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Nikon D40 Advice/Opinions?

by fionndruinne / March 14, 2007 10:01 AM PDT

Greetings, all. I am looking to finally upgrade from point-and-shoot to a good DSLR camera, and have my eye on the Nikon D40. It appeals to me for; low price (I don't have much to splurge something so superfluous - or was it essential? - as a camera), solid build, and speed (I hear it has a very fast power-on time, as well as good continuous shooting speed).

I'd like some opinions, particularly from those of you who own this camera, since reviews only go so far, and I spent only a little time using this camera in Best Buy. I don't want anything particularly fancy in a camera, and am not terribly experienced with SLRs, but I do shoot some serious photos, so reliability and functionality are most important to me.

Thanks in advance,

- Andrew

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Nikon D40 Owner's Opinions
by snapshot2 Forum moderator / March 15, 2007 9:05 AM PDT
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by fionndruinne / March 16, 2007 12:06 PM PDT

Aye, in general there are very good reviews. It looks like some photographers take this one on trips, which is also good, as one thing I am wondering about is how durable the camera is. I can't afford, personally, something with cheap construction, which unfortunately is the norm for most electronics these days.

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D40 reviews and other options
by blaine100 / March 16, 2007 3:23 PM PDT
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by fionndruinne / March 16, 2007 8:27 PM PDT

I haven't looked at the Pentax yet. As for the Canons, I'd actually prefer Nikon's 6MP to the XT's 8MP (if I remember rightly), as it is a more manageable image size. Also, doesn't the XT use Compactflash memory (a bit more expensive than SD)? And the Nikon seems more solidly made, from their feel in-store.

I wonder, does the D40 use newer technology than the XT, since it only came out late last year, while the XT has been out for a while now?

My friend has an XTi, and while it's quite nice, there are some features I don't quite like, such as the 10.1MP size (dam' huge! A tad too big), and the automatic sensor cleaning, which fires every time the camera is turned on as well as off, meaning longer time firing up the camera to first shot (D40's 0.3 seconds sounds heavenly, after my P&S's five seconds or more).

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Nikon D40
by hjfok / March 17, 2007 1:33 AM PDT
In reply to: Thanks

From the reviews, the Nikon D40 does use a newer processing engine than the D50, and the test pictures look sharper than the D50, and comparable to the Pentax K100D and the Canon Rebel XT.
Nikon has a great line of DSLR system. But D40 does not have an internal AF motor, meaning that you will be limited to the certain lens choices (AF-S, AF-I). You may not have auto focus on a good number of other lens. So check carefully what lens you can use or not use (especially 3rd party lens) before you purchase one. You are probably better off sticking with the AF-S and AF-I lens. Lens is a big part of investment in D-SLR, since most people like to keep their favorite lens for future body upgrades. And for the most part, I think the lens makes a bigger difference in image quality than the DSLR body itself. So make sure you have looked into this before buying the D40.
There are a few other minor shortcomings, eg. no exposure bracketing, etc. But these may not be important to you.

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Lenses and AF and motors, oh my
by fionndruinne / March 17, 2007 6:02 AM PDT
In reply to: Nikon D40

Yes, I've read all these reviews, and the lack of autofocus with some lenses worries me not a whit. Personally I've always liked manual focus. For a zoom lens, I'll want to go for AF, since it's a little harder to see just how accurately you're focusing, but when I invest in a macro lens, I'd actually prefer manual focus only.

The current lens choices for the D40 are good; there's a non-stabilized 55-200 zoom lens for about $150, and a new stabilized 55-200 coming out for only around $250. I won't have the money for these lenses anytime soon, but the kit lens will do me for a while. Incidentally, it's exactly the same features as comes with the Rebel XTi.

Newer processing technology is one thing that makes me turn to this one rather than the XT (as far as I ken, unless there've been upgrades to the XT).

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(NT) The XTi is the upgrade of the XT.
by Kiddpeat / March 17, 2007 9:18 AM PDT
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Quite so
by fionndruinne / March 17, 2007 11:36 AM PDT

Indeed, but as I stated, there are reasons (besides the price, which is reason enough) why I am not going for the XTi.

What I's wondering is whether the XT itself, as it is currently for sale, has improved at all since its launch.

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lens compatability
by hjfok / March 17, 2007 1:47 AM PDT
In reply to: Thanks

This is from

Nikon D40 Lens compatibility Type G or D AF Nikkor

? AF-S, AF-I- All functions supported
? Other Type G or D AF Nikkor- All functions supported except autofocus
? PC Micro-Nikkor 85mm f/2.8D- Can only be used in mode M; all other functions supported except autofocus

? Other AF Nikkor*2/AI-P Nikkor- All functions supported except autofocus and 3D Color Matrix Metering II

? Non-CPU - Can be used in mode M, but exposure meter does not function; electronic range finder can be used if maximum aperture is f/5.6 or faster

? IX Nikkor- Can not be used

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why consider Nikon and Canon only?
by kuuan / May 4, 2007 11:56 AM PDT
In reply to: Thanks should have looked into the Pentax though, hjfolk, even though ghe is a Canon user, has made good points in favour of the Pentax. It seems that you are decided in favour of the Nikon all along and wonder why you ask for advice if you don't consider them anyway.
I had asked the question D40 or K100D at dpreview, see:

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Lens advice for the D40!
by electronista / March 17, 2007 12:17 PM PDT

The one thing I'd probably do for the D40 is to get it body-only, unless you can find one with a better kit lens. An 18-55mm lens with 3X zoom isn't really going to make you feel the difference versus a high-end, fixed-lens camera. The 18-70mm Nikkor AF lens is probably a better choice.

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by fionndruinne / March 17, 2007 1:25 PM PDT

But the D40's not available body-only. The kit lens is the only package they sell (and I don't quite feel like getting it off Ebay).

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Just from my experiences...
by scon484 / March 25, 2007 2:46 PM PDT

Hello there. I thought I'd give you some insight on the D40 from my experiences with it so far (if you haven't made up your mind yet).

Like you, I'm a recent grad of the point and shoot school and bought the d40 as my first dslr. Personally it was mainly because of the price. I'm sure all the other sub $1000 dslrs are great in their own right and have their pros and con too. But the d40 is a great deal. I do not own any older lenses and will probably only buy one or two other nikon/nikkor ones, so no internal af motor was not a factor for me.

Things I like about it so far:
1. Its size and weight. May not be as small as the p&s but still smaller than the competition. It's great when I'm hiking and traveling. It's also not too imposing when taking friendly snap shots around other people (it's relatively quiet too).
2. Feels very comfortable in my hands. This may differ from person to person.
3. Very fast start up. Actually, when shooting, I never turn the camera off. It's always ready for the next shot, even from off position.
4. The battery last forever. I only use it occasionally everyday or heavily once in a while and usually without flash and leaving in on position (but that doesn't drain battery power). The battery last for weeks or over 1000 shots for me.
5. Lots of controls to play with, especially continuous shooting.
6. The Nikon ML-L3 remote is awesome.
7. Pictures in general come out great. I'm still learning as a photographer, but this is my 4th digital camera. I've had p&s with 7+ mp but their pictures aren't as sharp, clear, etc... as the d40. But, I think most of the dslrs will yield similar results.
8. The presets and info button are nice crutches for me on my way to mastering photography.
9. Did I mention price?

Things I wish were different:
1. My biggest gripe is the lack of external controls for commonly use adjustments like ISO, wb, shooting mode... You can program the self timer button (aka. the function button) but I like easy access to the self timer too. All other nikons are really good about this, why not the d40 too? The 4-way nav button seems like such a waste. I think it could pull double duty and take on some of these settings. I think I spend too much time in the menus changing settings.
2. I wish it came with an lcd protector like other nikons.
3. Two command dials would help out some times.
4. In camera IS would be nice to have(yeah I know, but it would be nice, right?).

So, as you can see, no big problems so far. If you are use to p&s cameras, the menu thing shouldn't be a big deal. Durability is my biggest concern. I've taken it on 2 hikes since I bought it (one while it was snowing and no protection for the camera) and no problems yet. Only time will tell though. I think this is a great camera for p&s grads who are on their way to mastering photography (nikon probably designed it that way).

Don't worry too much about the camera. Just get out, shoot more and have fun.


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I almost forgot...
by scon484 / March 25, 2007 2:55 PM PDT

One other big thing I like about the d40: great low-light performance. The new d40x many be even better at this. But I still think the d40 is a better deal.

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Many thanks
by fionndruinne / March 25, 2007 5:42 PM PDT
In reply to: I almost forgot...

Excellent feedback, thanks much. That's what I was after, as well... I've read every review which has been brought up by other folks (not that I don't appreciate their weighing in), but nothin' beats an actual user who knows their camera.

I am more and more certain that this is exactly what I'm looking for. Having dealt so long with an old (but serviceable) P&S, any concessions I will be making over more expensive DSLRs will really be upgrades anyhow. Fit and feel is perfect for me, as well... I went to Best Buy, and spent more time playing with the D40 than I did with the beautiful D80, D200 and a Canon which I can't recall.

Low-light is a huge plus; probably my single favorite shooting condition, actually.

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additional thoughts
by scon484 / March 27, 2007 3:19 AM PDT
In reply to: Many thanks

The first time I took the camera out of the house to shoot was at night (and outside) at a Subaru get-together in the beginning of febuary. Most of the hand-helds were blurry, but the ones I shot with the tripod were impressive. The d40 can't work miracles though, if you're shooting at night or indoors and the subject is moving too fast, it'll come out blurry. Bumping the ISO helps and noise is not a problem until 800 (maybe) and 1600 iso. Nevertheless, I am very happy with its low light performance.

The one thing about the camera that surprized me (in a good way) the most was how long the battery last. I remember the days when digital cameras sucked batteries dry in hours. I would have to be real stingy on lcd use and keeping the camera on. That's not the case with this camera. I got it on 1/26/07 and I've used the charger 3 times, including the initial charge up.

The one thing I'm not too impressed with is the LCD screen. I can't put my finger on it, but it doesn't seem to give me a completely accurate account of what I just shot. When I look at my pictures on the computer screen, some of them look better than I remembered them on the camera, some looked worst. But you can zoom in, and that helps. It is still a great tool for learning. It gives me instant feedback so I can make adjustments when needed or if something went wrong in the picutre (something moved, bad composition, obstuction in the way, etc...).

If you're poking around the net like I was before I bought my d40, then you probably stumbed on ken rockwell's site. It has some good stuff on the d40, nikon, cameras and photography. If not, you can start here:

Good luck!

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Nikon D40 a great camera
by Bluswif2 / March 27, 2007 4:36 AM PDT
In reply to: additional thoughts

I agree with everything you said. I just got this camera yesterday and I am still learning about the camera and am excited to get out there and take some real pictures. The camera is so light and fits perfectly in your hands.

Does anyone have any other tips or ideas for this camera?

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Thanks again.
by fionndruinne / March 27, 2007 8:15 AM PDT
In reply to: additional thoughts

I tend to take low-light photos mainly of night scenes, and always tend to find some support for my camera, though a tripod would be a good plan I am sure as well. Naturally we can't expect the impossible from any camera.

Aye, Ken's site (though carrying traces of, well, blarney at times - and not necessarily a terrible thing) is one of my sources... in addition to pretty much all of the other reviews I could find, which are overwhelmingly positive on this camera. Seems like C-net is one of the most lackluster, actually, possibly due to being written by one who is not principally a photographer.

I'm just waiting now to see if Amazon's price will drop a bit this coming month, with the arrival of the D40x and all. That's another 4.0 megapixels which I don't need, at a +$200 I can't afford. I will be picking up the D40, though. It will get me off my computer when at home in the beautiful Pacific northwest, and out looking for the good stuff!

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Niight photos
by hjfok / March 31, 2007 6:13 AM PDT
In reply to: additional thoughts

A lens with wide aperture and VR (vibration reduction) will help you take nice low light and night photos handheld without a tripod and flash, but it comes with a steep price tag. A tripod is cheaper and works better than the expensive VR lens, if you don't mind carrying the extra weight.

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Why I love the D40
by abqstyle / March 28, 2007 1:13 AM PDT

I have owned the Rebel XT (great image quality but cheaply made and clunky), the Pentak K110D (not as good image quality but better features and construction) and finally the Nikon D40.

The NIkon D40 feels like a finely crafted tool that fits the hand perfectly. Its shutter is whisper quiet and everything about it breathes quality--qualities that cannot be matched by either the Rebel XT or Pentax K110D. The image quality of the Nikon D40 is also on par with the Rebel XT. The metering is the best of the bunch--this camera meters consistently in good light and low light. The image quality is as good as 6 megapixels is ever likely to be--the best of the bunch right now. This is a camera that allows me to focus on getting the shot--I don't need to worry if the camera is doing its job. You are more likely to get great images with no additional tweaking with the D40. Finally, the kit lens is visibly sharper that either the Canon or Pentax kit lens. The only downside is that you have fewer cheap new lenses to choose from. However, the Nikon 55-200mm is a perfectly priced (about $200.00) and very capable 2nd lens, providing all the reach that most D40 users will ever need.

Here are sample images all taken with the Nikon D40 and kit lens or 55-200mm lens. It easily produces professional quality exposures!

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40X v 40
by macdonaldgeoff / April 3, 2007 1:37 PM PDT
In reply to: Why I love the D40

Hi there. I have been following this thread -- extremely helpful. I am about to enter the DSLR world, and am definitely a beginner. This being said, I hope to have a good base to build on as I take a course or 2 and get out there.

The question I have:
is the 40X worth the extra cost?

The best price I have seen for it locally (Canada) is 975$ with the kit lens. Is it a waste of money to go straight for the 10 mpx, or will I be kicking myself in a few years time?

I hate to mention it, but since it has been discussed, I will mention it. My other choice is the Canon XT kit (@749).

What is the best buy for me, considering that I don't want to break the bank, but do want to take quality picture and have a quality base for a while to come?

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D40 or D40X?
by abqstyle / April 3, 2007 2:16 PM PDT
In reply to: 40X v 40

I honestly do not think you will regret buying the Nikon D40. I would recommend the extra megapixels only if you sell stock photos or anticipate doing alot of image cropping. For personal use with occasional enlargements you will never need more than 6 megs.

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Buy the NIkon d40 and skip the D40x
by Bluswif2 / April 3, 2007 2:50 PM PDT
In reply to: 40X v 40

You will never need the Nikon D40x unless you blowing up big pictures or are going to print huge pictures. I just bought this camera and I am still learning how to use it. The Nikon d40 is just built well and sturdy and fits well in your hands. The picture quality is amazing and the lcd screen is good too.
Good luck, you will not be disappointed.

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Nikon D40
by macdonaldgeoff / April 3, 2007 2:57 PM PDT

Thank you for that puts me at ease, and makes me think that I can save money while not giving up much.

Since I last posted, I read something about the D40 not being compatible with many Nikon Autofocus Lenses. This is the first I've heard of this. Anybody know about it?

The same guy (Pierre) was strongly recommending the D50 over the D40. I hate to bring yet another camera in to the equation, but any thought on this one?

Thank you again!

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by fionndruinne / April 3, 2007 5:15 PM PDT
In reply to: Nikon D40

Yes, the D40 has no internal focus motor, meaning that many older lenses will not auto-focus with it. This has been talked about over and over again, and it really comes down to this: if you have older, non AF-S (lens-motor) lenses, then you'll find this a handicap - if you haven't older lenses, then it should not be a problem. Your future lens choices will be somewhat limited, but new AF-S lenses will come out. A new choice is a 55-200mm with image stabilization for $250 - a good price, but we'll have to see how it performs when it is released. There is also a non-stabilized AF-S 55-200mm for about $175 which is said to produce excellent photos. Certain lenses, as well, are worth picking up even without the auto-focus ability: the Nikkor 50mm f1.8 prime, for one, which is excellent for close-ups, where it's generally easier to manual focus - and that lens takes beautiful pictures. Remember also that the D40's focus point will flash green and beep, indicating that you've achieved proper focus, even when you're manually focusing.

As for the D50, it's bulky compared to the D40, and somewhat slower in some areas. The D40 contains the D80's processor, which is reputedly better tan the D50's. Still, the D50 has an internal focus motor, so if that's an issue, then you might want to consider it. The D50 is a real favorite, and many photographers still rely on it.

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About the lenses
by scon484 / April 4, 2007 2:08 AM PDT
In reply to: Nikon D40

Canon went through this around 20 yrs ago. They changed their lenses so all of them had internal focusing motors(inside the lense), which only worked on their newer EOS slrs. Nikon has stood by their system all this time, promising compatibility throughout their range. But as you can see with the d40, one advantage of not having the motor inside the camera is that the camera can be much smaller. Who knows what the future will hold but I think nikon will only do this for their smaller entry level dslrs because most the people these cameras are aim at don't own any older lenses and will only buy one or two additional ones. But don't pass up that killer deal on ebay for an older nikon lense. It will still work on the d40. You'll just need to do the focusing manually, which isn't a horrible thing.

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Which is the right choice?
by hjfok / April 4, 2007 3:36 AM PDT
In reply to: Nikon D40

Sometimes when you get too much information, you get paranoid. People try to mean well to give more information, but sometimes it ends up in creating more confusion.
Don't worry too much about which camera is the best. They are all good, whether it is Nikon, Canon, Pentax, etc. The camera is just the tool for you to have fun. Don't get paralyzed by the nitty gritty details of specs. Techies and the obsessive-compulsive (like myself) like to research the technical details. But guess what? Almost all these details don't really matter. Did Ansel Adams (the greatest landscape photographer in history) worry about getting the latest technology to get his photos? He just focuses on what is important, the composition, the light, etc. Even with the latest technologies and the most expensive lenses, no one can reproduce his work. Many photography artists are still using medium and large format camera (those kinds used by Ansel Adams and others decades ago), and they're still sharper than any 35 mm lens including the digitals, and much cheaper.
I can tell you that my old PS camera captured better landscape photos with good light condition than my D-SLR (6x more expensive) when the light condition is suboptimal, for the same scene. The only real advantage of my D-SLR is better and faster low light and action performance. That's why so many sports and news photographers use D-SLR. When light is very limited (and you purposely don't want to add more ambient light), that's the time when a more expensive fast lens will help. But if you don't plan on doing a lot of low light action photos, the Nikon D40 with the kit lens are more than enough. Fancy functions sometimes just distract you from your composition. There is no perfect camera body, all have pros and cons, and the technology practically changes every year, kind of like the computer systems. There is always a better, cheaper and faster new toy coming out. But the bottom line is that the camera is just a tool. Get what you can afford and go out to have fun with it. Just imagine that you are the painter. The camera is your brush. And the light is your paint. Learn how to use the light to achieve the image you want. You don't need the best brush to get the best composition. Learn how to control your camera but focus on developing your composition skills.

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thank you
by macdonaldgeoff / April 4, 2007 3:45 AM PDT

That is the best advice I've heard yet. It really can become all-consuming when analyzing every detail. For someone like me, who just wants to be comfortable with my camera and take good shots, information overload simply bogs me down.

Thanks for the reality check!

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Take your time to develop your skills
by hjfok / April 4, 2007 4:56 AM PDT
In reply to: thank you

If you have limited budget, don't buy too much equipment. Start simple and try not to use flash, so that you learn how to maximize use of ambient light and tweak your camera. Once you master basic skills, then learn how to use artificial lights to enhance your composition. I always love my natural light photos more than those with flash. As your skill and special interest develop, and you outgrow the first and/or second (kit) lens, then you will know exactly which lens you will need. Remember nobody does photography the same way as you do, their advice may not apply to you. So experiment with the kit lens and find out what you really need yourself. Don't let the sales people pressure you to buy more. Good luck and have fun.

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Hear, hear.
by fionndruinne / April 4, 2007 5:51 AM PDT

That's excellent advice. And yes, the pull towards analyzing every technical detail can be quite strong, especially on forums like these, but I agree that it is far more important to have the tool in your hands, and crank out photos like they're going out of style. Just pay attention to what you do.

Well, My D40 is ordered from Amazon, and should get here in a couple of days. Exciting stuff, as it's my second-most-expensive piece of equipment purchased so far (next to the computer I'm typing on).

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