I've been trying to decide between the D40 and D50 for my first "serious" DSLR camera. I would rate myself as an intermediate film photographer and a novice digital photgrapher. I've read too many reviews about each of these to remember at this point, but the vast majority of reviews for each of these have been excellent. Obviously, the D50 has more info available b/c its been around longer, but almost everything I've seen and heard on the D40 has been positive. Now here are my questions: Which of these would most of you recommend to a new digital photographer that wants to take quality pics? Is there a quality difference between the two? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Which of these would be better for more rugged, long term use? Thank you.
They will both take quality pictures. The D40 doesn't have as many functions as the D50, just as the D50 doesn't have as many functions as the D80.
Big differences between the D40 and D50: 3 point autofocus points on D40 vs 5 point autofocus points on D50 D50 is compatable with AF and AF-S lenses D40 only compatable with AF-S lenses (AF-S lenses have the focus motor in the lens. For AF lenses the motor needs to be in the body). Examples of AF lenses are 50mm f/1.8 & 85 f/1.8 and many others. See sticky post above for lenses that are compatable with the D40. There isn't a status LCD screen on top which may or may not be an issue for people. You can only use the 2.5" LCD screen for the basic info. I do like the 2.5" LCD screen on the D40 vs the 2" on the D50.
I like the D50 over the D40. I think there are other camera's for the same price as the D40 that have more features.
The D40 and D50 are both good choices. I received a D50 as a Christmas gift from my wife. After a few days with it I am absolutely delighted.
kgendron12 (above) has a good explanation of the lens issues. That was what really tipped us toward the D50. I already had a Nikon N75 35mm film body with a Nikon 28-80mm G, a 70-300mm G, and Tokina 19-35mm lenses, none of which will work on the D40.
Had I been starting from scratch I might have picked the D40 with 18-55mm AF-S DX kit lens ($600) and added the 55-200 AF-S DX tele zoom ($170) to cover the same range as my 28-80 + 70-300 on my N75. The D40 is a one year newer design and the larger LCD would have been a plus. With the D50 you have more lens choices.
The price of a new D50 with the same 18-55AF-S DX kit lens has dropped to match the price of the D40, about $600. You can't go wrong with either one.
work on the D40. This is quickly becoming my favorite lense because of it's versatility. It's a true 1:1 Macro that is a very sharp/bright/crisp/vivid f2.8 PRIME lense that is quickly being picked up and used daily by professionals. As a graphics artist, I use mine professionally for close-up product photography in macro and near-macro. I also use it for photographing my reef tank.
While there is a wide array of cheaper junk out there (Phoenix and others), there is a myriad of options that exist without being forced into a niche market, that "could" be price controlled. Compare the specs and reviews of the Sigma 50mm f2.8 Macro to the same Nikon, then look at the price difference... The interesting thing is, the new Sigma actually gets better ratings and reviews in a side-by-side comparisson, before price even enters the equation (several hundred dollar difference), but if you can't use it, then you're pretty much SOL and forced into either sticking with what you have and doing without, upgrading cameras and taking a hit, or spending big $$$ for a lesser quality lense.
Also remember that "not work" is a strong term for externally focused lenses. The lens will work fine, just not autofocus. Since when I shoot macro I tend to prefer manually fine tuning focus your Sigma on a D40 wouldn't be an issue for me. The only Nikkors that I may miss AF on are the 10.5mm fisheye (but this is very specialized and generally the only time it's not focused at infinity is then it's used for "macro" work where I would switch to MF anyway), my 80-400mm (but this is a very slow focusing lens even on a D200 and in need of an AF-S update for other reasons), and the Nikon fast primes (the 50mm F1.8 is invaluable and probably the only class of lens I'd actually miss AF on).
Hopefully Nikon will start revamping gaps in the AF-S lineup, Sigma will fill out their line with more HSM models, and the rest of the crew (Tokina, Tamron, etc.) can come up with the faster in-lens focusing systems.
Jeff Bower I wish my D200 body was a significant portion of my NAS-related expenses... Moderator D40/D50, D80 and Underwater forums.
I have & love both - you won't make a mistake with either one - build quality is the same.
The reduction to 3 focus sensors has no effect on my pics (outdoor wildlife, people at parties, etc...) so I really don't count that as a differentiator.
I would say that if you think you'll want to get into the full variety of lenses available to Nikon lens mount cameras then go with the D50 - otherwise the D40 has some very useful features over the D50.
1) In camera processing (I've fixed color balance issues a few times now) - the ability to see an R, G & B histogram in a camera is a great learning tool.
2) ISO 3200 - I'd rather have a noisy picture than no picture at all
3) 2.5 inch bright LCD - I don't miss the top LCD at all & now prefer seeing the camera settings on the bigger brighter screen (originally I didn't think I would like not having the top LCD - but I definitely do think Nikon's choice here improved the experience of using the camera) - the zoom function works great at helping me decide if the focus is really correct.
4) Easier to learn how the various features of the camera (without going to the manual) effect your pictures - Nikon has done a stellar job on the new menu interface, I use it all the time now for reviewing my settings (I can see them all at one tim on the big LCD) and making changes easily right there on screen.
Go with the D50! You will eventually want some AF lenses and the D40 won't take them. When you get to this point you will be VERY sad you didn't go D50! Also, if the D40 has 3200 ISO I can see why since you can't use some of the low light lenses like the 50mm 1.8/1.4 or the 85mm 1.8/1.4? Why should you settle for noisy pictures at 3200ISO when you can get better lenses and go 1600, 800, etc? Better pictures come from better lenses NOT 3200 ISO! Don't get me wrong 3200 ISO has uses but it should be a rare occasion you need 3200 ISO. There are too many other ways to compensate for low light than getting noisy pictures at 3200. Please please please go D50, D80 or better!