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Old May 27, 2007, 9:25 PM   #1
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Been reading and reading and after visiting Ken Rockwells site, I see the new D40X has a considerably slower flash sync speed.. 1/200 vs 1/500 for the D40 along with a slower default ISO of 100 vs 200 for the D40 a higher cost. I was pretty much set to go for the D40X until I read that. Wonder what they were thinking and why'd the do such a thing lol? Now I am rethinking and going with the D40 and spending the $200 on accessories....

Any thoughts?
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Old May 27, 2007, 10:41 PM   #2
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The Sony 6MP CCDs used by the Nikon 6MP models use an electronic shutter in the CCD, combined with the camera's mechanical shutters.

It will actually sync at faster than 1/500 second using a non-dedicated flash (although you may get a bit of smearing from readout issues that way). Basically, Nikon worked with Sony to design this electronic shutter feature into the 6MP CCDs they buy from Sony.

But, they did not do the same thing with the Sony 10MP CCDs they use with the D40x. So, it's sync speed is limited by it's mechanical shutter speed.

As for the lower default ISO speed, it's likely because it's a higher resolution sensor that's the same physical size.

So, it's base ISO speed is probably lower because the smaller photosites in the 10MP sensor don't have a surface area as large for gathering light, and the signal generated will require more amplification for equivalent sensitivity to light. The photosites need to be smaller to fit more of them in. ;-)

That can work to your favor for sync speed purposes, though. Most of the time the sync speed is only an issue if you're shooting in bright light outdoors at wider aperture settings.

So, if you're shooting in light that gives you a 1/400 second shutter speed for a given aperture at ISO 200, you'd only need 1/200 second for the same lighting and aperture setting at ISO 100.

So, you're not going to benefit a lot from the faster sync speed (since you can use a lower ISO speed to keep from exceeding it as easily), unless you really need the extra speed to stop movement because ambient light is contributing a lot to the image with the settings you choose.

Of course, you can still get a external flash with High Speed Sync (a.k.a, FP mode) and sync at a faster speed if you really need that ability (although, you'll have a loss of flash range once you exceed the camera's sync speed since it would need to pulse the light as the shutter curtains were moving).

In lower light conditions at lower ISO speeds, you probably wouldn't take advantage of it anyway (because the flash itself would freeze the action if you don't have a lot of ambient light contributing with the settings you choose). The flash burst is probably 1/1000 second or faster, and if the subject is only properly exposed during the short flash burst, it has the impact of freezing the action.

A Higher Sync Speed is usually of no benefit unless you're shooting outdoors in better lighting (and even then, you have to keep the ISO speed you can set in mind, with lower ISO speeds working out better to keep from exceeding a lower sync speed.

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Old May 27, 2007, 11:34 PM   #3
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Thanks for the input Jim. That being said, what would you buy?
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Old May 28, 2007, 12:37 PM   #4
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Asking me which one I'd choose may not result in the best camera for your needs. ;-)

I'm probably not the best person to ask about Nikon DSLR models, since I'm still angry that Nikon decided to encrypt metadata related to White Balance in raw files from newer models (starting with the D2x, then the D2Hs, D50, D200, etc.). It's a matter of principle with me, since I don't like a manufacturer trying to throw up roadblocks like encryption to stifle competition. Yes, there are some workarounds now if you want to use non-Nikon software and take advantage of the White Balance metadata in the .nef files. But, the data is still encrypted.

But, even without the encryption issue preventing me from wanting newer Nikon gear, I wouldn't buy either one of these cameras anyway, since I'd want to use brighter primes (and still have Autofocus), as well as take advantage of lenses from third party manufacturers like Tokina, Tamron and more.

If forced to use a newer Nikon DSLR, I'd be more inclined to find a D50 if I were on a tight budget, or move to a higher end Nikon if budget permitted and skip the models without AF Motors in the bodies.

Heck, two Tamron zooms I shoot with now on a Konica Minolta Maxxum 5D would not Autofocus on these cameras if I bought the same lenses in Nikon mount, and I'd have no Nikon solutions available with Autofocus to replace my existing AF primes (for example, my Minolta 28mm f/2, 50mm f/1.7, 100mm f/2, 135mm f/2.8 ).

For that matter, I've still got a Sigma zoom in Nikon mount that wouldn't Autofocus on these models (even though it would AF on other Nikon DSLR bodies). I've sold the rest of my Nikon film gear (only one body and lens left now).

Nikon will probably introduce more lenses with AF-S in the future. I'd probably count on it. This is likely to be a temporary problem in the lens lineup.

Sigma also offers some EX series lenses with HSM. But, Sigma's lower cost lenses don't get that feature, and no lenses from Tamron, Tokina, Vivitar/Cosina/Phoenix will Autofocus on these cameras.

If you want Autofocus, these camera bodies lock you out of many lower cost lenses from a variety of manufacturers, including Nikon (especially if you want to take advantage of older model used lenses).

I shoot in low light relatively often, and I would not want to give up brighter primes with AF. For example, I took some snapshots of my 2 year old great niece Amara from a dance recital this month using my 100mm f/2, and I was still gettting a touch of motion blur from hand and foot movement, even at ISO 1600. If I were shooting with a Nikon DSLR in those same conditions , I'd probably be using an 85mm f/1.8 (only it won't Autofocus on a D40 or D40x).

I took some snapshots of more kids at a basketball game not long ago using brighter primes shooting some at ISO 1600, and some at ISO 3200 at close to wide open apertures to keep motion blur at a minimum. I also use my primes for live music in clubs, church services and more. There is no way that I'd give up the ability to Autofocus with bright primes since there are other choices in cameras available.

Sure, photographers got by with no Autofocus for many years. But, now that you can get it, why live without it if you need lenses that won't Autofocus on these camera models? ;-)

In fairness, you could use Manual Focus if desired. But, for moving subjects, focus tracking features in newer AF cameras is a nice to have. That also brings up another point --- the D40 and D40x have less in the way of focus points compared to other Nikon DSLR bodies. Do you need them? Maybe not, but I use the outside focus points pretty darn often on my Maxxum 5D (it's got 9 to choose from versus the 3 you'd have with a D40 or D40x).

Do you need the types of lenses that won't Autofocus on a D40 or D40x? If so, do you mind using Manual Focus with them?

Each user will have different shooting requirements. Many users that these models are designed to target may be just fine with the lens solutions already available (and there are a number of lenses that have built in Focus Motors that would Autofocus). Removing the Focus motor in the body also helped Nikon to make these cameras smaller and lighter. The image processing used by these models is also very good (requiring less post processing for equivalent results compared to many other models).

There are pros and cons to any camera. One of these models may be the perfect fit for what you shoot more often, and you may not want or need the same types of lenses that I tend to use more often.

If you're trying to decide on a camera, I'd start a thread in the What Camera Should I Buy Forum, and make sure to give others an idea of the conditions you want to use one in (making sure the system you choose gives you lens choices that are adequate for those conditions, within the budget that you have allocated).


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