Nikon D200 Review

 
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Nikon D200 Modes and Menus

Program AE: Lets the camera control the shutter speed and aperture settings, although you can vary its choices by turning the Command dial. (That is, you can increase or decrease the aperture the camera has chosen, and the camera will vary the shutter speed to maintain the same overall exposure value. Once you've chosen an offset in the aperture/shutter combination, the camera will continue to control the exposure automatically, while maintaining the aperture/shutter bias you've selected.) This ability to select a persistent bias for the exposure system is very useful, in many cases more so than conventional Aperture or Shutter Priority metering (see below). This is because the "tweaked" Program AE will track even radical changes in subject lighting, not being constrained to a single aperture or shutter speed.

Aperture Priority: Allows you to set the aperture value while the camera automatically selects the appropriate shutter speed. Available apertures will vary with the lens in use.

Shutter Speed Priority: Allows you to set the shutter speed value while the camera automatically selects the appropriate aperture. Shutter speeds range from 1/8,000 to 30 seconds in this mode.

Manual: Lets you select both the aperture value and shutter speed, and increases the shutter speed range to include a Bulb setting for exposures longer than 30 seconds.

Menus:

The menu system on the Nikon D200 is similar in layout to that of the D2x, but take better advantage of the high resolution LCD screen, with larger, smoother fonts and improved graphics. The end result is a much better readability and a more sophisticated appearance. There are four main menus: Playback, Shooting, CSM (custom menus) and Set Up. There's also a fifth Recent Settings option, which lists the 14 most recent setting adjustments made. Navigation takes place via the Four-way Arrow Pad, assisted at times by the Enter button. The menus themselves are chosen via a "tabbed" interface, with icons on the left of the screen corresponding to the four menus.

Whenever you're adjusting settings on the D200's Shooting or Custom Settings Menu (CSM for short), you're actually modifying the settings in a particular Shooting Menu Bank. There are four of these, with default names of A, B, C, and D. You can switch between them via the first menu entry on the Shooting Menu, and there's an option to rename the banks however you like. (Names can contain up to 20 characters, including letters, numbers, and a collection of common symbols.)

The Nikon D200 carries forward the help system of the D2x, but has expanded it to cover essentially every menu item. Whenever a menu item is selected that has a help screen associated with it, a square icon with a question mark on it appears in the lower lefthand corner of the screen. When you press the Protect/Help button, the LCD screen will display help information for that current menu selection. Most help screens are just a single page, but a few extend onto multiple pages. The explanations are pretty informative (better than average, we'd say), but there is still room for improvement on a number of the more arcane/involved settings. (Memory is so cheap these days, we don't know why Nikon didn't go the extra mile with an already good idea, and include much more information on some of the help screens. We suspect the help screens are actually read by only a minority of D200 shooters, but the incremental effort and expense to offer more complete explanations of more infrequently-used camera functions seems small relative to the time it could save for D200 owners, helping avoid trips back to the manual to ferret out the information.)

In the section below, rather than reproduce every menu screen in the main text, we've shown screenshots for only the top level of each menu, and provided clickable links in the descriptive text leading to the various sub-screens.

Playback Menu:

  • Delete: Deletes individual images or all images from the memory card (except for protected images). Options are All or Selected, which calls up a thumbnail display.
  • Playback Folder: Allows the user to select the folder from which to display images.
  • Slide Show: Enables an automated slide show of captured images on the memory card, and allows you to set the display interval between images from two to 10 seconds. (Note that the slide show has no audio option as on the D2x, because the D200 has no audio input.)
  • Hide Image: "Hides" selected images, so that they don't display during Playback view.
  • Print Set: Sets up images for printing using the DPOF (Digital Print Order Format). You can select images for printing from a thumbnail view, and designate the number of prints to be made of each.
  • Display Mode: Controls the display options in Playback mode. Selected options will appear in playback mode as you use the Multi-Controller to step through the playback screens. Options are:
    • Data
    • Histogram
    • Highlight
    • RGB Histogram
    • Focus Area.
  • Image Review: Turns the instant image review on or off.
  • After Delete: Specifies the actions following image deletion. Choices are:
    • Show Next
    • Show Previous
    • Continue as Before.
  • Rotate Tall: This function automatically orients vertical images in the LCD monitor for accurate display. The orientation data is written into the EXIF headers of the files, but the file data itself is not affected. Applications able to recognize rotation data in the EXIF headers will display the images with their correct orientation automatically, others will simply show the images in the default horizontal orientation.

Shooting Menu:
(NOTE - in the following, an asterisk (*) denotes the default setting.)

  • Shooting Menu Bank: Four "banks" of settings can be saved on the D200, labeled A*, B, C, and D, letting you save user-specific settings to be called up at anytime. You can also assign up to a 20-character name to each bank.
  • Menu Reset: Restores the menu settings to their defaults.
  • Folders: Creates new folders for image storage, or lets the user select another folder.
  • File Naming: Lets the user replace the "DSC" portion of the file naming with a custom setting.
  • Optimize Image: Adjusts the overall image sharpness, saturation, hue, and contrast, with an option for black & white as well. The main-level options offer presets for particular applications, while Custom mode lets you set a number of parameters individually, via a collection of sub-screens. (See Optimize Image Custom menu screenshots) Main-level options are:
    • Normal
    • Softer
    • Vivid
    • More vivid
    • Portrait
    • Custom
    • Black-and-white
  • Color Space: Sets the color space to sRGB* or Adobe RGB.
  • Image Quality: Sets the image compression level. Choices are:
    • NEF (RAW) + JPEG Fine
    • NEF (RAW) + JPEG Normal
    • NEF (RAW) + JPEG Basic
    • JPEG Fine
    • JPEG Normal*
    • JPEG Basic
  • Image Size: Sets the image resolution to:
    • Large (3,872 x 2,592 pixels)/10.0M
    • Medium (2,896 x 1,944 pixels)/5.6M
    • Small (1,936 x 1,296 pixels)/2.5M
  • JPEG Compression: Lets you choose whether to compress JPEG files to a fixed size*, or to vary the file size for improved quality.
  • RAW Compression: Lets you compress RAW files or opt for no compression*.
  • White Balance: Adjusts the camera's color balance to match a variety of light sources. Choices are Auto*, Incandescent, Fluorescent, Direct Sunlight, Flash, Cloudy, Shade, Choose Color Temp., and Preset (manual setting).
  • Long Exp. NR: Disables* or enables the automatic Noise Reduction feature, which reduces bright noise pixels automatically in exposures longer than eight seconds.
  • High ISO NR: This option increases the camera's Noise Reduction efforts in exposures at ISOs higher than 800. You can choose between Normal*, Low, and High settings, or Off.
  • ISO: Changes the camera's sensitivity setting, from 100* to 1,600, with High +0.3, +0.7, and +1.0 options available as well (displayed as H1, H2, and H3 on the status display). An ISO step size of 1/3, 1/2, or 1 EV can be selected via Custom Settings Menu option b2.
  • Image Overlay: Similar to a multiple exposure tool, this option lets you overlay two previously-captured RAW images to form a new composite image. Note though, that this option only works with images captured in the RAW (NEF) file format. (screenshot)
  • Multiple Exposure: Creates a single photograph by combining from two to 10 images. You can also enable the Auto Gain feature, to adjust the exposure on each individual shot so the final composite image is properly exposed. Unlike the Image Overlay function, Multiple Exposure builds the composite image on the fly (rather than working from previously captured images), and can be used when saving to either JPEG or NEF file formats. (screenshot)
  • Interval Timer Shooting: Enables the camera's time-lapse photography mode, which captures a series of images at preset intervals. (See Interval Timer screenshots)
  • Non CPU Lens Data: This option lets you set the maximum aperture and focal length for non-CPU lenses, so that features like color matrix metering, aperture value display, and balanced fill flash can be used. (See Non-CPU Menu screenshots)

Custom Settings Menu: The D200 divides the Custom Settings menu items into four main banks of settings. "a" is for autofocus, "b" for Metering/Exposure, "c" for Timers/AE&AF Lock, "d" for Shooting/Display, "e" for Bracketing/Flash, and "f" for Controls. Following are the options for each:

  • C - Bank Select: The D200 can store custom settings in up to four "banks" of settings, allowing you to save a series of adjustments to be recalled at any time. Options are A, B, C, and D.
  • R - Menu Reset: Resets all custom settings to their defaults.
    (a: Autofocus)
  • a1: AF-C Priority Selection: Controls whether images can be captured whenever the shutter-release is pressed or only when focus is achieved in Continuous-Servo AF mode. (screenshot) Options are:
    • FPS Rate (default): Photos taken whenever Shutter button is pressed.
    • FPS Rate + AF: Shutter can be released without focus while in Continuous-Servo mode, but continuous-shooting frame rate slows for improved focus if subject is dark or low contrast.
    • Focus: Shutter only released if focus is achieved.
  • a2: AF-S Priority Selection: Similar to the above, sets focus or release priority, but for Single-Servo AF mode.
  • a3: Focus Area Frame: Specifies the number of AF areas available in the frame. Normal (default) is 11 points, while Wide Frame offers seven wider areas in single-area or dynamic-area AF modes.
  • a4: Pattern Selection in Group Dynamic AF: Controls how the focus areas are grouped in Group Dynamic AF, and whether the camera gives priority to the subject in the center. Two patterns are available, both with center priority or closest priority options. The center priority option is fastest, because the camera doesn't have to evaluate all the areas in the group to determine in which the subject is closest. (screenshot)
  • a5: Focus Tracking with Lock-On: Controls how the autofocus adjusts to sudden large changes in the distance to the subject, with options of Long, Normal (default), Short, and Off. Long and Short refer to the period of time before the camera refocuses. (screenshot)
  • a6: AF Activation: Controls whether the Shutter button and the AF On buttons can be used to initiate autofocus. The default is for Shutter and AF-On to both activate focus, or you can select AF-On Only.
  • a7: AF Area Illumination: Turns on or off illumination of the AF indicator icons, which appear whenever focus is set, or places it under Auto control, which is the default. If turned on all the time, the active AF area may be hard to see against some levels of background illumination.
  • a8: Focus Area Selection: Determines whether or not the autofocus area selector tool "wraps" from top to bottom or left to right when selecting the autofocus area. (Default is to not wrap.)
  • a9: Built-in AF-Assist Illuminator: Enables or disables (default) the AF Assist light on the camera's front panel, which automatically comes on in dark shooting situations.
  • a10: AF-On Button for MB-D200 Battery Pack: Controls the function assigned to the AF-On button on the optional MB-D200 battery pack. Choices are:
    • AF-On + Focus Area (default)
    • AF-On
    • AE/AF-L+ Focus Area
    • AE/AF-L
    • Focus Area
    • Same as FUNC Button.


  • (b: Metering/Exposure)
  • b1: ISO Sensitivity Auto Control: If enabled (default is off), this function automatically adjusts the ISO if necessary for a good exposure (not available for ISOs over 1,600). You can set a maximum sensitivity for the camera not to exceed as well as a minimum shutter speed for P and A exposure modes. (screenshot)
  • b2: ISO Sensitivity Step Value: Sets the ISO adjustment variable to 1/3 (default), 1/2, or 1 EV.
  • b3: EV Steps for Exposure Control: Sets the step size for aperture, shutter speed, and bracketing to 1/3 (default), 1/2, or 1 EV.
  • b4: Steps for Exposure Compensation and Fine Tuning: Sets the step size for EV compensation and exposure fine tuning to 1/3 (default), 1/2, or 1 EV.
  • b5: Easy Exposure Compensation: Specifies how Exposure Compensation is adjusted. Off (the default) means you must press the +/- button while rotating the Main Command Dial to adjust the exposure compensation. On lets you set exposure compensation by rotating a Command Dial only. (Which command dial is used is controlled by Custom Setting f5: Change Main/Sub)
  • b6: Center-Weighted Area: Sets the diameter of the metering area for Center-Weighted mode. Choices are 6mm, 8mm (default), 10mm, 13mm, or Average.
  • b7: Fine Tune Optimal Exposure: Disabled by default, this option lets you fine-tune the exposure value selected by the camera for each metering method from +1 to -1 EV in steps of 1/6 EV. (Enabling this feature disables the +/- icon on the display.) (See Exposure Fine-Tuning Menu screenshots)


    (c: Timers / AE&AF Lock)
  • c1: AE Lock control: Designates whether exposure can be locked only by pressing the AE-L/AF-L button, or whether it may also be locked by half-pressing the shutter button.
  • c2: Assignment of AE-L/AF-L Button: Sets the function of the AE-L/ AF-L button, determining whether either or both exposure and focus are locked by pressing it. Options are:
    • AE/AF Lock (default) - Exposure and focus both lock while button is pressed
    • AE Lock only - Only exposure is locked
    • AE Lock Hold/Reset - Exposure locks until button is pressed again, shutter is released, or exposure meter turns off
    • AE Lock Hold - Exposure locks until button is pressed again or exposure meter turns off
    • AF Lock - Focus locks while button is pressed
  • c3: Auto Meter-off Delay: Sets the amount of time that the exposure information displays in the control panel on top of the camera. Choices are 4, 6 (default), 8, or 16 seconds, or No Limit.
  • c4: Self-Timer Delay: Sets the countdown time for the self-timer to 2, 5, 10 (default), or 20 seconds.
  • c5: Monitor Off Delay: Controls the length of time that the LCD monitor remains on during a period of inactivity. Time periods are 10 or 20 seconds (default), or 1, 5 or 10 minutes.
  •  

  • (d: Metering/Exposure)
  • d1: Beep: Adjusts the volume of operating sounds for self-timer countdown or AF lock to High (default), Low, or Off.
  • d2: Viewfinder Grid Display: Turns the alignment grid display in the optical viewfinder on or off (default).
  • d3: Viewfinder Warning Display: Turns off or on (default) warning icons in the viewfinder that the battery is low, no memory card is inserted, or when shooting in black and white.
  • d4: CL-Mode Shooting Speed: Sets the frame rate for Continuous Low shooting mode, to 1, 2, 3 (default), or 4 frames per second.
  • d5: Exposure Delay Mode: If enabled, delays the shutter release about 0.4 seconds after the Shutter button is pressed, to reduce any vibrations caused by pressing the shutter button. (Default is off.)
  • d6: File Number Sequence: Turns continuous file numbering sequencing on or off, or resets numbering. When enabled (the default), sequential file numbering continues from one memory card to the next, instead of resetting with each new card.
  • d7: LCD Illumination: Determines whether the LCD illumination activates with the Power dial turned to the illumination position only (the default) or whenever the exposure meter is active.
  • d8: MB-D200 Battery Type: Selects the type of batteries in use with the MB-D200 pack, to insure the correct minimum-voltage cutoff point. Options are:
    • LR6 (AA-size alkaline)
    • HR6 (AA-size NiMH)
    • FR6 (AA-size lithium)
    • ZR6 (AA-size NiMn).


      (e:Bracketing/Flash)
  • e1: Flash Sync Speed Setting: Sets the flash sync speed from 1/250 (the default) to 1/60 second. A special position (1/250s Auto FP) enables auto high-speed FP (focal plane) sync whenever the shutter speed is faster than 1/250 second, and a Speedlight compatible with Nikon's Creative Lighting System is used.
  • e2: Slowest Speed When Using Flash: Determines the slowest shutter speed possible when using front- or rear-curtain sync or red-eye reduction in Program or Aperture Priority modes, from 1/60 (the default) to 30 seconds.
  • e3: Built-in Flash Mode: Sets the built-in flash to operate TTL (through the lens metering, the default), Manual, Repeat Flash, or Commander modes. Under the Manual option, you can set the flash power from Full to 1/128 power. Repeating Flash mode lets you fire the flash repeatedly while the shutter is open, and you can set the variables for output, time, and interval. Commander mode sets the flash to work with slave units. (See Built-In Flash Menu screenshots)
  • e4: Preview Button Activates Modeling Flash: If enabled (the default), the built-in flash will temporarily light as a modeling flash when the Depth of Field Preview button is pressed. In Commander mode, Speedlights that support the Nikon Creative Lighting System will also emit modeling flashes.
  • e5: Auto Bracketing Set: Controls what settings are affected in bracketing mode. Options are:
    • AE & Flash (default)
    • AE Only
    • Flash Only
    • WB Bracketing (Not available with NEF and NEF+JPEG image quality settings)
  • e6: Auto Bracketing in M Exposure Mode: Controls what settings are affected when AE & Flash or AE Only is selected in the above setting. Choices are:
    • Flash/Speed
    • Flash/Speed/Aperture
    • Flash/Aperture
    • Flash Only.
  • e7: Auto Bracketing Order: Sets the order for bracketed shots, either Meter/Under/Over or Under/Meter/Over.
  • e8: Auto Bracketing Selection Method: Controls how the bracketing options is selected. Options are:
    • Manual Value Select (default): While pressing the BKT button, rotate the Main Command Dial to select the number of shots, and the Sub Command Dial to select the increment
    • Preset Value Select: Pressing BKT and rotating the Main Control Dial turns bracketing on or orr. Pressing BKT and rotating the Sub Command Dial selects from among preset combinations of numbers of shots and bracketing increments.

       

      (f: Controls)
  • f1: Multi-Selector Center Button: Controls the functions of the center press of the multi-selector. Options are:
    • Shooting mode:
      • Center AF Area (default)
      • Illuminate AF Area
      • Not Used
    • Playback mode:
      • Thumbnail on/off (default)
      • Histogram on/off
      • Zoom on/off.
  • f2: When Multi-Selector is Pressed: If enabled, the multi-selector can activate exposure meters or autofocus, or serve no function (default).
  • f3: Role of Multi-Selector in Full-Frame Playback: By default, the up/down arrows on the Multi-Selector control information display, and left/right steps through images. and vice versa for the right and left buttons. These functions can be reversed.
  • f4: Assign FUNC Button: Selects the function of the front FUNC button. Options are:
    • FV Lock (default) - Locks the flash exposure value
    • FV Lock/Lens Data - As above, but if flash disabled, FUNC plus command dials programs non-CPU lens data
    • 1Step Spd/Aperture - If pressed while rotating command dials, shutter speed and aperture increments change to 1 EV steps
    • Same as AE-L/AF-L - Simply duplicates function of AE-L/AF-L button
    • Flash Off - Temporarily disables flash
    • Bracketing Burst - While FUNC button is pressed, pressing the shutter button will cause all shots in an exposure, flash exposure, or white-balance bracketing burst to be taken.
    • Matrix Metering - Temporarily switches to Matrix metering if another metering option has been active.
    • Center-Weighted Metering - Temporarily switches to Center-Weighted metering
    • Spot Metering - Temporarily switches to Spot Metering
    • Focus Area Frame - Pressing FUNC button and rotating Command dials cycles through normal and wide focusing areas
  • f5: Customize Command Dials: Assigns the Main and Sub Command dial functions. You can set the rotation direction, whether to exchange the default functions between the two, which controls the aperture setting, and their behavior in menus and playback. (See Command Dial customization screenshots)
  • f6: Setting Method for Buttons and Dials: Lets you adjust the Mode, EV +/-, BKT, Flash, ISO, QUAL, and WB button options by turning the dials after pressing the button (instead of having to hold down the button while turning the dial).
  • f7: Disable Shutter if no CF Card: When set to Release Locked (the default), doesn't allow shooting without a CompactFlash card. If set to Enable Release, the camera will display captured images on the LCD monitor, but they won't be saved.

 

Setup Menu:

  • Format: Formats the memory card, erasing all images on the card, even write-protected ones.
  • LCD Brightness: Controls the brightness of the LCD display.
  • Mirror Lock Up: Turns Mirror Lock Up on or off for sensor cleaning. If on, locks the mirror upright so you can clean or inspect the low-pass filter that protects the CCD. Turn off the camera to drop the mirror and reset. (Note: Only available with a fully-charged EN-EL3e battery or when running from AC adapter power.)
  • Video Mode: Selects PAL or NTSC timing for the Video Out signal.
  • World Time: Lets you set the camera's clock to the current date and time, as well as specify the time zone and daylight savings time options.
  • Language: Sets the LCD menu language to German, English, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Russian, Swedish, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Japanese, or Korean.
  • Image Comment: Lets you attach up to 20 characters of text to an image. The text is stored in the EXIF file header, and the first 15 characters can be seen on page 2 of the Shooting Data display in Playback mode. (screenshot)


  • Auto Image Rotation: If enabled, automatically rotates vertical images in the LCD display. Orientation data is written to the file's EXIF header, but the image data itself is unaffected. (Defaults to On.)
  • Recent Settings: Controls the display under the Recent Settings menu tab. Choices are Lock Menu (locks menu items so nothing is added or removed) and Delete Recent Settings (deletes the recent settings display items).
  • USB: Sets the USB mode to PTP or Mass Storage. (Mass Storage is the default)
  • Dust Off Ref Photo: This function acquires reference data for the Dust Off function of Nikon Capture software. If enabled, you can photograph a white object for reference, so the software can compare the blank image with captured images, and identify the dust particles.
  • Battery Info: Displays information for the EN-EL3e rechargeable battery, such as Battery Meter, Picture Meter, and Charge Life. (screenshot)
  • Firmware Version: Displays the current firmware version information.

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