The usability and features of the D40 enter the 10 megapixel market
The D40x and D40 are essentially the same digital SLR (DSLR) camera with a new 10-megapixel CCD replacing the 6-megapixel sensor in the standard model.
Despite those extra pixels, the new model manages to boost continuous shooting speeds from 2.5fps (frames per second) up to 3fps. It also offers a new ISO 100 sensitivity setting, which has been absent from many of Nikon’s consumer-level SLRs for some time.
One of the smallest and lightest DSLRs you can buy, the D40x is constructed from a lightweight yet rugged plastic and is comfortable to hold and to carry. The camera body is almost matched in size by that of the supplied 18-55mm kit lens.
Just like the original D40, the D40x cuts costs by omitting the in-body focus motor used by other Nikon cameras to power autofocus lenses. This means that if you want autofocus, you’re restricted to a smaller selection of Nikon lenses that have motors incorporated into them.
Like many modern compact DSLRs there’s no top-mounted LCD status panel, but the size and clarity of the rear 2.5in display goes a long way to counteracting this shortcoming.
The D40x brings with it all of the excellent ease-of-use features of the D40. This means plain English on-screen help and the kind of user interface we’re more used to seeing on the best digital compacts.
Rather, than having to navigate a traditional menu structure, you can use the cursor pad to navigate the status readout itself and change settings directly. This all but eliminates having to search through menus for common features, allowing you to make changes quickly without having to take your eye off the action.
The built-in help system strikes a perfect balance, being useful for beginners without becoming intrusive for experts. A dedicated help button brings up a plain English description of the currently selected option and its uses. If you’re not the kind of person who likes to read manuals, it’s great to be able to find out what every option does just by looking at the camera.
Occasionally, the camera may want to tell you something. If it thinks your camera settings aren’t quite right, a small question mark will blink, indicating that if you press the help button, there’s a suggestion to be made. This will also be in plain English - rather than a cryptic flashing icon, you’ll get a message like “Subject is too dark; cannot adjust the exposure. Use the flash".
Despite its budget status, the D40x is a fast camera. Turn it on and it’s ready to use almost instantly - the shutter release is also highly responsive with minimal lag.
The D40x is undoubtedly a better camera than the D40 and offers a noticeable increase in detail, although unless you’re going to be making some very large prints or cropping in very close, there’s no reason to discount the D40 purely because of the lower pixel-count. The £150 you save could be well spent on accessories such as a lens or memory card.
However, the D40x obviously isn’t designed to compete with Nikon’s own products. With the D40x Nikon is raising a challenge to Canon’s phenomenally successful EOS 400D. In terms of image quality there’s not much between them, but they’re very different to use.
We feel that the D40x is possibly better suited to the discerning first-time SLR user, while the EOS 400D’s wealth of custom menus and proven track record may appeal more to the keenest enthusiasts.
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Pros: Usability; image quality; compact, lightweight body Cons: No in-body focus motor; no depth-of-field preview Overall: A noticeable improvement over the D40 in image quality with no reduction in speed. Its excellent usability makes it ideal for beginners who want the best quality
£599.99 with 18-55mm lens
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