Nikon D40 digital reflex camera
The competition at the lower end of the DSLR market is killing. There are a lot of players and everyone is trying to be the market leader, or at least to steal a share of the market from their competitors. Nikon is rejoining the fray with their newest weapon, the Nikon D40. It's one powerful weapon. It's not just a pared down D80, as you could reasonably expect. Of course the D40 looks like the D80, minus some settings. However, Nikon has also given the D40 a number of unique features that would not be out of place on a model like the D80. Features which the competition is, or rather should be jealous of.
Nikon D40 DSLR - Simple & Straightforward operation
One of the strongest plus points is the simple, straightforward operation, which makes good use of the fantastic screen on the back of the camera. You can change the most important settings very easily. Everything is shown clearly and explained in the graphic reproduction, so that you learn about photography as you go along. The help function is also very useful. If you don't know something, you just press the help button and the Nikon D40 will guide you. This is even handy for experienced photographers.
Nikon D40 digital SLR camera - Excellent image quality
A (psychological) weak point could be the number of pixels as 6 Megapixels is less than what is on offer from the competition. Like most things, however, quality is more important than quantity. And quality is what you get with the Nikon D40 digital SLR. This camera produces very attractive pictures. Great colour reproduction, a nice dynamic range and an excellent signal/noise ration. You can use the ISO 1600 without any problems. Even with the noise suppression switched off, which gives you better detailing, you can easily enlarge photos to A3. You don't need 10 million pixels at all for this. Of course, competitors selling high resolution Megazoom cameras will swear to the opposite. This is confusing for consumers. Used to the high resolution on offer in the compact camera class. On the other hand, a DSLR with 6 Megapixels is normal. The pixel quality (size of the pixel) of a compact camera is nowhere near that of a sensor in a SLR.
Nikon D40 - 3D Color Matrix II light metering system & i-TTL system
Nikon's 3D Color Matrix II light metering system is excellent and will give the correct lighting in almost every situation. The centre focused and spot metering will probably not be used much. Nikon's flashes are always impressive and the i-TTL system is in a class of its own. A SB-400 flash + the Nikon D40 is a perfect combination - a nice compact unit that gives you great pictures. The SB-400's main advantage is that you can also flash indirectly, thereby avoiding pesky shadows. Flashing with the SB-400 works so well that you have to look in the EXIF data to see whether the flash was on or off. That's how perfectly balanced it is. I recommend purchasing it together with the Nikon D40.
Nikon D40 SLR camera - MultiCam 530 AF sensor & Lenses
For focussing, the Nikon D40 DSLR uses the same algorithms that are also used in the D80 and D200. Together with the MultiCam 530 AF sensor with three fields, the focus works quickly and effectively, even in poor light. Unfortunately for some Nikon fans, only AF-S lenses can be used. This excludes the use of old lenses, even thought Nikon is famous for the fact their lens never change and all lenses fit on their cameras. I think it's only a small weak point, especially as the D40 will be the first SLR for most of its users. Also because Nikon has a great range of AF-S lenses, many of which are very affordable.
Nikon D40 DSLR - AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 G II ED lens
The Nikon D40 comes with an AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 G II ED lens. Although I'm not particularly keen on kit lenses, I'm still impressed by this one. It makes a nice whole with the camera and is well built. The results are excellent. Of course, it's not as good as an expensive professional lens, but many kit lenses are a whole lot worse. It is clear that Nikon isn't making any compromises on quality.
Nikon D40 digital SLR camera - Absolute wonderful!
Normally I'm not much impressed by entry-level models, but I really enjoyed testing the Nikon D40 SLR. It's not often that I'm this enthusiastic about a camera. It's a nice looking camera, wonderfully compact but still sturdy. Above all, it's a great camera to operate, and produces fantastic pictures. The settings have a lot of possibilities, without being bewildering. If you are thinking about taking the step from a compact camera to a SLR, you should absolutely go for the D40. If you do, don't forget to buy a Nikon SB-400 flash. Any photographer could easily fall in love with this set. It's absolutely wonderful!
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Nikon D40 digital SLR camera - Image formats
Photos can be saved in JPEG or the raw NEF format. NEF and JPEG at the same time is also possible, but then you always have JPEG in the basic compression. It is a pity that you can't choose to save a JPEG fine or normal with the NEF. To transform NEF files into TIFF or JPEG you must use the Picture Project that comes with the camera. Other software, such as Adobe Camera RAW, can not yet deal with the D40. That will change with the next Adobe update, which is good, because I'm not a great fan of PictureProject. It is too simple, you can't regulate much yourself and it's too slow. I would definitely invest in a new version of Nikon Capture or Adobe Camera RAW as soon as they are suitable for the D40 NEF format. I prefer to photograph in NEF because you can then adjust the white balance without any problems and you have more room to manoeuvre in the exposure. Fortunately, JPEGs from the Nikon D40 are also excellent. The large format Fine JPEGs are excellent quality and the difference to NEF is barely perceptible. However, you then miss the extended correction options. At higher compressions, especially in Basic, you can see jagged edges, something that is not really unusual. I would advise anyone using JPEG to only work in the very highest quality.
Nikon D40 DSLR camera - Large buffer
The Nikon D40 has a very large buffer. With 100 JPEGs in the very highest quality or 5 NEF pictures, it gives you enough to be going on with. The photos are recorded quickly to the Secure Digital memory card. The standard memory cards also work very quickly. If you take a lot of action photos, a quick memory card like the SanDisk Extreme III is certainly worth while. With a full buffer, you can keep taking photos at 1.5-2 pictures per second. Using smaller cards reduces the speed to 1 picture per second. If you usually photograph still standing subjects, you will be fine with a standard card prima. Make sure you have a memory card with enough capacity. Even if you 'only' work with 6 Megapixels, the files soon take up a lot of space. A 1GB card, as shown in the following table, is not a superfluous luxury.
Considering a storage capacity of 1GB:
Resolution 3008x2000 pixels - NEF (Large) - 5MB - 130 pictures
Resolution 3008x2000 pixels - JPEG - Large - 2.9MB - 274 pictures
Resolution 3008x2000 pixels - JPEG - Normal - 1.6MB - 470 pictures
Resolution 3008x2000 pixels - JPEG - Standard - 0.8MB - 1006 pictures
Resolution 2256x1496 pixels - JPEG - Large - 1.5MB - 520 pictures
Resolution 2256x1496 pixels - JPEG - Normal - 0.8MB - 888 pictures
Resolution 2256x1496 pixels - JPEG - Standard - 0.4MB - 1678 pictures
Resolution 1504x1000 pixels - JPEG - Large - 0.8MB - 1006 pictures
Resolution 1504x1000 pixels - JPEG - Normal - 0.4MB - 1510 pictures
Resolution 1504x1000 pixels - JPEG - Standard - 0.2MB - 2400 pictures
Resolution NEF+JPEG - Standard - 5.8MB - 116 pictures