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!

Is the Canon 30D noisier than the 20D?

Is it possible that the noise levels in the Canon 30D are worse than that of the ageing Canon 20D? According to this story it’s true! I find it hard to believe because the cameras are so similar – same sensor, same digital processor and more. I wonder how the 20D compares to the new Canon 400D?

Even if you don’t have any Canon equipment, the article takes a look at the RAW vs Jpeg debate too which might be less sensational but makes for a good read. (via)

Luminous Links

I wish Luminoous Landscape had an RSS feed. I’d subscribe to it in a flash. It doesn’t so I’m only now discovering some of these great articles –

  • Of cameras and art is the final in a series of four articles discussing the artistic merits of photography. A subject close to my heart.
  • Digital Focusing and part 2 look at problems with making ever bigger prints from small sensors and other digital issues.
  • Leica M8 review – this is the first digital Leica, a brand much loved by some photographers. I’ve never used a Leica so I don’t get what the fuss is about. This review promises to solve that. We’ll see!
  • Finally, the Canon Rebel XTi EOS 400D is reviewed. I excitedly mentioned this camera when it came out and my brother Donal bought one of these and I’ve played with it briefly. It’s impressively light, the screen is great, and the mirror flip-up is quieter than my Canon 20D. I can definitely recommend buying one if you’re looking for a DSLR!