Compared to...

For direct image quality comparison we selected the only other entry level digital SLRs in the same price band; the Pentax K100D and Canon EOS 350D (Rebel XT).

Camera Kit Price Sensor
Nikon D40 $599 6.1 MP CCD (1.5x crop) -
Pentax K100D * $699 6.1 MP CCD (1.5x crop) -
Canon EOS 350D $699 8.2 MP CMOS (1.6x crop) +34%

* The K110D is also available for $100 less and is identical to the K100D except for the lack of the Shake Reduction system.

Lenses used

For direct comparisons we always use sharp prime lenses stopped down (typically to F9). For the 'cropped' sensor cameras we used 50 mm lenses (Nikkor 50 mm F1.8 for the D40, Pentax 50 mm F1.4 for the K100D, Canon EF 50 mm F1.4 for the EOS 350D). We've had a few enquiries asking why we use the Nikkor 50 mm F1.8 instead of the F1.4, simply because the F1.8 is sharper at the aperture we're using for these shots (F9), we've been using the F1.8 for Nikon comparisons for quite a while now.

No RAW comparison yet

Unfortunately at the time of publication Adobe Camera RAW did not support the Nikon D40 and so we were unable to produce our normal 'standard image processing' RAW converted comparison. As soon as ACR supports the D40 we will add the results to these pages.

Studio scene comparison (JPEG)

This is our standard studio scene comparison shot taken from exactly the same tripod position. Lighting: daylight simulation, >98% CRI. Crops are 100%. Ambient temperature was approximately 22°C (~72°F).

Nikon D40 vs. Pentax K100D

Camera settings:

  • Nikon D40: Nikkor 50 mm F1.8 lens, Aperture Priority, ISO 200
    JPEG Large/Fine, Manual WB, Default Parameters, Self-Timer
  • Pentax K100D: Pentax 50 mm F1.4 lens, Aperture Priority, ISO 200
    JPEG Large/Fine, Manual WB, Default Parameters (Bright), Self-Timer
Nikon D40
Pentax K100D
2,506 KB JPEG (3008 x 2000)
2,481 KB JPEG (3008 x 2000)

Just over two weeks ago I was quite happy to proclaim the Pentax K100D as having the best image quality of any six megapixel, well looking at this comparison I may have to say that the D40 has just edged the K100D off its throne. In each crop we can see the D40 has a slight edge in detail along with a complete lack of artifacts (there are a few jaggies in the K100D image).