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Nikon D40 Review (Part 3 of 6)

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A detailed real-world review of the Nikon D40 along with the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens.

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LCD screen

The LCD screen is a 230,000 pixel, 2.5” unit. It is very large and sharp. Nikon have made really good use of it too. It's used to change settings, and also for playback. Being a digital-SLR, you can't use the screen to frame the scene, for that you'll have to use the viewfinder.

The status screen presents all the relevant shooting information in one place. You can even change the format in which it's displayed. You can't ask more from this screen.


The Viewfinder on the D40 is a Penta-Mirror. It's surprisingly bright and large. Magnification on the viewfinder is 0.8x, and frame coverage is 95%. It's exactly 3.3cm2 larger than that on the Canon 400D. Manually focusing with the kit lens isn't easy, you need some patience. The square focus brackets glow red to show you which one is selected. This is much classier than having red dots in my opinion. Overall it's pretty good. I just wish it showed the ISO setting in the viewfinder, and obviously if it were a little larger it would have helped.

Menu & Interface

The general lack of external controls means that to change settings I often have make use of the menu to change settings. Nikon's approach was to have emulate a monochrome status screen, placing all the most important shooting settings. It's easy to just see the settings at a glance, and works very well. Press the Info button near the shutter to turn on the info screen, and press the <i> button to start going through the settings. Changing a setting shows a preview effect on screen.

Even though there is a lack of external buttons, there's a customisable Fn button which can be mapped to any useful setting. I mapped mine to ISO. I just hold it down and rotate the command dial to change the ISO. Quick and easy.

"My Menu" is another great feature. Using "My Menu", you can hide some change-once settings (e.g. date and time). This makes it faster to browse through the menu, because you don't have to go through unnecessary options.

The interface itself is really nicely designed, making good use of smooth, well-drawn fonts, and pleasing colours and gradients. It's definitely the nicest-looking menu I've ever seen in a camera.

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