Nikon D200 DSLR with 50mm 1.8D lens
This is going to be a long read, so save this on your phone or laptop and get to home. I don’t suggest you read this at your office or on your phone. Go home, make yourself a nice cappuccino or a mocktail, before you sit down to read it. Nothing like sipping some nice hot or cold drink to read a photography article about the camera you like. Right ?
Before I begin let me tell you I am the kind of photographer who does not believe expensive gear equals good photography. I have shot some amazing pictures with kit lenses and the cheapy 50 1.8 lenses. If you don’t know how to use a camera even an expensive camera can’t save your day. Also theres a danger of thefts, wear and tear etc that will hurt you both financially and emotionally.
I have seen awesome commercial photography done with entry level cameras and I firmly believe there is no point in buying expensive cameras or lenses until and unless you absolutely need them or your photography business is running good enough to buy them. A camera shouldn’t cost as much as a car or a house, its ridiculous. I have done some awesome pictures in my commercial photography assignments with a Nikon D200 and a Sony alpha 200, yeah Sony alpha 200. I am not ashamed to shoot with entry level cameras for my commercial assignments. Yes the SONY A200 is my backup to the D200, yeah I don’t have a Nikon body as a backup. Sue me. haha...
Clients pay you for the images you deliver. NOT for the cameras you have.
Now lets get into the story at hand.
So, I recently finished shooting for a local custom motorcycle company and used the Nikon D200 extensively for this shoot. (no, not canon mark III or even a 7D) I had to use the D200 as I had no other choice. Earlier in the day, I shot their promo video on a mark III with a carl zeiss lens (85mm 1.4 to be exact). Its all great and everything but had to send it off as the rental agreement was only for certain hours.
Right from the first image I shot the clients who were present at the shoot in the workshop, literally gasped with awe at the quality of the images. Absolutely clean RAW files. They might have done the same if I had shot with a Nikon D800 or a 1Dx or a Mark III, as the lighting scheme I planned proved to be very effective, but none the less, its impossible to write off D200’s contribution to the whole exercise.
By the way, this was a trial shot done to check the lighting. The very first picture in the series.
A few days ago after the shoot I went to the editing suite to get the promo video of the aforementioned clients edited and I insisted they see the quality of the images on a mac. They did. Mind blown. Acknowledgment of hardwork and the quality was expressed. I worked 22 hrs non stop both for the promo video and photoshoot. Yeah it was a bit manic.
Before this whole episode, I looked some of my pics on my home pc and was appalled, but realized this is not how these pictures meant to be seen. I was right the mac showed the true color and rendition of these images.
People shooting commercially have to know each camera has its own flavor, no camera is alike, even from the same manufacturer. The quality of a Nikon D3 is different than a Nikon D700, even though both share the same sensor. The image processing, rendering is all different in these cameras. The sensor in the Nikon D80, D200, and D60 are the same, they may superficially look the same but when you pixel peep, you will notice the differences.
My contention is that if you can extract the same quality images from a D200 as a Mark III, I will say there is no point in getting a Mark III. I am not trying to downplay the Mark III, it is an excellent camera by any means. I am just saying, the Mark III does not fit everyone’s budget. Sure you can rent them for shoots.
What is the D200 good at ??
Given its accurate color rendition D200 can be used to shoot clothes and anything related to clothes/clothing catalogues. It can also be used to shoot portraits as the skin tones from the camera are absolutely amazing, this is something lacking in modern DSLRs from Nikon sadly. The skin tones in the D7000 are a mix of some strange orangy pinkish hue. Even the D300/300s fails to deliver skin tones properly. I have seen a lot of photographers complain about this issue online about the D300.
Coming back to the D200, when I was looking at the pictures, I realized apart from the few minor things the image quality between the D200 and a Mark III is very marginal. Good lighting is the key. Any camera will perform well in good lighting conditions. NO, I am not talking rubbish. I have compared both images from the D200 and Mark III on a mac screen with retina display. So I know. If at all you feel, the D200’s images are not up ‘there’, you can always tweak them in photoshop.
That beats having a $3000 camera, doesn’t it ?
If you plan your lighting properly, optimize the settings and shoot with a proper technique I bet my bottom dollar, you will get images that are on par with the expensive cameras.
The whole point of this article is: Hold on to your D200 a little longer, and shoot with it more to bring out its best.
I might extend this article indefinitely, so keep checking for updates.