Nikon USA (and Europe) have both added knowedge base entries which confirm the existence of the so called 'banding issue'. According to the USA entry this affects only "a limited number of early-production D200 cameras" and that if you have a D200 which exhibits such banding "Nikon will, without charge, evaluate your camera to determine if adjustment to the camera's image output level is required. Adjustment, if required, will optimize the camera's image output level, thereby reducing visible banding to a minimal level."

Phil: It's good that Nikon have finally confirmed this issue, it's a shame they didn't react earlier as discussion about it has been rife for at least six weeks and can only have been damaging to the image of the camera. I'm also a little amused by the "won't be visible in prints of size A3 and smaller" comment from the Nikon Europe text.

Nikon USA KB entry (click here)

Question

Why do I occasionally see vertical lines in my images?

Answer

Question 1: Why do I occasionally see vertical lines in my images?

Patterns of vertical lines, sometimes referred to as banding, are a digital imaging artifact.
Lines can be vertical or horizontal, depending on the orientation of the camera at the time that an affected image was captured. Banding can become visible only in specific shooting conditions that include particular combinations of high contrast scene content, lighting, camera settings, substantial enlargement and the shooting environment.

Banding can be further described as long banding or short banding. Long banding will generally appear throughout an image. Short banding will not appear throughout an image. Commonly, if certain variables coincide, short banding can appear most prominently at intersections of extreme contrast and when an image is enlarged substantially. Appearance of short banding may typically be a pattern of physically short lines and will usually not affect the vast majority of images.

It is important to note that banding will generally be greatly exaggerated when an image is enlarged and viewed on a computer monitor. A useful printed image, even when enlarged to a size that relates to a substantially enlarged monitor image, will not exhibit the same banding (or for that matter, many other artifacts) that may be visible on a monitor. Therefore, artifacts that may be visible on a monitor often have very little practical correlation to the realistic use of an image file (e.g., an image viewed on a monitor in its entirety and enlarged prints).

Question 2: Do some cameras exhibit more banding than others?

The digital imaging artifact commonly known as banding can, in specific and unusual conditions, such as extreme exposure and/or exposure compensation settings and high contrast scenes, become visible.

Nikon has discovered that a limited number of early-production D200 cameras may, in specific and uncommon shooting conditions, record images that can present an excessive pattern of fine pitch lines throughout (long banding).

Question 3: If my D200 exhibits long banding, what can be done to minimize it?

If you experience this, Nikon will, without charge, evaluate your camera to determine if adjustment to the camera’s image output level is required. Adjustment, if required, will optimize the camera’s image output level, thereby reducing visible banding to a minimal level.

Nikon Technical Support personnel can evaluate an affected image file to (1); confirm that your concern is associated to vertical line artifacts and (2), if adjustment to the camera’s image output level will address the condition.

Nikon Europe KB entry (click here)

Question

Why is it that when I enlarge images on the computer screen, I see a pattern of vertical lines throughout the image?

Answer

A pattern of vertical lines may on rare occasions appear in images containing extreme contrast. This will only occur with a limited number of early-production D200 cameras, under normal shooting conditions this pattern will not occur in images.

The pattern will only become visible when the image is enlarged on the computer screen above 100%. The appearance of this pattern may vary depending on the sensitivity setting used, the pattern does not occur at an ISO setting of 100 ISO. Images printed at a print size of A3 (297 mm x 420 mm / 11 in x 14 in.) or smaller this pattern is almost undetectable, and therefore should have little impact on general photography and printing.

If you experienced this pattern occurring in your images, please contact your nearest Nikon service representative. Nikon will adjust the image output level so that the pattern of lines will become virtually undetectable.