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LongExposures

Introduction

Previous tests of the D2x in D2x vs EOS showed it to be quite a good performer for long exposures. A basic test was performed to verify whether the D200 has roughly equal performance to the D2x.

Long exposure noise reduction was used for an 8-minute exposure at ISO 100, using the 50mm/f1.4D at f2. The long exposure noise reduction feature removes “dark current” noise by measuring sensor response with the shutter closed, then subtracting the noise from the actual exposure. And perhaps other things are done also—but Nikon doesn’t explain it.

During the test with the D2x, the moon emerged (it might or might not have been present for the D200 exposure). This might account for the color difference between the D200 and D2x shots, but some of that difference is almost certainly due to the lower contrast and saturation of the D200 as compared with the D2x.

The 8-minute exposure was taken at about 9000' in elevation in California’s high Sierra at a temperature of approximately 45 degrees. There was enough background light in the sky to lighten it considerably—a far cry from the deep black sometimes possible at high elevations.

Comparison

Neither camera shows any obvious noise, even in the very dark areas. The comparatively low contrast of the D200 is evident. Both images were processed identically.

D200, 8 minute exposure
upsized to match D2x resolution

D2x, 8 minute exposure

Below are the same crops, but with added contrast.

D200, 8 minute exposure
upsized to match D2x resolution, contrast added

D2x, 8 minute exposure, contrast added

Below are whole-frame versions with added contrast. Both cameras produce attractive images, though the color rendition of the D2x is more appealing. Click on each image for a larger version.

D200, 8 minute exposure

D2x, 8 minute exposure

Conclusions

At ISO 100, the D200 offers similar long-exposure performance to the D2x. Color rendition is less pleasing with the D200, but this might have been due to the influence of moonlight.

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