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Photos and image samples: Nikon D40

A tour of the Nikon D40's design and a discussion of the camera's photo quality.

CNET Reviews staff

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1 of 9 CNET Networks
Weighing a hair less than 1 pound, 10 ounces with the kit lens attached, the Nikon D40 digital SLR camera isn't much heavier than the typical amateur-oriented megazoom model, and the overall design is comfortably balanced and compact.
2 of 9 CNET Networks
When shooting in manual exposure mode, the exposure compensation button shifts the rear-dial function to aperture adjustment. The "info" button duplicates the "i" button on the back of the camera, and so it seems a bit superfluous. However, when pressed in conjunction with the aforementioned button, the camera will revert to its default settings (though the custom settings will remain).
3 of 9 CNET Networks
If you're just starting out with a digital SLR, the D40 helps with the same scene modes, dubbed "Digital Vari-Programs," as you would find on Nikon's Coolpix point-and-shoot models. You can also shift into automatic mode and let the camera drive.
4 of 9 CNET Networks
Unlike most dSLRs, the D40 has no second dial on the front. Instead, it has a single dial on the back. This camera is designed to rely heavily on the single, integrated-control display on the back.
32156779-2-440-SS1.jpg
5 of 9 Lori Grunin
Whether intentional or not on Nikon's part, the three options in the camera's metering system-- 420-segment matrix (left), center-weighted (middle), and spot (right)--deliver enough significant differences that new photographers can get a clear sense of what each scheme does. I find many entry-level dSLRs' evaluative (matrix) and center-weighted modes will meter too similarly. These shots also emphasize the rather cool auto-white balance.
32156779-2-440-SS2.jpg
6 of 9 Lori Grunin
The D40's continuous-shooting performance in the field didn't feel quite as zippy as our Labs' testing shows, but that's because I prefer to shoot raw+JPEG whenever possible. Even with that overhead, it generally managed to capture the sequences I wanted.
Note: Software was used to adjust exposure for easier viewing.
32156779-2-440-SS3.jpg
7 of 9 Lori Grunin
Though this shot didn't come out quite as sharply as I'd hoped, the squirrel's fur is remarkably noise-free for an ISO 800 shot.
Note: Software was used to adjust exposure for easier viewing.
32156779-2-440-SS4.jpg
8 of 9 Lori Grunin
Many of the D40's shots showed the saturation characteristics of a snapshot camera--just a bit too vivid. Since this shot was taken at ISO 800, I think the bump in saturation worked a bit against the noise suppression.
Note: Software was used to adjust exposure for easier viewing.
32156779-2-440-SS5.jpg
9 of 9 Lori Grunin
Beyond ISO 1600 Nikon simply provides a "HI 1" mode, which is about ISO 3200. As long as you don't crop in too far or print too large, the high ISO photos are quite good.
Note: Software was used to adjust exposure for easier viewing.

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