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Nikon D40x Gordon Laing, May 2007

Nikon D40x features : Lenses and viewfinder / Screen and menus / Sensor and processing

Nikon D40x lenses

Nikon D40x - top view

The Nikon D40x has an F-mount which can accommodate most Nikkor lenses, although the latest models are required to support all the focusing, exposure, metering and flash features. Incompatibilities with older accessories is understandable, but like the D40, the new D40x takes a further step away from ‘legacy’ kit by not featuring the built-in motor required to auto-focus older Nikkor lenses. These lenses will still work on the D40x, but you’ll need to manually focus them. The D40 will only auto-focus with AF-S or AF-I compatible lenses which employ built-in focusing motors.

Nikon omitted the body focusing motor to keep the size and weight down of the D40 - and now the D40x - and has come under some criticism for doing so. To be fair, the D40x’s target audience are most likely to use modern AF-S compatible lenses, although sadly many discounted older Nikkor lenses along with several popular third party options won’t autofocus – for example Sigma’s non-HSM models, such as the 18-200mm, can only be manually focused on the D40 and D40x. Ultimately if you own, or are thinking of picking up any non AF-S compatible lenses and want auto-focus capabilities then buy yourself a D80, or even a second hand D50 instead.

The D40x employs the same DX-format sensor as the higher-end D80, and like all Nikon DSLRs to date, this results in the field of view of all lenses being reduced by 1.5 times, so the DX 18-55mm II kit lens delivers an effective focal range of 27-83mm. The range of bundled DX 18-55mm II kit lens is shown below. While the DX 18-55mm II is the most common kit lens, alternatives may include the Nikkor DX 18-135mm; check out our Nikkor DX kit lens group test to see how they all compare. If you intend to stick with the standard DX 18-55mm II kit though, a great second lens to complement it is the new Nikkor DX 55-200mm VR, one of the most affordable lenses with optical stabilisation; look out for our full review of this lens soon.

Nikon D40x with DX 18-55mm II coverage
Nikon D40x coverage 18mm
Nikon D40x coverage 55mm
18-55mm at 18mm, f8 (27mm equivalent)
  18-55mm at 55mm, f8 (83mm equivalent)

Nikkor 18-200mm lens
Sigma 18-200mm OS for Nikon

Nikon D40x focusing

Nikon D40x - focus mode Nikon D40x - AF-area mode

Like the D40 before it, the Nikon D40x employs a new Multi-CAM530 focusing module with three focusing points. This makes both cameras considerably less sophisticated than the nine-point AF systems of rivals like the Canon EOS 400D / XTi or the 11-point system of the D80. In use we found this three-point system was actually more usable than it sounds, and like its predecessor, we rarely experienced a time when it didn’t snap onto the desired subject. If you’re into tracking subjects which regularly move around the frame though, the 400D / XTi or D80 could be a better bet. It's certainly another example of a basic feature which was acceptable on the entry-level D40, but less so on the higher-priced D40x.

The D40x has four focusing modes: AF-S for single subjects, AF-C for moving subjects, AF-A which automatically selects between AF-S and AF-C, and finally, Manual focusing. You can also adjust the AF area mode to prioritise on subjects closest to the camera, subjects in a dynamic area or those fixed by a manually-selected focus point.

Nikon D40x viewfinder

Nikon D40x viewfinder

The Nikon D40x employs the same penta-mirror type optical viewfinder as its predecessor which delivers 95% coverage and 0.8x magnification. In practice it doesn’t appear as big or bright as the D80’s excellent penta-prism viewfinder, although it looks roughly equivalent to that of the Canon EOS 400D / XTi. To our eyes, the D40x’s viewfinder appeared fractionally brighter than the 400D / XTi when fitted with their respective kit lenses (same apertures) presumably due to differences in their actual focusing screens.

The D40x viewfinder is dominated by the three focus point indicators with outlines which illuminate when active; this looks a little classier than the dots which illuminate on the Canon EOS 400D / XTi’s focus points, although as mentioned above, the latter does at least feature a considerably more sophisticated nine-point AF system. Sadly the on-demand viewfinder LCD grid lines of the D80 aren’t present here, and there's also no depth-of-field preview; the latter may again have been just about acceptable on the cheaper D40, but is looking a bit out of place on this pricier model.

In addition to the usual exposure details and compensation scale, the D40x viewfinder can also display a flashing question mark as a warning when it believes the picture may be spoilt by a technical aspect; pressing the question mark button on the back of the camera then presents some helpful advice, such as ‘Lighting is poor, flash recommended’.

Nikon D40x features continued...

Lenses and viewfinder / Screen and menus / Sensor and processing

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