Monday, August 27, 2012

Nikon D200 Review - Professional camera for the rest of us

Nikon D200 front

A while ago when I was reading on what cameras National Geographic photographers were using, I came across a variety of things online. I happened to stumble upon one interview of Steve Mc Curry (the guy famous for photographing that afghan girl). In the interview Mr. Curry mentioned that he was using a Nikon D2x. Nikon D2x is the Holy Grail of Nikon cameras, the absolute high end. It has a CMOS sensor made by Sony and is used by the top of the crop photogs worldwide. Being a budget shooter I was, I knew I can never have it.
Nikon D200 back

Enter the Dragon. Until recently I never really knew or understood what a great camera the Nikon D200 is. Some professional I know has one and that’s how I came to experience what this camera is all about. I did accompany him on weddings and such and was blown away at the quality output it produced. In many ways the D200 is a budget shooter’s D2x, sharing many of its features. Ironically enough it’s far ahead of the D100, which is basically a very primitive camera comparatively. Both the D100 and D200 have a CCD sensor whereas the D300 and D300s both have CMOS.

Under normal day light conditions the D200 has produced very rich colors and vibrant tones, although a bit muted which seems to somehow increase the appeal of pictures. As for the wedding pictures under strobe lights, the D200 is capable of extraordinary output. Skin tones are out of this world. Its not usual that I am impressed by every camera out there. I don’t even check pictures on a computer to judge a camera. I shoot, switch the LCD, zoom in and I know everything I have to know.  

Speaking of skin tones, my nimble, nifty workhorse the Sony a200 also produces divine skin tones, that too just with the built in flash and faint halogen lights. Incidentally both the Nikon D200 and my Sony a200 don’t just share their digits but they also share the same rating (41 points) on Snapsort, beyond the obvious, which is a bit baffling as to why and how. Though the a200 lacks many of the professional features of the D200 (mainly weather sealing and magnesium alloy body) it has never failed me (excusing a recent flash failure due to a bit rough use).

Coming back to the D200, the camera can last a decade or two depending on the usage. It is hefty and feels very professional. It stores images on a CF card which means higher quality. Even today, on Amazon, some pieces cost more than $1000. I am lucky as I have an excellent piece ready for me to buy from a well respected senior photographer in my city. The body along with an additional battery is costing me INR 25,000 or approximately $454 which is not  bad deal as some are selling the same anywhere from $750 to $1350.  Like I said before, the d200 is an excellent if not a better alternative to the D2x and now is the best time to get it.


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