Nikon D40x review

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Just four months ago, we looked at the D40 and it’s already old news. The D40x is the new kid on the block and makes a huge leap from 6 to 10 megapixels. This, and the pricing, put it in direct competition with Canon’s EOS 400D.

Nikon hasn’t changed much apart from the CCD, though. The body is identical to the D40’s, being virtually the same size and weight as the 400D. The 400D and D40x both have an 18-55mm kit lens too, although the D40x still lacks an integral focus motor, so can only auto focus using lenses with their own motors – the AF-S and AF-I ranges.

The other difference from the 400D is that the D40x is clearly aimed at DSLR novices. Like the 400D, there’s no separate status LCD, so all settings that aren’t shown in the viewfinder have to be relayed on the 2.5in rear TFT. This is a much slower process than using the LCD of the D80 or Pentax K10D. But the extra space and resolution mean there’s room for helpful photos by each setting, showing the most appropriate value for each type of scene.

Despite this, the resulting photos we took were a shade ahead of the Canon’s. As usual, Nikon’s kit lens proved slightly sharper than Canon’s, and that led to marginally better detail. Macro abilities are similar, allowing you to get within 30cm of your subject. In low light, the D40x’s AF-assist lamp was a big help, and it also produced a more pleasing night shot. Noise was kept at bay in low light, and there’s an ISO 3,200-equivalent mode for extreme low-light shooting.

Many will appreciate that the D40x has a better continuous mode than the D40 – we measured it at 2.7fps, identical to the 400D. Conversely, many will mourn the absence of exposure bracketing, even if there’s a useful flash compensation setting. But, the D40x scores for its spot-metering mode and the use of SD cards rather than Canon’s CompactFlash. There’s also the fact that it comes with a full printed manual, while the 400D has only a quick-start guide.

Ultimately, it’s difficult to choose between the two cameras. Both are capable of great photos for the money, but the D40x will appeal more to novices, while the 400D is better suited to seasoned SLR users who can’t live without the extra shooting features.

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