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Monday, June 22, 2009

The Nikon D40 Review and Recap of the Little Camera That Won People's Hearts.

Since it was announced in late 2006, the venerable little Nikon D40 Digital SLR has found a place in thousands of photographers camera bags. I don't know the exact number of D40 bodies that Nikon has sold (if you know, please let us know by leaving a comment), but it's a LOT. I'm guessing in the hundreds of thousands.

It's not hard to see why. The little D40 does pretty much everything right. It's small, lightweight, and capable of fantastic image quality. The D40 does low light, high ISO work very well, rendering very usable photos. It focuses well, and it is packed with features, especially considering it's price point.

The D40 was one of the lowest priced DSLR's ever when it was introduced. The kit price with the Nikon 18-55 AF-S DX lens and D40 body was $599.99 US, opening up the DSLR market to pretty much anyone who wanted to trade up from a point and shoot. The D40 kit with the 18-55 was only $419 today when I checked on An incredible value!

Even though the D40's replacement is on it's way, I still wouldn't hesitate to recommend the D40 Kit, especially at this price. Here's why...

The Price, obviously. You just can't beat four hundred bucks for such a great little camera, and you get a pretty decent standard zoom lens to go with it!

The Build Quality of the Nikon D40 is hard to beat, especially at this price point. It's rugged and durable, and has stood the test of time over the last few years.

The Feature Set of the D40 is impressive. As the Nikon D40 page says, "Incredible Pictures, Incredibly Easy."

The Image Quality of the D40 is very good. At 6 Megapixels, it's got plenty of resolution for most people. I photographed weddings with a pair of Nikon D70 bodies for a couple of years, and I still show a lot of those images in my portfolio. Many photojournalists have built amazing portfolios shooting with the D1H which was just under 3 Megapixels. The D40's 6 megapixels capture excellent detail and sports very usable high ISO capability, all without requiring it's users to buy bigger and bigger memory cards and hard drives (not to mention faster and faster computers to process the images on). The Megapixel race isn't always all it's cracked up to be.

Many of you might be asking, what about the Canon Rebel XT or XTi? Yes, those were good cameras, and also came in at low price points. I owned an XTi, and I liked it very much. The Nikon D40, however, beats both the Canon Rebel XT and Rebel XTi in three very important areas, build quality, features, and autofocus.

The build quality of the D40 is at least a notch above the XT and XTi. The D40 is more solid, and better put together. You can feel the quality difference when you hold these three DSLR's. The D40 also sports a 2 year warranty to back up it's build quality. The Canon XT and XTi only came with 1 year warranties, an on-going pet peeve of mine when it comes to Canon and their quality control problems. The D40 wins.

On features, the D40 wins again. Nikon has consistently built it's DSLR's with more and better features than Canon has, and the D40 is no exception.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, autofocus is better on the D40. This, unfortunately, is also consistent with comparisons of almost all Nikon DSLR bodies to Canon DSLR bodies, and is one of the reasons I switched back to Nikon. Canon has persistent autofocus problems in it's autofocus system. Shoot a Nikon DSLR alongside a Canon DSLR, and you will get more out of focus images on the Canon by a considerable margin.

The Nikon D40 is one great little camera. If you're looking to upgrade your point and shoot to a DSLR, you can't go wrong, especially at today's prices! If you're a PRO looking for a nice little, light weight body to put a fast prime on or to use as a walk-around camera, the D40 delivers.

So here's to the little Nikon D40, a fantastic little DSLR that has earned a star in the DSLR Hall of Fame.

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