Old 10-19-2006, 04:41 AM   #1
lock4244
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Default Nikon D200 Question

I currently shoot with a pair of all manual Nikon F3's and K64. I'm going digital soon due to the rising cost of K64 and the excellent quality photos that are capable with DSLR's. I'm looking at the Nikon D200 since my existing lenses are all compatible with it, I can't afford to replace my lenses, and they cost me a small fortune over time! I understand I won't have the ability to meter which I can live with, and am perfectly fine without AF or any other auto function.

Can anyone out there shed some light on how good a DSLR the D200 is? Your experience with it? Any drawbacks? Image quality? General comments?

I'd really appreciate any insight out there, thanks!

Mike
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Old 10-19-2006, 05:47 AM   #2
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thats too bad.
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Old 10-19-2006, 02:02 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pat Lorenz
thats too bad.
Could you elaborate a little...
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Old 10-19-2006, 03:34 PM   #4
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I've been shooting Nikon for 40 years and finally went digital on a trial basis last year with the D70. A friend was moving up to the pro model and sold me his D70 at a good price. I found almost immediately that I was shooting more digital and less film, but the RAW buffer on the D70 was only good for 5 shots. Not good enough for two bursts of a three shot bracket. Otherwise, I liked the camera as it felt pretty much like a light weight version of my F100. I moved up to a D200 this spring and have shot one roll of slide film since!

The D200 feels just like my F100 and has a 21 shot RAW buffer! You can use the meter with older Nikon lenses with the D200. You have to tell the camera what the focal length and maximum aperature is, but it will work with non automatic lenses. The cheaper models won't do this. It's also really well sealed against dust and moisture.

I've reached the age where with bi-focals I was starting to get some soft focus shots when I focused manually. When I used auto focus with my F100, it ran the batteries down too quickly, but auto focus with the D200 works like a snap. Photos are tack sharp, resolution is better than I can get even by scanning my old Kodachromes at 5400 dpi! With the 2.5" LCD on the back, you can check your focus and exposure. Once you learn to use the histogram feature, you can get your exposures so good you don't need to bracket. I still do when I am working quickly, but when I have time, I shoot in manual and don't bracket. That test shot tells you all you need to know!

Variable ISO is fantastic. The camera shoots at up to 800 ISO with essentially no noise. You can go higher, but you will either get more noise or a slight decrease in resolution caused by the anti noise software which you can either turn on or off. I normally shoot at ISO 200 when using zooms and 100 ISO with prime focus lenses. The neat thing is, you can change the ISO for just the shots that need them, unlike with film where you are either stuck with the wrong speed or wasting part of a roll.

The only drawback to the D200 that I have found so far is the batteries are always on back order. It took me until this week before I was able to buy an extra battery. I was able to shoot all day in 32 degree weather, auto focus on, with one battery, but I generally like to have a couple of charged spares in my bag.

Since you are starting new, buy at least a couple extra 2 GIG cards, but 4 GIG's would be better. I have some 1 GIG cards left from my D70 (keeping it as a back up) and they only hold about 50 shots in RAW. Not having to change film is one of the nice things about digital, so with a 4GIG card you have about 220 shots before you need to reload!

Here's a shot I took with my D200
Image © Michael F. Allen
PhotoID: 152813
Photograph © Michael F. Allen

Michael Allen
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Old 10-19-2006, 05:03 PM   #5
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Thanks Michael, that is exactly what I was looking for. I'm pretty apprehensive about going digital, but I'll chalk that up to fear of the unknown. And thanks for reminding me of batteries, I have MD4 motor drives on both of my F3's and they have eight AA batteries in them. In the 9 or so years I've had these cameras I've had to change the batteries twice in each camera! Low power consumption is one definite advantage of the old manual camera... but I kinda get tired of waiting three weeks to get my images back from Qualex

Thanks again.

PS, love that shot!
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Old 10-19-2006, 05:18 PM   #6
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Yeah, and wondering which ones were going to have scratches on them! That's another thing, no more scratches, period! Also, if anything goes wrong, you know about it right now, not three weeks later when your blank slides or way over/under exposed slides come back. Lenses do stick and fail to stop down, shutters hang up, etc. With digital, you see your shot and know if you got it or not!

I too resisted the change. I like projecting slides. I like the feel of an image in my hand and on my light table, but a 19" computer screen makes a much better light table and my back doesn't get tired bending over it with a 10X Loupe! I took both film and digital on a major trip in February and shot half and half. I again took film and digital on a major trip in May and only shot digital. I shot a roll of slides one day, only because I had used up all my memory cards!

The one thing you need to remember is, back up your work. If you are going to be shooting more on a trip than you have cards for, download onto your lap top and then download onto a second hard drive. You can get tiny externals that take up hardly any space. At home, I keep my images stored on an images only drive in my computer and on a second external drive which I only run when I'm downloading to it. The odds on two drives crashing at once are very slight. I don't screw around with making copies to CD's or DVD's, as they can get lost or damaged and your image organizing software can't find them.

M. Ross Valentine is probably the best person I know of for the technical aspects of railfan digital imaging (he does Kalmbach's digital work for their special issues) and he said he has gone the entire route from making CD's, making DVD's and has finally settled on multiple hard drives. You can get 400 GIG drives for under $150.

Michael Allen
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Old 10-19-2006, 07:16 PM   #7
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"You can get 400 GIG drives for under $150."

Have you seen this online anywhere? I think Newegg has some 500 gig in the $250 range
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Old 10-19-2006, 07:57 PM   #8
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Oh yes, those wonderful scratches that Qualex adds at no extra charge. Once I eagerly opened a box of slides just back from processing to find pictures of a dissected frog. Boy did my heart sink and my blood began to boil! It was a mix-up at the drop off site, and I got my slides the next day, but that was an unwelcomed experience.

I like the idea of instant feedback on a shot and being able to shoot the scene brfore the train arrives to make sure it's exposed correctly. Should make the learning process alot faster, no more making notes and then waiting a few weeks. And I guess I can retire the graycard as well.
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Old 10-19-2006, 08:04 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lock4244
Could you elaborate a little...
Allow me:

Pat's our resident film/slide lover and fears anything digital. He was just expressing his anguish over losing another person to the digital age...
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Old 10-19-2006, 09:17 PM   #10
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My first trip to China, back in 1985, I dropped all my film off at the Camera store, came back three days later (remember when they would process stuff in 48 hours?) and there was a large paper sack on the shelf behind the counter, with a letter from Kodak (pre-Qualex) attached. "Dear Sir, Due to a rare processing accident......Enclosed find 50 rolls of free film to compensate you!"

You ever see a grown man cry?

The good news was they didn't screw up the slides, the bad news was they had ruined the movies. Remember them? After that, I chucked the movie camera in the corner and never shot another film. I finally bought a Hi-8 Video Camera in 1989 and did get back to doing sound and motion! Then progressed up to digital video, but frankly I'm having so much fun with my digital still camera, I haven't shot any video in a year!

Michael Allen
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Old 10-19-2006, 10:44 PM   #11
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Ween, I had a feeling that Pat's remark had something to do with another slide guy lost to digital. It's unfortunate, and I hate to sideline my two expensive F3's, but K64 is costing me roughly $30.00 Canadian a roll to buy, develop, and cover S&H... it used to be under $14.00 per roll. I can't keep paying that amount per roll. 70 rolls would more than cover the cost of the D200! Also, my slide scanner is permanately broken and replacing it is just not something I want to pay for right now.

Michael, I started shooting K64 in 1996, so the days of 48 hour processing were already gone. I would love to have be able to get that kind of service!
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Old 10-20-2006, 01:16 AM   #12
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Hehehe poor Pat, another one lost to the digital menace.

For a in depth review of the D200 head on over to DPreview or DCRP

Christine.
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Old 10-20-2006, 02:14 AM   #13
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Mike,

Note this from the bottom of the review:

Thanks to its new AI aperture ring connector the D200 supports A / M modes and metering with AI manual focus lenses (essentially anything made since 1977).

That should make it easier to make the change!

Michael
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Old 10-20-2006, 08:06 PM   #14
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Compatibility with my existing lenses is what makes going digital possible. The ability to meter is gravy... I had been told by the "experts" at the camera store that metering was not possible. Good help is so hard to find
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Old 10-23-2006, 05:45 PM   #15
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i could elaborate, but you wouldnt want to hear what i have to say, as that has been discussed in times ago.

I guess i just dont trust computers.

Computers have let me down in numbers far greater then the times film has let me down.

Lock4244,

Go ahead make the switch, but you should probably look for a local proffessional photofinisher, its alot cheaper.

My small town of tucson, AZ has 6 professional photo labs which cator to digital developing and film, slide processing, enlargining and scanning. (not a walgreens lab)

I pay $6 for a development of slides, plus the $4 per roll of film so its like $10 even. (expensive to some, but its my hobby)

I wouldnt be shooting slides if it wasnt for these stores, i think that people are nuts to send undeveloped film through the mail, thats more risky then riding a motorcycle.

You are probably well convinced by now to shoot digital, these guys here just jump on the chance to convert somebody. So do as you wish. I understand your judgement and yes the digital camera will be far cheaper in the long run, but a hobby is about what makes you feel good and what makes you have the greatest amount of fun. As you can see i have riot with my old technology.
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Old 10-23-2006, 07:06 PM   #16
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Pat,

You may have missed that Mike is from Canada, so if he wants to stay with K-64, his processing options are limited to mailing them to the US. His film and processing costs will be much greater in Canada as well, despite the recent improvement in the exchange rate (from the Canadian point of view, that is!).

As far as computers letting you down, that's one of the reasons I said to be sure and back up your files! Do this before you erase your cards!

But if you noticed my earlier post, Kodak has let me down before as well. I don't even want to talk about the now closed Fuji Lab, which screwed up more slides in twelve months than Kodak did in 10 years! If you want decent slide processing, find a local pro outfit, or send them to National Geographic in Washington DC. They do the best processing I have ever seen, but I still went digital after resisting for a long time.

Projectors are coming down in price, prints from digital are better than prints from analog and the freedom you get when shooting digital will rejuvenate you and put a spring in your step. There is absolutely nothing like taking an unusual shot and finding out that you nailed it, or that you need to try it again. Three weeks later is too late to find out that you didn't nail it!

Nothing against film and those who continue to use it. A camera is merely a tool and which tool works best for you is for you to decide. It's a great hobby, digital or analog!

Michael Allen
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Old 10-24-2006, 11:36 PM   #17
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Pat, I shoot Kodachrome 64 and they only process it in New Jersey. So I gotta pay S&H from Toronto to NJ and back. Just got three rolls back that cost $12.99 per roll for developing and S&H. Not too bad, but a roll costs me $9.99. So all told, I'm paying $22.98 per roll, plus 14% sales tax in Ontario (6% federal, 8% provincial)... grand total of $26.20 a roll. K64 used to cost me $13.49 a roll, processing and S&H included. If I bought 100 or more (I would go in for a bulk purchase with some friends), that would be $9.99 for everything!

I tried Fuji slides and was turned off by the colour vs. Kodachrome (addmittedly, I'm used to Kodachrome and am likely biased), and I hated the plastic mounts that Fuji used. Again, I'm used to the K64 mounted in cardboard.

I'm not exactly pleased with switching... my old technology has NEVER let me down, the reliability is fantastic. The cash outlay for a new camera body is money I'd rather put toward my mortgage or retirement savings. I will eventually buy some used lenses for the new camera, more $ there. A digital camera is like a computer, IMHO, in that the technology advances quickly and my $2000.00 camera will be ancient in no time and there will be pressure (from within) to buy a better one. My Nikon F3's are old, yes, but the only advances that were made after them was AF, a feature I don't like to begin with. They are excellent cameras and could last for another 20 years (they are about 20 years old already)... and I could hammer a nail though a board with them they are so solid, or bash a DSLR into bits with an F3, turn around and still take a great pictures with it. I once dropped one onto the floorboard on my old van, and watched it bounce into a snowbank. That dented the top of the eye-piece (cosmetic damage only), but I still shot a train five minutes later with it. I wonder if a DSLR would be so durable... would the LCD screen have survived?
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Old 10-25-2006, 02:38 AM   #18
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Many DSLR's are made of various metal alloys, and not plastic. LCD screens have lots of hard layers protecting the actual screen, and you can add screen protectors to prevent scratching.
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Old 10-25-2006, 03:40 AM   #19
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really, you were turned off by the fuji product. I find that interesting. I know that many use the kodak but i found k64 to be a bit soft, more sutable for wilderness photography. excellent color no doubt, but soft. I found that Fuji was much more sharp and clear, while maintaining the color saturation. But you have used the Kodak for so long i would like to hear your opinions on it, what have you found worked best as far as exposure wise went?

I guess being outside the US is tough for shipping. I by my film from B&H, they have really good prices, although my Provia went up about 40 cents, i doubt it will go any higher soon, i mean digital has its effects on film but there not to the point where production will halt.
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Old 10-25-2006, 09:22 PM   #20
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Pat, I don't like the Fuji plastic mounts the slides come in. Difficult to write on and stamp. Second, I found the colour with Fuji film to be a little too much, a little too pronounced compared with K64. The colour with K64 seems to be more inline with what I see with my eye's, more real. I like the softness, as I'm not a mid-day shooter, I tend to shoot more soft light pictures (early in the moring and later in the day), and fall and winter when the there isn't any high noon sun. I find that K64 stinks with high noon sun and on cloudy days... way too drab and dull. Thus, I tend to avoid shooting on a cloudy day. I also like the way snow looks with K64, soft but still defined, but again on sunny or slightly overcast light. Cloudy, forget about it... all the snow colour seems to run together.

My standard exposure is F5.6 @ 500. I'll drop my F stop down if lighting isn't so great, but I try to keep my shutter speed at 1/500th. Usually on a sunny, snowy day I shoot at F5.6 plus 1/2 stop @500, but the graycard is the deciding factor. ISO 64 film needs alots of light!
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Old 10-25-2006, 10:31 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lock4244
I find that K64 stinks with high noon sun and on cloudy days... way too drab and dull.
I dont think it matters the film, shot in mid day and high sun shots are crap no matter how you look at them.

I will have to agree, after looking at Kodachrome up close, it does have nice color. With all this hype about Kodak, i think i will have to go order me a few rolls, mabey try it out more extensivley. I have shot Provia 100F almost exclusivley, and i will agree, those low film ISO's really can take whatever light you throw at it.

Thanks for the review though, it will give me a good start for Kodak.
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