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Digital Camera Review, Nikon D200 10.2MP CCD Digital SLR Camera

Nikon D200 10.2MP CCD Digital SLR Camera, Back To The Fore
A retro digital look at the professional 10.2MP CCD Nikon D200, bringing back high-quality low-light film-like images to the fore.

The current photography trend that is gaining momentum and popularity, not only with photography enthusiasts of the millennia but also with matured digital photo enthusiasts and film photographers, is the revival and the new interest in CCD photography. Cameras used for this genre are vintage digitals with built CCD sensors that were in production more than 10 years ago, manufactured with technology that has now been considered bypassed and redundant.

Seen across the whole range of camera products from point-and-shoot digicams to superzoom travel compacts, digital bridges, and even the ubiquitous digital SLR camera, CCDs were the standard for camera sensors from the early 80s till the late 2000s. The sensor was acknowledged for its high-quality images with low noise and high sensitivity, and renderings that echo the qualities of pictures taken with film cameras.

Though the CCD sensor has been replaced by the CMOS variety almost across the whole breadth and width of the digital camera industry, cameras with CCD sensors are still readily available today, at prices for the asking, on auction sites, and even in brick-and-mortar stores. While you might get a near-mint or unused unit, complete with their kit packaging, others may need a replacement battery or a battery/charger set, and a memory card to start with.

Nikon D200, AF-Nikkor 50mm 1:1.8D

One camera that fits right into this genre, one that should be considered prime and brought back to the fore, is the well-built and robust Nikon D200, a 10.2MP ASP-C CCD sensor digital SLR camera from 2005.

Nikon D200

The Nikon D200, seen here with the equally vintage AF-Nikkor 50mm 1:1.8D, is my current go-to camera for my CCD sensor outings. The D200, launched in 2005, comes with a 10.2 MP CCD sensor, a shutter speed range from 30 to 1/8,000 seconds, an ISO range from 100 to 1,600, a top LCD panel for display of operating parameters, a 2.5 inch 230,00 pixels rear LCD, 7 area AF, operates in Program, Shutter priority, Aperture priority, and Manual modes, and captures images in JPEG and (NEF) RAW.

Nikon D200, AF-Nikkor 50mm 1:1.8D

Designated as a professional model (see Nikon DSLR Timeline Chart on Wikipedia), the D200 is a very well-built and robust DSLR camera with a magnesium alloy chassis, environmental seals, an excellent user interface, an exceptional feature set, and superior performance. The D200 can be used as well with Ai manual focus and essentially all other Nikkor lenses manufactured from 1977 onward. The D200 is also fitted with an intervalometer for time-lapse photography.

Nikon D200, Front

Taking on the cue from the flagship D2x, the menu system of the D200 is a very comprehensive array of function sets for Playback, Shooting, CSM (custom menus), and Set Up. Modifications to the Shooting or Custom Settings Menu (CSM for short) are saved to one of the four (4) Shooting Menu Banks, initially named A, B, C, and D. Images can be recorded in NEF (RAW) + JPEG (Fine, Normal, and Basic), RAW, or JPEG (Fine, Normal, and Basic) only, with a maximum size of 3872×2592 pixels.

Nikon D200, Top

The D200 is supported by a very bright, sharp, and smooth 2.5-inch 230,000-pixel LCD monitor with a very wide viewing angle, and a control panel dominating the right of the top plane, which provides a full range of information covering photographic and digital settings. The panel has a green backlight which can be illuminated by flicking the power switch to the lamp (right) position.

Nikon D200, Back

The D200 has two AF area modes, an 11-area Normal Zone, and a 7-area Wide Zone, selectable via the AF-area mode switch on the lower back of the camera. In Normal Zone mode, which can be used mainly for static subjects, focus selection can be done from any one of the eleven areas and the camera will focus on the center of the selected area. In Wide Zone mode, the focus is selected from any one of seven areas that cover a wider area of the frame, which is the more useful mode to focus on the general area of a moving subject.

Nikon D200, Bottom

The body weight of the D200 is a hefty 830 grams without a battery, memory card, body cap, or monitor cover. The power supply for the camera's operation is sourced from a Nikon EN-ELe3 Lithium battery pack, which also powers the Nikon D50, D70, D70s, D80, D90, D100, D300S, and D300. While an original battery pack may not hold its charge anymore, alternative replacements, and chargers if missing, are readily available from online stores.

Nikon AF-Nikkor 50mm 1:1.8D

A normal prime lens that has been the choice for decades, the AF-Nikkor 50mm 1:1.8D is one of the few items that you’ll find in both pro and amateur camera bags. The lens is compact, light, fast, easily available, and is always in demand at the auction markets, with prices that are normally higher than the asking. On the D200 the AF-Nikkor 50mm 1:1.8D is equivalent to a 75mm short telephoto lens on a 35mm full-frame camera.

Nikon AF-Nikkor 50mm 1:1.8D
Nikon AF-Nikkor 50mm 1:1.8D

The 1:1.8 aperture lens is well-suited for a variety of lighting conditions, as well as effective with depth-of-field shots, and pleasing bokeh quality with its rounded seven-blade iris. The lens also has SIC (Super Integrated Coating) applied to its individual elements. This helps reduce lens flare and ghosting and renders the image with increased contrast and color accuracy when working in bright and backlit conditions.

Early Images

While I have had the Nikon AF-Nikkor 50mm 1:1.8D for quite some time now, the Nikon D200 is a recent acquisition. The camera was only a low-cost purchase and came with a couple of basic faults, one mentioned in the listing and the other cropping up as I started using the camera. Otherwise, the camera works good and I was happy with it.

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The Nikon D200 is an awesome camera to learn and use, and while you can get away with a few basic shots after going through the Quick tour, learning how to master the range of functions and true features that the camera has may take you a while longer.

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In the hand, the D200 is solid as a brick, firm to hold with no creaks or any hint of flex, added by the comfort of the soft rubber skin and chunky handgrip. Buttons are large, labels are clear labels, and the functional layout is excellent.

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With the camera being past its 15th year of production, I can only assume that age does not matter with the CCD sensor, where images rendered are sharp, clear, and precise.

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Guides and resources for users are readily available for download or read-throughs on the Net. A PDF copy of the 200+ Page User Manual of the Nikon D200 is available for download from the Nikon | Download Center.

The CCD Sensor

The CCD sensor, as we know it, was the standard for camera sensors from the early 80s till the late 2000s. The sensor was acknowledged for its high quality, low noise, and as some say, film-like images. Though most digital cameras today are fitted with sensors of the CMOS variety, which are less costly to produce, and use less power, CCD sensors are still the preferred sensor used in some regions of specialized photography such as optical microscopy, space photography, and near-infrared imaging.

Nikon D200, AF-Nikkor 50mm 1:1.8D

CMOS sensors, however, have an advantage over CCD sensors in terms of speed and performance, because of their ability to allow faster data processing, higher frame rates, more autofocus points, and longer battery life. CCD sensors, on the other hand, can also offer good speed and performance, especially in low-light situations, where they can capture more light with reduced noise.

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