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Customer Review

476 of 481 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent pictures - great value for the price, 28 Feb. 2008
This review is from: Nikon D40 with AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED II (Camera)
As most other reviews have said, this camera is great value and produces excellent quality pictures.

Before buying, I was still a bit uncertain about the megapixels argument. Camera makers' advertisements seemed to be saying 10 is significantly better than six. But photographers seemed to be saying, "Take no notice, it makes no difference for the amateur."

So I looked at it this way. A 6 Mp camera produces shots around 3000 pixels long by 2000 wide (3000 multiplied by 2000 equals six million). A 10 Mp camera produces shots of around 3800 x 2590.

This means the D40 can produce prints at 300 dots per inch that are 10 inches long, whereas the 10 Mp camera can produce prints at the same resolution that are around 12.95 inches long. The difference of less than three inches isn't that significant for me since I hardly ever print above 10 inches anyway. So I went ahead and ordered one.

After I got the camera, to test out the practicalities of the argument, I took a portrait picture and cropped the original - the result happened to be reduced to 2000 x 1500, or three megapixels. I then had it enlarged to 10 inches by eight. The result was stunningly pin-sharp. And that's from just three megapixels. I know readers aren't going to be completely convinced without being able to see the print themselves. But, as it happened, I also had another 10x8 print made at the same time. This one was taken by a professional wedding photographer with a £1,400 Canon 5D plus probably an equally expensive lens. The file I sent to the developer was 13 megapixels, compared with the three megapixels from the cropped D40 image. So, same processor, almost certainly using the same processing machine at the same time. And the result? The professional 13 Mp picture was, if anything, slightly less sharp than the D40 picture!

Please note that I am not saying the D40 is better than the Canon 5D or that I'm a better photographer than a professional. The 5D is reputedly a great camera and obviously preferable to the D40 - if you want to spend five times as much. Other factors must have been involved. Maybe the professional chose a soft focus on purpose. Maybe the lighting was less suitable. However, what I am saying is that (1) the D40 can produce excellent results with its six megapixels and its kit lens and (2) there are all sorts of other factors (eg. lighting, flash accuracy, how sharp the lens is, how accurately focussed, how slow the exposure was, how steady the camera was held) that are more important in getting a sharp picture than (in this case) quadrupling the megapixels.

Before I bought the camera, I didn't realise how much bigger the sensor is on a digital SLR than a compact digital. It's around 16 times bigger in area! A typical compact has a sensor approximately 6mm by 4mm, whereas the Nikon DX format sensor on the D40 (and D40X) is approximately 24mm by 16mm. That's 24 sq mm on a compact, compared with 384 sq mm on a DSLR. This is one of the reasons the quality is so much better on a DSLR than on a compact.

After three months of using the camera, other things I like about the D40 are:

1. You can set it to adjust the ISO rating automatically. This means you can take pictures in poor light without flash and the camera will automatically raise the sensitivity of the sensor up to 1600 ISO from its standard 200. This adds hugely to the flexibility of the camera.

Some compacts have auto ISO settings but they don't go much above 200 or 400 because the picture quality from the small sensor starts to deteriorate significantly above around 400 ISO. On the D40, 1600 ISO shows hardly any difference in quality from 200 ISO. Other DSLRs can be set at high ISO ratings but not all can be set to choose a high rating automatically as you take the picture if low light needs it.

This is a fantastic feature. It revolutionises the way you take pictures. It means you can often take better pictures inside without flash than with flash. (Though if you set the dial to Auto, the flash will always fire when light is low. You need to choose a non-auto setting to stop the flash firing.)

Confusingly, there are two entries in the menus for auto ISO. This one is under the Custom Setting Menu, item 10, ISO auto. And amazingly for such a revolutionary feature, the factory default is "Off". Turn it on straightaway if you're going to use manual settings.

2. It has a high flash sync speed of 1/500. This means you can use fill-in flash at faster shutter speeds than on, for example, the D40X (only 1/200) for sports shots or portraits on a bright sunny day. (You need a fast shutter speed if you want to freeze action, or if you've set a wide aperture for a portrait in bright light).

3. I'm impressed by the kit lens. Maybe I've been lucky with the example I got but my experience isn't in line with those who say the kit lens is inadequate or the weakest part of the system. If anything, I've found it's one of the strongest parts. But, as I say, maybe I was just lucky with this example.

4. The camera feels nice to handle. My daughters say it sounds nice too! Its shutter makes a nice professional sounding noise as you press the button (as long as you turn off the artificial beeping noises.)

In summary, I'd certainly recommend the camera. And for the price, it's great value for money.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 7 May 2008, 07:39:08 BST
C. Guy says:
Thanks for this, few people take the time to write a decent review. Yours was the one that finally convinced me to get myself a DSLR ( I have been considering it for months now!). Many thanks

Posted on 29 Aug 2008, 09:59:23 BST
Last edited by the author on 30 Aug 2008, 13:32:11 BST

I have recently completed two wedding events using a D40 with stock lens as a backup and a D300 with 18-200 VR lens. You would think images taken from the D300 costing five times as much would surpass the D40? How wrong you would be! The D40 produces images that are processed in the camera and in my opinion are outstanding given the price. To get anywhere near the quality from the D300 I have to heavily process using Photoshop or Capure NX. Don't get me wrong the D300 is a wonderful camera and has abilities that the D40 hasn't but it amazes me to think a camera so cheap can out do it. If I had to choose between the two I would take the D40 anytime! Hope this clears up your comments in the fifth paragraph. BTW I have just purchased a Canon 40D at £800 as another backup and the Nikon D40 still out performs this one.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Oct 2008, 00:35:37 BST
agree the tendency is to buy the hype. So90% of the time good quality 6mp is always enough and now many of these are abt half the price of the hyped up latest offers. Less is more


Posted on 26 Aug 2009, 10:13:28 BST
Kitchen-er says:
Thanks for a really interesting review. My daughter is at uni. finishing a degree in Marine photography and I'm a keen amateur. She and her mother bought me a D40 for my birthday in July and I learn more about taking better images every time I use this excellently designed and featured product, I'm looking forward to more Christmases and Birthdays to get more zoom/telephoto/macro lenses and a good Speed Light......

Posted on 30 Nov 2012, 23:55:50 GMT
David Hunt says:
three ago i bought the Nikon D40 kit, it worked brilliantly for the first 2 yrs then we went to the Philippines and it died in Hongkong which Pd me off a lot so if you want my opinion the D 40 is a lot of crap ( i am saving up for the Nikon D 4 a professional camera used by the press)

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Jun 2016, 20:57:41 BST
[Deleted by Amazon on 30 Jun 2016, 09:29:23 BST]
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Location: London, United Kingdom

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