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Nikon D40: Overview

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The Nikon D40 is an entry-level digital SLR camera. It replaces the Nikon D50. It was announced in November 2006, after lots of speculation and leaks.

Click here to read an in-depth review of the Nikon D40

Who should buy a Nikon D40?

The D40 is a camera primarily aimed towards beginners. It can "teach" its users about the innards of photography through interactive learning. Here's an excerpt from an article in Time magazine by Wilson Rothman:

The D40 is a teacher. One of its most fascinating attributes is the Info screen, which appears at the touch of a button, appropriately marked "Info." The screen contains all sorts of data, mostly photographic mumbo jumbo. But the screen also has a visual representation of that mumbo jumbo, so you can figure out what it means. For instance, as the number next to the letter "F" goes up, the image of the camera's aperture gets tighter. It doesn't take long to sort out, then, that the higher the "f-stop," the more closed the camera's aperture. Beginners will appreciate the fact that the D40 has a knob of preset modes, not just my favourite "auto" mode but "portrait," "sports" and more. What's cool is that, when you change modes, the screen shows the changed settings. Little by little, the notions will start to sink in: what the camera is trying to do to shoot action, what it needs to take a portrait at night, etc.

However, the D40 is versatile enough to serve more than just a beginner. If you're an amateur photographer on a budget, you'll find the D40's price extremely tempting.

Don't think that the D40's "idiot" modes will get in the way, they don't. If you're already experienced enough to know the basics, then you'll be able to shoot in the more advanced P, A, S, M modes. While this camera is designed for beginners, it doesn't get in the way of the more advanced photographers.

The D40 offers an incredible amount of camera for the money, and every penny seems well spent. Every now and then it makes the more expensive Nikon D80 look over-priced and under-powered.

AF issue with Older Lenses

The D40 will not be able to autofocus with lenses that don't have an in-built focus motor. Reason being that, it doesn't have its own “screwdrive” focus motor. A lot of older and third party lenses rely on the motor in the body to focus. Hence, they will not be able to AF on the D40. The only ones that are able to autofocus are Nikon's AF-S/AF-I type lenses, and Sigma's HSM type lenses.

If you plan to use the autofocus feature of older lenses, then the D40 is not the camera for you. The newer lenses should all work perfectly however.


- Canon EOS 400D
- Pentax K100D / K110D
- Olympus E-410

Main Features

- 6 megapixel DX format CCD sensor (same used in Nikon D70 & D50, Pentax K100D)
- Multi-CAM530 3-Area AF sensor
- 3D Colour Matrix Metering II (420 pixel sensor) – for accurate exposures
- ISO range from 200 to 1600, plus boost to HI-1 (approx. 3200)
- Customisable Auto ISO
- Up to 2.5 frames per second continuous shooting. Buffer: unlimited amount of JPEGs
- 2.5", 230k pixel LCD monitor with high viewing angle
- Monitor-based status screen – called the "Info" screen
- In-camera Help Manual
- In-camera Retouching Menu
- Extensive list of Custom Functions, unusual in this price range
- 0.8x magnification, 95% coverage viewfinder view
- Small and compact, lightweight body
- Value for money


The Nikon D40 is a very popular camera, and has been reviewed by almost every major review station. Below are some links to the pick of the reviews..

Click here to read an in-depth review of the Nikon D40

  • dpreview's Review (by Phil Askey). Probably the best review here. Technical, yet easy to understand. Extremely useful.
  • DC Resource's Review (by Jeff Keller). A nice conversational tone makes this one easy and enjoyable to read. Very informative.
  • Imaging Resource's Review (by Mike Pasini). A very exhaustive review. Goes into extreme technical detail. Supplied with loads of samples and a test gallery.
  • Review by Thom Hogan. Nikon expert Thom Hogan answers some technical user questions, and also provides thoroughly subjective observations on the camera.
  • Review by Ken Rockwell. Ken Rockwell's "opinionated, cranky style" is evident here. In this review, he avoids many technical aspects, in the sake of a simplistic review - but also makes some valid points about why he loves this camera so much.

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