• Price When Reviewed: 1106 . 1957

  • Pros: Rugged, compact body with superbly versatile 11-point AF system. Large bright viewfinder and incredible range of custom options.

  • Cons: Basic RAW processing software, and the 1/250 flash sync is on the low side.

  • Expert Rating: We rate this 9 out of 10We rate this 9 out of 10We rate this 9 out of 10We rate this 9 out of 10We rate this 9 out of 10 Best Buy We rate this 9 out of 10

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Sitting between the company’s D2-series and the popular D70s, Nikon’s 10.2-megapixel D200 is the long-overdue replacement for the D100 digital SLR. It uses the same DX-size CCD sensor as its six-megapixel forerunner, and is compatible with many Nikkor and Nikon-fit interchangeable lenses.

The D200 has a new magnesium-alloy body with environmental sealing and continuous shooting at just over 5fps, with a 37 JPG or 22 RAW file buffer. Other professional features include a wide sensitivity from ISO 100-1600, plus a ‘Hi’ setting, which is equivalent to ISO3200. A durable shutter, and a reasonably fast 1/250sec studio flash-sync also feature.

In terms of specifications, the new Nikon boasts the sort of headline grabbing features that imaging professionals expect. However, the D200 has a lot more to offer.

For a compact-bodied and feature-rich SLR, the camera boasts incredibly responsive handling. Compared to the D70s, the D200 is considerably larger and heavier – it weighs in at 830g. The build quality is high, and in terms of layout, it’s like a scaled-down D2X, both in operation and function. The most commonly used settings for quality, white-balance, and ISO can be found on the top plate, which simplifies selection.

In line with its rivals, the D200 sports a large, detailed, 2.5-inch screen with a 170-degree viewing angle. Better still is the large and bright viewfinder that makes the view from most other digital SLRs with cropped sensors look cramped and inadequate. The 11-point AF system, adapted from the D2X, is a revelation – it’s by far the finest at this level. The system is flexible in its various configurations, and each point or group of points is clearly lit, dispelling any doubt as to where in the scene the camera has focused.

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Other helpful touches in the viewfinder include ISO’s alongside exposure settings, as well as on-screen warnings for battery power and absent memory cards. In playback mode, you can check images for exposure accuracy using the reliable RGB-histogram option. Along with a choice of three image sizes and three levels of JPG compression, the user can now choose between fairly constant file sizes (and run the risk of higher compression at times) or to allow JPGs <BR>
to vary in size depending on the image detail. As well as the choice of colour space, there are extensive adjustments for image parameters. The layout of these functions is a little illogical in places, but you’ll get used to it. 
In fact, the D200 has an almost bewildering array of user options, allowing for fine-tuning and personalization way beyond the norm. One such feature, hived directly from the D2X, is the Fine Tune Optimal Exposure option, which allows the user to customize the camera’s metering, on a permanent basis if necessary, from the factory default in 0.15EV steps. If you don’t like the way the 3D Colour Matrix II meter deliberately underexposes contrast-heavy scenes to preserve highlight detail, you can adjust it to suit you. Naturally, exposure compensation and bracketing options work in tandem with any adjustment made to the meter. 
Additional settings for noise reduction allow even greater control at higher sensitivity, though between ISO 800 and ISO 3200 noise levels creep up. Nevertheless, Nikon has achieved a remarkable result, and users are unlikely to encounter serious noise problems unless heavily cropping or viewing an enlarged close-up.
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