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Old Nov 12, 2008, 10:02 AM   #1
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I just purchased the lowly Nikon D40 after going through two Fuji "bridge" cameras. I know, it isn't much, and I only have the kit lens right now. And I have only taken about 100 pictures so far. But I must say that I can see a definite improvement in the overall quality of the images. I'm not a professional photographer, just someone who likes to have a little fun with a camera once in a while.

I have a granddaughter who enjoys being in school theater productions. I tried taking some pictures last year with my Fuji 9000, and they were not very clear that all. Slow focus, noisy, etc.. This year my son-in-law was using his Nikon D70, and the results were stunning. My thinking was that since the D40 has the same sensor as the D70 (as I understand it), even if my pictures aren't as good as the ones he took they cannot be anything but better than what I have taken in the past.
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Old Nov 12, 2008, 10:35 AM   #2
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Both the D70 and D40 use a Sony 6 Megapixel CCD sensor. Nikon's implementation allows faster X-Sync Speeds compared to the versions offered by other manufacturers using this Sony sensor, since Nikon is using an electronic shutter feature in their version of the sensor to get around the mechanical shutter limitations that normally prevent faster flash sync speeds with a dSLR. The newer D40 tends to have better noise reduction algorithms compared to the older models like the D70.

As for school theater productions, what lens was he using? That's going to be an important part of the equation for good results indoors. For school plays, dance recitals, etc., I tend to use a bright prime with my cameras to get fast enough shutter speeds at ISO 1600 or higher to keep motion blur at a minimum (my Minolta 100mm f/2 AF lens is what I usually use on my KM 5D and Sony A700 for low light events indoors). Unfortunately, Nikon's similar primes (100mm f/2 Micro, 85mm f/1.8, 85mm f/1.4) won't Autofocus on the D40 (since that model doesn't have a focus motor built in like your son-in-law's D70 does).

Most of the kit lenses are down to f/5.6 by the time you zoom in much with them (which is not very bright for that kind of shooting, unless you can catch the performers when they're motionless).

So, you'll probably want an f/2.8 zoom for shooting that kind of thing (since the primes available from Nikon wouldn't allow Autofocus on a D40). You could use manual focus with brighter primes if desired though (and the D40 will give you focus confirmation in the viewfinder going that route).

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Old Nov 12, 2008, 2:30 PM   #3
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I didn't mean to imply that I could get the kind of results he got with just the kit lens. I'm not that naive. All I know about the lens he used is that it was a 70-300 mm zoom lens he said he picked up a couple of years ago really cheap, something like $100. He had the camera on a tripod, ISO set at 1000 (he said), automatic mode. A little more clarification is probably in order. From a truly professional photographers point of view the pictures probably left something to be desired. But they were sharp enough to impress all of us. I know I have a long way to go, but compared to the quality of image that I have been accustomed to and settling for, I'm very satisfied with my choice.
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Old Nov 12, 2008, 2:38 PM   #4
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The typical 70-300mm lenses you find are usually pretty dim as you zoom in more. The tripod kept the camera shake to a minimum, and the rest of the results were probably his skill level (i.e., timing the photos so that they're being taken when subjects are relatively still to keep motion blur to a minimum).

You'd be surprised at how slow of a shutter speed you can sometimes get away with if the subjects are not moving. You just have to time them just right, with a bit of luck mixed in to increase your percentage of keepers. ;-)

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Old Nov 12, 2008, 2:59 PM   #5
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Well, he is a very skilled photographer. It's doubtful that I will ever come close to rivaling the quality of images he produces. But my new D40 focuses so much more quickly than the Fuji 9000, and even with the kit lens produces much sharper images and with less noise. I don't plan to ever published any of my photos. But from everything I have seen so far, my images are much easier to work with and require far less manipulation and I have been accustomed to.

Thank you so much for your input. I doubt I will ever go for any prime lenses or professional quality lenses. I'm not that critical of a photographer. I just want to enjoy my camera, and I am enjoying this one immensely.
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Old Nov 15, 2008, 12:04 PM   #6
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My Son-in-law just returned from a 12 day trip to China and borrowed by d40 with the 18-55 and 55-200 lens for his trip.

His only experience with digital being was a cheap point and shoot and a real novice at photography.

He returned with 710 pictures with a ratio over 95% of good pictures.

The D40 again proved that it maybe the best Starter dslr available.
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