I highly recommend this entry-level Digital Single-Lens Reflex camera from one of the world’s best cameras makers. It’s great as a first DSLR for traditional SLR users, such as myself. I’ve had this wonderful camera for a little over a year now and can’t fault it in any way. There are cameras out there with much higher megapixel counts, and at a much higher price, but the photos that I’ve taken with this camera have been astonishingly impressive for its price level as well as its megapixel level, not to mention the many useful features built in as well.
Although it is only the entry level D range Nikon at 6.1 megapixels, this is a high quality product as you would expect from Nikon, and it does take impressively clear and sharp pictures. It’s a pleasure to use, feeling sturdy yet lightweight for an SLR, and really both feeling and looking like quality. The LCD screen is good-sized with a clear display.
The lens is an AF (autofocus) type with variable zoom from 18 to 55mm, very adequate for most everyday purposes, and it has a good effective pop-up flash unit. Having been used to manually operating non-digital SLRs for many years, I’m pleased to find that as well as autofocus, the D40 also incorporates a Manual mode, so you can still achieve most non-standard effects such as long exposures or over/underexposure.
The automatic settings (‘Point-and-Shoot Mode’) enable you to use the D40 as a very glorified snapshot camera too. This way, you need not fear losing spur-of-the-moment photo opportunities that could be missed by having to take time out to fiddle with manual settings. The automatic settings are: Auto, Auto (flash off), Portrait, Landscape, Child, Sports, Close Up, and Night Portrait. Instant focus, which is quite accurate, is achieved via ‘Focus Lock’: press the shutter button halfway down while aiming at your subject until you hear a beep, and this will indicate that the correct focus has been achieved and locked.
Another mode offered by the camera is Programmed Auto. This sets the both optimal shutter speed and aperture. Shutter Priority Auto lets you choose the shutter speed while the camera selects the aperture (freeze or blur effects are achieved this way), and Aperture Priority lets the camera select the shutter speed when you choose the aperture (for either blurring the background or to help focus both background and foreground).
Additional Nikkor (Nikon’s lens brand) AF-S and AF-I lenses can be purchased for autofocus photography. Compatible manual lenses (without autofocus) will work but you will of course have no autofocus and will have to focus them manually. As an unusual example of manual lens use, I use a very old 35mm Minolta Rokkor lens, together with a reversing ring, as a Macro lens. It works pretty well and the price of a reversing ring saved me the very considerable cost of a new Macro lens!
Most of the standard lens filters for SLRs can be used with this camera. I use a polarising filter, and it works great, producing just the effects I wanted. You can add a Nikon Speedlight if you need an external flash, and you can also purchase a remote control for self-portraits and to avoid camera shake.
SD cards can be purchased for expanding the memory, and the D40 can take the large capacity cards of up to 4GB. I use a 4GB card in mine and this still gives a large capacity even at the highest resolution. If you prefer to print your photos direct to a printer rather than downloading them to a PC or Mac first, the D40 can print to a Pictbridge enabled printer via USB. It can also connect to a TV or DVR/VCR for showing or recording your photos. (EG-D100 cable needed.)
You can read the complete list of specs on the manufacturer’s site: http://nikonusa.com/Find-Your-Nikon/Product/Digital-SLR/25420/D40.html
Below photo is the stock photo from Nikon's website at http://imaging.nikon.com/products/imaging/lineup/digitalcamera/slr/d40/index.htm (Taking a photo of itself is unfortunately one of the few things this wonderful camera can't do!)