Nikon D200 and Nikon D40 comparison shots – testing for color quality

An open book laying in long grass is a good subject for a test of sharpness in the lettering on the page and of the tonal values and color quality of the plants and leaves.

I shot the scene with the D40 with the 18-55mm kit lens, with the focal length set to 24mm, and at SO 200.

I then took a similar shot with the D200 with the 12-24mm lens, with the focal length set to 24mm, and again at ISO 200.

I shot both images hand-held as I was primarily interested in the overall image quality and the fact is that I shoot almost all my images hand-held. The rare occasions when I use a tripod substitute is when I find a convenient wall or table for low-light shots.

Moreover, I have already tested these two camera and lens combinations for sharpness (see earlier posts) and I have determined that for all intents and purposes the differences in sharpness are so small as to be ingnored.

Of course the 10 megapixels of the D200 as against the 6 megapixels of the D40 determine how large a print can be made before the appearance of the image starts to degrade. But there are such good image-upsizing products on the market now that even the maximum size one can print to is no longer written in stone.

I shot both images in RAW and opened them in CameraRaw 4.1 in Photoshop CS3. One of the nice things about Camera Raw 4.1 is that you can open two images at the same time and apply the same settings and go back and forth between the two images to see what the effects are. The settings I applied were to increase exposure by a little under half a stop, and to increase sharpening from 25 up to 92 in each image.

The full frame shots are 1000 pixels wide so I have only posted the thumbnails on this page. Click on the thumbnails to see the full-size shots.

D40 full frame

D40 crop

D200 full frame

D200 crop

Over a range of images I have taken with these cameras, my conclusion is that the D200 produces richer color and a more natural look. But in these two images I leave you to draw your own conclusion about the quality of the color in both full frame images.

I am going to put some more comparison shots up in the next few weeks.


And which Canon lens?

Canon makes a huge range of lenses and they are coming out with three more to coincide with the arrival of the two new dSLRs they have just announced (see my last post).

The three new lenses are the EF 14 mm F2.8 L II USM, the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS, and the EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS.

But none of these is the one I would choose as my principal lens, at least not for a mid-telephoto zoom. I would choose a lens which is known to be sharp, has a constant aperture, and which also has image stabilization.

That lens is the Canon f4, 24-105mm ‘L’ series, .which retails at $1,000 more or less.

Canon L


A raft of new Canon cameras – which are interesting?

Canon is a big company – much bigger than Nikon, its only real competitor.

In past years Canon has been in the habit of releasing a lot of new cameras models all at one time, and this year it is the same.

There are a number of compacts – the PowerShot A650 IS, the PowerShot A720 IS, the Digital IXUS 860 IS, and the IXUS 960 IS / SD950 IS. All of them have more pixels than the models they supersede and all of them must therefore suffer from the problems that come with decreasing the size of the microlenses in the array – which is, as I have said before, a poorer signal to noise ratio.

So what is left? Well I won’t even talk about the EOS-1Ds Mark III at $4,500 because it makes me drool. So that leaves the two that do interest me in a practical way and those are the EOS 40D selling body only at $1,300 as of its release date of September 20th, and the Canon PowerShot G9, which has now got what the older G models had, which is the ability to produce RAW images.

As to whether the G9 is any good I will leave until someone posts some images, and I won’t risk buying one on the chance it is going to be good. But the EOS 40D is bound to be good – well it should be unless Canon has done something really crazy.


Nikon D40 Sharpness Test

This shot was taken at 800ISO with the 18-55mm lens at 38mm, 1/6th second at f5.6, with the camera propped on an upturned mug. The first crop is just over 30% of the full frame and the second crop is just over 5% of the full frame.


page 2


The book is ‘The Drowned and the Saved’ by Primo Levi.


People travel from all over the world

People travel from all over the world to see New York City and Times Square, but when you have seen it a million times, as I guess these two people have, it doesn’t have the same appeal.

Times Square


Three cameras: Nikon D200, Pentax K10D, and Canon 5D

Every now and then a camera comes along that interests me. I am happy enough with my Nikon D200 but if I were starting out now, looking for a digital SLR, I might well be tempted by this Pentax. It has dust and weather resistant seals throughout, and that is a big plus in terms of usability. The Nikon has as weather sealing as well, which is good – for dust and digital cameras do not mix well – but they do mix all too easily, so it is a good idea to have a mechanism to keep the one from the other.

pentax K10D

And on the subject of dust, I have read several articles about the lack of sealing on the Canon 5D, which is a full-frame dSLR, and that lack is enough to make me hesitate in even thinking about that camera. And as to why I would be interested in the Canon at all? Well it has to do with image quality – pure and simple. All reviewers seem to agree that the Canon 5D is a step up from the image quality of the Nikon D200.