Nikon D40x Review

The 6-megapixel Nikon D40 model cannot be upgraded, and the D80 cannot be replaced with the Nikon D40x. Instead, it awkwardly balances between the two models, broadening Nikon’s selection of enthusiast and enthusiast-priced SLRs.

In essence, it is a D80 sensor housed in a D40 housing. An odd turn for Nikon, and a difficult decision for someone purchasing a DSLR for the first time.

When comparing the D40x to the D40, the higher sensor resolution is the only discernible change. In every other way, the camera’s layout, features, and controls resemble Nikon’s entry-level model.

The higher resolution comes with a significant price premium of £200, so the D40x has a lot to live up to. Not to mention that the Canon EOS 400D, one of the Nikon 40x’s main competitors, is now being sold for about £100 less than the D40x.

The Nikon D40x DSLR camera, which was unveiled barely four months after its predecessor, is nearly identical to the D40 with the exception of one significant difference: its 10.2-megapixel sensor, which was directly lifted from the D80, as opposed to the D40’s 6 megapixels.

Due to the new sensor, the ISO range now begins at ISO 100 and extends all the way to ISO 3200. The D40x also uses the shutter mechanism from the more costly D80, which results in a slower flash sync speed (1/200 on the D40x vs. 1/500 on the D40) but a slightly higher continuous shooting speed of 3fps (2.5fps on the older D40).

The D40x is essentially a 10-megapixel D40 with a few minor changes, however, the extra megapixels come at a higher price, and, more importantly, it now competes with the Canon Digital Rebel XTi/400D and the Sony Alpha A100.

If you’re upgrading from a compact digital camera to a more “serious” DSLR, the Nikon D40x is still a solid choice. However, are the additional megapixels worth the additional cost?

Effortless Use

You can immediately tell why the Nikon D40x is so inexpensive when you first take it out of the package. It is incredibly lightweight because of its all-plastic design, especially if you have previously used a more costly DSLR. The included 18-55mm kit lens, which is also built completely of plastic, is the same.

Fit the body and lens together, and everything starts to make a lot more sense, even if you are still unsure about your purchase decision. All of a sudden, you are left with a well-balanced product that is light by DSLR standards but doesn’t feel skimpy or insignificant.

Additionally, Nikon refrained from shrinking the D40x to the same size as some of its primary competitors, namely the Canon EOS Rebel XTi/400D and the Olympus E-400. Instead, the D40x follows in the footsteps of the earlier D50, maintaining a thick handgrip and a “business-like” appearance that is more practical than attractive.

The D40x is undoubtedly made for “regular” hands, which helps to dispel the initial impression that the camera is overly lightweight and plasticky.

The D40x is a pretty complex camera in terms of functionality and the number of external controls it offers, with about 16 in total and some of them having more than one function, despite being targeted at new digital SLR owners.

The Nikon D40x has a lot of buttons and switches, but it doesn’t feel overly cluttered or scary, and using it quickly becomes second nature. When handling, the D40x is really pleasant. I was able to grasp the camera with three fingers and operate the shutter button with my right forefinger thanks to the deep, curved handgrip that is coated in a rubberized compound on the right side of the device.

Your right thumb sits in a small, curved space; the remainder of the body is covered in gleaming, smooth black plastic. The Nikon D40x’s regular 18-55mm kit lens snaps into place with a comforting mechanical click and seems well-balanced on the camera.

You will either love or despise the Nikon D40x’s shutter release movement because it is fairly loud and mechanical. I enjoyed it, but it’s not the best for close-up candid photography because your subject might hear you if you get too close.

In overall, the Nikon D40x is expertly constructed and created. The Nikon D40x is a typical DSLR, with a shooting mode dial on top of the camera that lets you choose between seven scene settings or an advanced mode like aperture priority.

The Exposure Compensation and Info buttons are wisely positioned close to the shutter button. To change the settings, simply and intuitively hold down the Exposure Compensation button with your right forefinger and rotate the dial on the top rear of the camera with your thumb.

Image Quality

The 10M Fine JPEG mode, which results in an average image size of about 2.5Mb, was used to capture all of the sample photographs included in this review.

Noise

The Nikon D40x has six ISO levels that you can choose from at any moment when the camera is in shooting mode. At ISO 100, 200, and 400, which are the slowest settings, there is essentially no audible noise. At ISO 800, noise begins to show up, but even at ISO 1600, it is still rather well controlled.

At the fastest speed of ISO 3200, as you might anticipate, a lot of detail is lost and the photographs have a “painted” appearance, but they are still excellent for small print sizes.

Nikon D40x Specifications

Body colorBlack or Silver
Sensor• 23.7 x 15.6 mm CCD sensor
• Nikon DX format (1.5x FOV crop)
• 10.2 million effective pixels
• 10.8 million total pixels
• RGB Color Filter Array
• 12-bit A/D converter
Image sizes• 3872 x 2592 (Large, 10.0 MP)
• 2896 x 1944 (Medium, 5.6 MP)
• 1936 x 1296 (Small, 2.5 MP)
Image quality• NEF (12-bit compressed RAW)
• JPEG fine
• JPEG normal
• JPEG basic
• NEF (RAW) + JPEG basic
Color space• IIIa (sRGB – more green for colourful landscapes) default
• Ia (sRGB)
• II (Adobe RGB)
Lens mountNikon F mount (with AF contacts)
Lens compatibilityType G or D AF Nikkor• AF-S, AF-I
• Other Type G or D AF Nikkor
• PC Micro-Nikkor 85mm f/2.8D• Other AF Nikkor*2/AI-P Nikkor• Non-CPU• IX Nikkor- All functions supported
– All functions supported except autofocus
– Can only be used in mode M; all other functions supported except autofocus
– All functions supported except autofocus and 3D Color Matrix Metering II
– Can be used in mode M, but exposure meter does not function; electronic range finder can be used if maximum aperture is f/5.6 or faster
– Can not be used
Autofocus• Three area TTL phase detection
• Nikon Multi-CAM530 autofocus module
• Only with AF-S or AF-I lenses
• Detection range: EV -1 to +19 (ISO 100 equivalent, at normal temperature)
Lens servo• Single-servo AF (AF-S)
• Continuous-servo AF (AF-C)
• Automatic AF-S/AF-C (AF-A)
• Manual focus (M)
AF Area mode• Single Area AF
• Dynamic Area AF
• Closest Subject Priority Dynamic Area AF
Focus trackingPredictive focus tracking automatically activated according to subject status in continuous-servo AF
Focus areaOne of three areas can be selected
Focus lockFocus can be locked by pressing shutter-release button halfway (single-servo AF) or by pressing AE-L/AF-L button
AF AssistWhite light lamp
Exposure mode• Digital Vari-program
    – Auto
    – Flash off
    – Portrait
    – Landscape
    – Child
    – Sports
    – Close up
    – Night portrait
• Programmed auto (P) with flexible program
• Shutter-priority auto (S)
• Aperture priority auto (A)
• Manual (M)
MeteringTTL full-aperture exposure metering system
• 3D color matrix metering II
• 420 segment RGB sensor
• Center-weighted: Weight of 75% given to a 8mm circle in center of frame
• Spot: Meters 3.5 mm circle (about 2.5% of frame) centered on active focus area
Metering range• EV 0 to 20 (3D color matrix or center-weighted metering)
• EV 2 to 20 (spot metering) (ISO 100 equivalent, f/1.4 lens, 20 °C)
Meter couplingCPU coupling
Exposure compen.• +/- 5.0 EV
• 1/3 EV steps
AE LockExposure locked at detected value with AE-L/AF-L button
AE BracketingNone
Sensitivity• Auto
• ISO 100
• ISO 200
• ISO 400
• ISO 800
• ISO 1600
• ISO 3200 equiv. (HI 1)
Auto ISO options• On/Off
• Maximum ISO (200, 400, 800 or 1600)
• Minimum shutter speed (1 to 1/125 sec)
Shutter• Combined mechanical and CCD electronic shutter
• 30 to 1/4000 sec (1/3 EV steps)
• Flash X-Sync: up to 1/200 sec
• Bulb
White balance• Auto (TTL white-balance with 420 pixels RGB sensor)
• Six manual modes with fine-tuning
    o Incandescent
    o Fluorescent
    o Direct sunlight
    o Flash
    o Cloudy
    o Shade
• Preset white balance (immediate or from photo)
WB fine tuningYes
Image parameters• Preset modes: Normal, Softer, Vivid, More Vivid, Portrait, B&W
• Sharpening: Auto, 6 levels
• Tone: Auto, 5 levels, Custom curve
• Color mode: Ia (sRGB), II (Adobe RGB), IIIa (sRGB)
• Saturation: Auto, 3 levels
• Hue: -9° to +9°
Viewfinder• Optical fixed eye-level
• Penta-mirror type
• Built-in diopter adjustment (-1.7 to +0.5 m-1)
• Eyepoint: 18 mm (at -1.0 m-1)
• Frame coverage 95% (approx.)
• Viewfinder magnification approx. 0.8x with 50mm lens at infinity; -1.0 m-1
• Focusing screen: Type B BriteView clear matte screen Mark V with superimposed focus brackets
Viewfinder informationFocus indications, AE/FV lock indicator, Shutter speed, Aperture value, Exposure/Exposure compensation indicator, Exposure mode, Flash output level compensation, Exposure compensation, Number of remaining exposures, Flash-ready indicator
LCD monitor• 2.5″ TFT LCD
• 230,000 pixel
Built-in flash• Auto pop-up in Auto, Vari-program modes
• Manual pop-up in P, S, A or M modes
• Guide number approx. 17 at ISO 200
Sync contactX-contact only; flash synchronization at shutter speeds of up to 1/200 sec
Flash control• TTL flash control by 420-segment RGB sensor. i-TTL balanced fill-flash for digital SLR and standard i-TTL fill-flash for digital SLR available when CPU lens is used with built-in flash, SB-400, SB-800, and SB-600
• Auto aperture with SB-800 and CPU lenses
• Non-TTL auto with SB-800, 80DX, 28DX, 28, 27 and 22s
• Range-priority manual with SB-800
Flash mode• Auto, Portrait, Child, Close-up: Auto, auto with red-eye reduction; fill-flash and red-eye reduction available with optional Speedlight
• Night portrait: Auto, auto slow sync, auto slow sync with red-eye reduction; slow sync and slow sync with red-eye reduction available with optional Speedlight
• Landscape, Sports: Fill-flash and red-eye reduction available with optional Speedlight
• P, A modes: Fill flash, rear-curtain with slow sync, slow sync, slow sync with red-eye reduction, red-eye reduction
• S, M modes: Fill flash, rear-curtain sync, red-eye reduction
Flash compensation• -3 to +1 EV
• 1/3 steps
Nikon Creative Lighting systemSupported with built-in flash, SB-400, SB-800, and SB-600; Advanced Wireless Lighting supported with SB-800 or SU-800 as Commander.
Shooting modes• Single frame shooting (S) mode
• Continuous shooting (C) mode: approx. 3.0 frames per second (slower with NR)
• Self-timer/remote control mode.
Continuous buffer• JPEG: Limited only by storage
• RAW: Approx. 9 frames (shooting continues at a slower rate)
Self-timer• 2, 5, 10 or 20 sec
Remote control• Remote Control ML-L3 (optional, Infrared)
• Camera Control Pro software (optional)
Text inputUp to 36 characters of alphanumeric text input is available with LCD monitor and multi-selector; stored in EXIF header
Playback functions• Full frame
• Thumbnail (4 or 9 segments)
• Zoom (magnified)
• Slideshow
• Histogram indication
• Shooting data
• Highlight point display
• Auto image rotation
Orientation sensorYes
Storage• Secure Digital / Secure Digital HC
• FAT / FAT32
• Supports firmware update via SD card
Video outputNTSC or PAL selectable
Connectivity• USB 2.0 (Hi-Speed)
• Mass storage / PTP selectable
• Video out
• DC-IN (optional AC adapter and adapter connector)
LanguagesChinese (Simplified and Traditional), Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish
PowerLithium-Ion battery pack EN-EL9 (7.4 V, 1000 mAh)
Working environment• 0 to 40°C (32 to 104°F)
• Less than 85% humidity
Dimensions126 x 94 x 64 mm (5.0 x 3.7 x 2.5 in)
Weight (no batt)471 g (1.0 lb)
Weight (inc. batt)522 g (1.2 lb)
Supplied accessoriesRechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL9, Quick Charger MH-23, USB Cable UC-E4, PictureProject, Rubber Eyecup DK-16, Camera Strap, Body Cap BF-1A, Eyepiece Cap DK-5, Accessory Shoe Cap BS-1
Optional accessoriesWireless Remote Control ML-L3, Capture NX, Camera Control Pro, AC Adapter Connector EP-5, AC Adapter EH-5, Video Cable EG-D100, Semi Soft-Case CF-DC1, Speedlight SB-800/600/T041/R1C1

Overall Conclusion

When Nikon sent me the D40X press releases, no one was more shocked than I was. With the exception of a base ISO 100 sensitivity and 3.0 fps shooting speed, Nikon was set to announce a ten-megapixel version of the six-megapixel D40 camera, which had been available for less than four months.

The fact that the D40 went from six to 10 megapixels in just four months raises the obvious question: why didn’t Nikon just issue the D40X in the first place? Why wasn’t the ten-megapixel sensor ready sooner? Did they have any remaining inventory of the “vintage” six-megapixel sensor? Probably never will we find out?

But one thing is certain: the new model is positioned to compete with Canon’s EOS 400D, the most prominent digital SLR on the market (Digital Rebel XTi). On paper, it checks all the boxes; the only things it lacks are a physical dust reduction mechanism, a vertical hand grip option, and a restricted ability to change image parameters.

As with the D40, devoted Nikon users may also be let down by the body’s absence of a focus motor, which prevents many non-AF-S/AF-I lenses (including some of Nikon’s greatest prime lenses) from autofocusing.

The D40 also has other drawbacks, such as the fact that when I shot RAW+JPEG, I only received JPEGs of Basic quality. As with most recent digital SLRs, automatic white balance was something you should really only use in natural light, and I didn’t like that there wasn’t a dedicated ISO or WB button on the camera (yes, you can program the Fn button, but I would have thought it more logical to use the four-way controller on the rear from day one). Other factors, like the absence of bracketing, depth-of-field preview, and fixed exposure stages, will be less significant to D40 owners.

Everything we liked about the D40’s operation and performance applies to the D40X as well: quick start-up speeds, quick responses, good autofocus, and a snappy shutter button that makes you want to take more photos.

The D40X is one of the simplest digital SLRs to “carry around,” thanks to its small size without sacrificing ergonomics or comfort. It won’t strain your neck or cause your back to hurt.

Nikon D40x Price

Pros & Cons

Good For
  • Kit lenses are of higher quality than many other types.
  • Sharpness and resolution are on par with the top 10-megapixel cameras currently available.
  • A clear resolution boost at lower sensitivity levels, but less so at ISO 800 and 1600
  • surprisingly high building standards, clean lines
  • Especially when using the kit lens, very small and light, yet still comfortable to use
Need Improvements
  • White balance or exposure bracketing is not used
  • Non-AF-S/AF-I lenses can only be focused manually because the body lacks a lens motor.
  • no status LCD display on the camera’s top (we hate to see these go)
  • Unfortunately, the RAW+JPEG preset only records JPEGs of Basic quality.
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