View Full Version : D200 - So far...

01-08-2006, 09:19 PM
Finally got to go out and shoot for a day. I also did some testing of various functions of the D200 and I've now shot quite a bit with the 18-200. Went to the San Diego Zoo yesterday. Since my wife was with me, I didn't spend as much time as I'd like fiddling with settings. I pretty much left white balance on auto. In the end, that seems to have worked out OK. I did play with ISO a bit. Probably should have pushed it up more often, as many of the ISO 100 shots were blurred despite the VR. I'm uploading a selection of photos from the first card now to my smugmug account (http://eric-lund.smugmug.com/gallery/1109468/1/51652676).

Got to focus manually a lot, because the autofocus loves to focus on wire cages. That's made all the harder because the zoo residents don't often choose to pose.

I can generally agree with all the positives you have heard about the camera. I can also agree with many of the negatives. The battery hasn't really been exercised fully yet, but I only had two bars left when I ran out of card space (2 2Gig cards - 120 + nefs on each). I suppose I'll get better performance when I don't spend quite so much time reviewing photos. Also, I've heard you get better performance after the battery has been fully exercised a few times.

The optimize image menu is a bit of a pain. That's where the sharpening functions are, and the values don't actually change until you select done. I took a number of photos where I thought I was taking a series of sharpness comparisons at each sharpness setting, then noticed the sharpness on all were still at Auto. Once I figured it out, it was just one added step, and the recent changes menu makes it easy to get to, but still, I'm not sure there was a real logical reason for the "Done" step.

VR is not a replacement for good technique. I had a number of blurred photos when I rushed to get a moving resident. I haven't really done a good comparison of VR on and off, but we've all seen that done, so I'm not concerned. It works. It's just not going to save every photo.

I did some white balance tests: I feel I may have to do the gray card test again, because I'm very displeased with the result. Here's a set of links to several shots using different WB values:

Preset WB w/ gray card

Preset WB w/ expodisc

Auto WB

Incandescent WB

Flash WB w/ on board flash

Viewing these, the gray card was the big surprise. It's very blue compared to the expodisc, which did a much better job (both using the D200 preset WB function). Auto and Flash also did well. Incandescent is a little blue, but the source light was a mix of outdoor and mostly halogen, so I imagine incandescent would need some tuning. However, I can see I have some work to do on the gray card method.

I've done some other tests of sharpness at varying settings. I do need a better tripod, or the patience to use Mirror Up. BTW: That's a bit of important terminology with the D200. Mirror Lock Up (MLU) is the D200 mode for cleaning the sensor, selected from the menu system, and you don't want to be there without the auxiliary power supply. A new shutter costs about $250, as one unfortunate person found out when his battery dropped below the power cutoff for MLU, and closed the shutter on his cleaning tool. Mirror Up is the mode for shooting, and is selected on the mode dial.

I'll review my sharpness findings with photos later, but my impressions are that in camera sharpening works very well, even on the highest setting. However, I was able to achieve a sharper image by turning sharpening off and use USM in post processing.

I'll also review the 18-200 later. So far, I've found it a very capable lens. You can see from the zoo photos that it is quite capable of capturing sharp, well saturated images. Yes, it has a bit of barrel distortion on the wide end, so there are certain subjects and circumstances where another lens will be a better choice, but it's an excellent, everyday, walkaround lens.