Beginners: Do Not Buy The D40/D40x

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by sabbath999, Nov 9, 2007.

  1. sabbath999

    sabbath999 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I am posting this thread here so I can reference it to people in the future, since the 'what DSLR should I buy' question comes up every single day here in the beginners forum.

    Many beginners see the D40 and D40x cameras at a great price point, and think "man, that sounds like a great price for a DSLR."

    It is a great price.

    But.

    There is a big-time catch with these camera models that leads me to advise you to not consider buying one of them as your first DSLR.

    I own a D40, and due to the lens limitations, I cannot recommend buying either it or a D40x to anybody who wants to take their photography seriously, or to expand their photographic equipment collection in the future.

    The fact that the D40/D40x series can only autofocus with lenses that are Nikon AF-S series or some of the Sigma line is a non-starter for me... You probably already know this, but the D40/D40x do not contain an autofocus motor in the camera body. lenses that need the camera body's motor to focus simply will not focus on these two cameras. It is beyond me why Nikon did this, it seems very silly to me.

    Generally (and yes, this is a wild generalization) the Nikon branded lenses with internal focus motors (Nikon calls them AF-S) are the more expensive and higher end products. There are a couple of inexpensive lenses (the kit lens, the 55-200 VR telephoto come to mind), but many of the other inexpensive lenses like the under $200 70-300D, the $100 wonderful little 50 mm f/1.8 and a bunch of very inexpensively priced used AF lenses simply will not focus on these cameras.

    I purchased my D40 after my two D80's just to have a spare body around, and to shoot macro with my 105 VR. It does do a good job at that, it is very annoying that half the lenses I own won't work on it.

    When you get ready to move up in lens, with the D40/D40x series you are looking at either buying an inexpensive telezoom of limited potential (the 55-200 VR) or spending a boatload of money on glass.

    In the end, if you plan on owning a DSLR system, don't limit yourself from the start. If you don't plan on adding lenses, then there really isn't much of a point in buying a DSLR over some of the really good point and shoots out there.

    I don't really care that much for the Canon XT/XTI series either, but that is more because they feel clunky and cheaply made to me and the kit lens is not nearly as good as the one Nikon sells... but at least they can use the full range of lenses in the Canon line, and nobody should EVER decide which DSLR camera family to adopt based solely on the quality (or lack thereof) of a kit lens.

    The D40's have excellent picture quality, and the 1/500th of a second flash speed make it a strange but wonderful choice for shooting flash Friday Night Lights photography (who would have thought that seasoned pros would be using D40's to do this...)

    Still, the lens limitations are severe, and make these to cameras (IMHO) not recommendable.

    I think the D80 is an excellent camera if you are looking for a new Nikon, and the D50 (basically a very similar camera to the D40 without the lens limitations) is a great choice for a starter used DSLR.
     
  2. Davec223

    Davec223 TPF Noob!

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    While I understand what you are saying, I would have thought that most people looking to buy a DSLR will do a large amount of research before they spend their hard earned cash, (I know that I did before I brought my camera.)
    This is the sort of thing that I would look at before buying it and I am sure a lot of other people would as well. I feel that you are portraying a very negative view of a very good budget DSLR. All the reviews that I have read have explained this in very basic terms so that it is clear that not all lenses work with the D40/D40x. I feel that you will be putting a lot of people off it when in actual fact it will be ideal for them as they are looking at getting something that produces excellent pictures and will quite possibly only want 1 or 2 lenses.
    The other thing that you have failed to point out is the fact that all of the lenses can be used as manual focus lenses with the D40/D40x so you haven't quite portrayed the entire picture.
    Just my 2 pennies worth.
     
  3. Helen B

    Helen B TPF Noob!

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    I've been using Nikons since 1971, and every single Nikon lens I own works with my D40x. It also works surprisingly well with bellows for macro work. I think that is a great little camera.

    Best,
    Helen
     
  4. chris_arnet

    chris_arnet TPF Noob!

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    I agree. when i got in it was a debate between the rebel or the d40.

    after i did the research, i picked the rebel.

    however dont get me wrong. Nikon makes great cameras, especially film. im just not to fond of their digital series at all.
     
  5. sabbath999

    sabbath999 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Helen, you are absolutely right about the camera "working" with most Nikon lenses (except the really weird ones like the fisheyes that stuck into the camera bodies... lenses that work with no modern Nikon).

    You absolutely can put one a 1971 non-AI lens on the front of a D40 camera and take pictures with them.

    But...

    To be perfectly clear here, only AF-S & AF-I (not counting some of the Sigmas) autofocus on the D40...

    Additionally, pre-AI manual focus lenses (the really old Nikkors) made from 1959-1977ish mount on the D40, but the meter doesn't work... (these don't even mount on the D80 however).

    Manual focus AI lenses, AI-s lenses and AI-converted lenses (manual focus lenses made from 1977 ish to the F-3 era of the mid 1980's) also mount to the camera just fine, and you can take pictures with them... however, the light meter will not work a with them at all.

    Basically, the camera will only take pictures with pre-AI, AI, AI converted manual focus lenses in completely manual mode with no light meter (or, obviously, auto-focusing).

    The millions of autofocus lenses out there made from 1986-present that are not AI-S or AF-S will not autofocus, but they will meter on the camera... there is a vast supply of good used Nikon glass that simply isn't fully compatible with the D40/D40X.

    So, while you can actually take pictures with a lens from 1971, it won't have any meter (light meter or flash) and can only be done completely manually.

    That, in my opinion, isn't really a selling point for a camera for a beginner.

    Compare that with a Canon XT, which will work with just about any EOS lens one cares to slap on it. It doesn't compare favorably.

    IMHO
     
  6. Coldow91

    Coldow91 TPF Noob!

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    I think that for me the D40 has been the perfect fit. I am not at the point yet where the Af-s thing is particularly limiting. I don't really mind manual focusing, and for action shots where autofocus helps I use the 55-200 VR Af-s. I think that in the future I may upgrade to a d70 so that I have the autofocus capabilities but right now I think that the D40 was the perfect fit for me.
     
  7. Helen B

    Helen B TPF Noob!

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    All I'd like to add is that there are many different kinds of beginner, and I'm not convinced that one answer fits all of them.

    Best wishes,
    Helen
     
  8. Hill202

    Hill202 TPF Noob!

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    I agree with you Sabbath. I have the D40 with the Nikon 70-300 VR, Nikon 105 Macro and 2 kit lenses. The D40 does take great pictures with these lenses, but I passed over quite a few less expensive lens because of the auto focus problem ( such as the 50mm 1.8). I also wish the D40 offered bracketing.

    The only positive I see, is when I decide to upgrade to the D80, I'll have a less expensive spare body.
     
  9. jedithebomber

    jedithebomber TPF Noob!

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    Sir, you are being a Troll digging up nothing but a Cannon vs. Nikon argument. Perhaps the next mod through would be so kind as to lock this thread.

    I love my D40, I will upgrade sooner rather than later, however I am sure I will keep the D40 till it dies. Lightweight, easy to use, extremely cheap. Great casual shooter.
     
  10. shivaswrath

    shivaswrath TPF Noob!

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    Sabbath999 is VERY RIGHT, and having JUST received a D40x as a present, I'm QUICKLY realizing how "rich" i'll have to be to either get lenses that have AF-S in the Nikor line or deal with some of the quality control problem laden issues with Sigma HSM lenses. . .

    NOT IDEAL for a beginner, but I'll give a positive spin =
    1. I will be forced to learn on whatever lenses I can afford to get for a LONG time since they are so bloody expensive and not rack up 5-7 lenses for every purpose under the moon. . .
    2. I have a real nice, small, light DSLR that cranks out amazing pictures (versus the Canon options I had)
    3. If/When I upgrade to better Nikon bodies, these AF-S limited lenses will carry over fine.

    That being said, I had seriously considered the Pentax K100D with the built in shake reduction and autofocus. . .ironically, it was too heavy, but I've realized that those features built into the body add weight. . .so do I regret the D40x, not really, I got it because it was heavily menu driven and felt great in my hands; NOT to contradict Saabath, but TRY OUT all cameras, I had completely dismissed the D40/x series until I actually picked it up and felt it (I thought the Cannon felt too toyish and the Pentax too heavy). . .good luck, and admins, maybe make this is a STICKY?!!
     
  11. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I just wish to add too that while we may often flick off the AF switch on our cameras, this is the last thing a beginner is expecting to do. With their first taste of real photography the last thing they expect is their expensive toy to not be able to autofocus.

    I have often chimed into this debate as well. For the cost of a D40x and a good kit lens you could grab a D50 and a second hand AF lens and get much better photos with far less limitations.

    This question is asked once or twice a week and I think someone should finally make a sticky thread!
     
  12. Antithesis

    Antithesis No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I think there are many positive points to using a d40x, so far I really do love the little thing. It's my first dSLR, and I think it makes a great first camera. It also makes a very good travel camera as it is capable of taking some awesome pictures but doesn't have the added weight of a larger body. I'm currently using the two kit lenses and I don't feel I've really been too limited by the quality of the glass (focal length is a different story, birding in costa rica with a 55-200mm f4-5.6, LOL), but the images are as sharp as I need them for now. When the time comes that I move into a professional realm I'll start thinking about nicer equipment, but as a student it works very well. Sure I have regrets now about not springing for a d80, but when I first saw one it seemed like there was too many buttons, now I kinda wish I had those buttons.

    I think all in all I can recommend a d40x for beginners. It's not intimidating like the semi-proish camera's, it's nice and simple and a good little camera to learn on. You might find the lens compatibility an issue later on down the line, but the consumer lenses that nikon makes are just fine and won't limit you anytime soon.

    And also, I think I read this in passing, isn't the new d3 AF-S only as well? And I remember reading somewhere that nikon was planning on moving towards the new focusing system on their newer cameras. Don't quote me on that by any means, I don't remember the source and they too may have just been hearing a rumor. If someone can verify or deny this, awesome.
     

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