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Nikon D40 Review (Part 6 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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About Auto ISO

The D40 has a feature it inherited from its bigger siblings that the older D50 didn't have; Auto ISO.

This is a feature that raises the ISO setting when it gets dark so I don't have to. You specify a minimum shutter speed, and a maximum selectable ISO setting for the camera to work with, and it adjusts the ISO settings around your shooting style.

Let's say for example that in Auto ISO, you selected a minimum shutter speed of 1/30" and a maximum ISO of 1600. Now in bright sunlight it will select a low ISO setting, so that you get the best quality. When the light gets low it will automatically raise the ISO to maintain that 1/30" shutter speed. This means that you can set your aperture and shutter speed and forget about ISO. It's a boost to its shooting capability. It's also smart enough to select intermediate ISO settings if need be, such as 250, 640, 900 and so on.

Retouch Menu

The Nikon D40 has a nice little in-camera retouch menu. Using some of its options, you can perform basic retouching to your pictures. When used well, this can be used to process a couple of pictures which you know you'll never bother to process in detail anyway. Some filters aren't very effective though so it's almost useless having them there. The ones I use most are D-lighting - which lightens up shadow areas, and Colour Balance - which is great for correcting WB.


The D40 is probably one of Nikon's most important cameras (as of writing). It opens up a whole new audience to the world of digital SLRs. It's so keenly priced that it easily competes with non-SLR cameras - a first for Nikon. If you're in the market for a high end compact camera, you might just be swayed at how much the diminutive D40 has to offer.

It may be a budget model, but no obvious corners have been cut. It's a solid, well-made camera at a solid price point. Nikon know about great design (witness the D200), and it shows. It's extremely well-designed.

I've been really impressed by this camera. Its fit, finish, and build quality are all a cut above the competition. Picture quality is superb, and tonality and colour are fantastic. Image processing is excellent, shooting RAW offers almost extra detail advantage. The output is cleaner than that of the D70 and D50, shows more detail, and has a complete lack of artifacts.

The lack of an AF motor of its own is its biggest disadvantage. This effectively leaves owners of legacy Nikon glass isolated. You can still mount your lenses, but you'll have to like manually focusing with a smaller viewfinder (the film SLR viewfinders were huge). Over and above that disadvantage I was a little annoyed at things like a lack of Auto-Bracketing (a no-cost feature) and the fact that the ISO setting wasn't shown in the viewfinder. Plus, just 3 AF points with one cross-type can feel a little limiting.

However, all things considered, it's a great camera. It turned in a very snappy and refined performance. You never feel like you're using a cheap, cut-down camera. Little things like a soft shutter sound, nicely designed menus, and a comfortable grip mean that its hard to not fall in love with this camera. It's a very easy camera to get along with.

The Nikon D40 makes an ideal first digital SLR. Its great for beginners and people limited by funds. Since the retail kit also comes with a fairly good kit lens, I'd say it's extremely good value for money.


Highly Recommended

Below are price comparisons between the USA, the UK, and Malta (at the time of writing). Note how the UK's prices are slightly higher than those of the USA, but Malta's prices are substantially higher than both! <></>
USA: $ 450 - 550 (USD) Lm 133 - Lm 163
UK: £ 250 - £ 350 (GBP) Lm 150 - Lm 215
Malta: n/a Lm 220 - Lm 270

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