The Nikon D40x is a mid-range digital SLR camera from Nikon that updates its acclaimed predecessor, the Nikon D40.
There were furrowed brows at the launch of Nikon's latest consumer level DSLR, not least among its UK employees. Concern centred on the Nikon D40x's flouting of the product-naming convention that sensibly suggests a new model should be identifiably different to its predecessor. The natural assumption here was that this was a rush-released upgrade to the Nikon D40.
Not so, Nikon apologetically explained, the Nikon D40x is a new model in its own right that will sit between the entry-level and still-current Nikon D40 and the enthusiast-targeted and pricier Nikon D80.
We have only one thing to thank for the Nikon D40x being a potentially customer-confusing move – Nikon's desire to increase its share of the lucrative D-SLR market (the fastest growing photography sector).
So what exactly is the Nikon D40x's 'x' factor? Outwardly there are few clues, with, badge aside, diminutive dimensions and a control layout identical to its near-namesake. Inside is where the differences start, most importantly its internal chip (or CCD) now offers an extra four million pixels to raise the D40x's resolution to a competitive 10Mp (importantly the same as that provided by Canon's best-selling Canon EOS-400D).
The Nikon D40 boasted 'only' 6Mp, but still largely bettered the performance of its higher-priced 10Mp rivals, so the suspicion here is that the extra pixels in the Nikon D40x serve only to add numbers to the packaging. For, despite the fact that lens quality and internal processor have equally important roles to play, pixel count is still king when it comes to making a sale.
Where the Nikon D40 offered a camera that delivered the best possible results for the minimum effort, offering best quality RAW and jpeg capture alongside regular jpeg, the Nikon D40x maintains that user friendliness, upping continuous shooting speed for capturing action from 2.5fps to three - an improvement so slight as to be literally blink-and-you'll-miss-it. Battery life is also now good for up to 520 single shots or 2,000 continuous images.
You also get the choice of three styles of shooting information display via the high-resolution 2.5in LCD: classic, graphic or wallpaper; the former being the least fussy and so easiest to read in a hurry. This is automatically displayed by the Nikon D40x on start-up and can be quickly recalled to check your settings with a press of the 'info' button behind the main shutter, itself handily encircled by the on/off switch.
There's also a familiar mode-dial atop the Nikon D40x with access to eight pre-optimised settings that allow you to merely point and shoot to begin with, and then switch to the grown-up likes of program, aperture priority, shutter priority and manual modes as your confidence grows.
The same 18-55mm (3x zoom) kit lens is bundled with the Nikon D40x as the plain old Nikon D40, which, in the absence of an optical image stabilisation or built-in antishake, threatens the odd blurry shot at maximum telephoto. The Nikon D40x is an adequate all-rounder that still manages to better most of its rivals' alternatives in this price bracket, even if those with deeper pockets will want to upgrade or supplement it at some point in the near future. Luckily Nikon has just introduced a 55-200mm VR (Vibration Reduction) lens at £249 for those who do.