Fortunately, I received a Nikon D40 loaner unit right before I headed out to Christmas vacation in snowy Colorado. The recently announced 6 megapixel D40 is a light, compact digital SLR that is built for the beginning digital SLR user. A simplified user interface and simplified controls serve to not intimidate someone who might be intimidate by all the buttons. In addition, a reasonable price (with lens) removes an additional "barrier" for someone considering a digital SLR.
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After a few days of use, I wanted to give some of my first impressions of this camera. We'll be publishing a full review soon, but it probably won't be for a couple weeks.
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So far, I am really enjoying using this camera. It focuses fast and well. The viewfinder is nice and big and it's been perfect for catching those fleeting moments with little kids running around at a family get-together. Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to review pictures, other than on the camera, so you'll have to wait until the full review for some image quality discussion. Also, it does seem as the flash is a bit under-powered.
The new user interface is nice and pretty and will appeal to the beginner user. Since I have used other digital SLRs, I feel that the interface is not as streamlined as it could be. For example, in P (program auto) mode, when I want to change the ISO, I need to press the "info" button, then the "i" button, use the arrows to select the ISO, press OK, then use the arrows once again to select the ISO. With that many steps, things can get a bit tedious to change.
Anyway, like I said, I am enjoying the camera so far. It is perfect for grabbing the spontaneous shots that just come up and it's small enough that it's easy to grab. The size is also nice for when you need to be a little inconspicuous to catch the candid shot of a 3 or 4 year old who likes to pose for every shot.