Nikon’s lowest-cost DSLR has been around since the end of 2006. During that time the competition has moved fast, but the D40 has fought back by almost halving in price.
The age of the basic design shows in several areas. The lack of any mechanical sensor-dust removal – a standard offering this month on all other cameras bar the similarly old Fujifilm S5 Pro – is just one. It also lacks live-view, a feature manufacturers are exploiting to get digital-compact users to move to DSLRs. There’s no image stabilisation in the body or the standard 18-55mm kit lens. Finally, it offers what now seems a meagre 6.1 megapixels.
So, the situation isn’t looking too good for the D40 if you’re only taking headline specs into account. But handle one and look at the results it can offer, and some light starts to appear on the horizon. The body is light and compact – it’s even narrower than the diminutive Olympus E-420 – but the chunky handgrip means normal adult hands won’t feel like they’re handling a piece of jewellery. Onscreen shooting information from the 2.5in LCD is among the most easily digestible around, and menus are clear and uncluttered by gadget-fetish options.
It’s logical, easy to use and if you get used to it, upgrading to a more expensive Nikon body in the future won’t give you any surprises. The lens attaches to a standard Nikon F mount. That means if you buy more lenses, you can upgrade to a different body later and they’ll still work.
With only six million pixels, those obsessed with specs should opt for one of the Sonys. But the quality of the D40’s output belies the pixel count, and with its above-average 18-55mm kit lens it can produce excellent quality images, as long as you stick to ISO levels of 400 or lower – the boosted ISO 3200 option is more or less unusable. The pixel count will only become an issue with heavily cropped pictures – in that case, anything printed at over A4 in size may show its limits.
Finally there’s the price – only the Sony A200 and Olympus E-420 compare. Based purely on features, there’s no doubt the Sony blows the D40 clean out of the water. But for a way into photography for those who may become more serious in the future, the D40 is a good low-cost way to go about it.
This Review appeared in the December, 2008 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine
Source: Copyright © PC Pro, Dennis Publishing