Nikon D40 Review
The D40 from Nikon is in many ways a hybrid camera. It's not exactly a point and shoot. But it's not a full powered, professional DSLR either. Whatever it is, it's great for people who want better performance and images than a point and shoot without the advanced features and tweaking that come with a professional cameras.
This camera is perfect for the beginner - people who have absolutely no experience using a DSLR. You can choose to buy this with a kit lens (which we recommend if you are a newbie) or buy a separate lens. One thing to note: Nikon removed the coupling pin from the lens mount. This means you can't use any many other lenses besides the newer models, unfortunately.
With the D40, Nikon decided to remove the second status LCD on the top, and put a 2.5 LCD screen in the back. If you press 1 single button, it will display all the current settings. Pressing that same button will enable you to tweak those settings using the switch and command dial. Overall, if you've used a point and shoot camera your entire life, you'll feel right at home - you don't even need to read the menu to use their auto mode. Ironically, we feel those who have used other DSLRs will need extra time to adjust and get used to things.
The viewfinder is new and improved in the Nikon D40. The magnification is at a solid .8 X. It doesn't have an overlay though, which is a shame because it'd definitely be good for beginners to have.
In terms of image quality, the D40 earns high grades. Noise reduction is handled properly, and all the photos we took in low to medium ISO all featured low noise level, with excellent exposure, and outstanding colors.
The D40 contains many features you'll see in an average entry level DSLR. Even though it's only 6 megapixels, our photos still remained good quality up to 13 X 19 prints. Sure, a higher megapixel would've offered better detail in certain spots, but it is adequate for most situations, especially for beginners. If you're not looking for anything higher than 8 X 10 prints (which rarely should you need), the D40 and its 6 mega-pixels is more than satisfactory, and will produce crisp images.
Color and exposure were fairly accurate in all the photos we shot. The D40 handles noise reduction extremely well. Even at ISO 800, and 1600 (the highest), noise was kept extremely low, and much better than other entry level DSLRs we reviewed. If you've used a point and shoot your entire life, you'll really be stunned at the difference in photo quality.
ISO settings can be adjusted anywhere from 200 to 1600, plus another level which is the equivalent of 3200. Like most other DSLRs, you have the option of 3 autofocus types: single pt, dynamic area and closest subject. You can adjust the shutter speed, and exposure compensation, as well as metering modes. All in all, it has about almost every feature a basic DSLR should have.
In terms of performance, the D40 does fall short in certain areas. Power to first shot is a quick .3 seconds. That's good. Here's the bad: Shutter lag is .7 seconds in good lighting, and 1.6 seconds in dim lighting conditions. This is way below average performance for a DSLR, and led us to miss more shots than we should. The autofocus does work well though.
But the rest of the performance numbers is pretty solid: Shot to shot time is .6 seconds for both JPEG and RAW. Enabling flash makes it .9 seconds. Continuous shooting speed is top of the class at 2.5 frames per second. So it definitely evens out the shutter lag. We took pictures of people dancing in a local dance studio, and it delivers perfect quality.
We dread carrying around heavy digital SLRs all over the place, so the light weight of the Nikon D40 was a refreshing sight. It feels lightweight, and you can easily bring it with you everywhere you go. If you got a bad back, and find most DSLRs cumbersome, you'll find relief in the compactness of the Nikon D40.
It's worth repeating the D40 will not work for some old lenses (non-AF-S/I lenses). But if you're a beginner, you probably have no lenses anyway. If you're expecting to match this camera body with your old lens though, do some research beforehand. We don't want you to waste any money and find out the D40 will be useless.
- 6.1 megapixels
- Supports ISO 200 to 1600
- Lens kits comes with 18 mm - 55 mm
- 3 X optical zoom
- Optical viewfinder
- 2.5 inch LCD screen
- Shutter speed ranges from 1/400 seconds to 30 seconds
- Supports SD memory
- Very easy to learn and use
- Help guide for newbies
- Compact size
- Good noise reduction
- Kit lens is slow
- Slow to focus at times
- Megapixels could be higher
The entry level DSLR market is certainly packed with many options, and we think the D40 is a solid one. We think it's perfect for the beginner who has aspirations of taking up photography as a serious hobby. It has all the basic features you want in a DSLR, delivers good image quality, is lightweight and is comfortable to hold.
It may not have the most powerful performance numbers, but as a beginner we feel user friendliness and comfort as more important criteria. We've seen many newbies who were eager to learn photography, but quickly lost interest because they found a certain DSLR cumbersome to hold, and difficult to explore. The Nikon D40 is neither cumbersome or hard to use, which is what makes it earn high marks for us.
Sure, it may "only" be 6 mega pixels, but numbers can be deceiving, especially megapixels. Many companies tend to hype up the megapixel count, but the number of megapixels is almost meaningless. What we need are better quality pixels, not more megapixels.
If you can't afford the money to upgrade to the next level of DSLRs (like the D80), the D40 is certainly a respectable entry level DSLR to buy.
Rating: 4.9 out of 5
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Prices last updated on: Mon, 24 Jan 2022 17:19:45 PST