Nikon's Fast, Powerful, and Pricey SLR

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At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Nikon D200 Digital SLR Camera

Nikon D200
Powerful and beautifully designed, Nikon's new D200 fills a gaping hole in the company's digital SLR lineup. Ideal for pros and serious amateurs, the $1700 (body only), 10.2-megapixel camera fits nicely between the $900, 6.1-megapixel D70s and the company's top-of-the-line and very costly ($4500) 12.4-megapixel D2X. I predict that many D70s owners will want to upgrade to the D200's higher megapixel count and more-sophisticated controls.

Nikon built the D200 with a beefy magnesium body and loaded it with dedicated buttons and dials. The camera is clearly a descendant of the D2X, although a bit less bulky. The body still feels weighty (it's around 2 pounds with battery) and is a bit chunky; it also feels like you could pound nails with it.

Two of this camera's more intriguing features are its GPS connectivity, which lets you add location information to your photos--extremely cool--and a control that lets you shoot multiple exposures, an exceptionally rare option in digital cameras.

More-Intuitive Controls

The D200's controls seem more intuitive than those of previous Nikon models. The menus, for example, are no less multilayered, but they're nicely organized, well labeled, and color-coded--all of which help with navigation speed. Still, the sheer number of options means that finding specific controls when you first pick up this camera can take time. The Recent Settings menu helps, as does the built-in help system.

Nikon gave the camera a huge--bordering on bewildering--selection of focusing options. The auto-focus was dead-on for most of my informal shots, with the surprising exception of a few scenic photos, usually the easiest type of picture for auto-focus systems; this lapse may be a case of the operator selecting the wrong type of auto-focus, however. The camera was generally quick and accurate, even with such challenges as capturing birds in flight.

Our Images

As you'd expect with a 10.2-megapixel CCD, the images I shot with the D200 looked sharp, living up to my high expectations. In lab testing, the D200 earned very high marks for the absence of distortion in its images. Color and exposure accuracy were less impressive. Like many digital SLRs, the D200 tends to underexpose slightly in auto-exposure settings. Color saturation was a mixed bag--a bit muted with earth tones, but nicely saturated with bright whites and reds.

Until now, the Canon 20D was the leading candidate to be my next SLR. But the advent of Nikon's D200 complicates matters--now I have to choose between two exceptional cameras.

Nikon D200

The missing link between consumer and professional SLRs, the D200 is fast, powerful, and beautiful.
Price when reviewed: $2000 (body and 18mm-70mm lens)
Current prices (if available)

This story, "Nikon's Fast, Powerful, and Pricey SLR" was originally published by PCWorld.

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At a Glance
  • The D200 is fast, powerful, and beautiful. Menu navigation has improved, and you can add GPS location info to your photos.

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