Nikon D40... the cheapest SLT camera

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by a1157814a, Nov 26, 2008.

  1. a1157814a

    a1157814a TPF Noob!

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    Besides the obvious fact that it is an entry-level camera, have anyone ever used this camera before? What are your opinions?
     
  2. PatrickHMS

    PatrickHMS TPF Noob!

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    A D40 isn't an "entry-level camera", it is an entry-level DSLR. And a "Pro" from 4-5 years ago would love to have a DSLR as sophisticated as are either the "entry-level" Nikon D40 or the Canon EOS / Rebel XS(?) Series.

    And although it is an entry level SLR, remember that ALL SLR's are high-end DIGITAL cameras.

    I have higher end DSLR's and I still like to just go out an shoot with my D40 sometimes.
     
  3. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    To provide a different view, a 6 megapixel camera is generally viewed as showing its age, even if it is not that old. Despite the rhetoric about big pixels and better light transmition and less noise, the noise difference between the Nikon D40 at 6 megapixels and the Sony A200 at 10 megapixels is only .1 (Popular Photography tests), despite the so-called more pixels being jammed on the same size chip and all the other excuses.

    Also despite the rhetoric about blow-ups, photo quality is defined as 300 dots per inch printing quality. The largest size print from a 6 megapixel camera at photo quality is 6 1/2 inches by 10 inches. Needless to say a 10, 12 and 14 megapixel camera can provide a much larger photo quality print.

    An image from a 6 megapixel camera would also degenerate in image quality with cropping and any postprocessing which would lead to noise and lower resolution.

    A camera with better resolution from any brand would give a photographer more to work with and less image quality degeneration caused by the postprocessing work or enlargements.

    skieur
     
  4. 4Nines

    4Nines TPF Tech Staff Member Supporting Member

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    With that being said, which new SLR would you recommend then? I want something out of the box that will be good for years to come and will allow me to grow as my skills increase :)
     
  5. epp_b

    epp_b No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    It's not quite that simple. It's not all about megapixels. The larger you print, the further back you'll be standing to view the print, the less quality matters. I don't mean to make sound like it is linear relationship between print resolution and viewing distance, of course.

    Megapixels grow exponentially, not linearly. 14mp is not two times larger than 6mp. 14mp is 4608 x 3072, 6mp is 3008 x 2000. That's only one third larger. It's a bit of a difference, but in order to get a significant difference of two times the size, you'll need 25mp (which only exists in the uber-expensive Sony A900 and reportedly in the even more expensive forthcoming D3X). In order to get any decent quality out of that many pixels, you need a full-frame sensor, but then you're spending big bucks.

    Why do you think people love the D3 and D700 at mere 12mp? Because they have a similar, low pixel density as in the D40.

    The actual quality of those pixels matter more than the quantity. The D40 has better image quality and ISO noise performance than the D40x/D60 because they are basically the same as the D40, only with more pixels crammed into the same-sized sensor and a lower base sensitivity.

    In that case, you will be sorely disappointed with any digital camera. Camera makers come out with replacements on a regular basis of 18-36 months with new features, better sensors, faster operation, better performance and so on. Digital is a relatively new medium; it's still a teenager. That said, as a hobbiest or amateur, it matters a lot less than if you are in it commercially.

    If you want a photography medium that won't obsolete, use film (that is, until digital is advanced enough to replace medium and/or large format film, but that's not happening any time soon). Film is about as good as it's ever going to get because it's had over a century to mature. With film, whatever camera you use is completely irrelevant, it's all in the film you use. You will have the ongoing cost of the film itself and it's certainly trickier to work with, though. I just finished my first roll of film and it was, well...kinda blah.

    Any DSLR can do that. They are all based on the same principals. The more expensive you go, the more fringe features and performance you get built-in. That's not to say that the D40 is, by any means, slow.

    Eg.: you can't do remote flash triggering with iTTL out of the box with the D40 (you can with the D70 and higher), but you can always buy add-ons that will do that instead.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2008
  6. PatrickHMS

    PatrickHMS TPF Noob!

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    What Epp said.

    If you are a newbie, and shoot as an amateur or for hobby it might take you 1-2 years to outgrow the full potential of the D40 (and what you can do with it) or the entry-level Canon Rebel Series cameras.

    And you use the word "cheapest" as opposed to less expensive. NO Nikon or Cannon DSLR is "cheapest" in my opinion. That term does not apply here. Somehow, to me, the word cheap has connotations of quality.

    By then, you will know what you want (and want to do with) in terms of a camera body and lenses, and can choose from whatever the newest technology offerings are, and from whatever is available at that time.

    As mentioned above, the upside of Digital photo technology is so far out that we are in the very early days, where the surface is only beginning to be scratched. Basically, a DSLR is mostly a computer with a shutter, that uses a lens, and we can all see how far computer technology has come in recent years.

    Years ago, an entire Company, like any bank (with thousands of teller terminals all over) all ran off a computer that was FAR less powerful than any current vintage PC that we now use to read and post here on TPF.
     
  7. epp_b

    epp_b No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Indeed. As a an amateur hobiest who posts most of his photos online and hasn't printed larger than 5x7 yet, my D40 could serve me for years upon years to come. The only real reason for me to upgrade would be for additional features that I want out of convenience, not necessity.

    Yes! I think it is an exciting time to be into photography, especially digital. In the coming years, I expect we will see dramatic steps forward in digital photo technology.
     
  8. reg

    reg TPF Noob!

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    Other than the fact that it's NOT the cheapest DSLR... it's a fine camera.
     
  9. Sw1tchFX

    Sw1tchFX TPF Noob!

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    If you need to ask this question, then the D40 is the right SLR for you, you can't get any simpler.
     
  10. fwellers

    fwellers TPF Noob!

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    Interesting point, and one I've been considering before I purchase my first dslr. I'd like to ask about the low light abilities of the d40 though. Are they good enough ( compared to the d90 ) to use a decent kit lense with, or even maybe a fast 50mm, and get decent shots in available light ?
    Or is the whole ISO sensitivity deal less drastic between models than we're led to believe ?

    Also, I believe it was you, who mentioned about the 6mp and cropping. Are you basically saying that you can do very little cropping to re-arrange the composition on the d40 before the picture looks all grainy ?

    Thanks. I'm not challenging anything, just still deciding if I should get the d90 as a beginner, or save ~ $600 and buy a d40.
     
  11. a1157814a

    a1157814a TPF Noob!

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    sooo what is the conclusion here?
    would you recommend D40?
     
  12. epp_b

    epp_b No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Define "low light". I find the noise performance to be acceptable up to ISO 400 for just about anything, and ISO 800 when low light demands it. If you use Auto ISO, the D40 can adjust ISOs in 1/5 stops!

    Nothing from the D40's era is anywhere near as good as the D90 in low-light. The D90 is the start of a new generation of cameras from Nikon and is expectedly better, and also over the twice the cost.

    You won't get handheld low-light shots with the D40 and it's slow kit lens, except at the wide end where can potentially find more light and use it's largest aperture. You will with the D90 and it's equally-slow kit lens in a pinch, but it's always better to use fast glass than to rely on high ISOs. A fast prime will get you very acceptable shots on either camera.

    I got my very favorite concert shot with my D40 using ISO 800, 1/60th shutter and f/1.8 or f/2 (can't remember, I was using a manual lens, so there's no aperture information in the EXIF data)

    [​IMG]

    Typically awful and spotty concert lighting and the D40 had no problem exposing it properly.

    Sure, if you blow the original up 100% and look too closely, you'll see some noise in the dark areas. So don't look too closely.

    I wouldn't say "very little". I've cropped images probably by a third to half and they look just fine. Like I said, for there to be a drastically noticeable difference, you need to just about double the size, and that only happens at 25mp.

    Don't worry too much about cropping. Get your compositions right to begin with and you won't need to crop.

    If you are cheap or want something very small, get the D40. If you have the money to spend, get the D90. It really is quite a lot better in terms of noise performance and built-in features.

    Other than Nikon's deliberate crippling of the D90's USB connectivity (it doesn't tell the computer "I'm a hard drive" like Nikons always have, instead, it says "I'm a camera", which means that only certain operating systems with certain, usually buggy, drivers can recognize it) and the useless live view and movie recording, I'd love to have a D90.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2008

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