January 4, 2006


In a bout of extreme fiscal irresponsibility (although it has rather usefully spurred me to finally put a bunch of unwanted stuff on eBay) I gave into temptation on Christmas Eve. I'd read the specs of the new Nikon D200 when the camera was launched, and had harboured vague thoughts that maybe I'd get one someday. When the stars were right and I had the money and could justify it. The main reason for this was that although my D70 is an absolutely fantastic camera which I'd recommend to anyone without hesitation, it was sometimes just a little fiddly for what I like doing, which is taking photos of trains and other things which only give you a few seconds to frame, meter and shoot. The D200 can also make more use of older Nikon manual-focus lenses than the D70, which I like. It's also somewhat more rugged, and has a magnesium-alloy body with gaskets around all the vulnerable bits to make it a bit more weatherproof. All these things are nice, and there are a few other touches which I liked enough to covet one despite the rather-more-than-a-D70 pricetag and the fact that I was really very happy indeed with the D70.

Anyway, I didn't think much more of it until just before Christmas, when I found that I was a bit better off than I thought I'd be. Oh, I thought. Maybe I can get a D200 sometime. When the stars are right. I can always sell the D70 to pay for it. Anyway, supplies are very limited at the moment and it'd take a long time to get one, so I went back to vague lust from afar.

Unfortunately, while visiting my parents I strolled down town on Christmas Eve to buy some presents and glanced in the window of the local camera shop to see.. a D200, with a sign cheerfully advising that this was most likely the only one on sale in Warwickshire. I agonised for a bit, paced up and down a lot, agonised a bit more, then thought "Oh, what the hell", and went in and waved my credit card. To imagine the significance of just finding a D200 on the shelf like that so soon after its release, think of it as being roughly equivalent to just finding a bunch of unsold Xbox 360s in the window of HMV on Christmas Eve. So, well, er, I had a D200 several months earlier than I thought I would, and my gadget lust was sated. Even better, the D70 is going to a good home, which is much nicer than selling it to some random person on eBay who might, like, mistreat it or something.

But what do I think of it? Well, there's certainly no buyer's remorse. As I grew up handling manual film SLRs the controls are nicely laid out (the ISO button being on top rather than shared with the playback button is a big win), and the screen is fantastic. The magnesium-alloy body feels sturdy enough to club an attacking leopard senseless if the need ever arises, and AI lens compatibility is very appealing. I borrowed my dad's 55mm Nikkor macro, and it worked just fine with the D200 - metering and all. And of course, seeing as I tend to crop images heavily, the 10.1MP CCD makes things like that a lot, lot easier. There are a number of other things I could also talk about, but there are plenty of people out there more qualified than me to write in-depth reviews.

There are two things so far which have annoyed me - firstly, it's quite easy to knock the AF selector from AF-S or AF-C to MF as it's a little lever just down by the lens mount (I've lost at least one shot this way already while on the Piccadilly Line), and secondly, the drive mode selector's most usual settings (single, continous low speed and continuous high speed) aren't at the ends of the dial, so it's hard to change drive modes without looking at the dial. I've also lost a shot this way by switching into self-timer mode rather than high-speed mode. Oops.

What I do with it now is, of course, very much up to me. I certainly now have a serious incentive to pay as much attention to my photography as I did when I was younger. I also need to get a decent tripod (as London is the city of gloomy weather and long exposures), and having discovered the magic of really fast lenses after getting an 85mm Nikkor f/1.8 for Christmas I think I'll be hitting eBay for a fast 50mm pretty soon. I have a horrible feeling a copy of Photoshop CS2 might be in my future as well - but in the meantime, there's a move and a wedding to plan. And pay for.

Posted by mpk at January 4, 2006 5:54 PM

Ah yes, the D200! I've been convincing myself not to get one for much the same reason - i.e. they're not readily available anyway - so I'd probably have suffered much the same fate had I strolled past a camera shop with one in stock!

(Instead I went and bought a second hand Mamiya 645 Pro TL, and a whole load of lenses, and am slowly getting back into shooting film, this time medium format.)

Anyway, what was I going to say? Oh yes, Photoshop CS2 - a good, cheap way of getting it is to look out for older copies of 5.5 on sale (e.g. Amazon markets) and then buy the CS2 upgrade (I just went for the basic Photoshop, not the whole suite). I managed to spend just 260 squid, instead of 550! You know you want to...

Posted by: James R Grinter at January 23, 2006 10:34 PM

cat pics

Posted by: Clara-uk at January 25, 2008 4:15 AM
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