in LW/PH, which stands for line widths per picture height, to standardize results. 

We found the D200 with a Nikkor 60mm macro lens resolved 1918 LW/PH horizontally and 1897 LW/PH vertically. While this is a strong performance, it is slightly below our initial expectations, but given the quality of glass available and the price, of the D200, it makes sense. Overall, image quality will not be a problem for most.

Noise – Auto ISO*(10.25)*The D200 enables users to determine the sensitivity range when the D200 is set to Auto ISO, which helps control noise by limiting the max ISO. In testing the camera’s auto ISO noise control, we left the limit at 1600 and shot at just under 2000 lux.  This is about a third of the illumination of typical bright daylight. The results could be read as mixed; the camera selected an ISO speed of 800, which is a bit higher than was necessary, but the resulting noise was on par with ISO speeds of 80 and 100 on many compact cameras.  **Noise – Manual ISO***(12.28)*With as many options to reduce noise as it has options to control color, the D200 has multiple noise reduction mechanisms in place to help produce images with acceptable clarity at higher ISO settings. Below we have included our typical noise graph which plots data produced by images taken with the D200 in its default settings, with long NR ON and HIGH ISO NR set to Normal.  In the low light section below, we have included a chart displaying the noise levels when varying degrees of in-camera noise reduction are used.    


In its default settings, the D200 performed well beyond expectations in terms of noise suppression -- it produced the third lowest noise scores we have attained behind the Fuji S3 pro and Canon EOS 5D (but not far!)  Above is a graph showing the D200’s noise performance at the various sensitivity settings available. As you can see, the chart has a steady, gradual incline, only jumping once it hits its ISO 1250 settings.  This is impressive. The camera produced far less noise when NR was increased, but with sacrifices made to detail, color saturation, and color accuracy. **Low Light Performance***(7.0)*We tested the Nikon D200, as we test all our cameras, at decreasing light levels of 60, 30, 15, and 5 lux. 60 lux is equivalent to the light put out by a reading lamp, and 30 lux is about the light put out by a reading lamp with a very unsuitable bulb. 15 and 5 lux equate to candle light; 15 lux is maybe a handful of candles, whereas 5 lux is only 1 or 2. Shooting in both of these latter two near-darkness conditions would not likely be attempted without a flash by many shooters; however, the D200 extends up to ISO 1600 and beyond, enabling users to shoot with existing light in dark situations. We test all cameras at all four light levels to determine the rough limits of the sensor.  The low light shots below were taken with Long Exposure NR ON and HIGH ISO NR on HIGH.   Because of the myriad noise suppression options on the D200, we have presented the data in a single concise chart rather than a handful of graphs, illustrating the impact of various degrees of in-camera noise reduction on color accuracy, saturation, and obviously noise.  


Nikon D200 Saturation Color Error Noise Aperture Exp. Duration
Long Exposure NR ON- High ISO NR Low-05 Lux-ISO 1600-F11 113.70% 13.9 1.8525 f/11.0 3.000 s
Long Exposure NR ON- High ISO NR Low-15 Lux-ISO 1600-F11 112.80% 14.7 1.745 f/11.0 1.100 s
Long Exposure NR ON- High ISO NR Low-30 Lux-ISO 1600-F11 107.60% 10.3 1.69 f/11.0 0.625 s
Long Exposure NR ON- High ISO NR Low-60 Lux-ISO 1600-F11 104.90% 6.23 1.665 f/11.0 0.333 s (1/3)
Long Exposure NR ON - High ISO NR High-05 Lux- ISO 1600 - F-11 112.80% 13.3 1.0375 f/11.0 4.000 s
Long Exposure NR ON - High ISO NR High-15 Lux- ISO 1600 - F-11 112.4 12.5 1.035 f/11.0 1.300 s
Long Exposure NR ON - High ISO NR High-30 Lux- ISO 1600 - F-11 108.90% 10.7 1.0075 f/11.0 0.625 s
Long Exposure NR ON - High ISO NR High-60 Lux- ISO 1600 - F-11 105% 7.29 0.985 f/11.0 .333 s
Long Exposure NR ON- High ISO NR Normal-05 Lux-ISO 1600-F11 114.70% 12.3 1.3715 f/11 3.6 s
Long Exposure NR ON- High ISO NR Normal-15 Lux-ISO 1600-F11 113.90% 11.9 1.315 f/11 1.3 s
Long Exposure NR ON- High ISO NR Normal-30 Lux-ISO 1600-F11 108.60% 9.77 1.3121 f/11 .625 s
Long Exposure NR ON- High ISO NR Normal-60 Lux-ISO 1600-F11 105.40% 6.47 1.2925 f/11 .333 s
Long Exp NR OFF - High ISO NR Off - F16 105% 12.9 2.5125 f/16 4.0 s
Long Exp NR ON - High ISO NR Off - F16 101.60% 13.3 2.2125 f/16 4.0 s
 **Speed / Timing**

Speed and Timing tests on the Nikon D200 were conducted with a freshly-charged battery. We used a 1GB SanDisk Extreme III CompactFlash Card. *Start-up to First Shot (9.84)**

The Nikon D200 got off its first shot 0.16 seconds after being switched on.**

Shot to Shot (9.81)

*The Nikon D200 burst mode shot at 5 frames per second when shooting either RAW or JPEG files. When shooting JPEG Large, the D200 managed a burst of 30 frames at full speed, and then got bogged down. It took 25.16 seconds to clear the buffer after a 30-frame burst. In RAW mode, the D200 shot 21 frames before slowing down, and took 58.99 seconds to finish writing the files. *

Shutter to Shot (9.02)

*The Nikon D200's shutter lag won't be a problem for those intent on capturing "The Decisive Moment." We measured a lag of 0.03 seconds between pressing the shutter release and the shot itself.

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  1. Testing / Performance
  2. Physical Tour
  3. Components
  4. Design / Layout
  5. Modes
  6. Control Options
  7. Image Parameters
  8. Connectivity / Extras
  9. Overall Impressions
  10. Conclusion
  11. Specs / Ratings
  12. Photo Gallery