Nikon D40 Review
Conclusion - Pros
- Excellent image quality, great resolution and detail, who needs eight megapixels?
- Surprisingly good build quality, tight shut lines
- Very compact and lightweight (especially with kit lens) yet still comfortable to use
- Kit lens is better quality than many others
- Great in-use performance, very responsive, short black-out time, very fast media write
- Good fast auto focus system (only 3 areas but that's not a big issue for this camera)
- Auto-focus assist lamp rather than requiring flash to be raised
- Reliable, sophisticated, if sometimes a little conservative matrix metering system
- For a Pentamirror the viewfinder delivers a surprisingly bright image
- Extremely useful, customizable automatic sensitivity (ISO)
- Easy to use playback / delete combination
- All playback functions available in record review
- Very attractive and intuitive menu system
- Unlimited continuous shooting in JPEG mode (with a reasonably fast card)
- Good SD card throughput and USB 2.0 transfer speed
- In-camera retouching features including D-Lighting and Red-eye reduction
- Support for SD and SDHC cards
- Good large LCD monitor with wide viewing angles
- Dedicated help button provides both shooting and in-menu assistance
- Programmable Fn hard button
- Value for money
Conclusion - Cons
- No lens motor in body means non-AF-S/AF-I lenses are manual focus only
- Disappointingly RAW+JPEG setting only records Basic quality JPEG's
- No status LCD panel on top of camera (we hate to see these go)
- No exposure or white balance bracketing
- No hard buttons (without customizing) for ISO or White Balance
- No depth-of-field preview
- Occasional visibility of moire artifacts (although seldom)
- Fixed exposure steps (1/3 EV)
- Disappointing automatic white balance performance in incandescent light
- No RAW adjustment with supplied PictureProject, only simple conversion
- Limited image parameter adjustment (especially for color saturation)
The D40 is perhaps one of Nikon's most important digital SLRs. It's certainly their smallest and lightest, their most affordable and ships with a fairly decent kit lens too. But noteworthy is the fact that it's their first digital SLR not to provide Auto Focus to their large range of lenses which do not have built-in AF motors. This was a move which in the grand scheme of things was not unexpected and although disappointing to some is unlikely to be of too much consequence for the average D40 buyer (those with more specific lens requirements are expected to go for the D80).
One thing which stood out for us when we reviewed the D80 was its responsive performance, the feeling of instant connection between the photographer and the camera. So imagine I was very happy to find that the emphasis on responsiveness has been carried through to the more affordable D40. Indeed apart from a very slightly slower viewfinder blackout and probably slower auto-focus (although not measured) the D40 doesn't really feel any slower in use and for some functions is actually faster thanks to smaller files.
Nikon have also obviously worked to ensure that no corners were cut in image processing, after all when you make a digital SLR you are also effectively designing the 'film' that will be permanently locked into it (we have seen very few firmware updates which actually improve image quality; this mostly because the 'heavy processing' has to be done in hardware, not software). Image quality was probably the best of any current six megapixel digital SLR and good enough to question any advantage touted by an eight megapixel.
So the D40 has some shortcomings, over and above it's lack of an internal AF motor there were a few annoyances; I didn't like the fact that when I shot RAW+JPEG I was only getting Basic quality JPEG's, I didn't like that there wasn't a dedicated ISO or WB button (already) on the camera (you can program the Fn button but I would have thought it more logical to use the four-way controller on the rear from day one) and as with most recent digital SLRs automatic white balance was something you should really only use in natural light. Other things which will be of less importance to D40 owners are the lack of bracketing, depth-of-field preview and fixed exposure steps.
In everyday use the D40 is just what it set out to be, a very capable, compact, lightweight and easy to use camera which makes a perfect first step for anyone wanting to get into digital SLR photography. It provides enough control and a large enough range of manual settings to enable you to experiment and learn but also helps you to take great pictures in the process. It's one of those cameras you can just pick up and start shooting without fuss, that you can hand to a friend who's never used an SLR and know they'll be able to do the same. All of this and a pretty decent kit lens for $600, I'd say it's a bit of a bargain.
Rating (out of 10)
|Ergonomics & handling||8.5|
|Fangorn Forest by cand1d|
|Yosemite Falls with Moonbow by Jonathan Shapiro|
from Best Landscape of the Week 4
Think Tank Photo has updated two of its popular bag lines with improvements to functionality. Read more
We’ve all seen Bob Jackson’s Pulitzer Prize winning photo, but there's another.
The sample footage looks good.
It will automatically pick the best camera settings depending on shooting conditions. Read more
As if $13,950 wasn’t enough to pay for a special edition lens, the Leica Store in San Francisco is offering a prototype of said lens for $24,995. Read more
Make those old photos disappear without deleting them forever.
Firmware updates enable 10 fps shooting with adapted A-mount lenses, and faster startup times and better compatibility for 20 fps shooting when using native lenses on the a9.
Fujifilm has released firmware updates for its camera models X-T2, X-Pro2, GFX 50s, X-T20, X100F and X-T1 and updates to three of its software products.
A 22 year-old Romanian photographer uses his DJI Phantom 4 drone to capture unique perspectives of the city where he now lives.
What's it like to ride the waves with champion surfer Kelly Slater? This VR video from Teton Gravity Research gives you a taste.
When Nikon released the full-frame D3 in 2007, it changed the professional photography industry. In this week's Throwback Thursday, Barney remembers a legend. Read more
The new stuff should have better red hues, improved sensitivity and finer grain - but don't worry - will still shift blues to green, greens to purple and yellows to pink.
Ricoh has introduced a new rugged compact camera with a 16MP CMOS sensor, 28-140mm lens, 2.7" LCD and built-in LED macro lights. Read more
This compact drone can shoot HD video using a 2-axis stabilized 12MP camera. Read more
The new Prynt Pocket can print a photo directly from their iPhone simply by inserting the phone into the printer, then snapping a photo. Each print will cost about 50 cents. Read more
Updates for Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom CC bring support for the Sony A9 and Panasonic ZS70/TZ90, along with bug fixes.
The Triggertrap remote camera control system is no longer sold due to the company folding, but now users will be able to build their own. Read more
The Magic Format Converter comes with internal optics that expand the image circle of full-frame DSLR lenses for use on the Fuji medium format camera. Read more
The usually Apple-exclusive MacPhun software developer has announced that it will introduce PC versions of two of its most popular applications. Both Aurora HDR and Luminar should be available for the Windows operating system by the autumn of this year. Read more
Sony's newest G Master telephoto zoom, announced alongside the a9, is the first of the company's FE lenses to reach 400mm natively. We had one in California and photographed horses, portraits, and landscapes - check out how it did. Read more
Garmin has entered the 360-camera market with the VIRB, which captures 5.7K video at 30p as well as 15MP stills. Read more
German media reports that the founders of the company behind the Panono 360-degree ball camera have filed for bankruptcy at a court in Berlin. Read more
With a claimed 800 new custom parts, Microsoft's updated Surface Pro comes with the latest Kaby Lake processors, better battery life, a new hinge, plus the Surface Pen is updated as well. Read more
DW Photo is attempting to resurrect the Hy6 medium format camera, though the legal tangles of its development may stop it being branded Rolleiflex.
The Kodak EKTRA, the company's 'camera first' smartphone, is now available to purchase in the United States. Read more
Apple and Nokia have settled their years-old patent dispute. Apple will make an undisclosed payment to Nokia and sign a licensing agreement related to digital health products with the Finnish company.
David Gibson, one of Britain's best known street shooters, shares all.
Photographers from the SKYGLOW project travelled 150k miles and took 3 million photos in increasingly rare locations: those without light pollution.
The world's fastest 200mm was produced for 16 years. In that time, only 8000 were made.
Photokina, the biennial photo industry trade show in Cologne, Germany, has announced that it will become an annual event beginning in 2018, and expand its focus to additional areas of imaging technology. Read more