Nikon D40 Review
Body & Design
The D40 becomes the most compact Nikon digital SLR to date, it's trimmer in all directions and yet maintains a comfortable grip and sturdy 'quality feel' construction. The slightly rounded top and sides give the camera a more inviting appearance, perhaps more appropriate to the first time SLR market. As mentioned despite being very slightly smaller than the Canon EOS 400D (Digital Rebel XTi) the D40 does not compromise comfort or ergonomics with a sensibly sized hand grip and careful rear molding. The rear of the camera is dominated by the 2.5" LCD monitor which now doubles as a camera status display screen as well as the normal image review and menus.
Side by side
Below you can see the D40 sandwiched between its bigger brother the D80 and the Canon EOS 400D (Digital Rebel XTi). As you can see the D40 is noticeably smaller than the D80 (as we expected) and even slightly more compact than the EOS 400D (although thankfully not at the expense of ergonomics).
(W x H x D)
(inc. battery & card)
|Olympus E-500||130 x 95 x 66 mm (5.1 x 3.7 x 2.6 in)||479 g (1.1 lb)|
|Nikon D40||126 x 94 x 64 mm (5.0 x 3.7 x 2.5 in)||524 g (1.2 lb)|
|Canon EOS 350D||127 x 94 x 64 mm (5.0 x 3.7 x 2.5 in)||540 g (1.2 lb)|
|Canon EOS 400D||127 x 94 x 65 mm (5.0 x 3.7 x 2.5 in)||556 g (1.2 lb)|
|Sony DSLR-A100||133 x 95 x 71 mm (5.2 x 3.7 x 2.8 in)||638 g (1.4 lb)|
|Pentax K100D||129 x 93 x 70 mm (5.0 x 3.7 x 2.8 in)||660 g (1.5 lb)|
|Nikon D80||132 x 103 x 77 mm (5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0 in)||668 g (1.5 lb)|
|Nikon D70 / D70s||140 x 111 x 78 mm (5.5 x 4.4 x 3.1 in)||679 g (1.5 lb)|
The image below shows the Canon EOS 400D (Digital Rebel XTi) and Nikon D40 with their respective 18-55 mm kit lenses.
In your hand
Not to repeat myself too much but it really is possible to make a compact digital SLR with a comfortable grip, and here it is. Nikon may have a slight advantage over Canon because of their smaller lens mount but whatever the case it's clear that they weren't going to compromise comfort, the D40's grip is smaller than that found on the D50 but is considerably better than that found on the EOS 400D (Digital Rebel XTi). A plastic body is par for the course at this price point but there's a range of different plastics and that used by Nikon feels more robust and higher quality.
|A 2.5" LCD monitor looked big on the D80, on the D40 it seems huge. It appears to be the same unit too, 2.5" with 230,000 pixels and wide viewing angle (both left / right and from above). The D40 does away with the separate 'control panel' LCD display, instead the LCD monitor performs this function during shooting. The new user interface seen on the D200 and D80 makes its way here too with nice anti-alias fonts, icons and good use of color.|
Camera information display
Press the 'info' button on the top of the camera and you will by default see an information screen similar to the one on the left below. This provides an overview of camera settings as well as a graphic representation of shutter speed (the line surrounding the aperture) and aperture. Press the 'set' (magnify) button and you can navigate around this screen to change settings such as image quality, white balance, ISO, drive mode etc. You can alternatively choose the 'classic' info display format which does away with the graphical representation of shutter speed and aperture and instead looks more like a standard control panel.
|Graphic display format||Classic display format|
The diagram below shows a breakdown of all the potential information displayed in the 'Graphic' display mode.
|1||Focus area display||14||AF-area mode|
|2||Shutter speed||15||Focus mode|
|3||Electronic meter / compensation||16||Shooting mode|
|5||Mode||18||White balance mode|
|6||Shutter-speed display (graphic)||19||Image size|
|7||Aperture display (graphic)||20||Image quality|
|8||Flash compensation value||21||Battery indicator|
|9||Flash sync mode||22||Beep indicator|
|10||Exposure compensation value||23||Optimize image preset indicator|
|11||Help indicator||24||Auto ISO sensitivity indicator|
|12||Frames remaining / Preset WB rec / PC||25||Manual flash control / External flash comp.|
Diagram reproduced with permission from the Nikon D40 user manual.
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