Tech, Tips, and Tutorials.
Reviews, News, and Rants.

Nikon D40 Review (Part 5 of 6)

No image? Try clicking here

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

Skip to:
<< Previous Next >>

Image Quality

Image quality on this camera is superb! According to Phil Askey's review on dpreview, he states that:

"Image quality was probably the best of any current six megapixel digital SLR"

In my own findings, the D40 just continued to impress with each passing day. The images are clean, sharp, artifact-free. Colour and tonality (often a forgotten aspect) is really nice, smooth and pleasing. I get really punchy images straight out of the camera, but still with plenty of room left for post-processing. Dynamic range is also great. Image quality at higher ISOs doesn't start to degrade until very late (see next section for more detail). Nikon have used the same 6 megapixel sensor as seen in the D70 and D50. The relatively low number of megapixels means lower noise and higher dynamic range. Overall, its image quality is faultless in most areas.

High ISO performance

The D40 has 5 ISO options. These are: 200, 400, 800, 1600, and a special Hi-1 mode (roughly equivalent to ISO 3200). Below is a series of test photos demonstrating the Nikon D40's ISO performance. I shot these in Aperture Priority, at f/8, with noise reduction set to OFF. All the shots were taken with the kit lens, fully zoomed in to 55mm. I used a custom white balance to remove the ambiguity of Auto WB.

A kiwi has plenty of tiny details for us to judge how much the camera blurs at higher ISOs. This is to see how well it copes with the temptation to just smear everything away when the noise gets tough to deal with. All images are JPEGs, straight out of camera.

ISO 200: As expected, no problems at ISO 200, with the camera capturing plenty of detail and zero noise.

ISO 400: The same can be said for ISO 400. There's a tiny drop in quality but you won't notice.

ISO 800: It's quite amazing to see that at ISO 800, things are holding up very well. Noise is starting to creep in but it's exceptionally well controlled. Things are still very sharp.

ISO 1600: Things start to take a turn for the worse. It's a proportional increase in noise vs. detail. However considering this is ISO 1600, it's doing a remarkable job at holding up image quality to this degree. The noise is grainy and mostly luminance-based, which is very positive.

ISO Hi-1 (~3200): When you go up this high, things start to take a turn for the worse. Noise is now a major part of the image. Detail has started to fade away.

The colour has distorted to a slightly green tint. If I were using automatic white balance the camera is smart enough to automatically compensate for the colour shift. It doesn't show here, but at this setting, the dynamic range suffers noticeably - the shadows clip much earlier.

This may look bad - and it is - but remember that this is worst-case scenario testing. This ISO setting can look great with a slight over exposure and some noise reduction.

Overall: The camera does very well up to ISO 800. Images have very low noise and are very detailed. At ISO 1600 things take a slight drop, but it's still relatively well-controlled. ISO 3200 is a different story, and would need some noise reduction to turn in a decent print.

Possibly Related Articles (automatically generated)


Post a Comment