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Nikon D200 night focus & Asian purchase questions

Nikon D200 night focus & Asian purchase questions

Old Feb 19, 07, 1:17 pm
  #1  
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Nikon D200 night focus & Asian purchase questions

I have has a Sony DCS F717 for 5 years and really like the quality of the night shots and night focus pictures. I am considering replacing it with the Nikon D200 because I can't always print the pictures as large as I would like and hope to get better quality with the Nikon.

Most of my shots are taken under natural daylight, but I have noticed that when I need to take a night shot that Sony's weird red light focus does a great job, better than some much more expensive cameras (when on an Amazon trip a fellow traveller, with a really nice camera was upset that my camera took such better night shots than his and had me download my caiman pics to his computer). I also like that the lens can move at an angle so I can take candid shots without it being obvious that I am shooting.

Does anyone have the D200 or can tell me about how well it works at night for people/animal shots?

Also, we are travelling to Thailand next week (change planes in Tokyo, stay in BKK and Khao Lak). Is it cheaper or prudent to buy the Nikon there?

Thanks.
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Old Feb 19, 07, 3:45 pm
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Originally Posted by tharris View Post
Also, we are travelling to Thailand next week (change planes in Tokyo, stay in BKK and Khao Lak). Is it cheaper or prudent to buy the Nikon there?
[1] I have a couple of D200's and they are as good as any DSLR out there both in general and in and terms of your specific requirements.

[2] Nikon USA is very adamant about what they will and will not repair.

Unless you have a valid receipt from the authorized Nikon dealer outside of the U.S. where you bought your equipment, Nikon USA will not even touch your gear - and you have to send in that receipt any time you want service [all authorized Nikon USA gear has a US prefix in the serial number so they know - you can not even pay them full price to service their non-USA gear even if the warranty is still in effect].

Otherwise you would have to send it to the official Nikon service center for the country/region where you bought it.

Considering the current value of the dollar, the recent USA D200 price reduction and the rebate it just doesn’t make any sense to me to buy a camera like that out of the country.

Your mileage may vary...
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Old Feb 19, 07, 3:51 pm
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I wasn't aware of any rebates. Are they from Nikon or specific dealers?

I also didn't see a way for the lens to move up and down like on my Sony. I assumed the removable lens woudl not allow it. Is that correct?

Thanks.
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Old Feb 19, 07, 4:20 pm
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Originally Posted by tharris View Post
I wasn't aware of any rebates. Are they from Nikon or specific dealers?

I also didn't see a way for the lens to move up and down like on my Sony. I assumed the removable lens woudl not allow it. Is that correct?

Thanks.
[1] The rebate may have expired by now. Many speculate that the rebate/price reduction was to clear out the D200 for a D200s or D300 coming out of PMA this year but considering how good the D200 is and it’s new lower price I wouldn’t hesitate to snap one up now.

[2] No - The lens doesn't "move up and down" but then neither does any other direct-view DSLR so it's pretty much irrelevant - yes?
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Old Feb 19, 07, 4:36 pm
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[2] No - The lens doesn't "move up and down" but then neither does any other direct-view DSLR so it's pretty much irrelevant - yes?[/QUOTE]

Yes.

Thanks for your help. By the way, what lens(es) do you have? I like the idea of the 18-200, but it looks pretty large. I had some pretty long lenses for my old Konica 35mm SLR and normally also added a 2x teleconverter. It was often cumbersome and tippy. Maybe the 18-135 would be more comfortable to schlep. Any advice there?

I am trying to objectively think of the pictures I take and what I really need. I chose my Sony (5MP) primarily because it has a good telephoto (7x optical; 10x digital). However, with the right camera, I won't have to worry so much about that as I can enlarge to shorten some of the distance. I need something that is just as good for fast snapshots while passing something as for planned photos. In looking at the shots I have on my office walls, 8 of 13 have been enlarged; several to the 7x optical zoom limit. Gee, they used to look so good. Now they look grainy and totally unacceptable. Argh!
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Old Feb 19, 07, 4:57 pm
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Originally Posted by tharris View Post
[2] Thanks for your help. By the way, what lens(es) do you have? I like the idea of the 18-200, but it looks pretty large. I had some pretty long lenses for my old Konica 35mm SLR and normally also added a 2x teleconverter. It was often cumbersome and tippy. Maybe the 18-135 would be more comfortable to schlep. Any advice there?
You asked so…

Manual Focus Nikkor AI-S: 20mm f.2.8, 24mm f/2.0, 28mm f/2.0, 28mm f/3.5 PC, 35mm f/2.0, 50mm f/1.5, 105mm f.2.5, 135mm f/2.0

Auto Focus Nikkor AI-S: 24mm f/2.8, 28mm f/2.8, 35mm f/2.0, 50mm f/1.4, 60mm f/2.8 Micro, 85mm f/1.8, 80-200mm f/2.8

Auto Focus Nikkor AF-S/G and AF-S/G DX: 10.2mm f/2.8, 12-24mm f/4.0, 17-55mm f/2.8, 18-70mm f/3.5, 18-200mm f/3.5, 24-85mm f/3.5, 28-70mm f/2.8

I use the 17-55mm f/2.8, 12-24mm f/4.0, 28-70mm f/2.8, 85mm f/1.8, and 28mm f/3.5 PC the most.

The D40 [just now replacing a D50] with the 18-70 or 18-200 make up my small travel kit when I am not going to be doing any critical work.

The 18-200 is optically superior to the 18-135 so I personally would put up with the extra length of the 18-200. If you don't need a long telephoto then the 18-70 is also superior to the 18-135 and smaller still.

The 18-135 is still a very good lens but the others are better especially at the 18mm end. In fact, the primary drawback to the 18-135 is that it is not as robust in terms of construction as some of the other 'consumer' grade Nikkors.

90% of the population would be just fine with the 18-135. Decide for yourself how critical your work needs to be.
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Old Feb 26, 07, 5:36 am
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Originally Posted by anrkitec View Post
You asked so…

Manual Focus Nikkor AI-S: 20mm f.2.8, 24mm f/2.0, 28mm f/2.0, 28mm f/3.5 PC, 35mm f/2.0, 50mm f/1.5, 105mm f.2.5, 135mm f/2.0

Auto Focus Nikkor AI-S: 24mm f/2.8, 28mm f/2.8, 35mm f/2.0, 50mm f/1.4, 60mm f/2.8 Micro, 85mm f/1.8, 80-200mm f/2.8

Auto Focus Nikkor AF-S/G and AF-S/G DX: 10.2mm f/2.8, 12-24mm f/4.0, 17-55mm f/2.8, 18-70mm f/3.5, 18-200mm f/3.5, 24-85mm f/3.5, 28-70mm f/2.8

I use the 17-55mm f/2.8, 12-24mm f/4.0, 28-70mm f/2.8, 85mm f/1.8, and 28mm f/3.5 PC the most.

The D40 [just now replacing a D50] with the 18-70 or 18-200 make up my small travel kit when I am not going to be doing any critical work.

The 18-200 is optically superior to the 18-135 so I personally would put up with the extra length of the 18-200. If you don't need a long telephoto then the 18-70 is also superior to the 18-135 and smaller still.

The 18-135 is still a very good lens but the others are better especially at the 18mm end. In fact, the primary drawback to the 18-135 is that it is not as robust in terms of construction as some of the other 'consumer' grade Nikkors.

90% of the population would be just fine with the 18-135. Decide for yourself how critical your work needs to be.
I have the 18-135 and it works very well, I do not have a tele as of yet, I am looking at the Nikon 18-200 f3.5-5.6 G AF-S VR DX Lens. I found out in Hawaii I run out of zoom especially at the surfing camps wth the riders out about 100 yards
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Old Feb 26, 07, 9:32 am
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Well, I bought the D200 with the 18-200 lens, an extra battery, and 2 - 2GB SanDisc Extreme III cards. I also ordered and waiting for the external battery pack.

My first impressions:
I like it, but it is heavy. With the lens at its shortest, it isn't any longer than my Sony DCS F717, but the body is significantly taller. I ordered the external battery pack to see if it would feel in better balance for me.

I want to shoot in RAW, preferably + JPEG, so I will order a few more memory cards before we leave for Thailand this Friday (I get Amazon Prime 2 day shipping). I will probably get a few 4GB cards and was thinking about getting the Sandisk Extreme IV as they are faster than the III. However, I test shot continuously at 5 shots per second and the III kept up with no problems, so I think I will stick with the IIIs (also, Amazon does not sell the IV, so I would have to pay for shipping). I normally prefer smaller cards as I don't want to risk losing everything if a card fails.

At first I regretted my purchase. The Sony really has worked well for me and I loved that I could move the lens and take candid pictures while looking like I was just screwing around with my camera. However, I took what I consider a great shot on a trip last spring and was frustrated that I could not make it the size I wanted without the quality being unacceptable.

I spent several hours screwing with the camera and now am happy with it. I really love the continuous shooting. There were some things that surprised me, such as the picture doesn't show on the back monitor when you are composing it (it does when you review), but I normally turned that feature off on my Sony as it ate batteries and I prefer looking through the view finder.

I have to say that the "made in Thailand" stickers on the camera and lens made me smile. I definitely will bring my receipt so there are no problems with US Customs. I noticed the lens' serial number starts with "US", but on the camera, the only number I can find is on a plate and it doesn't.

Maybe I will pick up a protective filter and, if the battery pack does not come in, one of those as "souvenirs of Thailand".

So, now I only have to worry about where I will find the wall space to display all of the incredible poster-sized shots I will be printing!
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Old Feb 26, 07, 1:41 pm
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Originally Posted by tharris View Post
Well, I bought the D200 with the 18-200 lens, an extra battery, and 2 - 2GB SanDisc Extreme III cards. I also ordered and waiting for the external battery pack.

My first impressions:
I like it, but it is heavy. With the lens at its shortest, it isn't any longer than my Sony DCS F717, but the body is significantly taller. I ordered the external battery pack to see if it would feel in better balance for me.

I want to shoot in RAW, preferably + JPEG, so I will order a few more memory cards before we leave for Thailand this Friday (I get Amazon Prime 2 day shipping). I will probably get a few 4GB cards and was thinking about getting the Sandisk Extreme IV as they are faster than the III. However, I test shot continuously at 5 shots per second and the III kept up with no problems, so I think I will stick with the IIIs (also, Amazon does not sell the IV, so I would have to pay for shipping). I normally prefer smaller cards as I don't want to risk losing everything if a card fails.

At first I regretted my purchase. The Sony really has worked well for me and I loved that I could move the lens and take candid pictures while looking like I was just screwing around with my camera. However, I took what I consider a great shot on a trip last spring and was frustrated that I could not make it the size I wanted without the quality being unacceptable.

I spent several hours screwing with the camera and now am happy with it. I really love the continuous shooting. There were some things that surprised me, such as the picture doesn't show on the back monitor when you are composing it (it does when you review), but I normally turned that feature off on my Sony as it ate batteries and I prefer looking through the view finder.

I have to say that the "made in Thailand" stickers on the camera and lens made me smile. I definitely will bring my receipt so there are no problems with US Customs. I noticed the lens' serial number starts with "US", but on the camera, the only number I can find is on a plate and it doesn't.

Maybe I will pick up a protective filter and, if the battery pack does not come in, one of those as "souvenirs of Thailand".

So, now I only have to worry about where I will find the wall space to display all of the incredible poster-sized shots I will be printing!
Of course it's heavy. It's made out of metal instead of plastic and it is weather/moisture sealed. And no true D-SLR has live preview. Think about it for a moment and it should come to you why.

Yes, filter[s] are a wise investment against the cost of a new lens. Don't skimp here either. If you are shooting in color and outside look at a 1a filter from B&W. If not B&W then look at Nikon or Heliopan, everything else [save the really expensive stuff like Schneider, Hassy, etc.] is junk so why compromise your images at the first point that the light hits your lens.

Forget the SanDisc/Lexar cards. IMHO they have poor price/performance ratios.

I was a loyal SanDisc Ultra/Extreme user for years, great stuff but then I found Transcend. Just as good, nearly as fast, and much cheaper.

Even Galbraith's CF timing matrix bears this out. The Transcend 120x 4 GB CF card is almost as fast as the top Lexar and SanDisc cards but about 1/3 the price.

Galbraith CF Charts

NewEgg has the Transcend 120x 4GB cards for $42!

Neww Egg

Last edited by anrkitec; Feb 26, 07 at 1:52 pm
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Old Feb 27, 07, 4:29 pm
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Whats with the made in Thailand stickers on Nikons...???
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Old Feb 27, 07, 4:43 pm
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Originally Posted by Gaucho100K View Post
Whats with the made in Thailand stickers on Nikons...???
Only the D2xs/D2hs and F6, plus a few of the higher-end lenses are still made in Japan.

The rest of Nikon's entire line is made in Indonesia, Thailand, and Mainland China.

The Nikon Coolpix point-n-shoot compact digital line is actually made for Nikon by Samsung and Cosina, who-knows-where.
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Old Feb 27, 07, 5:12 pm
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Sorry that I'm late to the party on this thread, but I thought I would respond to one aspect of the OPs post regarding night focus, and I'd appreciate any feedback from others with extensive experience in this arena...

My experience with nighttime photography (I shoot landscapes at night) has been that focusing is hit or miss with variable focal length lenses (e.g. 18-70mm), and always fine with fixed focal length lenses (I use the 10.5mm FE for this) when focusing on objects at infinity. Where there is enough ambient light (moonlight usually) and/or the objects are close to the camera, the camera is usually able to autofocus regardless of lens type.

Dunno if that helps or not, or if that has been the experience of others. I never really tried it with my D70 and haven't gotten around to renting a D2X specifically to test night focusing.

Sean
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Old Feb 27, 07, 6:25 pm
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Originally Posted by vysean View Post
Sorry that I'm late to the party on this thread, but I thought I would respond to one aspect of the OPs post regarding night focus, and I'd appreciate any feedback from others with extensive experience in this arena...

My experience with nighttime photography (I shoot landscapes at night) has been that focusing is hit or miss with variable focal length lenses (e.g. 18-70mm), and always fine with fixed focal length lenses (I use the 10.5mm FE for this) when focusing on objects at infinity. Where there is enough ambient light (moonlight usually) and/or the objects are close to the camera, the camera is usually able to autofocus regardless of lens type.

Dunno if that helps or not, or if that has been the experience of others. I never really tried it with my D70 and haven't gotten around to renting a D2X specifically to test night focusing.

Sean
It's not so much an issue of "variable focal length" but rather one of [a] maximum aperture and [b] the camera's built-in low-light focusing sensitivity.

As for [a], all else being equal, a lens with a larger maximum aperture will have better low-light focus capability and [b] the Nikon D200 is one of the best low-light, low EV sensitivity D-SLRs on the market.

The D200 also has a near infra-red focus assist beam that can be turned on or off as you choose.
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