Real world image quality difference? D200 vs D3200

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by michael_connet, Aug 21, 2013.

  1. So, I picked up a used D200 about a year back, and I've really been enjoying it.
    I've been using a 16-85 lens on it, and it's really impressed me.
    Lately though, I've been thinking about upgrading, (or at least updating) to a D3200.
    More megapixels, and the ability to shoot video are my main reasons. Although better low light performance would be very welcome.
    Video is the main reason, but it's more of a "want", not really a "need".
    So what I'm wondering is, how big of a difference in image quality could I really expect to see between the 10 mega-pixel D200 and the 24 mega-pixel D3200? The biggest I really see myself printing in 11x14/11x17.
    Is it worth giving up a pro body and replacing it with an entry level consumer model?
    The D5200 might possibly be in the budget, but only if there's a good reason to get it over the D3200.
  2. I won't speak to image quality regarding these 2 bodies - I haven't used them. But I recommend you consider the size of the body in your decision-making process. The D3200 body is distinctly smaller than the D200, which can make a significant difference in handling. Only you can decide whether that difference matters to you, but you should find a D3200 in a store near you and fiddle with it enough for you to tell if the smaller size is a bonus, a no-never-mind, or maybe a deal-breaker.
  3. As Bob says, first consider ergonomics. The D3200 is quite tiny.

    But in many ways it's a step backwards from the venerable ol' D200. The D3200's autofocus system doesn't offer the D200's flexibility (or in many cases, speed and accuracy).

    The D3200 can't be a CLS flash commander (unlike the D200 or 300, or 7000/7100), and can't autofocus with older mechanical-drive AF lenses. As a video camera, it works - but you'll quickly find that you need to pay a lot of attention to the way AF behaves, and that you'll need to go with an external mic or recording device to overcome the in-body handling and focusing noise.

    That said, the D3200 is a much newer image processing device. It's leaps and bounds better than the D200 in many circumstances - better high ISO behavior, better dynamic range, etc. The D200 is definitely getting long in the tooth that way.
  4. There is no simple answer to your question, but if you are happy with your D200 and want video, I would suggest that you consider getting a dedicated video camera and perhaps a prime lens or two for your D200.
  5. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    But in many ways it's a step backwards from the venerable ol' D200. The D3200's autofocus system doesn't offer the D200's flexibility (or in many cases, speed and accuracy).​
    Both use the 11-AF-point Multi-CAM 1000 AF module with only one cross-type AF point. Matt, is the D200's AF really that much better?
  6. The main thing a D5200 will give is that swiveling LCD screen. This is NIkon's best camera for "street" shooting, and it works very well for macro too. The D3200 will have better low light performance, more pixel to crop. Does not have a motor in the body so can only AF with AFS lenses. It is very small, a plus in my POV. Does not work with CLS off camera flash. Image quality is very good.
    Kent in SD
  7. Shun: I think my main complaint is the AF user interface on the D3200. For example, you can't lock the focus point selector (like you can on the D200). If you have the D3200 in single-point focus mode, just handling the camera is very likely to drift the selected focus point away from where you left it. I do almost all of my shooting with the single central point selected, and do a lot of focus/recompose on the fly. Old habit! But that can drive you crazy on the D3200. I've also found the D3200's AF points to feel less precise that those of the old D200. Don't know why.

    The D300 runs circles around both of them, of course, AF-wise. But the D3200's image quality is certainly superior to the D200, no question.
  8. Michael asked about image quality so I will stick to that and let him decide about ergonomics.
    1) The D3200 is a huge jump up in image quality.
    2) The higher pixel count allows you to crop your images if it helps make them more compelling without diminishing print quality. That's a major plus by itself, having twice the number of pixels to work with is not to be neglected.
    3) It's more than pixels... The higher dynamic range by itself makes the D3200 a must compared to the D200. It allows you to get better details in the shadows and better control over the highlights. If you shoot RAW you will be amazed at what can be recovered from the shadows.
    4) The D3200 has much higher high ISO capabilities, at least 2 stops better.
  9. Michael, FWIW, I liked my D200 a lot. Then, when I moved to a D300, I liked it a LOT better.
    One to two stops better in lower light. Better AF. And, for some reason the D200 chews through batteries; I've never needed a second battery in my D300.
  10. You are in the same boat as me! I have been using a D200 for a long time, and was able to acquire a D3100 from a friend that knows I love photography. Even with my camera, that has nowhere near the sensor performance of a D3200, the D3100's ISO 1600 is cleaner than my D200's ISO 400. My image quality is about equal at ISO 100 to the D200, but the current 24MP cameras are worlds ahead, and even beat my D3100 at high ISO.
    I think it is very doable to switch from a D3100 to a D200. I think the ergonomic features of the D200 are wildly overstated, but it depends on how you shoot. No matter which camera I use, I shoot primarily in aperture priority, so the second command dial didn't matter to me. I have quick access to exposure compensation, ISO, and focus point with my D3100. The only switches I miss are AF area and metering (to change from spot to matrix metering), but if you pull your eye away from the camera and press the info button, you can change both with the rear LCD in under 5 seconds. Honestly, it's faster than it was to do the same with my old D90 and D80. I don't care about the QUAL or WB buttons, as I shoot in RAW, and my lenses have the AF/MF switch, so it's unneeded on the body. Eventually, I'll pick up the D5200 in a year or two after the price drops to get back the low-ISO performance that the D3100 lacks compared to the newer cameras, but for your situation a D3200 is a great choice, especially if you get the refurb'ed on ebay, sold by Adorama for like $400 with lens.
    Matt, I don't believe that you are correct about the D3200's AF. From my understanding, and my experience, all of the 11-point AF systems use the same autofocus engine as the D200 (so D80, D90, D5000, D5100, D3100, D3200, etc). You don't have the AF grouping choices, but as for speed and accuracy, my D80, D90, and D3100 all seem to focus just as fast as the D200. Also, from doing a cursory google search, they all state that they use the D200's Multi-CAM 1000. As for the lack of in-body focus motor, it is a non-issue today, as the 16-85mm is AF-S, as are all the rest of the worthwhile lenses that you'd want to pick up and that everyone around here obsesses over (with my 16-85mm, and the 18-70mm before it, I haven't noticed a performance difference between any of my cameras). As for flash commander mode, if it's an issue, you can either pick up an SU-800 which bypasses the camera flash (or that new Chinese copy), or get an extra SB-700 to use on-camera, which helps your creativity anyway, as you aren't required to have a front-facing flash. Personally, I always used an SB-800 on-camera controlling a group of SB-600's, even on my D200. If I were a 1-flash owner, my opinion might be different.
  11. I have a couple D200s sitting in my closet since I got a D7100 (24 MP). It's an incredible improvement. I believe one of Nikon's beginner models also has the same sensor. If you can't get the D7100, get the beginner model that has the same sensor.
  12. I'm really leaning towards going with the D3200.
    I know I'll miss the build quality and extra buttons on the D200, but I think it'll be worth it.
    I've noticed a LOT of shadow noise in some of my pictures with the D200, and I'm hoping maybe the D3200 will help with that some too.
  13. I paid $250 for my D200 and was atleast able to get back into photography but was longing for better auto focus and metering. I'll sacrifice pixel count for build quality and auto focus and metering capability. My point is that two months later I was able to get a D300 in excellent condition and low shutter firings for $370. It does great at 800 and 1600 ISO for low light photography and the ergonomics and features are just irreplaceable. there's no way I could go to a consumer body after years of shooting with pro bodies is just not something I could do. Personally even a D7000/7100 is borderline. I'm not saying I wouldn't enjoy using the D7000/7100, but they feel too small in my hands, anything smaller just wouldn't feel like anymore than a toy in my hands.
    Is the D300s a possibility or is its video capabilities too primitive?
  14. Correct me if I am wrong but isnt this is some ways like going from a 2007 BMW 535 to a 2013 Kia? Seems like a step in the wrong direction. I could totally get say a D7000\7100 but why go to the bottom end? I say if you think you want that, buy the d3200 and keep the D200. You wont get much for it anyways same as trading in a used car.
  15. Michael,
    The D3200 runs circles around my D2x and the D200 I once owed as far as image quality and can shoot in more
    challenging light because of its dynamic range and high ISO capability. Its not the higher pixel count but you get that as
    well. I currently shoot with a D3s and D800e but have plans to buy the D3200. It's small and when used in manual mode
    would meet my needs for a small pack able camera with fantastic image quality. I have kept all my dx lenses. I imagine
    that Galen Rowell would have owned this camera. The car analogy does not hold up for comparing performance in the
    digital world, IMHO. I imagine that in 7 years this conversation will happen again but the punch line will be my D800e
    compared to a camera phone rather than the D200 compared to the D3200. For me it was not about pixel count and I
    have printed numerous 13x17 and 17x22 prints from 10 MP D200 files. I agree that you will probably not get much for the D200
    and in light that would be less challenging for the D3200 the D200 is still quite acceptable, actually its amazing. I would consider keeping it. I sold my D200 to a good friend for his daughter who was starting out for $200. Its the only DSLR of five I have owned that I no longer have in my possession. My first "autofocus" film body a Nikon N70 cost more than the D3200 and kit lens and still required film and processing. The D3200 shoots images with better color depth, better dynamic range, less grain/noise and yes more resolution than 35mm Provia slide film that had the tightest grain size of its time and better than my D2x that was the Nikon version of the BMW during its time on the top of the Nikon line. It's a worthy camera. Good hunting.
  16. Peter, your analogy is quite flawed. First of all, isn't the primary purpose of a camera to make photos? Depending on the situation, a D3200 will make better photos than a D200, up to the point that the D200's features make it a you-got-the-shot-or-you-didn't situation (additional controls, larger buffer and framerate, etc). The D3200 has a better sensor than the D200, but the same AF system and a decently capable meter. Once you have your settings dialed in, the outcome of a photo is just based on autofocus and exposure. I think that a lot of people love to own specs, rather than cameras. When my photo is printed on the wall and is showing deficiencies such as excessive noise or lack of detail in the shadows, I can't whine to myself, "But it's from a professional camera, with more buttons!" At the end of the day, it's about the photo. And while the D3200 is the bottom end in the lineup, you need to remember we're talking about the 2013 Nikon SLR lineup. It's like being the slowest Olympian sprinter.
    I think that a more reasonable analogy would be a 2013 Kia Optima to a 1980 Ferrari Mondial. Although the Ferrari was a Ferrari in its time, comparing those numbers to today's performance, it isn't very impressive. The new Kia has better reliability, is faster in many situations, is more comfortable, can carry more, is safer, and is more efficient.
  17. I bought a D3200 at a very good price, but sold it after 2 weeks (@ a very tiny profit!). I wanted to tether it and it's not supported, even by Nikon themselves. I got a D5100 and have been very happy with it. I use the fold out screen a lot. The Live-View AF isn't that great in dim light, though.
    I'd like a D7100 with foldout-screen..:)
  18. The fold-out screen is such a valuable feature that I wonder why Nikon doesn't put it on more of their line,. Maybe it's expensive to manufacture.
  19. I am a long time Nikon user and happy owner of D200 and now a D3200. A month ago, after years of flawless service, my D200 started showing electrical problems - too expensive to repair. I decided to purchase the D3200 to replace it. I would like to contribute some thoughts to the discussion.
    What I did not like about the D200? The weight. It is a bulky camera. I like outdoor photography in general. Exploring with my camera hanging from my neck, hiking, walking in the woods, etc. The D200 was really heavy. Over the course of 7 years of ownership, I have surely missed some potentially nice photos due to the camera being too heavy and me too lazy to be prepared to lug it around for a long-ish time span.
    What else I did not like about the D200? Its very limited dynamic range. It was really a backward step after years of shooting Portra 160 on my F100. I never got used to the low DR of the D200 frankly. Another (minor, to me) problem: noise at high (400+) iso.
    Why did I buy the D3200? Because I wanted the best currently sensor technology in the smallest package. Why not the D5200? More expensive and the movable display is, for my usage requirements, close to useless. Also I am not interested in shooting movies whatsoever. I tried a friend's D5200 and the control layout was not significantly better than on the D3200 either.
    Given my requirements, the D3200 is a marvelous machine. It is exactly what I wanted: cheap, light (I use it with light primes mostly, so it makes for a fantastic compact package), light gathering capabilities which are a vast improvement over those of my D200, and it's a joy to use. It took me about 3 minutes and 45 seconds to learn its control layout, coming from the D200 - no problems there. I'm carrying it everywhere and I take shots that I simply would have missed with the D200.
    Sure - my old AF-D/AI-S lenses do not autofocus. Not a problem, manual focusing its rather doable, plus I don't really take pictures of fast action.
    What I don't like in the D3200: the focus point switching. When you do focus point switching, the active rectangle is highlighted as a tiny red dot. On the D200 you'd see a thicker black rectangle. The blinking red dot is invisible in certain light conditions - which means I have to check the selected focus point from the back display. How could they not think about this??
    Apart from this, the D3200 is a wonderful professional camera - meaning that I could imagine many serious professionals using it for their daily work (a bit like what the great late Galen Rowell did with his N40). For me, personally, the D3200 is a great improvement over the D200. A D3200 picture is better than NO D200 picture when you are walking around all day looking for that special light. Regards.

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