D200 vs. D80, D70s

Dan B

TPF Noob!
Dec 23, 2007
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First off, I am new to this site and have been surfing some of the forums. There is a lot of useful info here and good discussion. I’m glad to be a member.

I apologize if this has be discussed endlessly, but I'm either not searching the forum effectively enough or it hasn’t been brought up in great detail.

I'm a college student and I recently took a course in film photography. I want to get into digital photography, but am having a bit of hard time deciding how best to spend my hard earned money on equipment. I shoot with a Nikon N8008 for film and subsequently would like to find a Nikon body so that I can use my 50mm lens. I plan to buy a zoom lens at some point in the near future.

I've done a little bit of research and the camera that I would really like to buy is a D200, but they appear to be going for around 900-1100 USD used which is more than I think I can afford. More realistically I would probably be buying a D80 or D70S.

The D70s is a lot cheaper than the D80 and I’ve heard some unfavorable things about the matrix meter on the D80. There is also the issue that the D80 costs nearly as much as a D200 at 600-800 USD if I’m reading the used market the right way. On the flip side the D80 has RGB histograms, a bigger display and more effective pixels.

To cut to the chase my questions are as follows:

Is the cost difference between the D70s and D80 justifiable? Is the D70s obsolete in comparison? Are the weaknesses of the D80 over hyped only because the retail cost is close to that of the D200?

What benefits would I gain by saving up for the D200 over the D80?

I’m sure people have experience with these cameras. Is there anyone who has owned more than one of them and could offer some sort of comparison between models?

If you were new to digital photography what would you spend your money on if you had say 5-8 hundred dollars?

I appreciate any responses or input anyone might have.

Thanks a bunch, Dan
The D200 has the most features. It's probably the closest of the three to a pro camera, so depending on what kind of stuff you want to do, it might be a good choice. The D80 was the replacement for the D70s so it's got some improvements that IMO make it worth the price difference (brighter viewfinder being the main thing along with smaller physical size). I'm sure someone else will be able to answer your question better about comparisons but as a D70 owner, I would not buy the D70s.

Don't get me wrong, it's a great camera. I still love mine and don't plan to upgrade anytime soon, but i've had it since it first came out, which I think was 3 years ago(?) and it shows its age compared to the D80. Plus the extra 4 megapixels (10 vs 6.1) will allow you to get tighter crops if you want, or if you ever want to make giant printouts it'd help that too.
Ok well I'll be the first out of many that will say, Go to a shop and hold each one in your hands play around with them and see which one fits you the best! I started here asking the exact same question as you. I ended up with a Sony. I followed everyones advice here and no matter how much I read, It didnt help my decision. I would tell you if your a noob a D200 is not just out of your price range but it's out of your league. There is so much that camera is capable of that you will have no idea about or how to use. Which in my opinion is a waist of camera and money. I started out wanting a D200 then a D80 then a rebel xti then I held a Sony 100 and wanted a a 700. But my final decision was the A100. Why? It was the least expensive out of all the ones I was interested in, It had the anti shake built into the body (not the lenses Which cost more $$) The a700 is impossible to get right now. And it is compatible with minolta lenses and flashes which are dirt cheap on ebay.Not to mention I like the way it felt in my hands. So would I recommend a Nikon D70 or 80? NO. because you can only decide what fits your needs. There both very similar cameras and great cameras. But my advise would be go for the cheaper one until you get more experienced then you can upgrade to a better model. which by that time will probably be a D600,000 (with how fast technology moves) you can still use the one you buy as a back up. best of luck and enjoy your new cam:thumbup:
Well, though I was not new to photography, I was new to dSLRs and the D200 was my first foray into the field. That said, I like to believe that I tend to throw myself into my hobbies a little more than the average person.

On to my opinion:

The D200 is the one that will give you the best results... HOWEVER... the D200 will demand the most from you in terms of dedication to self education and financial investment. My first few days with the D200 resulted in getting TERRIBLE results and me thinking very seriously about returning the camera several times.

One doesn't want to spend the money on a camera of this level, and slap on a kit lens. Its like purchasing a Ferrari and filling it with regular fuel. You will need to spend some considerable amount of $ on lenses.

The time that it took me, as a self-taught user was about 2 weeks to get acceptable pics out of it (not good, not great... acceptable!). In that 2 week period I spent about 40 hours or more just reading the books that I had purchased as well as spending time on at least 4 forums, not posting mind you... researching, searching and reading... taking notes and testing out what I learned. In general, you will see that though my experience level may be low, I rarely ask questions. I search for the answers to my questions, becuase I prefer not to wait for someone to answer, I find my answers when possible.

Bottom line... for me the D200 is not a beginner dSLR. It demands knowledge and perseverence and TONS of practice to get "ok" with it. The camera doesn't do anywhere near it's best with lower quality or "kit" lenses on it.

If you are something like me, and are ready to put in the time, money and dedication to practice and learn your art, sure go for it, the D200 will give you nothing but pleasure.

If you are not like this (and I am willing to bet that 90% are not), you will get LOTS more fun and pleasure... (and yes, initially even better pictures!), with something like a D80.

The D80 is a very good dSLR camera with a lot of P&S support built into it and one could hand the camera to near anyone and with the camera in AUTO mode, take really good pics out of the box. The D200 is not so good in AUTO mode (I find it pretty weak, even)... it is really optimized for the photographer that KNOWS how to use it. It is a very unforgiving camera until you get VERY comfortable with it, but in the end, it *is* a better camera than the D80.

With that... the choice is yours!

Edit: If someone offered me 600-800 for my D200, I think I would burst out laughing. Its worth a LOT more than that, and the only way you could get one under $1100 is if it was one that was EXTREMELY well used and abused and about ready to be replaced anyways.
Well you kind of answered part of your question yourself, when you said the 200 is out of your price range. In my book regardless of what the camera can or can't do, cost is a determining factor. So that leaves the choice between the D70 & D80. The D80 has some worthwhile upgrades over the D70, so if you can afford it, I would think the D80 is a wise choice. The D70 is still a very capable camera and you will have the capability to do some great work with it. Another point to consider, especially if $$$ are a concern, is to save on the body and spend on the glass. Meaning, that barring theft or damage, good lenses will last a long long time, while DSLR bodies become more or less obsolete and typically will not last.
Thanks for the advice guys. After doing a little more research I came across a couple of comparisons on Ken Rockwell's page that show the differences between the models.



I found, for the most part, what I expected to find. There are a couple of things about the d200 that I wasn't aware of such as the ability to use non-af lenses with the meter, which is neat; however, I can't say the same about the fact that there isn't a wireless shutter release controller.

In the end I think my decision may be one more dictated by cost than the features I would like to have, which is something I eluded to in my original post.

I'm leaning towards the D80 if I can find one for a reasonable price, otherwise I think I will get a D70s and save the difference to put towards a 55-200 mm VR lens or something comparable.

Thanks again for the advice
If you can find a gently used example of the D70 /s go ahead and get it and save the money that's left for a D300 down the road.

The D70/s uses CF cards as do the D200/300 will use the AI and later lenses just fine, and if you can use that N8008 (great camera! ;)) you won't need to crop that much anyway.

Good luck and Merry Christmas!!

I have the D80 and, have not really had much of a problem withthe Matrix Metering. I upgrade to it from a D50. I use center weighted and, spot metering as well. I also shoot in Manual or, Apeture Priority because, the Presets are useless as, they should be. So I vote for the D80, it isnt going to be replaced anytime soon, well till next year maybe.

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