Sunday, February 11, 2007

Pop Photo Praises Nikon D40

Popular Photography and Imaging has completed its test of the Nikon D40, and Nikon’s newest entry into the digital SLR field has received high marks.

“The D40’s features and overall performance clearly raise the bar on the ‘entry-level’ DSLR class,” Pop Photo said in its March issue. “The Nikon D40 isn’t for everyone, but it will certainly appeal to first-time DSLR buyers who want an excellent camera with controls and features that they can grow into and eventually master.”

Popular praised the D40 for its low price ($560 street with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens), high image quality, low noise at most ISOs, user-friendly menus and on-screen tutorials. It received lower marks for its limited (compared to other Nikon digital SLRs) three-zone autofocus system and ability to autofocus only with Nikkor AF-S lenses.

Test results found image quality “extremely high” from ISO 200-800 and still “very high” at 1600. Resolution was “extremely high” while color accuracy “excellent” and digital noise – which usually gets worse at higher ISO settings – was “extremely low” regardless of ISO. Highlight/shadow detail was “high” and contrast “normal.” Autofocus speed ranged from an “extremely fast” 0.49 seconds to 1.25 seconds depending on light level.

Reviewers said the D40 is a good choice for first-time digital SLR buyers but that photographers seeking to upgrade from an existing digital SLR would probably prefer a 10 megapixel body. Those switching from 35mm film would probably avoid the D40 because its autofocus doesn’t support older lenses, even older autofocus lenses.

With its decades of experience, Popular Photography is still the gold standard for lab testing of photo equipment. Most other publications – both print and on-line – do hands-on testing and some do a few measurements. But few if any can match Pop’s extensive scientific measurements.

Click here to see the full Popular Photography and Imaging test results and review.

In another important review, the D40 was “highly recommended” by Digital Photography Review (DPR). On a scale of 1-10, the D40 received an average 8.5 for build, ergonomics, features, image quality, speed and value. DPR lamented the lack of autofocus capability with older lenses but liked the overall performance enough to praise the “instant connection between the photographer and the camera,” calling the D40 one of Nikon’s “most important” digital SLR models. Much in the school of Popular Photography’s lab tests and those done years ago by Modern Photography, DPR offers extensive scientific testing and side-by-side comparisons with other cameras, and is one of the most authoritative camera review sites on the web.

Click here to see the DPR review.

The 6.1 megapixel D40 was announced by Nikon in November, billed as the smallest and easiest to use in Nikon’s lineup of digital SLRs and aimed at consumers seeking a low-cost entry into the digital SLR field. Click here to read the Nikon press release.

Copyright 2007


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