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Old Dec 31, 2005, 12:20 PM   #1
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Hello all,

This marks my first posting as a new D200 user. While I won't be putting the same effort into this as Nigel Danson has into his EXCELLENT D200 diary also found here (congrats on the new Mr. Danson, Mr. Danson!), I hope I can offer some details that might help those seeking to make the step up from the fantastic D70S to the much vaunted D200.

First - the "bugs". I have seen afew reports online of hot or dead pixels in the D200. Ifoundittoo. At first I wasn't sure what it was - it appeared to be a glowing green dot in the same spot in most of my photos (more so at higher ISOs in darker conditions). I confirmed with the retailer,vistek.ca, that it was a dead pixel, and they said it should be returned. However, given the lacking availability of these cameras, they're letting me keep it until a replacement arrives. This is excellent, especially considering it's my work cam. I know dead pixels aren't uncommon,but from a brand new, $2,000 + camera, it's kind of annoying. That said, this was also one of the first batch of D200s, and with new DSLRs, bugs as such are typical. It certainly pays to go through a reputable Nikon dealer.

The D200 iscertainly is a step up in technology from the D70/D70S.For me the camera issomewhat complicated, with oodles of options in the menus. It took a yeartoreally get into and utilize the wide array of functions the D70 had to offer (it was my first real digital camera, taking the place of my NikonN/F80 and my Canon AE-1P).As an amateur news photographer, it was so much easier just to set the camera to P (never A - I just didn't like the default settings in A), make the few adjustments needed, and shoot. I did grew comfortable with the camera. Three of them actually. The D70 I had for a year and shot like crazy with it (sadly, the majority of my files were lost to a vile trojan and my idiotic reluctance to burn). Having worn out the body to some extent, and put in thousands of shots, I replaced the D70 with the D70S. About a month afterI shot at a Rodeo and had a bit of an accident - damaged a lens, had to take it off quickly to shoot, and well, rodeos are dusty places. Between the dirt and the smack, the camera was irreparable. On the last D70S I had, the replacement, the shutter went after 2,000 shots. Under warranty, Nikon replaced it quickly and without question. All this contributed to my decision to upgrade to the D200. It was not so much a matter of image quality - the D70S is an amazing machine capable of amazing images. No, it was more of a durability issue. And the D200 is a weighty machine of metal and weather seals and, well, you already know that stuff.

Having browsed the D200 instruction manual last night, I was amazed by the options available with the D200. It seems "versatility" was Nikons mantra when designing this machine. One thing I never found mentioned before was the JPEG compression, optimization option. It's in addition to the quality features of the D70S. Turning it on will reduce the number of available images on a 512 CF card, from around 88 down to 55. Raw is at 40-something (sorry for the approximations).

Does it make for better images? Apart from stupid little green dots, I am happy with what I've seen so far. Set at Fine/Large, without optimization and with the new "street-sweeper",Nikon's 18-200mm, the images are rich in colour and detail. Certainly WAYmore than enough for newspaper photos. Same as with the 50mm 1.8 lens. It may be sharper with the latter, I don't know or care so much. My job doesn't require people having to see in my imagesevery individual hair on a person's head. "I JUST DO EYES! " Um, yeah. Are the images better than those of a D70S? Maybe in RAW, but it so far seems very minimal (see Mr. Dansons diary for a comparison of a D200 image and a D100 image to get an idea for yourself -if you can't find it here, try Nikonlinks).

Other notes: The AF is fast. Faster than the D70S, but not a lot. I am very much looking forward to trying the D200's tracking system at a hockey game next week. That will be fun. The five frames/ sec is somewhat overwhelming. I am going to have to buy some bigger memory cards I think. As with the D70S, flash exposure if fantastic. Also similar is the tendency for the camera to underexpose. Of course, this can be compensated for in-camera or in processing. No big whoop. Battery life seems on par with the D70s. Actually, I recall using the 24-120mm VR lens, and with VR on it went through a battery much faster - faster it seems (based on vague memory) than the D200 with the 18-200mm. The D200's LCD is very nice, a definite improvement. The ability to zoom in on recorded images is better too on the D200. Oh yeah, the multiple image setting - an in camera layering of multiple images onto one- is very cool too. Just like having a film camera again!

There is so much more to explore. So much more shooting to do just to figure this thing out. If you began reading this hoping to find a push in a particular direction, my advice is if you have a D70s, and you aren't going to be shooting anymore than friend/ family outings, the odd kids sports game, events and whatnot solely for your own pleasure, and you don't have your camera in hand every day of the week, KEEP THE D70S. It's an excellent camera, as fast and as rich in features as anything you'll ever need. Put that extra money burning a hole in your pocket into the 18-200mm, a rubber sealed lens that you can keep on most of the time, and keep dust out. You'll do well there. If you need that durability though, ie, you're a clutz like me, and you shoot hundreds of images a week, the D200 seems pretty decent. You might just want to wait a little longer for the next batch to come out. Hopefully with these, what bugs there are will be ironed out.

Good luck and happy shooting, everyone.

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Old Jan 6, 2006, 6:43 PM   #2
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I am guessing this post willbe somewhat infuriating to those anxiously awaiting their D200s, but I've sent mine back.

Itis an extraordinarily well built camera, which is what I was hoping for. But it was also bigger and heavier than I'd anticipated, and my time with it quickly taught me the importance of ergonomics. So with that, and the bugs mentioned above, I sent it back (the retailer graciously accepted the return), and once again I am working with a D70S. I may even get a second, just in case the need arises (also see above), and because I can get two copies for the price of one D200.

Again, with the D70S in hand, I can say the AF on it, using the new 18-200mm and compared to the D200, is only a fraction slower. I always found RAW images with the D70s to be excellent,even up to ISO 1000,particularly after a slight touch up on Capture. Ahh, I won't compare/ contrast anymore though.

For the build alone, I feel the D200 will appeal to many. But it's true, you do have to sort of try the camera on to see if you're comfortable with it. I am much more comfortable with the D70S. I'll just have to try and be less clumsy. So now, it's back to shooting. Happiness!
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