Help please! Buying Nikon D40 or D60. Can you explain these comments? Thanks!

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Ish, Mar 9, 2008.

  1. Ish macrumors 68000

    Ish

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2004
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    UK
    #1
    I’d like to buy a Nikon D40 or D60 and would appreciate your advice on whether one would be better than the other as they're very similar. I’m also puzzled by a few things I’ve read in comparisons that don’t seem to make sense, but as I’m a noob in the dSLR field I hesitate to question them.

    The smaller size and lighter weight of these two cameras is important. Any cameras of better quality are bigger and heavier and won’t get used. I have an old Nikon FE and a digital p&s but have been impressed with the quality of the newer dSLRs and I can now afford to move over. Given I always wanted a standard zoom for my old Nikon, I shall begin with the 18-55mm VR kit lens which doesn’t have a bad write-up, and go on from there. I don't want to choose on the basis of cost.

    I occasionally make DVDs from still photos of travels. The 6m pixels of the Fuji p&s is enough to zoom well in from an already-cropped photo on a 42” widescreen TV, and any large pictures I wanted would probably be posters so would not need to be printed at full resolution, so 6m pixels is probably enough, but 10 might be handy if it doesn’t cause any extra problems. I take mostly landscape, but also some family and I'd like to do some macro as well. Oh, and the cats!

    I don’t want to use any of my old lenses as I only have a 50mm prime (I might part with the old Nikon and lens) and an old bulky something–200mm zoom lens from Tamron (they’re much smaller now). I’d like to start again.

    I’d appreciate your advice on some comments written by Ken Rockwell. Yes I know his reports are subjective but he’s comparing the two cameras I’m looking at and seems to think the D60 is a waste of space compared with the D40. I don’t know, though, if his views are overshadowed by his fondness for his D40.

    He says:

    1. The D40 is better because its faster sync speed with flash helps the flash get enough power to balance with direct sunlight when used as fill in (also that it stops motion better when using flash but I’m not too worried about that). My thoughts are that flash fill in only works for short distances - isn’t this counteracted by the ADR in the D60? This is a feature which he likes in one of his other Nikons.

    2. The D40 has double the light sensitivity in normal use ISO 200 base v ISO 100 base in the D60. Is there a reason why the D60 can’t just be turned to ISO 200 and left there if needed? I don’t understand the problem.

    3. Dust reduction is just fluff :)rolleyes: do you think the pun was intended?) and not necessary. I’d be interested to know your thoughts on this.

    Many thanks, and apologies if this is a bit long!
     
  2. M@lew macrumors 68000

    M@lew

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    #2
    Yeah basically unless you can afford the extra costs, the D40 is the way to go. Not much on the D60 when compared.
     
  3. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #3
    #3: I think it's a bit useful, but even if it isn't, that doesn't make the D60 any better or worse than the D40.

    #1: I don't know exactly what he said regarding sync speed, but what is the actual difference in sync speed between the 2 cameras?

    #2: I have no idea what he's talking about. Some people would love to have an ISO 100 setting (that's native for that sensor), as most Nikons have a sensor that was designed to work best at a starting ISO of 200. I guess this is an issue of preference, and depends on what you shoot. There have been situations where my old Nikon D50 would have benefited from an ISO 100. On several occasions, the sun was very bright, and my 1/4000 second shutter speed wasn't fast enough at ISO 200 to get the shot, and I wish I had either an 1/8000 second maximum shutter speed, or an ISO 100 option, or both. I had neither. I guess I could have kept using smaller apertures, but I wasn't able to if I wanted to get a good shot. I forget the exact circumstances in which a lower ISO would have helped, but I did need it on several occasions. ;)

    Again, it depends on what you shoot.
     
  4. Ish thread starter macrumors 68000

    Ish

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2004
    Location:
    UK
    #4
    Thank you for your answers. I'll have a look soon and find the quotes. About half an hour I got a visual migraine and cant read what you said very well. If you'll stick with me I'll come back soon. Sorry about that. Mostly touch typing! :(


    EDIT: Sorry about that. Okay again now!

    First: I'd like to get the one I decide in the end (with a little help!) is the best, they are both within budget and I don't want cost to be a factor.

    Second:Regarding sync speed, the D40 has a speed of 1/500 and the D60 1/250

    This is what KR says:

    "Save your money and get the D40, which I find to be superior to either the D40x or the D60, even for hundreds of dollars less, because the D40 has faster sync speed and double the light sensitivity in normal use (ISO 200 base vs. ISO 100 base)."

    "… 2.) The second reason, which is rather abstract and often misunderstood, is that faster sync speeds help get enough flash power to balance with direct sunlight. Fill flash in direct sunlight is critical to getting good shots in sunlight."

    Now the D60 has ADR about which he says:

    "ADR visibly improves my biggest complaint against digital cameras. This feature automatically identifies highlight areas that will be lost, and does its best to bring them under control. It works, and it works automatically. You have to activate it in the menus, which I'll explain below."

    and talking about a picture he'd taken and put on his website showing the effect of ADR he says:

    "I looked at the shadows. They are subtly lighter in the ADR image, even with the walls exposed less. Unlike the crappy D-Lighting post-processing of the D40 and D80, this lightening is subtle and doesn't have horrific shadows around them as the old D-Lighting (in the retouch menu) did. I love ADR so much I leave it on all the time. It works the same on my D3."

    My question here is, that for landscape photography, which I do the most of, doesn't the effectiveness of ADR more than counterbalance the lack of the 1/500 sync speed in the D60.

    I'm just trying to get my head round whether any of his opinions are actually relevant to me and why he thinks a basic ISO of 200 is better than one of 100.

    I'm on a rapid learning curve here!
     
  5. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

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    #5
    It's not a problem - what Abstract said is right. ISO was more important in the film days (since you had to switch rolls to change your ISO), and this person is thinking like he's still shooting film - but most of that doesn't carry over to digital. With digital, you can just switch your ISO setting to whatever works best in a given situation (as long as you understand that, at higher ISOs like 800 or 1600, you may start to see some noise).

    The D40 is a fine camera - I'm still shooting with an even older D70. :D But the D60 sensor is now a couple generations newer, so if it were me I'd buy that since the low-light noise performance may be better.
     
  6. Ish thread starter macrumors 68000

    Ish

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2004
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    UK
    #6
    Thanks for the advice everyone. I'm definitely getting a leaning towards the D60!

    I still had a headache in the last post and it's not all as clear as I'd like. If you have experience with ADR, would you tell me if I'm right or not in thinking it's likely to be more useful than a stronger fill-in flash? About two thirds of my shots are landscapes. Maybe the person who runs the website does more close up work and not much distance but they sound pretty definitive about it. Thanks!
     
  7. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #7
    Flash in landscapes won't be as useful as that higher DR setting setting. I don't really use it myself, since I shoot mostly in RAW.
     
  8. seany916 macrumors 6502

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    Southern California
    #8
    If the price difference is fairly large, just get the D40 and learn on it.

    Then sell it later for a D300.
     
  9. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    Redondo Beach, California
    #9
    About ISO. With a DSLR you get less noise with lower ISO settings. But only to a point. With a 6MP camera the pixels are so large that the noise is very very low even at 200 ISO so there is no point in even having a 100 ISO setting. But as the MP count goes up and the pixels get physically smaller there is a point in having a 100 ISO setting.

    So don't think that one camera is more sensitive to light. The low ISO setting is there because of the noise characteristics.

    If youe main interest is landscapes then you don't need a lot of features you will shotting from a tripod and using the IR remote. Landscapes don't move and you have time to set up and even bracket the exposure. Sports shooting is completely different.

    The image processing inside the camera does not mater if you shoot raw (NEF) format. It is only used if yuo shoot JPG. I imagine a landscape shooter would be doing raw formats.

    The D60 does have more pixels. Enough that you can make slightly larger prints. But if the images are only to be shown on an electronic screen then pixels don't matter at all. If you have a 1080p TV set as your display, even the D40 has about 3x more pixels than your TV can display.

    My opinion is that you'd have to jump to the D80 to see much difference. But for me it's a huge difference the D40/D60 can't use some of my favorite lenses. That is a deal breaker for me.
     
  10. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
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    Redondo Beach, California
    #10
    If you are shooting landscapes and using RAW format then both Nikon's "D-lighting" and fill flash simply do not matter. By definition "raw" means you don't do ANY processing inside the camera.

    No flash is powerful enough to light up a land scape shot and with RAW by definition you are not processing JPGs in the camera.

    You will use fill flash mostly on outdoor people shots when the sunlight is strong. If you care about this you'll be using an SB600 which has enough power.
     
  11. Ish thread starter macrumors 68000

    Ish

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2004
    Location:
    UK
    #11
    Thanks ChrisA. Thank you, that was very helpful. :)

    I thought it was odd when it mentioned on the website that the D40 was more sensitive to light and I wondered why they couldn't just turn the D60 up to ISO 200. Also about the flash - I can understand, as you say, at short distances, but it was just a definitive statement and I was thinking there "Does any of this really apply to me??" and you've just confirmed that it doesn't.

    I don't think anyone uses their camera for any one thing, so as well as landscape I'll be dragging mine off to various events. Sometimes I do pictures for posters .

    I probably won't be upgrading for a long time. The better cameras are all bigger and heavier and the lighter size and weight of the D40/60s is important to me. That's why I wanted to make sure I was doing the right thing. Once again, many thanks.

    The price difference isn't worth choosing the D40 instead of the D60. As I just mentioned above, I shall be keeping it for quite a while. The D300 is about twice as heavy as the one's I'm looking at. Learning the camera's the easy bit, the more difficult part I'll never be satisfied with!
     
  12. EssentialParado macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2005
    #12
    The D60 is £120 more than the D40. Do you already have lenses for the cameras? Consider that for the price of the D60 you can get a D40 + 18-55mm + 55-200mm Lenses.
     

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