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Old 20-04-2006, 11:26 PM
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Nikon D200 Review has begun

Well im glad to inform the people waiting for the review of the Nikon D200, It has started, all be it in bad enviromental conditions (Raining, as usual).
First initial response was, "Heavy", "Buttons and Switches everywhere", "Nice".
This camera feels like a camera, as its solid, by this i mean it feels beefy..
I put the D200 thru some initial tests, i used an IR (Infra red) source to light up a wall, then i took images from both cameras (Canon 20D, Nikon D200).
I set the cameras to 18mm f5.6 2.5 seconds Exposure at ISO 1600 and clicked away.
The D200 showed nothing (Black), the Canon 20D showed a pink wall. Thus the Canon was more sensitive to IR, but i then changed the Frequency of the IR source (T.V Remote control), and then the D200 detected the source.
So it looks like the D200 has a very very steep I.R cutoff, but unless your main need is I.R work then this is not so important, as you need to remove I.R for Imaging. If it is important to you, then the removal of the Hot CCD Filter will fix everything, after the warranty period of course.
What about Noise ?..
Well im glad to say that it absolutly kicked the 20D's butt at all settings to ISO 1600 (As far as i have tested so far).
Not only is it significantly different, but is also so much sharper.
This really suprised me, but then thats why when they Review the D200, they choose the Canon 5D to compare it too.
Well, thats it so far. I'll upload some images soon so it can give you an idea of how its progressing.
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Old 21-04-2006, 12:18 AM
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Hopefully you can get some clear skies soon. I'm looking forward to seeing the results of your tests.
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Old 21-04-2006, 05:15 AM
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Can't wait to see the results.. good report so far.
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Old 21-04-2006, 12:02 PM
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Your result seems fair considering that the 20D is two thirds the price of the D200.

Apples and oranges. You get what you pay for.

5D = $4700 / 12Mp
D200 = $2700 / 10Mp
20D = $1900 / 8.2Mp
350D = $1400 / 8Mp

What is interesting is your finding on the sharpness, what did you have it set to? DP review had this to say:

Nikon D200 in-camera sharpness

As we've already commented the D200's default in-camera sharpness (Auto or Normal) is too mild to deliver the detail actually captured. Hence in these comparisons we have provided comparisons to a D200 shot taken using the 'Normal' parameters preset and also one with sharpness set to 'High' (+2) which helps to equalize the difference in sharpening between it and other cameras.

EDIT: Things look worse for the D200 in the luminance noise but better in the chroma noise according to this review: http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canoneos30d/page20.asp

Last edited by Vermin; 21-04-2006 at 03:10 PM.
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Old 22-04-2006, 06:21 PM
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The D200 was set to "Normal", but one strange thing i found out on the second day was that it was noiser when i used the "NR" (Noise reduction) while i had a few minutes of clear sky (Patches),
very strange... but it was a bit sharper, but i think a little too noisy.
But i'll do it properly once i get some decent sky.
Heres the pics of the noise test on ISO 1600 i did inside.. Both were taken with NO noise reduction, so its basically in lazy mans settings (Less fiddling and setting). I'll do a proper test using the Noise reduction for both soon.

Edit: Second look at the astro images, i think maybe thin clouds may have covered the object i was imaging, thus noise was worse on NR mode..
Again, i will verify it once it clears.
Attached Thumbnails
Click for full-size image (Canon 20D 1600 ISO.jpg)
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Click for full-size image (Nikon D200 1600 ISO.jpg)
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Last edited by Gama; 22-04-2006 at 06:52 PM.
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Old 23-04-2006, 08:02 AM
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Gama,

Noise reduction should really only be used for longer exposures to remove dark current pattern noise. If you perform NR on shorter exposures - depending on how NR is performed - you will increase the noise as the camera is read twice and therefore readnoise is increased.

For astrophotography NR is ususally ditched in favour of dark frames, which are generally more effective.

Another point to look for with the D200 is a way to defeat the incamera 'median' filter that is applied to all raw images. Unfortunately, this is carried over from the D50/D70 (see Michael Covington's blog entry for Aug 26, 2005 - http://www.covingtoninnovations.com/...508/index.html and also Christian Buil's site www.astrosurf.com/buil ) . In the case of the D70 this can be defeated by turning the camera to NR mode, then switching off the camera as its starts the dark frame phase. Perhaps you can find out. Perhaps with the D200's finer pixel pitch it is not as big a problem.

Lastly, you really dislike Canon don't you! Nearlly every comparision I have seen (Phil Askey, Wayne Cosshall, etc) show the D200 as having a marginal resolution edge, but the 20D/30D's forteit being slightly lower noise at higher ISO's.

I for one would like to see Nikon's become more popular for astrophotography (I wouldn't call myself a brand loyalist, btw I own a holden, and before that a Ford!). However, there are several problems in how they treat raw files that they really need to fix ('median filter', 0 offset, etc). Perhaps in the future they can include a 'scientific mode' that allows access to true raw.

Terry
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Old 24-04-2006, 01:56 AM
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Well, i actually bought a Canon, so thats says something.
But in anycase, i am all for the Best bang for your buck.
In this area, i know the Nikons CCD technology should kill the CMOS hands down. But of course Nikon in there wisdom went from bad to worse to "What Light ?" in their filter design.
The D200 has the worst filter of all the range of the Nikons DSLR, but its only a filter and i will be removing it ASAP if i ever get one.
In any case, i have tonight after waiting for a break in the clouds taken a 340 second exposure with NR thru a cheap 300mm f5 lens. Since the Canon has onboard filtering of the Noise, i also did a quick dip in the Noise removing program "Noiseware Pro" and also attached it to compare.
Im glad to say the image was not very noisy at all, and after the filter program the noise was all gone with no, to little visible effects on image quality.
The image ia huge, MAMA huge, i had to Bin it 3x3 before i compressed it down to 50%, so the image quality is now el crapo, but at a 150K limit i cant do much. Further more you cant see much in terms of noise removal either. But the full image version, 6 Meg is magic.
Oh yeah, i didnt use RAW either. I just used "Fine Jpeg" as the file mode.
I did this for now as the file size would be too massive, and i wanted results fast for now. For sure you can see the IR filter on the Nikon is killing the red, but that doesnt bother me as i said the filter is cactus when i get one.
What is amazing is how sensitive the ccd is. From a light polluted sky i got millions of specs of stars (Sagitarius region) all throughout the image
This is what i was hoping for originally, and so far looks to be on par.
I'll do the Canon as soon as i get a clear night again to compare it too.
Anyway look at the pics and imagine the image is 3x3 times larger !!!
Attached Thumbnails
Click for full-size image (M8 D200 340 sec bin 3x3.jpg)
143.2 KB175 views
Click for full-size image (M8 D200 340 sec_filtered bin 3x3.jpg)
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Old 24-04-2006, 05:19 AM
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Nice results so far.. looks like some dust on the CCD already? A couple of dark spots across the middle.
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Old 24-04-2006, 06:57 AM
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Gama,

Nice result, actually its the first astrophoto I have seen done with the D200.

As you comment the IR filters really do a number on the H-Alpha response as well as any wavelength longer than about 550nm. Somewhere I read that D200 rendered skin tones very well in comparision with previous Nikons, so presumeably this is a result of the decreased IR response.

Would also be interesting to see a 1:1 crop near say the Lagoon nebula (in the non noisewared version).

A question what options do you have of activating the shutter in bulb mode with the D200 (i.e IR remoted, wired remote, etc).

Terry
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Old 24-04-2006, 06:29 PM
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Here is a crop of the lagoon, before i noise processed it.
If you look at the heart of the lagoon neb. you can actually see there is no noise at all in the centre. Totally well toned and nice color blending, all be it a poor red sensitivity of it though.
Again, the jpeg compression doesnt do it justice.
But heres the image.
So far i am very happy with the camera, but the filters gota go...
Attached Thumbnails
Click for full-size image (Crop M8 D200 340 sec.jpg)
147.2 KB159 views

Last edited by Gama; 24-04-2006 at 06:47 PM.
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Old 24-04-2006, 06:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iceman
Nice results so far.. looks like some dust on the CCD already? A couple of dark spots across the middle.
Well, the camera is demo item, that gets passed around for review..
So dont look at me !.

But yes its a hassle when dust gets on the CCD. My canon has a few specs too..

Last edited by Gama; 24-04-2006 at 06:48 PM.
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Old 24-04-2006, 06:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CometGuy
Gama,

For astrophotography NR is ususally ditched in favour of dark frames, which are generally more effective.
The D200 takes an equivalent shot and then removes it from the shot. Its basically doing a Dark frame for you. It doesnt modify or render any other changes.


T.P.
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Old 24-04-2006, 06:50 PM
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Keep the Info coming Gama....I'm always interested in new stuff.
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Old 24-04-2006, 08:41 PM
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Thanks for the crop. As Tony said keep the info coming.

As you say the camera would be a lot better without the filter! Like all all standard DLSR images there is an overwhelming blue/green sensitivity.

Regarding noise reduction, if you look closely at the crop you can see dark 'pitts' in the background. I have seen this effect when the dark frame is made at a warmer temperature than the light (it happens in Canons too). The dark frame overcompensates slightly and it is most noticeable if the camera is first switched on from cold. As you can tell I am not big on incamera NR in astrophotography (but it has its merits, as precise dark frame subtraction can be a pretty timeconsuming process). But you may also find a fan blowing air over the camera helps, it certainly does with my 300D.

Terry
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Old 24-04-2006, 08:53 PM
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I know there is some noise in the dark regions, as do all DSLR, but i find its very acceptable for a single frame. If i stacked the images, then i wont get the same results. I sent an email to the kind people who sent me the loan camera to ask about a pre or after sale option for Filter removal or mod.
Lets hope Nikon see's a market for this, like Hutech does.
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Old 24-04-2006, 11:43 PM
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OK, I have just finished taking 3 shots of M83 with the cheap telephoto lens i have 300mm fl, and all i can say is WOW.
I took 3 x 3 minute shots with NO NR, in RAW mode with the camera at room temperature then i combined them and enhaced it slightly to look better (just 1 cycle of UNSHARP), plus i also took a crop out before the Unsharp was applied, so that way you can see how good this camera really is.
You can even see some very tiny fainter galaxies around the middle area as well in the full size image, with around 60mm of lens !.
Well, im getting one after this test, i mean, 9 minutes on M83 with a harsh filter... Imagine without... This camera will be the demise for many Astro CCD cameras, even SBIG (Cost wise).
As shown on the image you can see amp glow on the corners, tyhis is to be expected, but thats at 20 Deg, when i took the M8 image yesterday the camera was at 12 Deg, with NO amp glow visible.
Anyway it doest matter much as you can remove the glow with the NR on (Dark Frame).
Well, im going back out and taking some more shots.. Be back soon.
Attached Thumbnails
Click for full-size image (M83 unsharp Bin 3x3 jpg .jpg)
120.5 KB110 views
Click for full-size image (M83 stack 3x3min No enhacement crop.jpg)
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Old 25-04-2006, 12:10 AM
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amp glow , and dust spores - better learn to do darks, flats and such so that you can really get the best benefit from this camera. i am on that learning curve!
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Old 25-04-2006, 12:17 AM
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Im not cleaning this camera.. Its not mine.. One nick and i have to pay for it !.
No darks as i want the true noise to show..
Thats the whole point of testing this camera..
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Old 25-04-2006, 07:31 AM
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Gama,

I remember how my old Pentax 300 f4 would reach stars of mag 14 with colour film with exposures of 15 minutes, yours (300 f5?) reaches mag 16 in 9 minutes according to my measurements!

However, I still think you underrate Canon sensors. For example attached is an ISO400 image I made in April 2004 with a standard 300D. Its of M83 at 530mm Focal length at T3.5 (about 1 stop faster than your lens). It was made under good conditions from my backyard in the bayside suburbs of Brisbane. Its noisy, but its just a single 90 second exposure....

Terry
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Old 25-04-2006, 01:47 PM
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When you stack images, you dont really go deeper very much in Magnitude as youre exposure is the initial period in this case 3 minutes, so stacking will just sharpen and remove noise to the image and bring detail out better. A proper 9 minute exposure will go very deep in magnitude, and go much fainter than a stacked equivalent. But when you live in a suburb with bad light pollution, you arent going to see those specs of faintees of stars..
The good thing about the 300D is its got a better Hot Filter than the D200 in terms Astro work, but i agree the Canon's are are good Astro camera (I own a 20D), i just think that the Nikon CCD sensors are better.
With the image you took, it was taken with a 150mm (6 Inch) lens, not a cheap 60mm (2 inch) telephoto, so you cant really compare timing exposures.
Remember your aperature determines your depth of magnitude, so 60mm isnt going to give you much.
But your missing the point of the whole test, that is the noise. As i already know the CCD sensor is better, it was the noise that had me worried. Well, even with the harsh filter and small exposures, the quality texture and smoothness of the images just verify that it does well. Your image was at 400 ISO, mine at 800 ISO so mine should show more noise in the image, yet your image shows a higher level of noise as you said.
I took a 2 minute exposure of M8 thru my 14" RCX @f5 heres a crop of the centre as i had severe vignetting, again, its smooth and not grainy like most CCD cameras, even my SXV-H9 is not as good in terms of grain and texture.
There is NO enhancement, and the full version had no noticable amp glow either so the threshold for it to be visible is around 18 deg +/- 2 deg (RCX has an ambient temp sensor). Sorry about the tracking errors.
More to come soon if weather holds.
Attached Thumbnails
Click for full-size image (M8 f5 2 min crop .jpg)
97.1 KB95 views

Last edited by Gama; 25-04-2006 at 03:44 PM.
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