The Good Plentiful controls and accessories; strong performance; excellent image quality; rugged body.
The Bad JPEG artifacts crimp image quality; no TIFF mode.
The Bottom Line An excellent midrange digital SLR, the D200 has given way to its even better successor, the D300. However, it remains a great choice if you can find it at a good price.
Editor's note: Changes in the competitive landscape for digital SLRs as well as the release of a newer model have prompted us to adjust the ratings for this camera--dropping the Features rating to 7, for a new overall rating of 7.8--and subsequently remove its Editors' Choice designation.
The Nikon D200, a long-awaited successor to the company's D100, offers serious amateur photographers and value-minded professionals a compact, sub-$2,000 digital SLR with many of the specifications, features, and build characteristics of Nikon's high-end pro cameras. Although not quite the junior version of the top-of-the-line D2X that some had hoped for, the D200 offers a significant step up from Nikon's low-end D70s and D50 models, with 10.2-megapixel resolution, a rugged moisture- and dust-sealed magnesium-alloy body, a large viewfinder, a 5fps drive mode, and bountiful fine-tuning and customization options. Accessories including Nikon iTTL external flash units, a Wi-Fi transmitter, a burgeoning line of digital optics, and third-party GPS units give the D200 enough versatility to compete effectively with its pricier midrange competitor, the full-frame Canon EOS 5D.
Overall, the Nikon D200 raises the bar a notch in the midrange digital SLR class, providing extra features and a more robust body than those of the Canon EOS 20D for only a few hundred dollars more, and most of the good stuff found in the 12.8-megapixel Canon EOS 5D--with the obvious exception of the full-frame sensor--for a lot less money. Experienced SLR users will feel right at home with the midsize 5.8x4.4x2.9-inch Nikon D200 in their hands. Its 2-pound body has a more solid, professional heft than the low-end D70s but is a lot less bulky and easier to wield than the top-of-the-line D2X. That model has a built-in vertical grip, while the D200's MB-D200 grip/battery pack is optional. Pros who want to use the D200 as a backup camera to their D2X will find just enough difference in control layout to slow them down.
Most surfaces are dotted with controls, and the control placement is logical and easy to master. Once we learned the layout, we were able to change many settings in near-total darkness at a blues concert we attended during testing, including ISO, focus and exposure modes, and playback with zoom.