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Nikon Finally Introduces 10.2-megapixel D200

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November 1, 2005 - In the wake of constant leaks and rumors, Nikon announced the Nikon D200 today. The D200 replaces the three-year-old Nikon D100, to fill the gap between the popular prosumer D70s and the high-end D2Hs and D2X.

The D200's 10.92 megapixel (10.2 effective) CCD shares four-channel output architecture with the imager in the flagship Nikon D2X, allowing the D200 to use the D2X's image-processing engine. Nikon claims this system boosts speed and quality – the engine does some signal processing before analog-to-digital conversion, and improves performance in the digital side as well, for better fine color gradations. Nikon also touts a new optical low-pass filter for reduced moire and color fringing.

Nikon also seems to be playing some catch-up with Canon on the image parameter front – the D200 offers improved controls for sharpness, tone, color, saturation and hue, and parameter presets including "Normal, Softer, Vivid, More Vivid, Portrait and Black-and-White."

The D200's size and shape are similar to the D100's. Both include pop-up flashes, and lack integrated vertical grips. The D200 is slightly smaller than the D100, at 5.8 x 4.4 x 2.9 inches. The D100 is only 5.7 inches wide, but it is also nearly a quarter-inch taller and deeper than the D200. The D200 is built on a magnesium alloy chassis, tough construction it shares with the D2X and D2Hs. Nikon also claims an "enhanced environmental sealing system," and a shutter tested for 100,000 cycles to indicate the camera's potential durability.

The D200 has a new Nikon autofocus system, dubbed the CAM1000. The new system has 11 sensor sites, and an option to switch to 7 wide-area sensor sites. Both the D100 and the D70s sport the CAM900, with 5 sensor sites, though autofocus performance was improved in the CAM900 with the introduction of the D70s. The D200 does not share the industry-leading Multi-CAM2000 system found in the D2Hs and D2X.

Nikon reports 5 frames-per-second performance in burst mode, capturing up to 22 RAW files or 37 JPEGs at a clip. A startup time of .15 seconds, a 50 millisecond shutter lag and a mirror blackout of 105 milliseconds round out the D200's speed specs. The D70s manages about 3 frames per second. The D200 syncs for electronic flash at 1/250 second, better than the D100's 1/180 speed, but a retreat from the D70s's impressive 1/500 of a second.

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The D200 sports a 2.5-inch, 230,000-pixel LCD, a big improvement from the 1.8-inch, 118,000-pixel unit on the D100, and from the 2-inch, 130,000-pixel display on the D70s. Nikon claims a 170-degree angle of view for the D200's display. The D200 offers a USB 2.0 connectivity, a huge improvement over the D100's USB 1.0 link.

The D200 is slated for availability in December, at a retail price of just under $1700.

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