Nikon D200 Gallery 2006-2008
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Thoughts and photos by Michael G. Gordon. You may copy and
reproduce these for non-commercial, personal, non-profit or for the
purpose of comparison, study, comment (fair-use purposes).
The whole point of an SLR is having more than one lens. The "kit" was a Nikon D200 and 18-70mm zoom lens.
I do a lot with that combination. I added a 60 mm f2.8 Micro Nikkor for the ultra-closeups.
iAfter that, the 75-300 mm zoom lens, 18-200 mm zoom lens.
Old lenses laying around:
a big heavy Nikkor "F" 135mm f2, an equally ancient 50 mm f1.8 prime lens, a Swarovski spotting scope with adapter (1100 mm f14)
for the close-up of the eagle, an el-cheapo Cambron 500 mm mirror lens (1980's vintage), a 500 mm f8 "long lens" branded "Five Star",
a wobbly old Celestron C90 Maksutov (wooden box variety). I had doubts about all these old lenses but they all work pretty well. I purchased a T-mount from BH Photo (http://www.bhphotovideo.com) and it works just fine on all these old T-mount lenses.
Impressions, compared with other fine Nikon digital (non-SLR)
Some technical particulars about the images.
- It's big and heavy. Much bigger/heavier than the
Nikon 8700/5700/5000. In fact, you may wish to keep your smaller
camera for casual use.
- It's fast. Reportedly, 0.15 seconds from power on
to first photo. I've never had to wait on it. No more missed photos
waiting for the camera to "boot up" or record its images to memory card.
- It's fun (enjoyable). A different kind of
fun -- this one is very fast and composes with ease. My other cameras
are also fun and better suited for situations where a less conspicuous
camera is appropriate.
- Battery lasts a long time. No electronic viewfinder
to run the battery down.
- Stays Awake for a long time. It doesn't go to
sleep. No worry that just when your Pulitzer Prize photo
opportunity happens your camera has gone to sleep.
- Use your existing Nikkor lenses. Maybe not all of
them, but it preserves your investment in lenses. Beware -- many Nikon
DSLR's are choosey about your old lenses but the D200 seems to take them
all except perhaps for fisheyes that require mirror lockup.
- Photographs have more "snap" to them. I can guess
reasons, and I imagine that many reasons exist:
- Pixels are bigger (ie, sensor pixels). Catch more light,
less noise, pixel-to-pixel contrast changes can be greater.
- In-camera image processing options are rather sophisticated.
- More pixels!
- JPEG compression without chroma subsampling if you wish (big
files, but very crisp).
- Less chance of inadvertent setting changes. Buttons
are not where your hands go. In comparison, I must
frequently check my Nikon 5700 or 8700 to make sure the ISO has not
changed, the focus mode has not changed, the flash is not on or
off. If I hand it to someone, the mere act of doing so changes
two or three settings on the 5700/8700 cameras. However,
you are also quite a bit less likely to hand your Nikon D200 to
Working with the photos
- Large, fine JPEG's with "optimization" turned on consume from 4
to 7 megabytes per shot. Normal JPEG consumes 2 to 4
- Noise influences file size. Noise is no different than fine
detail to the camera and must be recorded. The Nikon D200 is
- Optimized JPEG seems to mean no chroma subsampling --
also known as 1x1, 1x1, 1x1 or 4:4:4. The files are about twice
bigger than "normal" JPEG. Note: "normal" does not mean normal
quality; it refers (in this context) to chroma subsampling or
deliberate fuzziness of color since your eyes have fewer "cones" (color
receptors) as compared to "rods" (black and white or brightness).
On a typical photo at normal viewing distance, I do not think any human
being can visually tell the difference between the two, but if
you enlarge them the difference sometimes becomes important.
a pixel map of the difference between the 7 megabyte optimized JPEG
and the exact same image as a 2.5 megabyte normal JPEG. This is a
3x enlargement of some tree branches and twigs. Where the colors
are exactly the same, the result is white. Where blue "bleeds"
over the black twig, the blue will be visible. In fact, since the
luminance channel has said the twig is "black", then it doesn't really
matter what "color" it is since you won't actually see it and this is
why ordinary photos look pretty good until you get real close.
- It is a good idea to record everything in best or
excellent settings, you can later reduce the size or quality of "good"
ones that you want to keep but are not going to publish in a
magazine. Some people are fanatical about shooting only
RAW (NEF format), but at 16 megabytes a shot, you will soon have a
storage problem. Update: Compressed NEF takes about 7 megabytes
per shot and preserves 11.5 bits per pixel per color. I shoot
everything in compressed NEF nowadays.
- JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)
- JPEGs can be worked by nearly any photo editor. Keep clearly
in mind that each time you open and save a JPEG, you reduce the quality
of the image. You should therefore save your originals, maybe on
CD-ROM, and if it turns out you did not optimize an image the way you
want, copy the original and optimize it a different way, don't
just keep optimizing the same image over and over.
- Adobe Photoshop. The best known, most versatile and
most expensive photo editor.
It is also rather difficult to use if you do not have a
publishing background or training. It uses a lot of
jargon that reflects a heritage of newspaper and publishing
industry and is not very accessible to anyone else.
- Corel Photo Paint is essentially the same thing at half
the price, and while it also has jargon, at least the words are more
accessible to ordinary computer users. Some convergence has taken
place so that Corel Photo Paint is gradually becoming as obfuscated as
- The Gimp. This is not
only free, it is excellent. It is also rather intimidating. You
may decide it ought to have some feature, and very likely it does --
but good luck stumbling across it! The best teacher is playing
with it. Windows users: Be sure to get the GTK+
toolkit installed first then install The Gimp. It
works just fine in Linux or Windows, maybe Mac too.
- RAW format.
- "Nikon View" can open the NEF file format images.
You cannot do a whole lot with Nikon View, but it is okay for color
balance and automatic adjustment of what it thinks the color balance
ought to be. If you find yourself needing to adjust colors or
brightness, it is theoretically quite a lot better to do it with the
12-bit-per-pixel RAW format; then when everything is nice and pretty, then
you save a JPEG or whatever.
- Nikon Capture is the specified program for opening NEF
format files made by the Nikon D200. It is specially made to
remember the adjustments you have made, so that if you have to tinker
with your file, it starts fresh with the original and re-applies your
adjustments to get to the point where you can change those
adjustments. In all cases, the final product has really only been
touched once and thus is as good as can possibly be. It has
some nice features well suited to difficult situations, "D-Lighting"
for instance which is not just a gamma adjustment but "dodges" (hence
the "D" I suppose) and burns automatically. It is quite remarkable
in what it can do with a series of mountain ridges.
- Raw Shooter. A free version exists, hard to find,
and simply amazing for rapid handling of raw images. The idea is
that it shows you low-resolution images, you make adjustments, the
adjustments can be pasted across a whole range of thumbnails, and
then you can save them as JPEG's for purposes you'd use JPEG's. Most
of my photos I keep as JPEG but that's not a good format for editing.
- Adobe Photoshop. Very expensive; also the industry
standard. I find that most of the things I want to do can be done
in the less expensive Photoshop Elements. Unfortunately, most of
the filters (adjustments) in Photoshop Elements are 8 bit filters, meaning
that once you bring in your photos, you must convert them to 8 bit
RGB before you can do things. I use Photoshop Elements to remove
barrel distortion and adjust perspective, which it can do in one
step reducing deterioration of the image quality.
- I have a very large number of photos. If I called one photo
"tulip" then it would duplicate hundreds or thousands of them.
When I get a new camera (every 2 to 3 years with the advent of digital
cameras, every 10 years when it was film), I need to easily know which
tulips are recent. If someone says, "I need photos of
this building since it was painted in January 2006", I had better have
my photos in date order AND subject.
- Many people when they first start out, start simple -- a family
reunion simply gets labeled "family reunion". Some years later,
you have no idea what was the date, or place, and pretty soon you don't
even know what family is in the photos. You die, your heirs
discard everything because they have no idea if any of the photos are
valuable or special in some way.
- The government uses only two storage indexing systems -- subject
or date. Everything has a date, so that is one index.
Everything has a subject -- but the problem is that your photo may have
many subjects in one scene. So it is better to
NOT use "subject" as the main or only thing you call a
photo. You put the subject on the folder, but each image
file should be dated. They actually do have dates hidden
inside them but this date (the EXIF or Exposure Information block)
might be erased by your image editing program.
- Every one of my photos gets dated and named. A little
script handles this for me. If the photos are of a particular
event, I will create a folder (directory) with the name of the event;
but it, in turn, lives under a calendar directory structure. Year
at the top, then Month. So, at the top of the images is 2006;
inside 2006 is 01 through 12. Inside each of those are all the
photos for that month, but if a batch of photos is for an event
(picnic, rodeo, trip to California) then it just gets named as such.
- Beware American non-computer-friendly date
order. If you date your photos "9-3-06" you will soon have
a problem. All of the 9's will clump together. It is better
to use a date order that makes sense to the computer: 2006-09-03 will
be grouped with all of the 2006's, and within 2006's, it will group
with the 09's, and so on. You should also use all 4 digits of the
year. "06-09-03" could be any of six different dates!
Distortion comparison. Nikon 8700 (top) vs 18-70 mm (kit lens,
bottom) on Nikon
|This slice of photo is near the bottom of the
image frame. Top: Nikon 8700, wide angle setting.
Bottom: The Nikon D200 kit lens (18-70mm) not quite at its widest
setting (it can go wider than the Nikon 8700). The 18-70mm
lens has a flatter field, little or no barrel distortion.
I'll get a better example - lakes and seas especially when you point at
the sky or down; such that the horizon is not through the middle of the