The Nikon D40 is a 6 megapixel entry-level DSLR, which was introduced in November 2006. Its 10 megapixel big brother is the Nikon D40x. Expectedly, the D40 is the least expensive DSLR in Nikon’s current lineup. To reduce cost, some features of the Nikon D50 were simplified to give a $600 MSRP with the 18-55mm G-II kit lens, although the current street price is significantly less (see Amazon). The D40 and D40x are notable in being the first Nikon DSLRs that will only autofocus using lenses with internal focus motors. The launch of the D40 was accompanied by a new small kit lens, the AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED II; and a new small Speedlight, the i-TTL SB-400 featuring a 21 m guide number and a vertically tilting head.
Nikon has continued to promulgate the AF-S (internally focusing) series of lenses to support the D40 and D40x. Third-party manufacturers (e.g., Sigma) are following suit as well. Recently, Sigma delayed the release of its 18-200mm OS lens in the Nikon mount so that it could add HSM (hypersonic motor) as a standard feature (but only for the Nikon mount). Read more about this topic here and see a list of compatible Sigma lenses here.
I’ve been using a Nikon D40 for a few months. I’m primarily a Canon user; however, I wanted one of these cameras to play around with and to see what Nikon had to offer. I am very pleased with the capabilities of my D40. The D40 is significantly lighter than any DSLR that I’ve ever used, even the Canon Rebel series.
Unlike my Canon Rebel XT, my Nikon D40 will capture RAW images when I shoot in full auto mode (the little green square). My Rebel XT will only capture JPEGs in full auto mode. This works well when my wife takes the D40 on and outing (she only uses full auto mode). I know that if there’s exposure problems in her shots, I’ve got a better chance of saving a photo by working in RAW. It also helps to keep all my images in a single format. For more on the RAW vs. JPEG debate, read this post.
There are a few things that I wish my D40 did though. First, I wish it had more autofocus sensors. It has 3 across the middle of the frame, which can sometimes limit framing options for action shots. I would be much happier with a couple more – one top-center and one bottom-center. Additionally, I would like to have some vertical grip options, like my BG-E3 grip on my Canon Rebel XT. However, I understand that I’m asking for more features than should be reasonably expected from a ~$500 entry-level DSLR. Still yet, these are things that I miss. So, if you think features like this would be missed, you might be better off in stepping up to a Nikon D80, Canon Rebel XTi or Canon 40D. Still undecided? Consider the reviews below.
In everyday use the D40 is just what it set out to be, a very capable, compact, lightweight and easy to use camera which makes a perfect first step for anyone wanting to get into digital SLR photography.
If you’re looking for a great Nikon camera to make great photos, especially of moving kids or sports or indoor plays and concerts, this is it compared to any fixed-lens camera.
Bottom line, the Nikon D40 is very responsive, good for wiggly kids and most sporting events. Though Continuous mode speed could be a little faster, the camera at least captures frames continuously at that rate, seemingly without any buffer limitation.
If you’re ready to enter the world of digital SLRs, the Nikon D40 is a great way to do it. It offers a compact, truly portable body, great performance and photo quality, and a really user friendly interface for not a lot of dough. I can recommend the D40 without hesitation.
Ultimately the Nikon D40 provides almost everything that most photographers need in a camera (digital or otherwise), whilst delivering great ease of use, responsive performance and very impressive image quality. Highly recommended if you are looking to buy your first digital SLR camera.
Although Nikon continues to improve and hone its entry-level D-SLRs to make them easier to use, the D40 doesn’t quite earn a coveted Editors’ Choice award.
Where to Buy
First off, consider going to your local camera store (and I don’t necessarily mean Wolf Camera at the mall). By going to your local camera store, you’re supporting your community and you just might build a lasting relationship with people you can rely on when you need some help or answers. If you’re buying online, I recommend sticking with Amazon, B&H Photo or Adorama. These three vendors are reliable, trustworthy and generally have the best (legitimate) prices. Additionally, purchasing your camera through these links helps support this site.
[tags]nikon, d40, review, test[/tags]