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Customer Review

123 of 124 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great camera, tought lens decisions, October 8, 2007
This review is from: Nikon D40x 10.2MP Digital SLR Camera with 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor Lens (Electronics)
As I am writing this, there are 43 reviews of the D40x that cover just about every feature of this camera (and one very important non-feature: lens compatibility). I agree with most positive reviews: this is a very fast, light, easy to use DSLR with a great battery life.

The D40x is a very good camera, and a good choice as long as you do not have a large collection of old Nikon lenses. As many other reviewers have noted, this camera only autofocuses with Nikon AF-S or Sigma HSM lenses. (In Nikon-ese, "AF-S" means "has a built in motor to focus." "HSM" means the same thing in Sigma-speak.) Unless you take lots of shots of inanimate objects, you'll probably find manual focus a huge inconvenience. Luckily, there are a good selection of AF-S lenses. Sigma makes a fixed-focus 30mm f1.4 lens if you need to take indoor pictures without a flash; Nikon makes a fantastic selection of other lenses. Don't worry about this limitation unless you already have a lot of Nikon lenses.

However, when I bought this camera a few months ago, I was faced with an important question: which lens should I buy with this camera? Amazon offers at least four different options: (a) body only, (b) body plus Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED II AF-S DX Nikkor Zoom Lens, (c) body plus Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED II AF-S DX Nikkor Zoom Lens and 55-200mm f/4.5-5.6G ED AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor Lens, and (d) body plus Nikon 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras. What is a buyer to do?

I went with option (b), and later bought the extraordinary Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 G ED-IF AF-S VR DX Zoom-Nikkor Lens. Today, I might buy the body alone. Let me explain why:

When I bought the camera, the difference in price between options (a) and (b) was about thirty dollars. I felt that it was certainly worth that amount of money to get a small, light general purpose lens. This way I could buy the camera, figure out how I wanted to use it, and upgrade lenses later. You can certainly take some very good pictures with the cheap kit lens, and you may like having a fast-focusing, lightweight zoom lens anyway.

I considered option (c), the two lens package, but decided against it for two reasons. First, Nikon makes two 55-200mm zoom telephoto lenses: the one included in this kit, and a second version with vibration reduction. The VR version is only slightly more expensive. I find that VR is an essential feature in a long zoom lens; it helps a lot in taking long distance shots that stay in focus. Furthermore, because of the way this kit is priced, you may find that it is actually cheaper to buy the body and lenses separately!

I also considered option (d), but decided against this after reading reviews of the Nikon 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor Lens. Reviewers were often disappointed with this lens.

So, in a nutshell, here is my advice to prospective buyers:

(a) Check prices, carefully. Sometimes, the kits are great deals. Sometimes they are not.

(b) The cheapest kit lens is a great lens for the price, but not a great lens. It focuses quickly, and it's very light, but the zoom range is a little short and it has some significant optical flaws.

(c) If you can afford it, get the Nikon 18-200mm lens. It's better than any of the lenses that are included in the kits.

(d) Consider a cheap lens kit and a flash like the Nikon SB-400 AF Speedlight for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras. If you take lots of indoor pictures, a bounce flash will do more for your pictures than a pricier lens. (Incidentally, I love this flash: it's small and light, and the battery life is terrific.)

(e) I decided to buy the cheapest body available and more expensive lenses. Cameras, unfortunately, have turned into computers: they are replaced by new models that are twice as good every 18 months. Lenses, on the other hand, have not. Spend your money on lenses, not cameras.

(f) There are good reviews of lens options on different web sites. In particular, check out [...] who did a review comparing all the Nikon kit lenses. You can also try typing "nikon lens review" into a search engine.

I hope that helps. Happy shooting!
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 18, 2007 9:54:19 PM PDT
Great review. I concur with your recommendation to buy the body with the 18-55 lens. I bought the two lens kit, and ended up selling the non-vr lens (on craigslist for a loss) and buying the 55-200 VR. That said, it was still a good deal (899.00 at Costco).

Posted on Jan 12, 2008 3:11:23 AM PST
Joel Mellon says:
I also agree with you, I think I would have bought only the body, and gotten the 18-200mm with VR. At only about a half inch (17mm) longer, it would completely replace my kit lens. At least I'll have a backup if the 18-200mm gets dirty or something.

Posted on Oct 12, 2008 6:05:48 PM PDT
Buddy2001 says:
I have the D40X with the 18-55mm and then I have the 55-200mm VR lens. I really love this camera and the lenses. I just really used the 55-200mm lens yesterday for the first time and have been looking at my pictures on screen and am really pleased. I haven't print any of these particular prints out yet as I am out of paper but can't wait to do so. When I got my camera I got the kit with the 18-55mm lens and bought the other lens at the same time. I got mine in a photo store cheaper than several places on line for the kit and of course the other lens was separate. I went with Nikon because my 35mm was and I really liked that camera. So I couldn't see changing companies. As far as more lenses I don't know if I will add any more because I find my needs so far have been met with what I have. I think it is a really good camera.
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