Nikon D40 tips the scales in Canon vs Nikon fight

nikon_d40.jpg The recently announced Nikon D40 could be the camera that wins over the hearts and minds of a whole new generation of DSLR owners and it’s being released right before the Christmas buying season.

Why? For two reasons, price and brand. There are a number of digital SLR cameras in the sub $500 range; the Pentax K100D and Olympus E300 among them but the Nikon brand of digital cameras is better known. Canon don’t have any current camera to compete at this price range, yet.

What camera will parents buy their offspring this Christmas? The more expensive Canon 400D or the Nikon D40? I think it’s a no-brainer which camera they’ll buy. The Nikon is the perfect “starter camera” for junior. It’s relatively cheap, looks professionally black, makes the click sound when you take a photo like “real cameras” do and you can use other Nikon lenses. What is there not to like?

Well, the Nikon D40 is great but for the price there have been compromises made. The DP Review preview of the camera compares it favourably to the Nikon D50, emphasising the extra features the cheaper camera has. The biggest drawback is an issue with lenses. It can’t auto-focus with traditional Nikon lenses because it doesn’t have an internal focus drive motor. This is arguably worse than the Canon limitation on EF-S lenses. At least Canon EF-S cameras can take advantage of proper Canon lenses.

Perhaps the biggest negative on the D40 is that it doesn’t have an internal focus drive motor and hence no mechanical focus drive pin, instead it only has CPU contacts which means it can only Auto Focus with AF-S and AF-I lenses (those with built-in focus motors). Indeed our ‘standard’ lens the Nikkor 50 mm F1.8D (and the F1.4D) are manual focus only on the D40. The images below show the difference between the mount on the D40 and D80, the D80 has a mechanical focus drive pin at about the 7 o’clock position.

Canon need a sub-$500 DSLR to compete. Once you’re hooked on a brand of camera it’s much easier to stick with that brand. The controls will be familiar, you can use the same lenses, you visit the same online discussion boards.

Personally, I think it’s great that DSLR technology is so cheap. It’s not that long ago that the only digital SLR was priced beyond the budgets of anyone but the professionals. Isn’t Moore’s Law great?

Ken Rockwell has a great review of the Nikon D40. I think he likes it:

First impressions are:

Super-duper light weight = too much fun!

Glistening Blackberries

Blackberries glisten in the bright sun of an August afternoon in Co. Cork.

I love blackberry jam, blackberry tarts, blackberry crumble. I don’t like picking the fruit, but I have many childhood memories of wandering country lanes with my family looking for the best fruit for my mother to make delicious jam.
Nowadays, you can buy a carton of blackberries in M&S cheaply. Oh how times have moved on.

Checking the prisoner

“I’m so tired. They’ve had me locked up here for years. I’m in solitary confinement for my sins. I was set up I tell you! It wasn’t me!”

A tourist looks in on a cell in Alcatraz in the solitary confinement wing. Luckily I was able to walk out immediately. Not a pleasant place.
Besides the main subject of this image, it’s the small details I like. That barely noticed feather on the far right grabs me by the shoulders and screams, “you don’t know the half of what I’ve seen!”

No walking stick

It’s a good thing nobody in this picture needs help walking or getting about! Is that sign really saying walking sticks aren’t allowed?
It could be one of the following too, what do you think?

  • No backpackers
  • No mountaineers or hikers
  • No round headed people
  • Or possibly even “people with bags on their back are not allowed to climb over this barrier.” Better leave the bags in town guys!

Picture taken on Alcatraz Island, San Francisco.

Wet Wellow Web

Early in the morning dew coats everything and water droplets on spider webs glisten in the rising sun.

I’m not sure where this was taken, it was probably somewhere in Blarney but it was taken with my Panasonic FZ5 last September and I only copied it off a few days ago!

Pier 38, San Francisco

Pier 38 is where True Ventures have their San Francisco office. It was the location of a great post-WordCamp party last August. It was such a beautiful night I had to take a shot of the moon and lights reflecting in the water.