Nikon D40 Review
At a time when every second major camera announcement is accompanied by any leaks on the Internet, the “surprise effect” of the manufacturers at the official launch of the new cameras fails. This also applies to the new D40, the latest digital SLR camera model from Nikon. Almost everyone knows its most important data since it was accidentally put it on the net too early (our websites sign agreements of non disclosure to keep the information until the camera is released, so we write the Nikon D40 review but only release the article when the manufacturer allows us) and in the relevant forums people argue about whether the D40 is an outrage or not, but it should be presented in detail here anyway.
The main stumbling block in the heated forum discussions is Nikon’s break with the backward compatibility of its lenses. Nikon, together with Pentax, has been one of the few camera manufacturers to have a two-track system and a purely electronic connection between camera and lens (as is appropriate for a modern system) as well as a mechanical camera/lens connection that allows the use of older lenses on newer camera models. While the mechanical aperture transmission had already been removed some time ago from the Nikon (D)SLRs in the lower price range (which already led to restrictions in exposure metering and control), Nikon takes the last step into the fully electronic age with the D40. For the D40, the camera’s internal stepper motor and the mechanical drive shaft have been rationalized away, which until then set the lenses in the lens in motion during automatic focusing; autofocus only works on lenses with their own AF drive. Over the years, Nikon had the time to gradually change its lens program to the AF-I lenses and to the newer AF-S lenses with electronic aperture transmission and silent wave motor or ultrasonic drive, which now represent almost half of all lenses from the current accessory program and the D40 is also sold exclusively in a package with two inexpensive AF-S lenses (more about this in our accompanying message), but the D40 is by no means compatible with every Nikkor anymore. This might not matter to Nikon’s target group of newcomers – but not so the fact that apart from a few Sigma lenses with so-called HSM (Sigma’s own name for lenses with ultrasound drive), very few other lenses also work without restrictions together with the camera. Tokina, Tamron and other third-party suppliers who still offer Nikon-compatible lenses with conventional AF drive will have to completely renew their Nikon product lines – if they don’t want to see large portions of their revenues float away.
Less controversial is the fact that the D40 offers “only” 6 megapixels. At least from those who would otherwise rave against the “pixel race” and want to stay consistent. The 6.1-megapixel CCD of the D40 is – apparently – the same as it is already used in the D50; if you want more resolution (it’s enough for postcard-sized pictures and even small posters), you have to go for the D80. If you can cope well with the fact that the D40 doesn’t gain resolution compared to its predecessor, the D50, it’s hard to understand why it even takes a step back in terms of autofocus. If the D50 still had five AF fields and could thus focus on parts of the picture or people outside the centre of the picture even in portrait format shots, the D40 only has to make do with three horizontal AF fields (a cross sensor flanked by two line sensors). It is of little consolation that the Multi-CAM-530 module of the D40 is controlled by algorithms taken directly from the D200 and D80, offers the same operating modes (single field control, dynamic measurement field control, dynamic measurement field control with priority on the nearest object) and works Nikon-typically with very little light (up to -1 LW); a bit “castrated” the D40 already seems to be.
It is worth noting that Nikon is only taking the same economy measures with the D40 as Canon, Olympus & Co. are doing with cameras in the next higher price/resolution class (EOS 400D, E-400 etc.). These include a viewfinder design with mirrored inner surfaces (instead of a brighter glass prism), a built-in miniature flash with no control function (with wireless TTL flashes), time/aperture adjustment with just one rotary knob and no need for a monochrome liquid crystal display. The latter means that numerous camera settings can no longer be checked or adjusted with the LC color monitor switched off; in practice, however, this type of operation is quite easy to handle. On the D40, the information display is automatic or via the Info button (at the bottom left of the monitor), and you can even choose between three styles (Classic, Graphic or Crossfade) for the “Graphical User Interface”. Clear example pictures should support the beginner with the adjustment of the most different camera parameters (exposure mode, flash settings, autofocus settings etc.), and in the menu system of the camera one gets – like with the D80 and D200 – a small text explanation with the push of a button.
Apart from that, the new D40 is hardly inferior to the higher-priced models. Together with the big sister D80 and partly also with the semi-professional D200 it has, among other things, the screen size and resolution (2.5″ or 6.3 cm at 230.000 pixels), the appearance of the menus (color-coded structure, large font with improved contrast, easy-to-understand keywords), the ability to hide each menu item, the adaptability (17 user functions on the D40), the metal bayonet, the programmable function key, the in-camera image processing functions (automatic recognition and retouching of red eyes, electronic shadow brightening, filter effects, etc.), the ability to adjust the camera’s image quality (automatic recognition and retouching of red eyes, electronic shadow brightening, filter effects, etc.).), battery analysis, RGB histogram and highlighting, RAW/NEF storage, sensitivity setting up to ISO 1,600 and beyond (ISO 3,200 in HI-1 mode), iTTL flash metering and control, PictBridge compatible USB 2.0 high-speed interface, and more. Even the signal processor is supposed to come from the D80; the analog-to-digital conversion takes place with 12 bits.
Compared to its predecessor, the Nikon D50, the D40 is much more compact. The solid plastic housing with external dimensions of 126 x 94 x 64 mm practically shrinks to Canon EOS 400D size (129 x 94 x 65 mm), and with an empty weight of 475 grams it should belong to the “flyweight” category. This is due in part to a new EN-EL9 lithium-ion battery, which, despite its slim design with 1,000 mAh (at 7.4 V), can take up to 470 shots per charge in the CIPA standard test procedure and is supplied with a newly developed rapid charger (type: MH-23). If you are interested in further numbers, you can also find out here that the D40 is ready to shoot in 0.18 seconds after switching on, its shutter speeds range from 30 to 1/4,000 seconds (flash sync time: max. 1/500 s), it takes up to 5 RAW/NEF or 100 JPEG shots in succession at a frame rate of approx. 2.5 frames per second in continuous shooting mode, its 3D Color Matrix Metering II uses the determined exposure of 30.000 programmed reference subjects (alternatively, center-weighted integral metering and spot metering are available), it has twelve exposure programs (P/S/A/M + eight subject programs), its built-in miniature flash unit has a performance of LZ 17 at ISO 200 (LZ 12 at ISO 100), its viewfinder magnifies the image 0.8 times at an interpupillary distance of 18 mm and an image field coverage of 95 percent, and it is available in two housing variants (silver or black).
The Nikon D40 is compatible with SD-Card (Secure Digital) and SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity) removable memory cards, has a new scene mode setting (flash off program with automatic sensitivity level adjustment), and automatically detects whether a picture has been taken in portrait or landscape mode to display it aligned on both the camera monitor and computer screen. We would like to emphasize once again that the D40 is less for photographers well supplied with Nikon material than for newcomers.
The Nikon D40 comes, depending on the version (in the kit with the AF-S DX 18-55/3.5-5.6G ED II or in the so-called “double zoom kit” with additional telephoto lens) already towards the end of 2006.
Nikon D40 Datasheet
|CCD sensor APS-C 23.6 x 15.8 mm (crop factor 1.5
)6.2 megapixels (physical) and 6.1 megapixels (effective)
|36 bits (12 bits per color channel)
|Exif (version 2.21), DCF standard
|Phase comparison autofocus with 3 sensors
|Single autofocus, Continuous autofocus, Tracking autofocus, Manual, AF Assist Light
Viewfinder and Monitor
|Reflex viewfinder (prism viewfinder) (95 % image coverage), 18 mm interpupillary distance, diopter compensation (-1.7 to +0.5 dpt), replaceable focusing screens, grille can be faded in
|2.5″ TFT LCD monitor with 230,000 pixels
|Center-weighted integral measurement, matrix/multi-field measurement over 420 fields, spot measurement (measurement over 3% of the image field)
|1/4,000 to 30 s (automatic
) bulb function
|Program automatic, Aperture automatic, Time automatic, Manual
|-5.0 to +5.0 EV with step size of 1/3 EV
|Sensitivity to light
|ISO 200 to ISO 1.600 (automatic
)ISO 200 to ISO 3.200 (manual)
|various motif programmes, children, landscape, night portrait, close-up, portrait, sports/action, fully automatic, 0 further motif programmes
|Blue tint, skylight, warm tone
|Auto, White balance bracketing, Fine tuning, Manual
|Continuous shooting function max. 2.5 frames/s at highest resolution and max. 100 stored photos, max. 5 consecutive images at 2.5 fps possible in RAW/NEF mode
|Self-timer with 2 or 20 s interval
|built-in flash (hinged
)flash shoe: Nikon, standard center contact
|Guide number 12 (ISO 100)
|Auto, Fill Flash, Flash On, Flash Off, Slow Sync, Flash On Second Shutter Curtain, Red-Eye Reduction
|no optical image stabilizer
|Power supply connection
|1 x Nikon EN-EL9 (lithium ion (Li-Ion), 7.4 V, 1,100 mAh
)470 images according to CIPA standard
|Red eye retouching, image index, shrinking
|Contrast, Saturation, Noise Reduction
|Data interfaces: USBUSB type
:USB 2.0 High Speed
|AV output: HDMI output Micro (Type D)
|Supported direct printing methods
|Features and Miscellaneous
|automatic AF field grouping AF measuring range
:LW -1 to LW 19AF metering memorySpot metering
can be linked to active AF metering fieldExposure metering memoryPlayback
16/32 supportSharpeningimage contrastImage brightnessColor saturationColor balance Simultaneous
recording of JPEG and RAW/NEF image files possible17
Size and weight
|Dimensions W x H x D
|126 x 94 x 64 mm
|475 g (ready for operation)
|Nikon DK-16 (Eyecup
)Nikon EN-EL9 Special BatteryNikon
MH-23 Charger for Special BatteryNikon
UC-E4 USB CableUSB Connection CableRiserStrapShoulder StrapCamera SoftwareNikon Picture Project
|Fujifilm video cable video headNikon
EG-D100 video headNikon
EN-EL9 special batteryNikon
MH-23 charger for special batteriesremovable memory cardPC card adapter(for notebook)
AF-S Nikkor 18-55 mm 1:3
-5.6G ED II DX (Set Composition)
Firmware for the Nikon D40
With the firmware 1.1 for the Nikon D40 the improvements and changes are even more extensive. The installation of the new firmware ensures, among other things, that the camera meets the requirements for “Certified for Windows Vista” (Microsoft’s certification process for its latest operating system). This extension of the PTP image transfer protocol (MTP stands for “Media Transfer Protocol”) ensures, among other things, that the camera is recognized as such by the operating system when connected directly to the computer (via the USB cable) and that Vista then offers extended image transfer options (such as automatic comparison of the image stock on the computer with the images from the camera). After the update, “MTP/PTP” will also be displayed in the camera menu instead of the USB option “PTP”. With the new firmware, the selection of years, which can be selected in the system menu under “World Time”, is also extended to 2000 to 2099. It continues with a few improvements of a practical nature. If a white balance setting has been fine-tuned, “+” or “-” is now displayed in the shooting information view and in the shooting menu along with the white balance icon. Just like the D80, the D40 with the new firmware also receives an exposure warning (flashing exposure scale), a correctly functioning reset function (no more inadvertent deactivation of the ISO automatic), error-corrected menus (DE, EN, PL, SE) and a post-processing lock for images already processed on the computer. In addition, a problem has been fixed that caused the autofocus metering field control setting to be reset when the monitor and exposure meter turned off automatically (sleep mode) or when the camera was turned off while the function dial was set to one of the shooting modes; the flash output of the SB-400 with manual control is correctly recorded in the EXIF data of the shots after the update.