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Nikon D200 versus Nikon D300S

The Nikon D200 and the Nikon D300S are two enthusiast cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in November 2005 and July 2009. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The D200 has a resolution of 10 megapixel, whereas the D300S provides 12.2 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Nikon D200 vs Nikon D300S

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Nikon D200 and the Nikon D300S is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also toggle the display to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the D200 – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Nikon D200 vs Nikon D300S
Compare D200 versus D300S top
Compare D200 and D300S rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D300S is somewhat larger (2 percent) than the Nikon D200. Moreover, the D300S is slightly heavier (2 percent) than the D200. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can find an overview of suitable optics in the Nikon Lens Catalog.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Nikon D200» 5.8 in 4.4 in 2.9 in 32.5 oz 400 Y Nov 2005 1,699- i
Nikon D300S« 5.8 in 4.5 in 3.2 in 33.1 oz 950 Y Jul 2009 1,799- i
Canon 30D« » 5.7 in 4.2 in 2.9 in 27.7 oz 750 n Feb 2006 1,399- i
Canon 20D« » 5.7 in 4.2 in 2.8 in 27.2 oz 700 n Aug 2004 1,499- i
Nikon D500« » 5.8 in 4.5 in 3.2 in 30.3 oz 1240 Y Jan 2016 1,999 i i
Nikon D7000« » 5.2 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 27.5 oz 1050 Y Sep 2010 1,499- i
Nikon D3S« » 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.5 in 43.7 oz 4200 Y Oct 2009 5,199- i
Nikon D300« » 5.8 in 4.5 in 2.9 in 32.6 oz 1000 Y Aug 2007 1,799- i
Nikon D2Xs« » 6.2 in 5.9 in 3.4 in 44.2 oz 3800 Y Jun 2006 4,699- i
Nikon D80« » 5.2 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 23.6 oz 600 n Aug 2006 999- i
Nikon D2X« » 6.2 in 5.9 in 3.4 in 44.2 oz 3800 Y Sep 2004 4,999- i
Nikon D100« » 5.7 in 4.6 in 3.2 in 27.5 oz 370 n Feb 2002 1,999- i

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The D200 was somewhat cheaper (by 6 percent) than the D300S at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

 

Sensor comparison: Nikon D200 vs Nikon D300S

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.5. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Nikon D200 and Nikon D300S sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the D300S offers a higher resolution of 12.2 megapixel, compared with 10 MP of the D200. This megapixel advantage translates into a 11 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the D300S has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 5.53μm versus 6.11μm for the D200). However, it should be noted that the D300S is much more recent (by 3 years and 8 months) than the D200, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that compensate for the smaller pixel size.

D200 versus D300S MP

For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under consideration, the D300S has a markedly higher DXO score than the D200 (overall score 6 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.2 bits higher color depth, 0.7 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.4 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Nikon D200» APS-C 10.0 3872 2592-22.311.558364
Nikon D300S« APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.512.278770
Canon 30D« » APS-C 8.2 3504 2336-21.510.873659
Canon 20D« » APS-C 8.2 3504 2336-21.911.072162
Nikon D500« » APS-C 20.7 5568 37124K/30p24.014.0132483
Nikon D7000« » APS-C 16.1 4928 326410800/24p23.513.9116780
Nikon D3S« » Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832720/24p23.512.0325382
Nikon D300« » APS-C 12.2 4288 2848-22.112.067967
Nikon D2Xs« » APS-C 12.2 4288 2848-22.210.948959
Nikon D80« » APS-C 10.0 3872 2592-22.111.252461
Nikon D2X« » APS-C 12.2 4288 2848-22.110.947659
Nikon D100« » APS-C 6.0 3008 2000-----

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The D300S indeed provides for movie recording, while the D200 does not. The highest resolution format that the D300S can use is 720/24p.

 

Feature comparison: Nikon D200 vs Nikon D300S

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D200 and the D300S are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon D200 and Nikon D300S in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
  Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Nikon D200»optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 5.0 Y n
Nikon D300S«optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 7.0 Y n
Canon 30D« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 5.0 Y n
Canon 20D« »optical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 8000 5.0 Y n
Nikon D500« »optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 8000 10.0 n n
Nikon D7000« »optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 8000 6.0 Y n
Nikon D3S« »optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 8000 11.0 n n
Nikon D300« »optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 8000 6.0 Y n
Nikon D2Xs« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n
Nikon D80« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n
Nikon D2X« »optical Y 2.5 235 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n
Nikon D100« »optical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n

Both the D200 and the D300S have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D200 was replaced by the Nikon D300, while the D300S was followed by the Nikon D500.

Review summary: Nikon D200 vs Nikon D300S

So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Nikon D200 or the Nikon D300S – has the upper hand? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Reasons to prefer the Nikon D200:

  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in November 2005).


Advantages of the Nikon D300S:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (12.2 vs 10MP), which boosts linear resolution by 10%.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (6 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (0.7 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.4 stops ISO advantage).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 720/24p video.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 230k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (950 versus 400) out of a single battery charge.
  • More modern: Reflects 3 years and 8 months of technical progress since the D200 launch.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D300S is the clear winner of the contest (10 : 1 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera.

D200 01:10 D300S

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the D200 and the D300S in practical situations. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate. This is why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review scores
  Camera cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Nikon D200»HiRecHiRecrev5/5- Nov 2005 1,699- i
Nikon D300S«HiRec82/1004/55/54.5/5 Jul 2009 1,799- i
Canon 30D« »HiRecHiRecrevrev- Feb 2006 1,399- i
Canon 20D« »-HiRec-rev- Aug 2004 1,499- i
Nikon D500« »HiRec91/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2016 1,999 i i
Nikon D7000« »-80/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2010 1,499- i
Nikon D3S« »-89/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2009 5,199- i
Nikon D300« »HiRecHiRec5/5rev4.5/5 Aug 2007 1,799- i
Nikon D2Xs« »---rev- Jun 2006 4,699- i
Nikon D80« »RecHiRecrev4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2006 999- i
Nikon D2X« »-HiRec-rev- Sep 2004 4,999- i
Nikon D100« »-HiRecrevrev- Feb 2002 1,999- i

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

 

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, please contact me, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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