Why I Won’t Buy a Nikon D40

I have to admit the Nikon D40 is an impressive point-and-shoot digital SLR. Particularly if you compare it to it’s siblings the Nikon D80 and the Nikon D200. You get many of the features of the D80 for quite a bit less money and for this reason the D40 has literally replaced the D80. Reviewers have pointed out that one of the D40’s shortcoming is the D40 doesn’t autofocus with non-AF-S lenses, it does however work with old pro AF-I lenses.

That’s not the reason I’m not going to buy the Nikon D40 though. Nikon chose to leave out one feature that creates a bigger problem, at least for me…

There is an emerging frontier in digital photography known as High Dynamic Range (HDR). In HDR photography you take a minimum of three images with three different exposures, one that is normally exposed, one that is 1 stop underexposed, and one that is 1 stop overexposed. Because you are taking three separate photos and ultimately merging them into one photo, they must be perfectly aligned.

To be able to pull off HDR with any reasonable amount of success one needs a camera that has the ability to do auto exposure bracketing. Which means once set and you press the shutter and the camera fires three shots with the exposure compensation incorporated into each photo. With the Nikon D40 you do have exposure compensation but each time you want to compensate exposure you need to do it manually. What this means is that to do HDR photography with the Nikon D40 you would need to use a tripod each and every time and manually (fiddle with the camera) to achieve the minimum three images necessary to create an HDR image.

Nikon chose to leave auto bracketing off the D40 feature set. The absence of this feature immediately cancels the Nikon D40 as a serious HDR candidate.

Too bad!

I would have bought this camera in a heart beat if only Nikon had included auto bracketing.

Final Note:

At Digital Camera Tracker we monitor pretty much every single review for most cameras on the market. For the Nikon D40 we’ve tracked over 30 reviews and not one single review has even made mention of the missing auto bracketing. Perhaps it is not important to everyone else but to us it was a deal breaker.