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Nikon D40: dSLRs for everyone? Cashback!

With Nikon offering £60 off a D40 or D40x, and Kodak and Jessops shifting to the higher end of the digital camera market, there's never been a better time to switch from compact to dSLR

Considering taking your photography to the next level? Recent developments suggest that the gap between digital compact cameras and digital SLRs is narrowing, in terms of price and quality. With Nikon and Canon offering cashback deals on dSLRs, and ailing photo chain Jessops hoping to high-end its way back to happiness, it's never been a better time to make the leap to dSLR.

This summer, Nikon is offering £60 cashback on the D40 and D40x digital SLRs. As Nikon is 90 years old this year, it will refund you £60 (eh?) or €90 (oh, I see) if you live in Ireland. Each camera can be bought with an AF-SDX 18-55mm II lens kit, or a twin kit with AF-S DX 18-55mm II and AF-S DX 55-200mm lenses.

With the D40 available online for as little as £329 at Amazon (with free delivery), that means you could be the proud owner of an entry-level dSLR for fewer than 300 smackers. Six megapixels doesn't sound like much in an age of affordable 8- and 10-megapixel compacts, but the dSLR sensor is physically larger and will provide vastly better pictures than a 6-megapixel compact. The 10-megapixel D40x will set you back an extra £100 or so if you're really keen on keeping up with the numbers game.

Meanwhile, Canon is celebrating the 20th birthday of its EOS system with £50 cashback on the EOS 400D, a 10-megapixel dSLR with sensor-cleaning function.

Jessops is planning to shift its product mix from a 50/50 split between compacts and dSLRs to 70 per cent digital SLRs, as well as emphasising higher-end kit such as lenses and tripods. This is in response to a whopping loss of more than £25m at the end of 2006 and start of 2007. It's not alone in seeing that the future lies with better-quality cameras, as Kodak is also pulling out of the low end of the digital camera market.

In what could be seen as a first step on the road to the high end, Jessops is to hold dSLR demonstration days to introduce the new Canon EOS-1D Mark III. Experts from Canon and SanDisk will be available in London and Birmingham on Thursday 19 July, and Edinburgh and Cardiff on Thursday 16 August. -Rich Trenholm