Over the past few weeks, I’ve been working my way through a selection of the current mid-range digital SLRs, with examples from Canon, Olympus and Sony. This week I’m taking a look at the Nikon D200. Like the others, the D200 is aimed at the advanced enthusiast or semi-professional. With a 10.2 megapixel CCD, a tough weatherproof body and exceptional handling and controllability, it has a specification that will satisfy even the most demanding photographer.
The D200 was announced in November 2005. Its name might suggest a close similarity with Nikon’s first non-professional DSLR the 6MP D100, which was launched in early 2002 and remarkably still going strong over four years later. However the D200 is much more than an update of the older model. Instead, it fits into the Nikon DSLR range above the D100 but just below the pair of professional workhorses, the D2h and D2X.
This applies to the price as well. The D200 has a recommended retail price of £1,299.99 body only, or £2,299.99 complete with the superb AF-S Nikkor 17-55 f2.8 lens that was supplied with the review sample, although this kit is available for around £2000 from some online retailers. For comparison, the D100 is £699 body only, while the D2X is £2279.
The first thing you notice about the D200 is inevitably its weight, especially when fitted with this lens. Despite the fact that Nikon’s own advertising describes it as lightweight, the camera body alone weighs a hefty 830g without the battery, and the lens weighs a further 755g. Having over three pounds of camera hanging around your neck can be quite a tiring experience on a long day’s shooting. It is 140g heavier than the Canon EOS 30D, and a whopping 280g heavier than the new Sony Alpha DSLR.
The D200 is also a physically large camera, much larger than all of its direct competitors. It is 19mm taller than the Sony Alpha and 26mm taller than the Olympus E-330.
However it’s easy to see why the camera is so bulky. It is extremely robust, and is designed to withstand rough treatment and serious outdoor use. It has a strong magnesium alloy body, and is equipped with rubber dust/moisture seals around the controls and external hatches. While not strictly speaking waterproof, the D200 should be able to withstand light showers, dust or water spray from aquatic activities. One surprising omission in this regard is the lack of a seal around the lens mount, as is found on fully professional cameras such as the Canon EOS 1DS MkII.