Here you can see a generated GretagMacbeth ColorChecker chart, place your mouse over any of the labels below it to see the color reproduction in that mode. Select a camera/setting combination from the 'Compared to' drop-down to comparative boxes inside each patch.
The D40's default color reproduction can be described kindly as 'consumer friendly', it's certainly highly saturated with a particularly strong response to blues and greens, this is because by default the D40 uses color mode IIIa (intended for landscapes). Those who prefer a more neutral color balance can of course create a custom preset and select color mode Ia.
Custom Mode Ia
Custom Mode II
Custom Mode IIIa
Artificial light White Balance
If you like orange then you're going to love the D40's automatic white balance in incandescent / tungsten light, otherwise you're probably going to want to use the incandescent preset, which although closer still doesn't produce perfectly white whites, you'll need a manual preset for that.
Incandescent - Auto WB
Red: 11.9%, Blue: -18.3%, Poor
Incandescent - Incandescent preset WB
Red: 2.8%, Blue: -4.3%, Average
Fluorescent - Auto WB
Red: 0.6%, Blue: -4.9%, Average
Fluorescent - Fluorescent preset WB
Red: 3.0%, Blue: -2.6%, Average
Long Exposure noise reduction / Night shots
Our typical thirdty second long exposure / night shot at ISO 200 produced no noticeable hot pixels in the image, hence enabling the optional 'dark frame subtraction' noise reduction made no difference in this instance.
Noise reduction Off
Noise reduction On
ISO 200, 30 sec, F14
ISO 200, 30 sec, F14
Overall flash performance was good, perhaps very slightly under-exposed in our skin-tone portrait test shot but this at least avoids pushing skin tones too far. No indication of any metering, white balance or color cast problems in our color chart shot.
Overall Image Quality / Specifics
The D40 produced extremely good images which for us went beyond the cameras 'entry level' billing and go to show how far in-camera image processing has come. JPEG's from the camera showed good resolution and detail with few artifacts, color saturation by default is strong and some may find the camera's reproduction of sky blues a little overpowering, although this can be reduced by selecting color mode Ia or reducing color saturation. Noise levels were low even at ISO 1600, the D40's noise reduction being biased towards removal of chroma noise which helps to maintain detail while delivering an image which is visually more appealing (monochromatic grain instead of color blotches).
Out of the few hundred 'everyday' shots we took while preparing this review we only encountered one noteworthy issue and that was the visibility of moire in fine detail. This shot is perfect for demonstrating this as the grating provides us with pairs of lines of gradually increasing frequency as they go off into the distance. This has produced a nice red/green/blue moire pattern from left to right which changes color as it exits the shadow to the right side. Firstly I'd say that the moire is a positive sign that Nikon are pushing the limits of the sensor and using a light anti-alias filter to extract as much detail as possible, however a modern image processing algorithm should be capable of delivering the detail while still removing this 'false color'.