The Nikon D40: the Best Entry Level Digital SLR for the Serious Photographer
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The Nikon D40: the Best Entry Level Digital SLR for the Serious Photographer

There are so many high quality, entry level digital SLRs on the market today that one is hard-pressed to say that one is better than all the rest. The Nikon D40 is more then just an entry level digital SLR; it’s an entry-level camera with professional features that the newbie can grow into. For most photographers, the Nikon D40 will be the first and last digital SLR that they will ever have to buy. The D40 is not only rated the best among the entry-level cameras, it has the best street price at an estimate $470, which includes an 18-55 mm zoom lens. For such a high quality camera, one could expect to pay as much or more for just the camera body alone but with the D40 you get the camera body and a lens, everything you need to get started taking professional quality pictures. For the rank beginner who has no idea what lens f-stops, ISO settings, shutter speed settings, etc means, the D40 comes with 8 pre-programmed point-and-shoot modes that the beginner can use to take perfectly exposed pictures every time while exploring all the more advanced features of the D40. There are separate pre-programmed modes for shooting portraits, landscapes, children, sports, close ups, night portraits, auto flash, and full auto. When in doubt, go with the full auto mode. As you become more advanced the D40 offer three programmable modes-programmable auto, shutter priority auto, and aperture priority auto, as well as a full manual mode for the advanced user who wants total control over everything. The detailed instruction manual that comes with the D40 is an excellent introductory text to digital photography The Nikon D40 comes with a built in, pop-up flash unit that is sufficient for most indoor flash photography, but I strongly advise investing in the Nikon SB-600 Auto focus Speed light. This is a truly powerful light and will become a necessity if you invest in longer focal length lenses for your camera, as you will as time goes by. I also strongly recommend purchasing a quality camera bag to protect your camera, camera lenses, flash unit, filters, lens shades, and other accessory items that you will quickly acquire. Photography is an addictive hobby. Like all good things, the Nikon D40 does have one major negative quality. It’s 6.24-mega pixel resolution, but unless you’re planning to have prints bigger than 11 X 14” made on a regular bases, 6.24 mega pixels is more resolution then you will ever need. I mentioned acquiring accessories earlier and here are a few that you should buy when you buy your camera:

  1. Haze filters, also known as UV (Ultraviolet filters) are relatively inexpensive and they serve two purposes, they cut down the haze on overcast days and they protect the expensive glass in your lenses from dirt, fingerprints, scratches and other damage. I leave UV filters on all my lenses and leave them on at all times because I would rather replace a $15 filter that a lens that cost me anywhere from $300 to a $1000 or more.
  2. A Polarization filter. Polarization filters are used to eliminate glare and reflections caused by the sun reflecting off various surfaces, like glass or metal. When buying filters make sure that you buy the right size for your lens filter mount. That size in mm (millimeters) is marked on the lens.
  3. Lens sunshades are inexpensive and cut out sun flares in your lenses.
  4. An extra rechargeable battery. The Lithium-ion battery that comes with your D40 is good for 400+ pictures at normal resolution, but there is nothing more embarrassing or frustrating then having a battery quit on you in the middle of a once in a lifetime shoot.
  5. Extra 1.5 rechargeable AA batteries for your Nikon SB-600 flash units. This is a powerful unit and when firing at full power will eat batteries faster then you can buy disposable batteries. I can three sets (not counting the set in the flash unit) with me at all times and with an initial cost of $14.00 a set that’s not such a big investment for the peace of mind it brings. The SB-600 uses four batteries so the three extra sets come to 12 batteries. The fast charger that I use allows me to charge all 12 batteries in less that a half-hour.
  6. Like with batteries, the prudent photographer always carries at least one or two extra memory cards. These cards hold several hundred pictures but they do fill up quickly and unless you have your laptop to download the pictures to, you are out of business with a card unless you have a spare or two with you. Cards are relatively inexpensive, so buy a couple of extra cards for your D40.

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Comments (4)

Hey MisterWizard, thanks for the response - very thorough information. I have heard lots of good things about the D40 as well. The only other option I've heard comparable things about is the Canon 400D. Do you have an opinion on how the two compare?

Good morning Jim In my humble opinion the Canon EOS 400D Digital SLR does have a couple of advantages over the Nikon D40. It has a much higher resolution (10.1 megapixel as opposed to 6.4 megapixels) but, as I stated in my Factoidz, 6.4 megapixels is all you will need unless you intend to make prints larger then 10" X 14" on a regular bases. The other advantage is that the 400D has a built in electronic cleaning system that keeps the CCD (Charged Coupled Device) the sensor that actualy records your pictures, free of dust. Dust shouldn't be a problem if you keep a cap on the camera body when you remove the lens. The thing that you have ask yourself is this, is the higher resolution and electronic cleaning system worth paying $800+ for and that's for the camera body alone. Add a normal lens to that and the D400 will cost you over $1000 as opposed to less than $500 for the Nikon D40. If I was going to be making salon size prints or larger I would want the higher resolution but in that case I would opt for the Nikon D90 with its 12.3 Megapxel resolution. With a standard lens the average street price of the D90 is under a $1000 and it will produce excellent poster-size prints. Don't misunderstand what I'm saying, Jim. I'm not knocking Canon cameras, just making an honest comparison. I have owned several Canon cameras (35mm Film) over the years and found them to be excellent camera but no camera has ever proved to be as dependable as a Nikon. I have a freelance photography business and my main camera body is the Nikon D40 with a wide assortment of Nikon lenses.


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Nikon D40 is really a good camera for professional photographers that capture unforgettable moments. Thanks for sharing this excellent article, keep it up!. Voted and shared.