Update: Sample shots here
I just recently got something I’ve been interested in for a very long time: a digital SLR camera. After researching and considering the multitude of more consumer-oriented dSLR’s on the market, I ultimately chose the Nikon D40.
In my five days so far with the D40, it has unceasingly proved to be my dream camera. During my research, time and time again comments in reviews suggested that the D40 is a great camera for previous point-and-shoot owners — something I couldn’t agree with more. Like its point-and-shoot 2nd cousins, the D40 is compact, easy to use, and created with consumers in mind. Where Nikon had room to make or break this camera, however, was in whether this was to be an excellent point-and-shoot or, like they fortunately decided, a consumer dSLR somewhere in between. It is in making this decision that Nikon’s D40 shines; for instance, while there are several excellent automatic modes for specific shooting situations, there is also complete manual mode, and while there is quite good autofocus with the great 18-55 kit lens, there is also manual focus. Essentially, the D40 is the camera you, with your specific needs, make it out to be. In my several days of shooting, I’ve tended to lean more towards manual settings, but the D40 suits the vacationers who simply want high quality shots with no fuss, no muss just as well.
As for features, unlike its big brother, the Nikon D50, many of the D40’s settings are accessed via the very easy to use menu system on its large 2.5-inch screen. I can imagine that this would be a hassle for more professional photographers who not only need to change such settings, but are familiar with using tactile means to do so. However, for those whose past cameras were point-and-shoots, if their previous cameras even allowed for the changing of settings like ISO or white balance, it was probably done on the screen as well. With consumers still in mind, one new feature specific to the D40 include various editing capabilities within the camera itself. I’ve yet to try these out, but have heard that certain post-processing effects can actually improve photo quality in some cases. Keep in mind that with a camera so filled to the brim with features and settings to explore, it’s hard to know what all of these are and how to work them within just a few days!
One of the reasons I’ve really enjoyed the D40 so much is because of this exactly: even though I haven’t learned the ins and outs of the camera, I’ve still been able to take great photos. This can also be attributed to the fantastic lens that comes with the kit D40. It has an equivalency of about a 3.5x zoom and provides wonderful depth-of-field and quite good autofocusing (it’s a shame that there are only three points on which to train the lens’ autofocus sensor, though).
On the topic of lenses, it is definitely worth noting that the D40 is not an ideal camera for those with a collection of non AF-S/I lenses from Nikon. One of the reasons the D40 is able to be so compact is due to Nikon deciding to nix an internal motor to drive the autofocus functionality, as found in near all other dSLR’s and all other Nikon dSLR’s. Because of this, a new system of lenses called AF-S/I lenses have been developed with internal autofocus motors. The problem, though, is that these new lenses are few in number. In my opinion, this is probably not an issue for the D40’s target audience of those looking to break into the world of dSLR photography for the first time, versus those already owning lenses. Either way, the collection of AF-S/I lenses is sure to expand over the coming years.
All in all, the D40 has been a joy to use these past few days. What excites me the most about it is that unlike previous point-and-shoot cameras I’ve owned, the D40 gives me room to grow as my knowledge of photography develops. In my experience so far with the D40, taking photos is not a difficult or bothersome task in any way, as it used to be with previous non-SLR cameras. With fast and widely adjustable shutter speed (that’s right, blurriness be gone) and superb photo quality, now photography is fun and very rewarding for me.
Thank you, Nikon, for creating one excellent camera.