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Finally purchased my first DSLR

Discussion in 'Nikon DX DSLR Forum' started by Michael Mohrmann, Jun 14, 2007.

  1. With a family graduation quickly approaching (tomorrow!) and immense pressure from the family to purchase a DSLR, I went ahead and ordered the D200 earlier this week. The D200 arrived today, leaving me a little time to figure out the camera. I did pick up an extra battery yesterday, so I will have two fully charged batteries for the graduation. One less thing to have to worry about.

    I am almost grateful that I had to purchase a camera this week, otherwise I would have prolonged the agony indefinitely. I determined that even if I made the wrong decision, I could always sell the camera and/or lenses and move onto something else.

    The positives so far include a very intuitive button and menu system. Coming from a Canon EOS-A2 film SLR and having used the Canons from the D60 to the 30D, this is a definite plus for me.

    The autofocus on the D200, in daylight and low light, is plenty fast for me, and even when it hunts a bit (mostly on one particular lens), it is still accurate. Part of this may have to do with the lenses I selected a year in advance of this camera (more on that in a bit). Again, coming from Canon, I was use to their USM lenses, which were very quiet. But that alone didn't prevent me from having the EOS-A2's AF hunt quite often, and even the 30D hunted more that I liked in my demos.

    BTW, do D200 owners leave the AF assist light set to "Auto" or do you turn it off? Maybe some use the banks to set this feature to Auto, On, or Off?

    I have only produced a handful of JPEGS (set to optimal quality), but the images I am producing at ISO 400 are sharper, have better contrast, and are more vibrant than what I created shooting 400 speed film with the EOS-A2. My quick demos of the various cameras, including the D200, didn't seem this good, so I need to figure out what I am doing wrong! :) 

    The only thing that could be taken as a negative has to do with the lenses I picked up. Each one is a screw-drive lens, and they can be a bit noisy, particularly the 75-300 f/4.5-5.6. This older zoom doesn't do well if you are not near the focus distance with the D200. I know about the Limit button on this lens, but that didn't help out much. This zoom may be a candidate to be replaced, although I didn't shoot past 210mm on film.

    I would love to have a compact 70-200 f/4 like Canon has (two of them), but the only Nikon lens close to that is also a screw-drive lens and long since discontinued. I think that Nikon's 80-200 f/2.8 may be more bulk than I want to handle, and once again, it's another screw-drive lens. 12 years of using Canon's USM lenses makes everything else seem noisy.

    Well, I need to put in some more time with the D200 before tomorrow's graduation. I should have a better feel after tomorrow about the responsiveness of the D200. Hopefully I'll be able to produce some images worthy of posting online (need to find a posting service).
  2. Chris101


    Feb 2, 2005
    Congratulations Michael! Stick that 35mm f/2 on there and it won't hunt! (It'll still sound like a machine though.) Have fun and show off some pictures!
  3. Thanks. Actually, my 35 f/2D doesn't make much sound focusing, leading me to believe that it was not working properly. But the photos were in focus and the distance scale on the lens moved.
  4. Your going to have some fun now Michael. D200 is a real fine camera.

    Personally, I leave the AF assist light off.

    In regards to the 70-200 f/4 like Canon, you may want to check into the 18-200 or the new 70-300. Both very nice lens.

    Have fun this week end.
  5. Good news! I look forward to your work with this fine new tool
  6. Hope you enjoy the camera, Michael. We're looking forward to some pictures. :smile:

    FYI, I leave the AF assist light set to off
  7. eng45ine


    May 11, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Congratulations Michael, I hope the new camera fulfills your every expectation and more. :smile:
  8. MarkM


    Dec 20, 2005
    Tampa Florida
    Congrats on the D200!!! It is an awesome camera, hope it serves you well - looking forward to great pics :smile:

  9. Congrats and enjoy.
  10. Let the fun begin and dont forget to post the results.
  11. Well, the graduation occurred today (middle school - 8th grade). Unfortunately, I was not well prepared for this event. The ceremony took place between 4:00 and 5:15 PM on a very hot day out in the middle of a soccer field with no trees or shade. There were too many parents in the way to get clear photos of some of the 8th graders in most cases. And the school had set up most of the vantage points for the DVD they were producing and for the hired photographers as the 8th graders received their diplomas.

    But the part that I could control, the friends and family photos after the ceremony, I screwed up. With a very hot and harsh sun overhead, the photos could have used a bit of flash fill (I hadn't read up on the D200's built-in flash and I don't have an external flash yet). I could have saved some photos with just the built-in flash. My Canon film SLR (EOS-A2) wasn't very good at flash fill, but even it would have helped. As in many cases, it generally comes down to the photographer and not the equipment.

    I didn't have many photos (~60), but I did shoot in RAW compressed and JPEG Large/Fine. I didn't have time to alter the in-camera settings, and as such, the JPEGs are a bit soft (but I know this is typical with the default settings, so I am not disappointed). Once I get Capture NX, I plan to play with the RAW images to see what I can do with those.

    Okay, now for the better news. The D200 handles very well. I have a lot to learn about its autofocus system, but it is far better than what I had with the EOS-A2, and more predictable than the 30D I demoed many times (it's interesting how some might like the 30D over the D200 and vice versa). Even with the 28-105 f/3.5-4.5 screw-drive lens, I was getting very quick autofocusing.

    I shot mostly in ISO 100, but switched to ISO 400 when I was trying to produce some photos during the handing out of the diplomas (for a faster shutter speed). I really like the colors I see with the D200. The images I am producing have better color than what I had with the EOS-A2 and Canon's 28-105 f/3.5-4.5. Nikon's version of the 28-105 is very good.

    I was worried about the battery life on the D200, so I opted for a spare battery. I didn't need it today. I only shot roughly 60 images (RAW + JPEG for each image), but the battery life was at 87% when I finished. At that rate, I would get 450+ photos on one charge. This included numerous times traversing the menus to learn the camera and adjust the settings.

    Once NX arrives and I have a chance to play with the RAW images, I will post a few photos in order to received some well deserved advice and suggestions. I still need to find a place online to post my images. Any suggestions? But despite my failure to use flash to negate the harsh sun and my lack of working knowledge with the D200, my wife and soon-to-be high schooler are happy with the photos as they still captured the essence of the celebration.
  12. Thanks for sharing your impressions from the graduation, Michael. I can relate to the experience of second guessing myself after the fact. If you can come away some knowledge of how to approach a similar situation in the future, then you're on your way. Just keep shooting and reading, and shooting some more. As everyone points out, the incremental cost of 100 or 1000 more shots with digital is practically zero. Learning and seeing your progress is half the fun, anyway, IMO.

    As far as hosting sites, Smugmug, Flickr, Pbase and Photobucket are among the most popular. I've been Pbase user for several years and have been happy with it for the most post part. You'll sometimes see failed attempts to link photos hosted by Pbase, but most of these of these are due to failures on the part of the user to use the proper image URL, not a failure by Pbase.
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