Everybody wants to save the earth, nobody wants to help mom do the dishes.  --P.J. O'Rourke

Friday, July 17, 2009

Nikon D40 DSLR and SB600 Speedlight - Review

I have had the Nikon D40 and the SB600 Speedlight for a few years now, and I have been very pleased with their performance. Nikon inadvertently struck gold with the D40, I say that because when it first came out it seemed as though they were playing catchup with Cannon who had already moved on with the new Digital Rebel. After all, the D40 only had a measly 6.1 MP sensor, how could it compete with Cannon's new Rebel which boasted 10.1 MP and 9 auto focus points (compared to the paltry 3 offered in the D40). Well it couldn't at it's initial offering price of $600, but a funny thing happened on the road to obsolescence to the D40.
The price drop accompanying the inevitable selloff before new model introduction suddenly opened up a new market that had not yet been exploited. The d40 sold like hotcakes at around $450, being by far the least expensive DSLR on the market. Add the low price to growing recognition that the 6.1MP was all an amateur needed and that it outperformed similar sized 10MP camera's in low light, the d40 was also smaller lighter and more simple that the competition. Respected online reviews praised the performance/price ratio and, long story short, it is still on sale now, 4 years later (an eternity in consumer electronics). In many ways, the d40 is the digital equivalent of the Pentax K100 - a simple, cheap, reliable and high quality camera. There are a few things I could gripe about, I find Nikon's menu's and controls a bit cumbersome (the buttons on the grip are a bit cramped for me), but overall I am very happy. As good as it is, the adding the SB600 speedlight to the D40 is the best money I ever spent. It's not cheap, but the SB600's performance is astounding to me. In auto mode it does a fabulous job of daytime fill flash, and in low light it really reaches out much farther than you would think. Nikons i-TTL flash system is very sophisticated and works miracles compared to the pre-digital flashes I had used in the past. The fill flash performance alone is worth the money, and I highly recommend the SB600 over the cheaper alternatives.


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