Hours of Idleness-A Photographer's Journey in St. Louis

Nikon D200- The Camera that Time Forgot?

Posted in photography, technique by Jason Gray on November 11, 2014

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Earlier this year, the camera that I have been using as a back-up (Nikon D50) finally died, and although I was planning to give it to my wife, I still needed something in the bag as a back-up for the occasional event photography that I still do. At the time, I was faced with a real dilemma; do I make my D300 a back-up by upgrading to full-frame (size, cost and pixels that I don’t currently need) or by downgrading (in all but image quality) to a D7100? How much event photography was I really planning to do moving forward with my current full-time job at the Museum? I decided on a stopgap approach; I bought a used Nikon D200.

jasongray03FRONT

Even in 2014, the Nikon D200 is a very capable camera in virtually every way except low light (but then again, the D50 was about on par). In fact, the Multi-Cam autofocusing module that the D200 uses is very similar to the one still used by Nikon in its entry level cameras (D3XXX and D5XXX). Specifications are as follows:

-Magnesium alloy chassis with dust and moisture sealing (note: not weather sealed exactly).
-10.2 megapixel DX CCD sensor
-3D Matrix Metering II (1,005 pixel array)
-5 frames per second and a 37 frame buffer (in jpeg)
-11 area AF system
-Nikon CLS Commander built-in
-2.5″ rear LCD
-Non CPU lens function (compatible with older lenses)

jasongray04BACK

For all intents and purposes, the Nikon D200 really is still a beast of a camera, and a lot of fun to shoot. Like the D300, it balances well with heavier glass, and the controls are similar enough between the two that I sometimes don’t realize which one I am using. I’ve shot the camera almost all summer now, and I enjoy pretty much everything about it. The only real problems with the camera (nine years old!) are that it sucks down battery life, has limited dynamic range compared to the D300, and makes you exercise every photographer muscle in your body for lowlight photography. I wrote earlier that I was going to give the D50 to my wife; well, she ended up buying a Nikon D3200, and this cam performs about as well in good light (though the D3200 handles highlights better, too).

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jasongray07FLASH

I seem to possess a penchant for acquiring camera “underdogs”, and the D200 is definitely that in this day and age. However, this camera was once a champion, and I think that pedigree is still very visible. If you pick one of these up (I got mine for $200), I doubt you will have any trouble loving it as much as I do. Though time may have forgotten this camera, I see plenty of new memories with it still ahead.

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Images taken with the Nikon D200:

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15 Responses

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  1. William C Hutton Jr (@williamchutton) said, on November 11, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    Jason,

    Good call!

    The found the D200 to be a tough, reliable camera. I used mine in wet conditions with no problems.

    Above ISO 800 (low light) I preferred to process the raw files as B&W. But color at ISO 1600 is ok if you don’t have to selectively push the shadow regions during post.

    For $200 the D200 can’t be beat!

  2. Jason Gray said, on November 11, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    Thanks, William!

    I agree; I made a fantastic $200 investment.

  3. Richard R. Barron said, on December 18, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    My biggest reason for loving the D200 is that history cast it aside, and left it to me for $250 apiece. In the right hands (I include myself in that group), shooting RAW files and adding light as needed, this camera can make amazing images.

    http://richardbarron.net/cameras/2013/05/23/the-d-tundred/

  4. CL said, on September 26, 2015 at 1:21 am

    I still process from time to time raw files from my D200 that are in my archives. I’m still very impressed about those files (if they are not over 800 iso, that is). I gave that camera to my Dad and I almost regret not having it around as a backup should my D700 die (knocking on wood).

  5. […] Nikon D200 […]

  6. […] addition to the Nikon D100, I have owned the Nikon D200 and Nikon D300. I love this series of cameras and have enjoyed their evolution all the way back to […]

  7. Tom said, on May 28, 2016 at 8:44 pm

    Great article, great camera. I love it too and I am still trying to figure out why anyone would complain about it for any reason. It is a real photographer’s camera. Maybe there are better ones out there but you will not know it using this camera.

  8. Jason Gray said, on May 29, 2016 at 7:17 am

    Thanks, Tom! Totally agree, the D200 is one of the best cams out there ergonomically.

  9. […] Focus: Multi-Cam 1000 (similar to Nikon D200‘s), 11 phase detect, 1 cross type AF […]

  10. […] in terms of architectural diversity and density.  This was the first Photo Flood that I shot on my Nikon D200, and I think that it did a splendid job, despite the almost ten year old sensor technology.  For […]

  11. […] this Photo Flood, I used my Nikon D300 with the Nikkor 20mm f/2.8 AIS and Nikon D200 with Nikon 50mm f/1.8E.  This set-up, an alternative to my 24mm f/2.8D and 50mm f/1.8D, is my […]

  12. Hanno van Tartu said, on April 8, 2017 at 12:32 pm

    After using D300 and D700 for years, I could not resist a second hand D200 for USD 120 + another USD 80 for shipping and customs. With only 7022 shutter actuations it is practically new. For reasons I do not fully understand, it feels more right with manual Nikkors than D300.

  13. Jason Gray said, on April 12, 2017 at 1:31 pm

    That is very interesting, Hanno. I am not sure why that would be, unless perhaps the CCD sensor is lending something (I’ve noticed better highlight recovery between the D200 and D300, which I think may be a factor of that sensor type when compared to similar era of CMOS sensors). Also, many of the older lenses tend to be a bit contrastier due to their simplified designs, which might combine with the highlight recovery ability of the D200 for some of what you are experiencing. That said, the matrix metering of the 300 and 700 are definitely better, so who knows. Glad you are enjoying shooting it though!

  14. jaime frias said, on May 30, 2017 at 9:11 pm

    same here..about 800 iso anything above this i cant imagine anything good.. for some reason it takes some great pictures when you pair it with older nikon manual lenses.. i stuck an old ais 28mm lens to it and manually focused and the photos were more than great.. like any other body it depends on the lens that you use. i used this lens with an ISO 500 and at low light it was great as the lens was an f1.4 i bought on ebay for under 150..i do have other nikon bodys but needed a reason why i still kept the nikon d200 around and found one..

  15. Hans Scheimpflug said, on June 8, 2017 at 5:51 am

    I still use two of them. I just like the camera.
    By the way, it’s “all intents and purposes”.
    Bye for now


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