The D40 was released to the public in December of 2006, and is noteworthy for two different reasons:

1. This is the smallest and lightest Nikon digital SLR
2. It displays visuals cues on the LCD that clarify how changing a camera setting can affect your photograph

As many more consumers make the transition to a digital SLR expect to see more cameras like the Nikon D40: ones that bridge the gap between standard compact point-and-shoots and the more advanced SLRs.

The assumption being made is that not everyone who picks up an SLR is a pro, and that there are some who need a little extra guidance when it comes to the features and settings of an SLR.

Specifications

  • 6.1 Megapixels
  • 100% Compatible with Nikon AF-S and AF-I lenses (see lenses)
  • 2.5 photos per second
  • ISO settings from 200 to 3200
  • Maximum shutter speed of 1/4000th of a second
  • 1.5 times crop factor
  • 2.5 inch LCD
  • Stores photos on SD Memory Cards
  • 3-point autofocus




Who The Nikon D40 is For

The Nikon D40 is a great camera for beginning digital SLR photographers.

The LCD not only shows you how a particular camera setting will affect your photo, it also pops up helpful hints to alert you when your photo won’t turn out. This is the only digital SLR that will tell you that the image is too dark (use the flash!) or that the battery has run low.

To complement these helpful hints and suggestions, the D40 is remarkably button-free, especially for a modern digital SLR.

While many other manufacturers have tried to pack as many buttons onto the camera as possible, the Nikon D40 goes the reverse route and simplifies the back of the camera so that there are only 4 buttons in addition to the LCD.

Despite this lack of buttons, the D40 is VERY easy to use – making it easy for beginning digital SLR photographers to change camera settings without feeling completely lost.

Other Brand Competitions

There are four other cameras that are close competitors to the Nikon D40: the Canon Rebel XT, the Pentax K100D, the Samsung GX-1S and the Olympus E-500.

I selected these cameras to compare to the Nikon D40 because they are all aimed at the consumer SLR market (vs. the serious amateurs and professionals), and they all fall within the same price range ($500 to $600).

However, they don’t all have the same features and they differ in various ways from the D40:

1. The Rebel XT and E-500 both have 8.0 megapixels instead of six (which is better for larger prints)
2. The K100D has built-in anti-shake which helps capture clearer photos in low light
3. The E-500 has a self-cleaning sensor, which prevents and eliminates digital SLR sensor dust
4. All of the other cameras have more autofocus points than the D40 (Rebel XT: 5-point, K100D: 11-point, GX-1S: 11-point, E-500: 5-point)

Put another way, if you think that you want to make large prints, or you imagine using your SLR a lot in low-light or dusty conditions, then it’s probably worth your while to investigate some of these other alternatives.

If you don’t think that you’d really leverage these extra features, and are just getting started in the world of digital SLR photography, then the D40 is going to be your best bet.

External Flash

As of January 2007, there are three external Nikon flash units that are compatible with the D40: the SB-400, SB-600 and SB-800.

The SB-400 is an inexpensive alternative for those who want a little something more than the built-in flash can deliver. Using an external flash like the SB-400 can also greatly reduce red-eye in your photos.

For a step up, the SB-600 is the best balance between features and value. The head of this flash unit can be twisted and tilted, which allows you to bounce the flash off of walls, ceilings and floors for much more pleasing lighting effects. The SB-600 can also be remotely triggered as part of a multi-flash setup.

The top-of-the-line SB-800 delivers more power and slightly better performance than the SB-600, but the real difference is that the SB-800 can serve as a wireless trigger mechanism for other remote flashes (like the SB-600). This provides you with a wide range of lighting arrangements.


D40 Firmware Update

A firmware update is similar to upgrading the operating system on your home computer.

Yes, your Nikon D40 will work just fine without the firmware update, but getting the latest version ensures that your camera is operating correctly (Nikon fixed some issues that caused the camera to lock up).

A key element to the upgrade is that it will make the D40 “Certified for Windows Vista” (if you’re also planning on upgrading to that operating system on your PC)

Nikon D40 Firmware Update and Installation Instructions


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