Nikon D200 digital SLR body

A long time coming, is it worth the wait?

Nikon's developed a new Lithium Ion battery pack for the D200 which offers a Fuel Gauge system, delivering real-time feedback on the battery's charge. This remaining percentage, along with the number of shots since the last charge and details on the actual long-term condition of the battery itself can be viewed by choosing Battery Info from the Setup menu.

Nikon D200 digital SLR body

It's a useful feature and reminiscent of Sony's InfoLithium batteries, but unlike Sony's system the precise remaining charge information isn't shown at all times. Nikon could have implemented this either on the status screen or in the viewfinder, or even on the main colour screen with a single button press rather than forcing you to delve into the menus to find it. That said, the information is used to drive a six-segment battery indicator on the status LCD screen, and like the D50 a low-battery warning can also be configured to appear in the viewfinder itself.

Nikon claims the EN-EL3e should be good for 1800 shots per charge, but if you need longer, there's the optional MB-D200 battery grip which can accommodate a pair of EN-EL3e battery packs (or six AAs), along with providing a portrait grip. One final note: the new EN-EL3e battery may look exactly the same as the EN-EL3 and EN-EL3a packs of earlier Nikon digital SLRs, but Nikon warns they are not compatible with the D200.

The D200's optical viewfinder delivers a wealth of shooting information. Details on view include the metering mode, shutter speed, aperture, exposure mode, exposure compensation, number of shots remaining and the ISO sensitivity; the latter is useful to have on view at all times, as most cameras force you to first hold a button down or check a menu.

Following earlier Nikon digital SLRs, a number of items can also be optionally overlaid on the main viewfinder frame itself. In the lower left corner is an indicator for Black and White mode, and like the D50, there's also icons for low battery and card not present; all three can be disabled using a custom function. Also in the custom function menu is an option to overlay a three-by-three grid like the D70 series, which can greatly aid composition; this is a feature we'd like to see on every digital SLR and makes the physical swapping of a focusing screen (as required with higher-end Canons) seem almost prehistoric.

The viewfinder also shows the 11 focusing points of the newly developed Multi-CAM 1000 AF sensor, each of which becomes ringed or lit red when active, depending on the focusing mode. It's also possible to configure the focusing system to a seven-wide area for better tracking of moving subjects. The viewfinder itself is bright and like the D70s offers 95 per cent coverage, compared to 96 per cent of the Canon EOS-5D and the full 100 per cent of the D2X and Canon 1Ds Mark II.

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