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Customer Review

1,397 of 1,421 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unless you are a sport journalist, I don't think you can go wrong with this camera, November 26, 2006
This review is from: Nikon D40 6.1MP Digital SLR Camera Kit with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED II AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor Lens (Camera)
The 6 Megapixel Nikon D40 is targeted for those who want a relatively compact and light camera yet having most of the important SLR features. The D40 is priced reasonably (cheaper than D50/D80 and Canon Rebel XTi). In my opinion, if you are still considering whether to get a point and shoot camera or a DSLR, the D40 will be a better choice than any point and shoot camera, by far, even those with 8MP or 10MP. But if you are already deciding to get a DSLR or you want more control of the picture taking experience, then I would recommend you to also test the D50 and/or D80 first before deciding to buy the D40. I want you to make sure that you know what you will get (and not get) with the D40. Don't get me wrong though, the D40 is an awesome camera, and I don't think you will regret buying one. There are some limitation with the D40 which shouldn't bother most people, for example, the D40 doesn't have dedicated button to change picture quality, white balance or ISO settings (which generally only professional/enthusiast will care). Once you understand (and accept) its limitation, the D40 is a potent and exciting photography machine.

Just like all its (DSLR) siblings, the D40 powers on instantly and take pictures with almost no shutter lag which are the major advantages of a DSLR over a point and shoot camera. In addition to the P,S,A,M mode, the picture quality of the auto settings (auto, child mode, landscape etc) are also very good. With 2.5 frames per second you can capture movement progress in sports like football, basketball, baseball etc. Also great to photograph your family or child (child mode). The D40 is a great all around camera.

Some notable new features:
1. Auto (no flash) mode. Without this mode the flash will pop-up (on all other pre-programmed mode) even when you don't want to use flash (which can be annoying). The internal flash will not pop up automatically with the P,S,A,M settings.
2. In camera editing capability such as black and white, sepia and some filter effects etc. While sounds gimmicky, these features are useful especially for those who doesn't have Adobe Photoshop (or other image editing software).

To date, D40 is the smallest and lightest among all the Nikon DSLR (even smaller than the Canon Rebel XT/XTi, however the D40 is more ergonomics). I believe that choosing a camera that fits comfortably with your hands is important. Therefore, I recommend people to test the camera before buying (even if you want to buy online, please do go to a physical store and test the camera first whenever possible).

The D40 has only 3 (horizontal) autofocus point (5 for D50 and 11 for D80). If you know "The Rule of Thirds", the additional AF points above and below the center focus point (available in D50 and D80) are handy to help create the horizontal third line. However, the 3 horizontal AF point in D40 is still helpful to create the vertical third line. Also one can focus with the middle AF point and after the focus is lock then move the frame upwards/downwards to create the horizontal third line. Just make sure the exposure level is still accurate when you move the frame after you lock the focus.

About the 18-55mm II AF-S kit lens: A good lens producing sharp photos (though not a very fast lens). Also decent for close-up/macro photography. Lens uses internal focus technology and focusing operation is silent. A very decent kit lens.

Lens compatibility: Notice that with D40, autofocus function will not work for non AF-S/AF-I lens. If you already have non AF-S/AF-I Nikon lenses and want a backup or replacement camera, you will be better off buying D50, D70s or D80. If you buy the D40, it will be convenient to stick with AF-S and AF-I type lenses. I'm not sure why Nikon choose this route for the D40 (whether to enable smaller size camera or from now on Nikon will only make AF-S lens compatible camera). There are a lot of good Nikon AF-S lenses (price range added: low, medium, high) that are fully compatible with the D40 such as:

- Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX (L)
- Nikon 50mm f/1.4G AF-S (M)
- Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED AF-S DX (L)
- Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED II AF-S DX (L)
- Nikon 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G ED IF AF-S DX (L)
- Nikon 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S DX (L)
- Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 G ED-IF AF-S DX VR (M)
- Nikon 55-200mm f4-5.6G ED AF-S DX (L)
- Nikon 55-200mm f4-5.6G ED AF-S DX VR (L)
- Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S VR (M)
- Nikon 12-24mm f/4G ED IF AF-S DX (M)
- Nikon 17-35mm f/2.8D ED-IF AF-S (H)
- Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S DX (H)
- Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8D ED-IF AF-S (H)
- Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR (H)
- Nikon 105mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR Micro (M)
- And several other expensive prime tele/zoom lens like 200-400mm, 300m, 400mm, 500mm, 600mm.

High priced lens ($1000+) are usually pro level lens which usually have better construction, faster (f-stop), and produce better quality picture. However, often times, lower price lens will serve your needs just fine. I think it is important to know what you want to use the camera for before deciding which camera and lens to buy.

Image quality of the D40 is very good which is #1 factor that I look for in a digital camera.

Here are the pros and cons of the D40 in my opinion:

Pros:
1. Nice out of the camera result picture quality
2. Affordable price
3. Compact size and light weight
4. Large and bright 2.5 inch LCD
5. 2.5 frames per second
6. B/W, Sepia, several more in-camera editing features.
7. Instant power on, fast autofocus and no shutter lag
8. Noise is acceptable at high ISO settings. Auto ISO settings available.
9. Great 18-55mm II AF-S kit lens.
10. Great battery life (400+ on a single charge. 1000+ if flash is not used).
11. Auto (flash off) mode available
12. 1/500 flash sync

Cons:
1. No direct button to change QUAL, WB and ISO settings
2. Grip comfortably but might be a bit too small for some people
3. No top LCD and no front command dial
4. Autofocus will not work with non AF-S or non AF-I lenses (such as the 70-300m G and 50mm f/1.8D lens)
5. No AF/MF switch (have to use the switch on the lens)
6. Only 3 autofocus point
7. 6 Megapixel (More Megapixel needed to print larger than 12 X 18 at 300 dpi)
8. No night landscape mode in pre-programmed settings
9. No in camera image stabilization (like Sony and Pentax) but Nikon has lenses with it (VR).
10. No depth-of-field preview button

In conclusion, the D40 is perfect for those who want high quality pictures, more control (than a point and shoot camera), and have a DSLR experience (instant power on and no shutter lag), without having to carry a bulky camera. And unless you are shooting sports/actions professionaly (which faster focusing processor, faster frames per second and larger memory buffer might be needed), the D40 is pretty much all you will need.

Happy Photographing!

Sidarta Tanu
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Comments

Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 30 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 15, 2006 11:23:10 AM PST
Phil says:
Thanks for the informative review! Very helpful.

Posted on Jan 12, 2007 11:06:21 PM PST
Igelfeld says:
It is good that you've listed lens that would work on D40 and a prospective buyer ought to be advised to check on the prices of these lens for a dose of reality. The kit already has 18-55 mm lens so it does not make much sense to get longer zoom lens that overlap this focal range. Certainly, you might want to get excellent Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S DX instead of the kit lens. It will set you back $1,200. Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR will set you back $1,500. Nikon 105mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR Micro is $800. Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S VR is $500. The cheapest of longer zoom lens is Nikon 55-200mm f4-5.6G ED AF-S DX at around $170.00. But note that it does not have a VR designation - for vibration reduction which is a Nikon way of describing image stabilization. Something that you would want to have at that telephoto range if you want to get a good shot without a tripod. So you see the least you would spend on a relatively good lens is at least what you are spending on the camera. I do not think this will work very well with the target market for this camera which are definitely people who do not want to spend the amount of money it takes to get into D80 or higher end Nikons. Why would they want to spend the kind of money it takes to buy decent lens for the camera? Unless Nikon figures that they would be happy just with the kit lens and if they later decide to get better lens, seeing what they cost, they would figure it is a no brainer to invest into a better (and more expensive) body. The value priced camera that does not have a matching value priced lens selection does not make much sense. And if you are just getting into DSLR, you ought to look at what selection of lens will the camera have and how much they would cost. Pricing a camera without pricing lens that go with it is just going to give you a lot of disappointment down the road.

Posted on Feb 22, 2007 7:03:38 AM PST
mint snow says:
WOW! great review!! this review has been the deciding factor in my choice between a dslr and another upgraded point & shoot pro camera. i have been messing around trying different cameras (point & shoot) for 2 years now and i am not crazy about any of them so far. besides, i hardly ever use the movie mode on any of them so i think its a waste to buy one with it on there. i had a 35mm film nikon and loved it while getting the best shots i ever took. thanks for the review and all the time you took writing it!!

Posted on Mar 7, 2007 6:24:19 PM PST
Last edited by the author on May 31, 2007 9:06:08 PM PDT
K. Gittins says:
Most D40 buyers will not be looking for a whole bag of lenses. They will say "ooh, I want a zoom" (meaning telephoto) - and buy the inexpensive 55-200 or 55-200VR for a little bit more because they are turned off by the high prices of other lenses. However, if they are a bit more knowledgeable and run into a decent salesman, they might get the 70-300 VR. The End. Either way will be fine for many people.

Many people routinely focus using the center point and then recompose the frame, so having "only" 3 sensors is not as big a deal as some would have you believe.

There is a place for the D40, but I bought a Pentax K100D.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 13, 2007 2:14:36 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 22, 2007 6:50:34 AM PDT
David D says:
Great news! Nikon has anounced the release of a new autofocus, image stabilized 55-200 lens for the D40, and the suggested retail price is only $249. With Nikon D40 kits (i.e., including the 18-55 lens) going for about $500 in some places, you can get all the camera and lens the typical amateur will ever need for about $750. This is a great deal on an excellent camera and two lenses.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 15, 2007 11:20:30 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 15, 2007 11:25:35 PM PDT
So it would seem!

Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED IF AF-S DX VR [Vibration Reduction] Nikkor Zoom Lens

This is rather drastic, considering the previous 55-200MM lens ins well over eight hundred dollars. I'd be interested to read the opinion of someone wiser than me in the ways of such lenses.

Posted on Apr 25, 2007 3:01:19 AM PDT
E. K. Arnold says:
great review, you sound like you've done some research.
one reason why nikon went af-s only with d40 is to keep buyers from choosing 3rd party lenses by using proprietary tech. pop photo just tested the tokina 50-135 f/2.8 on a d40, it didn't work. so if you want a faster lens than kit lens, you either have to pop for pro glass --not likely w/ entry level dslr folks converting from p&s -- or get a different body. it's too bad, because sigma, tamron and tokina all have solid lenses for nikon that offer 90% of the pro nikkor performance for 1/2-1/4 the cost, but you won't be using them on a d40. still, the 55-200 vr for $250 seems like a good deal, just remember it's not an especially quick lens for low-light action shots, which is a big part of the reason to go for a dslr over an advanced p&s. in the end, you get what you pay for. if you want more versatility in lens selection, and/or you own older nikkors, look at the d80/d200. if you just want nice pics of the grandkids on a low budget, go for the d40, or as nikonians call it, "my first dslr."

Posted on Apr 26, 2007 8:14:35 PM PDT
Sidarta Tanu says:
Thank you all for the kind comments and all the valuable input.

Also thank you for all those who have sent me email (the questions and the thank you emails I equally appreciate). I try to reply to everyone though sometime it takes me a while before I replied (I apologize for the delay).

Everytime I hear another person taking interest in Photography and/or upgrading to DSLR, I get excited and I feel very happy for them.

Happy Photographing!

Sincerely,

Sidarta Tanu

Posted on Jul 25, 2007 3:25:39 PM PDT
good comments! thanks!

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 14, 2007 7:19:58 PM PDT
great review, i have just purchased this camera thanks to your informative writing, if your where a saleman you would have just earned some commission, thanks!
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Review Details

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Sidarta Tanu
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   

Location: Richmond, VA USA

Top Reviewer Ranking: 323