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Nikon D40x - Nikon D40x

The D40x is intended as an entry-level model, so while it lacks certain professional features such as dial-in white balance temperature or an external flash socket, it does have a number of useful beginner-friendly features. As well as the usual SLR staples of program, aperture or shutter priority and full manual exposure control, it also has a range of scene modes such as portrait, sports, landscape, night scene, macro and children. Crucially, this is one more scene mode than the 400D.

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The menu system as well has been designed for learners. In fact there are two menu systems; the main list of options accessed via the menu button in common with most other digital cameras, and a visual interface based around the monitor shooting data screen. This is similar to the system used on the Olympus E-500, although I do like Nikon’s implementation better. When changing settings it shows a thumbnail sample shot of the type of picture for which that setting might be appropriate, for example light objects on a dark background for spot metering, or a fast-moving subject for continuous AF. It also features a comprehensive system of help files available at the press of a button, giving advice on every option on the menu. It’s a bit like a more complex version of Casio’s Best Shot mode, and would be enormously helpful for a novice user who finds the huge flexibility of a modern DSLR a bit daunting. It’s also worth pointing out that the D40x comes with a very good 126-page printed manual, when so many cameras these days only come with a PDF manual on CD.

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All of the settings on the visual menu and more can be adjusted or pre-set in the comprehensive main menu system, which also includes a wide range of options for post-processing, such as the ability to superimpose two RAW images on top of one another in-camera, and one of the most versatile colour adjustment options I’ve ever seen.

The D40x is not just a D40 with a bigger sensor. The internal electronics have been completely revised as well. It has a new processing system which allows it to shoot at a much faster frame rate than the D40. It can manage an impressive three frames a second, and in JPEG mode it can keep this up until the card is full, although it’s worth noting that the speed of your memory card will make a big difference. Using a high speed SanDisk Extreme III SD card I was indeed able to shoot at 3fps continuously, but using a standard speed SDHC card the shooting rate dropped to approximately one frame a second after nine shots.

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