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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

POP Tests D40x

Popular Photography & Imaging has posted a test of the new Nikon D40x, the 10-MP sensor upgrade of the D40, written by Dan Richards. Here's a taste:

"Noise suppression was generally better than the D80's and much better than the Rebel's. As ISOs increased, the D40x's resolution exceeded that of the Rebel. Its noise levels of 0.9, 1.05, and 1.05 at ISOs of 100, 200, and 400, respectively, would qualify for a Ridiculously Low rating if we had one. (They all rank Extremely Low.) Noise reduction is applied steadily but unobtrusively at higher ISOs. At ISO 1600, noise was only Very Low, while resolution dipped by less than 5 percent, still Excellent. This is great performance—especially for $799."

There's also a fairly extensive but perfectly useless samples gallery—useless because it's impossible to tell anything about image quality from such tiny JPEGs. Although they do discuss image quality in the article.

As an aside, I have to admit that this camera annoys me. Here Nikon has a back-compatible lensmount, and it goes and makes the smallest, lightest DSLR...and then makes it so you can't put small, light primes on it. Bugger it! Probably its target market won't mind, though, so if you're in the demographic, maybe you'll want to take a look. I'd spring for a D80, myself.

Posted by: MIKE JOHNSTON

22 Comments:

Blogger Brambor said...

The primary thing you hear today when comparing the two flagship companies is that Canon has better ISO performance over the Nikon. I'm not surprised to hear this assessment from a this review. Let's hope there is no need for my cynycism and we could move on with the ISO hoopla.

2:35 PM  
Blogger Jeff Kott said...

Mike,

Not to question your decision making process, but from reading your posts over the last few days it seems like you are looking for a camera that feels good in your hands ( D80 over K10D); has a good viewfinder (D80 equal to K10D) and you want to be able to use small light primes (Pentax system blows Nikon away).

Based on your criteria, I think I'd go the other way. Actually, I just did. I have a lot of Nikon equip, but want a small high image quality kit for travel, so I've just ordered the K10D and a full stack of pancakes.

2:47 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

"Here Nikon has a back-compatible lensmount, and it goes and makes the smallest, lightest DSLR...and then makes it so you can't put small, light primes on it. Bugger it!"

I love my K100D more and more every day!

3:02 PM  
Blogger Barrie said...

there's nothing stopping you putting non afs lenses on it. You'll just have to focus manually. Just like the old days!

it'll be better than the D80 if it can keep the matrix metering from flying all over the place.

3:35 PM  
Blogger Allen George said...

I (and a fair number of enthusiasts) are anxiously awaiting redesigned Nikon primes.

I doubt we'll get them any time soon :(

4:21 PM  
Blogger Nemo said...

Noise is masked by means of many different tricks.
One of the most basic tricks is to compress the dynamic range, taking out two or more stops in the shadows. This is the reason of the high "noise" of the digital backs at high ISOs: the dynamic range is huge and it is preserved by their A/D 16-bits converters.
Canon does many electronic tricks with "in pixel" transistors.
Nikon... I don't know what is doing Nikon, but probably they do some internal postprocessing... and that has a price: additional losses in the dynamic range, tonal range and color gamut.
I cannot understand why so many reviewers comment about noise when they don't understand much about it.

4:23 PM  
Blogger Frank B said...

Mike,

I am not sure if you are aware of this, but the exposure meter does not function on the D80 with non-CPU lenses.

Frnak B

6:48 PM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

Frank B.,
Sure, but that just means you can't use manual AIS Nikkors. You can still use chipped AF lenses on the thing. You can't even do that with the D40x, which means you can't use single-focal-length lenses at all.

At least with cars you can buy a good small car if you can afford it. With cameras, with not very many exceptions, size goes in lockstep with quality. Want good quality, you have to lug a big camera. Want a small camera, you have to put up with lower quality. I suppose the Leica M8 is the exception to the rule.

Bah,

--Mike

6:58 PM  
Blogger Mike M. said...

As I understand it, you can use AI and AIS lenses with the D50, D80, D40 and D40x. You have to manual focus, and manual meter, as well.

With the histogram being available, manual exposure is not as hard as it would seem.

With "focus confirmation", manual focus is reasonable, as well.

Another option is the "pancake" 45mm Nikkor 1:28P, which is chipped (for auto-exposure), though manual focus.

I'm stuggling with purchase decision of a used *ist DS, and a "stack of pancakes", waiting for the Olympus 510, or buying a D40 or D40x. As I own an Olympus E-1, and also have a collection of Nikon AI and AIS lenses (including the 45mm "P") this is not as easy a decision as one might think.

I'm a rangefinder guy at heart, but I can't bring myself to the Epson R-D1, either, as the cost is just too high for what you get. M8 is even worse, so I am looking for a "compact" DSLR solution.

7:20 PM  
Blogger Bambang Indrayoto said...

"which means you can't use single-focal-length lenses at all."

I got one way out for you, Mike. Use focal lens 200 and above ! They have them with AFS !

Kidding.

I use the D2x with 28 2.8 AIS with joy. It's really too bad if such wonder like D40 can't meter with non CPU lens. They can be a great walkaround combo.

8:39 PM  
Blogger Albano Garcia said...

Mike,
You can use them, AF ones don't autofocus, and manual ones, non chiped must be used on manual mode with no metering.
The only ones you can't mount are pre-AI, since they supossedly can damage the camera mount mechanically.

9:33 PM  
Blogger dingbat said...

"I suppose the Leica M8 is the exception to the rule."

Oh? Does it autofocus now, with or without primes?

9:34 PM  
Blogger ShadZee said...

Mike M.

Pentax DS is an amazing camera. It just WORKS. I would recommend Pentax DS+43LTD+77LTD+21LTD. With the 43 & 77 you'll have two of the best lenses ever made. Also with DS (which can be had for around $300) you won't be putting much money in the body. Also, ALL older Pentax glass work AND meter perfectly on the DS (as apposed to the new K10 which has issues with older M and K glass)

Additionally, DS supports TTL flash (again apposed to P-TTL on newer bodies) which much more compatible with all of the older flash guns.

9:38 PM  
Blogger Stephen said...

Sure, the histogram makes no meter less of a pain, but have fun in quickly changing light conditions. I wish I was good enought to do that.....;-)

11:45 PM  
Blogger david mantripp said...

Is it really the "smallest, lightest 10Mp DSLR yet ?

Just wondered.

1:54 AM  
Blogger kevin said...

"Oh? Does it autofocus now, with or without primes?"

yes. the Leica M autofocus system is very quick and incredibly accurate, it works better than any dslr system i have seen for the typical rangefinder focal lengths and uses.

the M autofocus system features updated Focus Ring technology, running the latest HandEye coordination software. the system requires active participation by the human behind the viewfinder and is known to be fun.

regarding the ist ds, i swapped the focus screen out for one of the Katz Eye split prism screens and i love it. very cool.

2:25 AM  
Blogger Nick Meertens said...

I like Nikon body's, I like them a lot, but there lenses don't do it for me; they're expensive and getting a bit, well, stale. Pentax has those 3 pancakes and their 3 limited lenses, those alone are reason enough to go P, and that's exactly what I'm doing: an istDS with a 40mm and/or 21mm pancake is almost a DMD. And it's a great backup body for the K10d.

Regards, Nick

2:25 AM  
Blogger Player said...

But Nikon does offer the D80, a small, light, relatively inexpensive plastic camera that you can use with AF-D primes.

As you implied, the most likely buyers of the D40/ D40x would be using cheap zooms.

I can't see what there is to criticize.

5:15 AM  
Blogger (...) said...

"..and it goes and makes the smallest, lightest DSLR..." I see europe is not part of the world, since the smalest and lightest most advance DSLR of the moment is the very unique Olympus E400 Kodak sensor, and full compatible with around 30+ digital lenses and about 30+ more OM Zuiko lenses, plus with adapter you can use all nikkor's and other brand lenses like leica R...maybe he was just talking about the nikon line.

7:08 AM  
Blogger chrispycrunch said...

High ISO's are great for hand held night shots, but my best shots come from low ISO (80-120) using a tripod. If the world knew about tripods, the high ISO bragging rights would be more noise in and of itself!

11:15 AM  
Blogger Ricko G. said...

So, there's life outside Canikon Planet, how amazing.
E.

11:31 AM  
Blogger jw52tx said...

Real Texans don't mind being part of a joke. But then they also have manners as well. And there's not too many left, manners or Real Texans.
You have manners, a sense of humor,a great blog, and worry too much about what other people think about what you put in YOUR blog. Did you worry this much when you were the editor of magazines that people PAID for?
Personally I don't want you to worry so much because then you might give up TOP. And that wouldn't be good.

7:28 PM  

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