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It is in the attention to detail that the quality of the D200’s design is most apparent, for example, in the clever viewfinder display. The focus confirmation indicator, which flashes around one of the eleven focus points, is black when shooting a bright scene, but illuminated red when shooting a dark subject. The large and highly detailed LCD information panel on the top of the camera has a user-activated backlight, that is bright enough to read the display in the dark, but not so bright that it ruins your night vision.
It also has that rare luxury, an X-sync socket for connecting a studio flash system, located on the left side of the camera body so the cable doesn’t get in the way when shooting.
Performance and handling are, as one might expect from a camera in this class, superb. Start-up time is effectively instantaneous, and in high-speed shooting mode it can rattle off an impressive five frames per second even in the RAW+JPEG fine mode that most serious users will prefer, with an image buffer large enough to hold 19 frames at this setting. The image buffer empties sequentially at approximately one frame per second, so as soon as the first shot has been processed and saved you can shoot another frame.
Shutter lag is also effectively zero, and the lightning-quick focusing of the expensive AF-S lens allows precise timing of even spur-of-the-moment shots. The camera’s 11-point focusing system itself was very quick and accurate, though I did notice that it seemed to have more problems focusing on low contrast subjects or in low light than I would have expected, especially considering the very bright AF illuminator with which the camera is equipped. However no other reviewers have mentioned this, so maybe it’s just me.
The large 2.5in LCD monitor is decently sharp at 230,000 pixels, and is bright enough to see in sunlight.
The D200 comes with Nikon’s new 7.4V 1500mAh EL3e lithium-ion battery, which is claimed to provide up to 1800 shots on a full charge. I’m not at all convinced about the veracity of that claim, because starting with a full battery I took approximately 250 shots with it, mostly in RAW+JPEG mode and hardly using the flash at all, over the course of five days, by which time the five-segment battery level indicator was down to 1 segment.
The D200 is also something of a memory hog. With JPEG files of approximately 4.5MB and RAW files of nearly 16MB, in RAW+JPEG fine mode a freshly formatted 1GB CompactFlash card only provides enough room for 39 shots. Shooting in only JPEG fine mode will fill it in 112 shots.
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