Nikon D40x DSLR delivers quality boost

Additions drive up the price of the D40x but they also help Nikon compete with Canon's very successful EOS 400

Last December, Nikon released the D40 , an entry-level digital SLR with a very good 3x zoom lens at a nice price, around $1000. A mere four months later, Nikon announced the D40x, an enhanced version of the D40 that takes the original’s resolution from 6.1 to 10.2 megapixels and offers better ISO sensitivity and a slightly better burst mode.

These additions drive the price of the D40x up to around $1349 including GST, but they also help Nikon compete more directly with Canon’s very successful (and more expensive) EOS 400. The end result is a very good camera that takes great pictures, and one that is a great fit for casual shooters who are DSLR newcomers, but who want a little more resolution.

For all its power, the D40x is a marvel of size and design. Like its lower-priced sibling, the D40x is compact and lightweight, but its construction is solid. The 2.5-inch LCD on the back is bright and clear, viewable in all but the brightest sunlight.

The camera offers fully automatic shooting and a group of modes for different conditions, like landscapes, portraits, sports, night shots, close-ups, and more. Touching all the bases, the D40x can also operate manually, or in aperture- and shutter-priority modes.

You can continuously shoot three images per second with the D40x, up slightly from the 2.5 images per second possible with the D40. If you’re shooting in Raw format, you can shoot a maximum of six images continuously. I was able to get 15 to 20 consecutive shots at the maximum rate when shooting in JPEG format.

The camera’s image quality is superb, especially from ISO 100 to 800; colour noise increases when you shoot at ISO 1600 or 3200, but that is normal for most DSLRs in this price range.

The only downsides I could find with the D40x will be minor issues for most new DSLR owners. While I could live without exposure bracketing — taking a sequence of photos at slightly different exposure settings — it would have been nice to see Nikon put a depth-of-field preview into the D40x, since it’s such an essential concept and one worth knowing, even as a new user.

Also, although dust wasn’t a problem with the unit I had, I would like to have seen Nikon incorporate some sort of dust reduction system, especially since Canon, Olympus and others are moving in this direction.

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