Nikon D200 digital SLR body

A long time coming, is it worth the wait?

Following a welcome trend for digital SLRs, Nikon's fitted the D200 with a large and bright 2.5in colour monitor, sporting 230,000 pixels for sharp, detailed images. The benefit of extra pixels goes beyond image playback though, as Nikon has redesigned its user interface to feature large, smooth fonts with graduated backgrounds. And before you have any concerns over presentation, it's a very clean and classy design which makes navigating the wide array of menu options and the 45 custom functions much more pleasant. The display itself is also protected by the traditional (and removeable) Nikon plastic cover.

Nikon D200 digital SLR body

During playback, up to five pages of information can be cycled through, any of which can be enabled or disabled using the Display Mode menu. Two pages provide the choice of either a conventional brightness histogram, or separate red, green and blue histograms; unlike a combined histogram, separate RGB graphs can uniquely reveal if only one channel is responsible for clipping, when the others may in fact be fine.

Like other Nikon digital SLRs, image magnification during playback is achieved by first pressing the magnifying button, before holding another and turning the thumb wheel to adjust the size of a marquee. When you let go, the image is magnified and the multi-selector used to pan around. While standard practice on Nikon digital SLRs, we personally feel it's unnecessarily complicated compared to just having simple zoom-in and out buttons like most digital SLRs. Sensor and files

The D200 is equipped with a new 10.2-megapixel CCD sensor which measures 2.4 x 1.6cm and conforms to Nikon's DX format - this means any lenses you attach effectively have their field of view reduced by 1.5 times, so the 17-55mm f2.8 lens we used for most of our tests effectively performed like a 25.5-82.5mm lens on a 35mm body.

The maximum image size measures 3872 x 2592 pixels, which is a big step up from the 3008 x 2000 pixels of the D100, D50 and D70 series. If you're reproducing at 300dpi, this allows the D200 images to be printed around 3.5in larger on their diagonal. The difference between the D200 and D2X is much closer though, with the D2X images only allowing an extra 1.5in diagonally beyond the D200 at 300dpi. This is roughly equivalent to the step-up from the D200 to Canon's 5D.

Images can be recorded at three different resolutions, each with the choice of three different JPEG compression levels: best quality JPEGs typically measure between 3 and 6MB, with most working out around 4.5-5MB each. Images can also be recorded in Nikon's NEF RAW format, either with or without compression, although the former does introduce minor losses. RAW files can be recorded with or without an accompanying JPEG at any quality setting.

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