How much has camera image quality improved over the past decade and a half? Photographer Jeff Rey recently decided to see by doing a simple test with his Nikon D200 crop sensor CCD DSLR, a camera that was originally announced back in 2005 with a price tag of $1,700 (over $2,200 in today’s dollars).
“I see a lot of people raving about the latest Nikon cameras and how they recover shadows etc,” Rey says. “This test is from a 12-year-old D200 where I simply click Auto in Lightroom 5.”
Rey photographed a scene and intentionally underexposed the shot. He then loaded JPEG and RAW versions of the photo into Lightroom 5 and had exposure pushed by 5 stops by having the app make auto adjustments.
Here’s what he got:
“This test gives an idea of just how far sensors have come over the last decade,” Rey says. “Not as far as many people think, in my humble opinion.
“The D200 is still a fine camera and one which I think produced most of my best work around 2006. I very much doubt it would have been any better had I used a D800 instead.”
“I’ve read a lot of posts where people rave about the D750 [and other cameras] doing 5 stop pushes, but I think it’s more amazing to know a D200 did it over a decade ago,” Rey tells PetaPixel.
The Nikon D200 can be purchased used these days for about $100 to $150.