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Nikon D200 User's Guide
© 2006 KenRockwell.com

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Nikon D200

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I bought mine from Ritz here. I bought another D200 from Adorama here. Also try Amazon here. Adorama usually has D200/18-70 kits in stock here. It helps me keep adding to this site when you click these links to get yours.

FRONT CONTROLS

Want free live phone support? In the USA, call (800) NIKON-UX, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Left to Right, Top to Bottom:


Depth-of-Field Preview Button (upper button on the left of the lens as seen from the front): It lies naturally under your middle finger. Tap this to stop the diaphragm down to the taking aperture. The viewfinder probably gets darker, but look carefully and you can see what's in focus or not. This is a legacy feature from film days. Today most people look at the LCD playback.


FUNCTION Button (lower button to the left of lens as seen from the front): It lies naturally under your ring finger.

I program this trick button for setting flash exposure, eliminating people blinking with flash and for easy setting of manual focus lens data.

This button is programmed in the Custom Function Menu as explained here. It also can do other things like set manual focus lenses to give automatic exposure also as explained here.


Built-in Flash Release Button (unmarked black button on the top right of the viewfinder as seen from the front): Press it to pop up the flash.


Flash Bolt +/- Button (right side of flash hump as seen from front): This sets the flash sync mode and the brightness of the flash. Flash brightness is more formally called flash exposure compensation.

Press and hold the flash button and turn the front dial to change the flash exposure compensation. This sets the brightness of the flash. + makes the flash brighter, - makes it dimmer. This setting only changes the brightness of the flash. It leaves the background ambient exposure alone. Set it to - if your subjects are getting washed out. If you run out of flash power beyond 10 to 20 feet then setting it to + can't make the flash any brighter.

If you set flash exposure compensation to anything other than zero you'll see a little "+/- bolt" icon in the finder and on the top LCD. This resets when you do a green reset.

Press and hold the flash button and turn the rear dial to change the flash sync mode. You'll see the mode shown on the top LCD in the box with the bolt.

FLASH SYNC MODES

Select these by holding down the flash button on the side of the flash hump and spinning the rear dial. Your selection is shown on the top LCD in the box with the bolt.

Normal (blank on the top LCD): this is the default position.

In Program and A exposure modes, the shutter won't stay open longer than about 1/60 second. You can change this minimum speed in Custom Setting Menu option e2, which defaults to 1/60 second. I have mine set to 1/30. Set a longer time like 1/8 to allow more ambient light in the photo and prevent inky black backgrounds. Set it shorter to prevent subject motion blur.

This is brilliant. In the old days we'd have to use Manual exposure to set this to a reasonable number like 1/8. The problem with using the slow mode, explained below, is that in dark locations the shutter may stay open a stupid long time and ruin the shot. This Custom Setting lets you have the camera adjust itself automatically and stop at the longest time with which you feel comfortable.

I usually use Normal mode, since if I don't I can get some scary long exposures if I'm not expecting them in the dark.

Red-Eye (eyeball icon): I never use this. It shines an obnoxious light in your subject's eyes for a couple of seconds and then releases the shutter. Use this only if you have some people you want to get rid of at a party. WARNING: If I set this mode by accident it bugs the heck out of me, because the camera doesn't go off until several seconds after I've pressed the shutter, but I've set no self timer! It doesn't do much to reduce redeye anyway. Skip this mode. You won't know you've set it, since there is no in-camera indication. If for some reason the shutter seems to have a weird delay, check this!

SLOW (called SLOW on the top LCD): This mode is very useful. It lets the shutter stay open as long as it needs to so dim ambient light can expose properly with flash. Of course if it's dark these exposure times can get stupid long, in which case you want to use the setting I covered under Normal.

In daylight SLOW is the same as NORMAL, since exposure times are short. SLOW unlocks the camera in P and A exposure modes to make exposures as long as it wants to in dim light.

Have a look at most issues of National Geographic and you'll see many indoor shots made in this mode. The background exposes correctly, people may be blurred, and a burst of flash freezes them along with the blurry ghost images.

Normal and SLOW do the same thing in S and M exposure modes, since you or the camera may select any shutter speed in these modes regardless of flash sync.

The default apertures and shutter speeds are unchanged in Program mode, unlike in the D70.

Red-Eye SLOW (eye and SLOW icon): This is the SLOW mode and redeye. I don't use it for the same reason I don't use Redeye mode.

REAR (called REAR on the top LCD): Normally the flash goes off the instant the shutter opens. This makes sense, but looks stupid if you have a motion blur as part of your photo. Think about it: with long exposures you'll get a ghost streaming in front of the subject. Select REAR mode to have the flash go off as the shutter closes. Now you'll have motion blurring from behind the frozen flash image, which looks great.

Another reason to select REAR is because the flash goes off at the end of the exposure. People presume photos are made the instant a flash fires, then leave. This wreaks havoc with long exposures. If you use REAR mode with long exposures they'll stay put and not move until your long exposure completes. Of course you'll also want to select flash lock to eliminate the preflash. Read about programming the FUNC button to do that here.

REAR doesn't do anything with short exposures. REAR also engages SLOW, but SLOW doesn't light up on the LCD until you take your finger off the flash mode button.

Trick Flash Exposure Lock Mode: I set my FUNC button in the Custom Menus here to lock flash exposure and eliminate preflashes which make people blink.


AF Mode Switch: I set it to S. This is the little lever at the bottom of the lens marked C, S and M (hidden in the above). This means AF-S, or Single Auto Focus. Once the camera gets good focus, it locks until you take the picture. Use this to focus and then compose without the subject in the center. I do this for almost every shot.

By default the D200 won't release the shutter until perfect focus is achieved and locked, shown by the green focus confirmation dot on the bottom left of the viewfinder. This makes some people think their D200 locked up. You can eliminate this lock-out in the Custom Shooting Menu here, but if you do, you may get out-of-focus photos.

I've seen lenses so crappy that they weren't sharp enough to satisfy the extremely precise AF system of the D200 to recognize as being in perfect focus. If your D200 won't fire, make sure the focus confirmation dot is lit. No green dot, no photo. I had consistent problems using corner sensors with some off-brand wide angle zooms. The problem is the soft lenses, not the D200.

C means AF-C, or Continuous AF. The D200 will track and keep tracking the subject for as long as you hold the shutter. By default the D200 will shoot regardless of being in focus. The D200 will fire any time you press the button, and you could get tons of fuzzy photos.

I explain in the menus here how to change this so the D200 only goes off when in perfect focus in continuous mode. It slows down the frame rate a little, and ensures all frames are in focus.

M means manual focus. In manual focus you have to twist the focus ring yourself and look for a sharp image in the viewfinder. In manual you also can look for the green dot at the bottom left in the viewfinder. The green dot lights up when you're in focus. It's not very precise and you'll probably lose sharpness with f/1.4 lenses. With f/4 lenses it's good enough. Nikon no longer provides the two red arrows along with the green light which allowed much more precise manual focus.

WARNING: I've had some severe focus problems. My D200 refused to autofocus no matter what I did. I made sure the lens was in the AF position. I turned the camera off and on. I removed the lens, cleaned the contacts and put it back on. Nothing worked. I thought for sure my lens was dead. I tried another AF lens, and it was dead, too. It was my D200! Then I noticed I had bumped the AF Mode switch to M. DUH! I was defective, not the D200. This switch is not well detented and easy to knock out of position. I always knock it! Check that you haven't knocked this switch to the manual mode if you have any problems.

DESIGN DEFECT: OK, maybe it is the camera and not me. The switch should have a solid detent or lock-out. The F5 was great at this: almost everything, including the meter pattern, required unlocking to change. This was so that news photographers would never knock anything accidentally and point their photos. The focus mode switch of the D200 is too easy to knock around.


PLUG

My D200 User's Guide continues below.

It took me two months to write this D200 User's Guide. No one pays me anything. If you find it as helpful as a book you might have had to buy or a workshop you may have had to take, feel free to help me share more.

Thanks!

Ken


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KNOBS and BUTTONS

     FRONT

     TOP PANEL < < NEXT

     BACK

MENUS

     PLAYBACK   

     SHOOTING MENU

     CUSTOM SETTING MENU

          a Autofocus

          b Metering/Exposure

          c Timers/AE&AF Lock

          d Shooting/Display

          e Bracketing/Flash

          f Controls

     SET UP MENU

     RECENT SETTINGS MENU

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