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Artificial light White Balance

The D200's automatic white balance performed virtually the same as the D2X, that is to say far from what we would hope in artificial light. As you can see in both incandescent and fluorescent light a color cast is clearly visible. Selecting the preset solves this but that means you'll always have to remember to do so (or manual preset, or RAW).

Incandescent - Auto WB
Red: 7.4%, Blue: 12.6%
Average
Incandescent - Incandescent preset WB
Red: 1.2%, Blue: -2.0%
Good
Fluorescent - Auto WB
Red: -5.5%, Blue: -1.8%
Average
Fluorescent - Fluorescent preset WB
Red: 0.0%, Blue: -0.1%
Excellent

Long Exposure noise reduction / Night shots

The D200 features optional dark frame subtraction noise reduction. This works for longer exposures by take a second equal length exposure with the shutter closed, the pattern noise from this shot is then subtracted from the original image to 'clean' it. In our experience however this was unnecessary for exposures up to 30 seconds (the maximum timed exposure).

Noise reduction Off Noise reduction On
ISO 100, 30 sec, F10 (NR Off) ISO 100, 30 sec, F10 (NR On)

Flash

The D200 supports Nikon's (fairly recent) i-TTL flash metering system which should offer better flash performance by also taking into account subject distance information from type G or D lenses. Our test shots came out noticeably better than with the D2X (although to be fair the background is different). It's a pity the direct flash came out a bit harsh and slightly 'cool' in appearance (although that could easily be dialed down via the camera or flash).

SB-600 direct flash, 1/60 sec, F4 SB-600 bounce flash, 1/60 sec, F4

Vignetting & Light Falloff

We introduced a light falloff test in our EOS 5D review, it allows us to measure the darkening of the corners of the frame due to physical obstruction (such as the rim of the lens barrel) or the reduction of light reaching the far corners of the frame (light falloff).

Testing


Measurement Areas
We aim the camera at a white wall (about 0.5 m away) which is evenly lit by two soft boxes (producing about 10 EV across the entire wall), the lens is manually focused to be about 1m out of focus (to avoid picking up texture detail from the wall). A sequence of shots are now taken at every aperture from maximum to F11 (beyond this there's only a very slow roll-off from the lens & camera combinations we tested), for zoom lenses at both wide angle and telephoto.

These images are then processed by our own analysis software which derives an average luminance (Lum) for the four corners of the frame (5% each) as well as the center (10%), the corners are averaged and the difference between this and the center of the frame is recorded. This value can then be plotted (see graphs below) as a representation of the approximate amount of falloff (as negative percentage).

Range of falloff

The chart below demonstrates the difference that these figures above can make, we took the blank wall luminance value of 75 (about 190,190,190 RGB) as our normal level. Remember that these patches are solid and the actual effect of shading is a softer gradual roll-off which would not necessarily be so obvious.

Compared

  • Nikon lenses
    • Nikkor DX 18 - 200 mm F3.5 - F5.6 VR ($750)
    • Nikkor DX 17 - 55 mm F2.8G ($1200)
       
  • Canon lenses
    • Canon EF-S 17 - 85 mm F4.0 - F5.6 IS ($550)
    • Canon EF 24 - 70 mm F2.8L ($1150)

There's a lot to take in from the graph below, but I'll try to break it down a little. Firstly neither Nikkor lenses on the D200 exhibits enough falloff to be visible in everyday shots (above our -20% threshold). As expected the 'more adventurous' DX 18-200 mm faired slightly less well than the more expensive DX 17-55 mm, especially at telephoto. On the EOS 20D the (less expensive) EF-S 17-85 mm performed noticeably worse than both Nikon lenses at wide angle. Finally the EOS 5D's full frame sensor fully exposes the charateristics of the EF 24-70 mm, the DX 17-55 mm on the D200 (which provides a similar FOV / zoom range) looks increasingly more impressive.

Nikon D200 vs. Canon EOS 20D at wide angle

The images below were produced from our test shots, they have been deliberately 'posterized' to indicate different levels of falloff. Each band represents a 10% drop in luminance. Remember that only a fall off of -20% or more may be noticeable in everyday shots and that the majority of shots taken are at smaller apertures (F5.6 or smaller).

 
Nikon D200
DX 18 - 200 mm F3.5 - F5.6 VR
@ 18 mm (27 mm equiv.)
Canon EOS 20D
EF-S 17 - 85 mm F4.0 - F5.6 IS
@ 17 mm (27.2 mm equiv.)
F3.5 n/a
F4.5
F5.6
F7.1
F9.0
F11

Nikon D200 vs. Canon EOS 5D at wide angle

 
Nikon D200
DX 17 - 55 mm F2.8G
@ 17 mm (25.5 mm equiv.)
Canon EOS 5D
EF 24 - 70 mm F2.8L
@ 24 mm
F2.8
F3.5
F4.5
F5.6
F7.1
F9.0
F11
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Comments

Total comments: 2
RWLee

Likewise, great pics to 8.5x11. Vacation shots and family pics would be hard to beat.
Not a Pro,
Richard
D200
AF-S 18-200mm
DX 300mm
Tokina SD 12-24 F4 (IF) DX

0 upvotes
CagomoC

Two of awesome creative machines that I still use. I'll never give them up. I haven't reached 20,000 shutter counts yet! had these babies since 2006.

Comment edited 48 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Total comments: 2