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Old May 7, 2006, 6:01 AM   #11
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I read all the reviews and saw the "shocking" photos of noise in the D200 images.

I bought it, anyway. The noise is produced when the photo is underexposed. There are several facts that have made this a non-issue for me.

1. The camera produces excellent results when properly exposed. Even at ISO 1600, I'm getting excellent photos.

2. The built-in flash works very well.

3. The VR lens (18-200 for me) is enabling me to take crisp, clear, natural light photos at shutter speeds I wouldn't even attempt with another lens.


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Old May 7, 2006, 6:54 AM   #12
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Taken with D200 and Nikkor 80-400VR. D50 is lighter and easy to learn to use. D200 many functions require longer learning curve but I found it is the perfect tool for bird photography. I use my D50 and 60mm macro for insects and D200 and 80-400VR for birds. I use no other lens and not thinking of buying any more lens. The combinations are more than I ever need.
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Old May 8, 2006, 2:47 PM   #13
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It's pretty much impossible to gauge noise performance from less than 100% crops though...

I have to say that the high ISO/low light images (well, image - the car pic seems to be the only one in a real low light situation) here all have one thing in common, and it's the deal breaker for me: they don't need fine detail to work.

The two indoor "crowd" shots look liked there was at least a modicum of usable light, but - with great respect - there's no real detail in them. Perhaps that's down to downsizing for the web, but whatever, it's not there.

It's also hard to judge their value as examples of "great" high ISO performance without EXIF data - 1000 ISO at f/22 and 1/1250 (say) would still mean a lot of usable light on the scene.

This is by no means a criticism of the pictures (I am just trying to be objective here), it's simply what the D200 seems to do to low light/high ISO images, even when perfectly exposed (or even over exposed - I've tested mine by deliberately over exposing my up to two stops, and still got unacceptable amounts of noise, even at lowish ISOs - below 800, certainly. I'm not alone either).

As I say, many pictures simply don't need detail in order to work.

I am in absolutely no doubt whatsoever that if you want to capture fine detail (fine feather detail, for example), the D200 plus low light is a recipe for disaster: I'm on my second D200 body, and the best thing I can say about the latest is that it's a little bit less appalling than the first one in low light.

But neither of them were/are worth getting out of the bag in less than great light - my trusty D70 is streets better.

It's the kind of noise generated by the D200 that's the problem - it destroys fine detail in such a way that even the best NR software can't save pictures so affected: in effect the D200 simply fails to capture the detail in the first place.

My suspicion is that the in-camera NR is a "blunt instrument", and that (despite what the manual says) it's always on, and to a greater extent than we're led to believe.

The 10mp sensor is by definition more noisy than (say) the 6.1mp in the D70. Shoe-horn an extra 4mp into a DX-sized sensor and something's got to give.

Here it is the size of the individual photosites: to squeeze in the extra 4mp, there is a significant reduction in the size - and sensitivity - of each photosite. This means that each one is less able to capture as much light as the much bigger photosite on a 6mp sensor.

To counter the increased noise generated by having to amplify the signal from the chip to make up for the lower native sensitivity of the smaller photosites, Nikon have (in my opinion) decided to have NR on at all times: but the in-camera NR does little more than smear any semblance of detail into non-existence.

At low ISOs the effect might be negligible, but from ISO 400 upwards, the effect is very bad, and at 800+ it is intolerable for me, and a complete waste of the improved resolution the extra 4mp was supposed to bring.

With respect to Ruchai, I believe that you can see that I mean if you take a close look at the wings of the bird in his picture (or anywhere on the bird, really).

The feather detail has been "posterized" (or smeared, which is what this effect is becoming known as) by, I feel, a combination of the ugly, hard-to-manage noise peculiar to the D200, and clumsy in-camera NR which together mean that any resolution advantage the 10mp chip should provide is killed stone dead.

The picture has needed rather a lot of sharpening too, in order to put some level of crispness back, but this has resulted in sharpening artifacts which hurt the detail even more.

Note that this is a (possibly downsized?) 250 ISO image...

(I mean no offence, Ruchai - I'm simply pointing out what I see, and it's still a nice image).

If a given D200 user is happy with its noise/detail performance for the shooting they do, then it's hard to imagine a better camera: but if a photographer shoots in low light and fine detail is critical, it's pretty hard to imagine how it could be worse...

My D70 produces far more usable high ISO pictures (they might need PP NR, but at least the camera captures the detail in the first place, giving the NR software something to work with), and it's insane that the D50 should do so much better in the high ISO noise stakes than the D200, especially given the colossal price difference.


Keith


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Old May 10, 2006, 10:54 AM   #14
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Let me ask this question... wouldn't it help if you were shooting those higher ISO shots in RAW vs jpeg???
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Old May 10, 2006, 11:24 AM   #15
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Buzzsaw wrote:
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Let me ask this question... wouldn't it help if you were shooting those higher ISO shots in RAW vs jpeg???
Hi Buzzsaw,



if this question is directed at me, I have to say that it doesn't help nearly enough.



I shootNEF exclusively, and convert (plus USM) in NC 4.4 (just as I do with my D70). Sadly the results with the D200 are still far, far belowwhat I think is areasonable expectation of IQ.

Using the NC noise reduction offers no help either.



It's rather good at "smoothing" things (much like the in-camera NR, not surprisingly), and for many kinds of shooting, that's great. But forfeather detail, for example - it's just gone.
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Old May 10, 2006, 12:17 PM   #16
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So ISO 400 and below is where it's at huh? I just got my D200 a few weeks ago and will have to experiment with different ISO settings... I'll post on this down the road.

Good information Keith!
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Old May 10, 2006, 3:52 PM   #17
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Buzzsaw wrote:
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So ISO 400 and below is where it's at huh? I just got my D200 a few weeks ago and will have to experiment with different ISO settings... I'll post on this down the road.

Good information Keith!
Hi again, Buzzsaw,

please understand that I'm speaking only about my own experiences and expectations, though they are real, honest, and sincerely stated.

I've been accused of all sorts of wickedness by Nikon fanboys on other sites, for having the temerity to speak so blasphemously - "The Cult Of Nikon" is alive and well, it would seem, and saints preserve anyone who speaks ill of it..!



Other people are clearly delighted by what the D200 can do for them, and if I didn't shoot birds, I expect I'd be really happy too.

I am however, in constant discussion with several other D200 users (like me, bird photographers who routinely shoot in less than "ideal" light) who are equally disappointed by the inability of the D200 to capture fine detail well, even in good light.

Funnily enough, one of these users has given up entirely on his D200 (his third D200 body) and now uses his D50 again exlusively.

For myself, the D200 (my second) has been packed up and ready to return to the shop for two weeks now, pending confirmation that I can have my money back.

I'm using my D70 again, and although it's slower and far less impressive to handle and use, I'm at least getting images I'm happy with again (as with the D200, I use Auto ISO all the time on the D70, so I know I'm getting the best possible ISO for a given situation).

But again, you might love yours - I've seen low light, high ISO shots of gigs (for example) which look fantastic - but this really is a camera which sinks or swims on the basis of the use to which you will put it.
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Old May 10, 2006, 4:46 PM   #18
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Interesting reading, you sound like a guy I know who recently bought a D2X. I digress.... My question is, who really searches out the great pictures of birds in bad light? I don't even waste my time, I just go fishing. I guess I'll have to do some practice shots and do the 100% zoom thing and come up with my own conclusion.
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Old May 10, 2006, 7:42 PM   #19
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lol Buzzsaw your avatar is hilarious.

Although from what ive seen The D50 is quite a bit better at low noise handling, I have heard that the D200 is quite a bit faster autofocusing and tracking. I guess to each his own.

I couldn't afford a D200 anyway, so I guess theres no comparison to me, But I got the D50 over the Competitors (Pentax, Konica, Olympus and Canon) Almost entirely for the Low noise at high ISO's (that and the 50mm F1.8 for 150$ = extremely cheap night / Club camera). Also I like wide angle so the 1.5x focal multiplier was pretty handy aswell.
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Old May 10, 2006, 8:04 PM   #20
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There are no perfect camera for birding. I have both the D50 and D200 and think the D200 is a better camera for wild birds. The ability to change settings while shooting, particularly the "3 buttons" that will enable changing of qual/wb/iso are god sent for birders. I now use my D50 for macro of insects and flowers and D200 exclusively for birds. I could not think of any other DSLR in the market today that is more suitable for birding. I do have noises problem with my D50. It's the noises made by the mirrorthat chased away birds!
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