Nikon D40 – A Beginner’s Review of a Beginner’s Camera
The Nikon D40 is the latest entry-level digital SLR camera from the well-known photography giant. There are plenty of great sites that are going to review this camera, but I’m going to review it with a little different perspective, since I’m a beginner in the DSLR market and in photography in general. Since I appear to be in Nikon’s target market for this product, I figure I could share my experience to the other’s who might be like me, looking into this camera.
Why I Chose the D40
I work in an office with about 4 or 5 semi-pro to pro-level photographers and they all use Nikon. It would be silly of me to ignore the availability of the vast resources of these people, their experiences, and most importantly… their equipment. Once I had the brand settled, I started looking into the D50. I was pretty set on buying it, but then I got wind of Nikon releasing their D40.
I started making a check list of what I wanted in a DSLR. Since I had never owned or shopped for one before, my check list was pretty small. I wanted:
- compact size
- SD card format (my laptop has a built-in slot)
- better photos than my Canon SD400
Most of the other items on the checklist are just inherent to Digital SLR cameras. Like, quick to start, quick to shoot, good quality, etc. The rest of the specs I didn’t know anything about and probably wouldn’t know the difference anytime soon.
I walked into my local electronics retailer to pick up a Nikon D50. On their display stand, they had a D50 directly next to a Canon Digital Rebel XT. I held the D50. Then I held the Rebel. Wow… there was quite a size difference. The D50 felt rather large, comparatively. I researched the new D40 a little more and found that it was, in fact, smaller than the Rebel XT. Nice.
Now, it has been explained to me that the D50 isn’t a large camera for a DSLR, and that small DSLR cameras were pointless because they’d “never feel right”. I ignored those explainers (that a word?) and decided to order me up a D40 as soon as possible.
Where I got it
I highly recommend B&H Photo for anything digital camera-related you might want. They gave me a great price and with my NAPP discount, shipping is FREE! Of course, I completely lack patience, so I paid the extra shipping cost for UPS overnight.
Out of the Box
The setup was pretty easy. Remove the lens and plastic covers, attach to camera battery, insert battery, insert memory card (not included) and shoot. I was amazed with the quickness of the camera. From power-on to shutter click is very quick. The automatic shooting mode was nice but it definitely wants to use the flash a lot. The rest of the modes take a little getting used to, but a quick browse through the manual will quickly enlighten you.
The greatest feature is the continuous shooting. This allows you to hold the shutter button down and have the camera just keep snapping photo after photo. It’s pretty fast with my Ultra II card as a faster memory card will help with faster shots. It’s great for an amateur like me who isn’t sure of their shots and may have a bit of an un-steady hand. A wise co-worker told me that with continuous shooting, if you take 5 shots of the same thing, one of them is bound to turn out better than the rest. Your photos are nice and easy to review (and maybe delete) on the 2.5″ LCD, which you might find yourself doing often to free up some room on your memory card after a few series of shots.
Another speed-tip I was given was to turn off the Noise Reduction built-in to the camera. Most software packages will offer better noise reduction and having the option on just slows everything down.
Now that you’ve made it through all of my banter, I’ll show you some of my highlights from the thousands of photos I’ve taken the last month. Be nice, I’m still a noob.
My favorite accessory, so far, has been my backpack. It’s a Lowepro CompuDaypack that I picked up at the local big box. It has a perfectly sized compartment for the D40, lens, charger and cable. It also fits my 15.4″ widescreen laptop and all of my laptop accessories WITHOUT putting any pressure on the camera. The camera is stored in an easy-to-access compartment on the lower front of the back.
I also strongly recommend the SanDisk Ultra II PLUS USB SD memory card. The beauty of this card is that it is built to be plugged directly into your USB slot. No bulky card readers. No messy camera cables eating your camera battery. It splits in half and plugs right in. It’s one of those products that makes you smile every time you use it.
Another companion I got was the Western Digital 120GB Passport external hard drive. It’s a 2.5″ portable drive that’s completely bus-powered, which means no power cables or large adapters to lug around. It’s great for storing all of my photos in an uncompressed format so I don’t have to worry about losing quality or even losing the images. It also looks great with it’s gloss casing and fits perfectly in the extra room I have in the bottom of my camera bag.
- Posted at January 21st, 2007 07:53pm
- Posted by Tommy Maloney
- Filed under Reviews
- 17 Comments have been made