D200 using a Tamron Lens.

Started Jul 28, 2013 | Discussions thread
RobG67 Contributing Member • Posts: 818
Re: D200 using a Tamron Lens.

In the examples you shared, there are significant differences between the images... The Tamron was shot at 1/250, f4, 70mm, the Nikkor at 1/400, f/9, 300mm. That difference in aperture is a first clue - the Tamron is wide open, the Nikkor is stopped down, which puts the Tamron at a serious disadvantage; few lenses have great image quality wide open (they tend to be soft), and consumer zooms are notorious for it - the Tamron is nowhere near its sweet spot, the Nikkor is well into its sweet spot. There's one explanation for any image quality difference. Here's some more thoughts...

Firstly, there's a reason that Tamron lenses are cheaper than Nikon (as a rule). I'm not bagging Tamron, they make some fine products, but Nikkors are a step up in quality. AS A RULE. They are also matched to Nikon camera sensors, and that makes a difference; lens makers use different recipes for their glass, and that DOES have an effect on the image that results. Ditto coatings, AF performance, lens and camera firmware, etc. This ain't your Grandad's Box Brownie anymore.

Secondly, apart from all the variables involved in 'testing' 2 different lenses, from 2 different manufacturers, of 2 different base quality levels, used at 2 different focal lengths, in different circumstances with varying aperture settings, you have the basic differences between the bodies to add to the mix.

I'm going to assume that you've been shooting JPG files, given your statement that you're new to photography, that you don't mention NEFs and that you started with a D3100. The D3100 is a consumer camera. While it is a fine piece of kit, its default settings for JPGs are set to maximise the impact of a photograph ie sharpening is set to a highish level, saturation is bumped up and contrast is also turned up a little - this gives a straight from the camera photo that pops.

Your D200, on the other hand, presents a different prospect. Firstly, it's a prosumer camera, which means that its default settings are more neutral, to allow the user to manipulate the image to his taste. ('Prosumer' is a misnomer, IMO - my local paper is still shooting with D200s, 8 years after they were released, and I'd be happy to take on almost any assignment with either of mine...). Secondly, the history of your D200 is unknown - I'm guessing that you stuck the lens on the front of it and started banging away, without looking into the menu system. There are A LOT of settings in the D200 menus, and many of those relate to picture quality, and who knows what's been changed in there before you got your hands on it. In your case, I'd be resetting all those variables to AT LEAST the factory defaults, OR trying to emulate the settings on your D3100. (See the link below for help with finding the default settings.)

The final(?) difference is that the D200 is an old camera, first released in 2005, which makes it pretty well antediluvian in camera years. Sort of pre-ice age. It's still a fine camera, but there's differences in image quality that, although not easily apparent to the average Joe in year to year updates, DO show up if you skip 3 generations of sensor. It's quite possible that you're seeing the fallout from that.

Finally finally, don't despair. As I've intimated, the D200 is a beast. Learn to use it well, and it will help you create many great photos. I have 2 D700s, and I still haven't created a photo that I like as much as my favourites from the D200. To help you learn, because you now have a serious tool in your possession, I'd recommend that you pop over to Thom Hogan's website and order his D200 Guide; it'll help with all those image quality settings, teach you about the D200 focus modes (which are amazingly good, and frustratingly complex) and also give you a good grounding in general dSLR theory and practice. And a heap of other stuff. It's the best $37 you will spend on camera accessories, ever. Here's a link.


As well as ordering the guide, scroll to the bottom of the page and follow the link to his review of the D200, which might help you gain an insight into the camera from the perspective of a long term, professional Nikon user. Note that I'm not a friend of Thom's, nor do I work for him; I'm just a very satisfied customer/reader. Feel free to ask questions in the forum or IM me if you like, I'll do what I can.

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