Question, can the X100 replace a DSLR or point & shoot and be a primary street photography camera? With the release of ever more capable cameras that have the maturity of DSLRs but in more compact packages, this seems to have created a renaissance in the somewhat related genres of street, documentary and photojournalism.
In starting to think about what makes a great street camera, I have taken the view that size really does matter, for a number of reasons.
At one end of the of the equation we have the issue of quality which is directly related to sensor size and I therefore typically look for sensors that are Four Thirds system or larger. This now really starts to narrow down the field of contenders, which can be split into those with changeable lenses and those with a fixed or zoom lens. Clearly a big factor in deciding a camera’s capability as a street shooter is its feature set.
Then, when we have finished shortlisting the contenders based on logic, we are faced with those heart string tugging aspects of style. I figured that with so many camera models to take into account, one way of visualizing where the main contenders sit relative to each other might be to try and plot them against a scale (dangerous, yes I know). My own preference would be to select a contender above the centre line, that is to say, a camera with changeable lenses. Check out more of MarkB’s thoughts on the X100 as well as his gorgeous images at his website. So do you think that the Fujifilm FinePix X100 can be your primary street photography camera?
If you've been sitting on the sidelines, waiting until you could afford a real Nikon DSLR, your time have come at last: While geared for the entry-level market the D40 packs enough features into its diminutive frame to keep serious enthusiasts interested as well.
Those who still want to use legacy lenses, many of which are still in the Nikon lineup, should opt for the D50, D70, or D80. What's missing from the D40 is the physical coupling you see on the Nikon D200's mount at right. I think it's a safe bet that most Nikon D40 owners won't be looking back either, instead preferring the quieter, more modern AF-S lenses that are currently 21 in number. The Nikon D40's 18-55mm AF-S lens also focuses very quietly, thanks to its Silent Wave Motor. Getting back to the Nikon D40's 18-55mm kit lens, I also found that there was some objectionable lens flare evident in high contrast objects out toward the corners.
Rather than use the good quality knurl around the Mode dial, I found myself most often sliding my thumb up to spin the Nikon D40's Mode dial to my next setting. Since I seldom use camera straps, the lashing points on the camera often bother me, jutting out into my hand or swinging around as they often do. This design change mimics a change first seen in the EOS 1 film camera, then reappearing in the Digital Rebel, Rebel XT, and XTi; it's the first Nikon we've seen with this kind of ergonomic treatment.
A good many other essential items are shown on the Nikon D40's Status display, and can easily be controlled with only a few more buttons. Seems like most SLR manufacturers have ditched the additional monochrome LCD in favor of using the main color LCD as a status display on their consumer SLRs. The D40's status display, which Nikon calls the Shooting Information Display, goes off after a few seconds at idle to save batteries, and comes back on when you press the Info button behind the Shutter release button. The viewfinder display is very good, showing all the important information, including which AF point is selected, and there's a little question mark icon that flashes in low light or any other situations the Nikon D40 wants to pull you aside for a little conference. I've also found the battery life to be quite good, enduring several days of regular shooting. Though our harsh indoor lighting test suggests that the D40 has trouble with incandescent lighting, I have not found that to be true in my real-world shooting. With the outgoing 8 megapixel Canon Rebel XT kit selling for about the same price as the D40, we get closer to a draw.
Based on my own testing, I can say with confidence that many of the cameras I've mentioned will serve you well. Intermediate photographers wanting a camera to start a business on a budget should look to the Nikon D80 or Canon 30D, as these are more suited for professional photography. Existing Nikon owners should be careful to note that the Nikon D40 can only autofocus with AF-S lenses. Though the Nikon D40's kit lens is pretty good, and also fast and quiet, we were a little disappointed with the significant flare we see in its images with high contrast elements out toward the corners, even in the middle of its zoom range. The Nikon D40 stands up well against the competition -- even those with higher resolution -- with great image quality at all speeds, and near-perfect utility as a family camera. If you are interested in a product that you do not see on the site, please call or email us for price and availability. The FUJIFILM FinePix JZ250 Digital Camera is a sleek point-and-shoot with a myriad of shooting modes, a high 16.0Mp resolution, and a 25-200mm Fujinon 8x optical zoom lens, among other features.
He is not only a talented street photographer, but he is passionate about the new Fujifilm FinePix X100. So as I thought about how to answer the above question I realized that with more and more photographers considering rightsizing their camera choice for street photography, this really is the question of the moment. What I aim to do is outline the factors we might take into account when trying to answer the above question. Perhaps the first and most obvious reason being that we want a small enough camera to move around and photograph discreetly.
Weighing up camera options from a focal length perspective depends to a degree on what you are comfortable with. Fuji’s X100 viewfinder really has shaken up the competition, other companies often only providing a capable viewfinder via a protruding attachment. There’s no science or table of data behind this plot (see diagram below), it purely represents my own feel as to where I position camera types or specific contenders. Certainly on paper then, this still positions the M9 as the benchmark camera for street photography.
If you are looking for a good, flexible camera for all round photography and occasional street photography, the DSLR still has a place.
It's also the smallest and lightest Nikon DSLR to date, so the point & shoot photographer looking to move up to a real SLR, can do so without having to put up with the heft and bulk that the genre usually dictates. They've produced a small, light, high quality digital camera that gives the consumer everything they need and more, at a price that's hard to resist. Past cameras have been shackled to the idea of maintaining backward compatibility with dozens of previous lenses.
Note that you can still use older lenses with the Nikon D40 if you're okay with manual focus. This makes it compatible with lenses that use Nikon's 20-year-old AF drive mechanism that makes more noise than the current AF-S system used by the D40. The benefit of this key shift to both Nikon and D40 owners is a smaller, lighter, less expensive SLR, because it no longer has the extra motor and screw assembly in place. It's easier to move it in a counterclockwise direction, and easy enough to go all the way around, so that's my normal mode. But the strap loops on the Nikon D40 are recessed into the camera body on both sides, a welcome change from all past Nikon DSLR designs, which either flop and rattle on the pro end or jab into your hand on the consumer side. It took me a good five minutes to thread the strap onto the Nikon D40, due to the tight area behind the thick steel loop, which is more open on the Canons. The screen is a big, bright 2.5 inch display with a wide viewing angle in all directions to help you show off your pictures. About half have recognized that it helps to have the LCD turn off when you put the camera to your eye.
You can choose among three displays, and pick different ones when in PASM vs full-auto and Scene modes.


To have that conference, just pull the camera from your eye and press the question mark button on the left of the LCD display. Because the area for your thumb is small, I find I accidentally press the left and right arrows on the Multi controller, changing the default AF point. The Nikon D40's SD card door opens with a firm slide to the rear, then it swings open under power of a good stiff spring. The Nikon D70 and D80 had weak, mushy springs on their latches, and could open if you pressed in the just the wrong way on the bottom of the camera.
According to CIPA standards, the Nikon D40's 1,000 mAh EN-EL9 is good for about 470 shots on a single charge, and the manual says it'll recharge from empty in 90 minutes. I didn't let the D40's lack of an available fast prime lens stop me from shooting in low light.
Though I mentioned at the outset that the Nikon D40 was built for the future, some will disagree that a 6 megapixel camera can be called forward-looking.
The Nikon D40's ISO 1,600 images are better than usable at 8x10, as my example above shows; and I pushed it a bit to get that image. A side-by-side comparison shot makes the Nikon D40 appear smaller than the Rebel XT and XTi.
As much as I liked the Nikon D50, I wouldn't say the same up against the Rebel XT, based solely on image quality.
I've really enjoyed shooting with it, and would seriously consider it as a second camera to something like a D80, D200, or 30D. Those who already own a bagful of Nikon glass should also look to the D50, D70s (before they disappear), or D80, because you want to use that fine Nikkor equipment as long as you can. We've been pleasantly surprised with its excellent performance in low light and its simple grace as a day-to-day shooter. Its controls are where they should be for easy use, and the D40 is a well-behaved guest at parties with its pleasantly soft shutter sound. Those who want to attach a short, fast prime (non-zoom) lens for indoor low-light shooting should also note that Nikon doesn't currently make any such lenses in AF-S.
Its chromatic aberration was also fairly high at wide angle, but none of these minor problems were significantly different from other comparably priced offerings. On the other hand being too small brings its own limitations in what can be achieved with today’s lens and sensor technology. My own perception is that the street photographer’s mindset works in fixed focal lengths, the classic being 35mm. Further still, the X100 offers both an EVF as well as a cleverly switchable optical view finder integrated with a digital overlay. Camera companies know this full well when they style and accessorize based on classic camera looks. The plot shows that as we move towards the centre line and to the right, we move towards the sweet spot for street photography. However, the M9 is a massive investment and for those photographers new to (or perhaps just unsure about) street photography, fixed focal length lenses or manual focus, they might be looking for a good alternative to try their hand, maybe as a stepping stone to the M9 or a future successor. The D50 and D80 both include screw-type couplings to connect a body-mounted autofocus motor to lenses built for Nikon's first body-integrated autofocus system, introduced on the N2020 (F501) back in April 1986. The D40 can still control aperture on lenses marked D and G, and it will illuminate the AF points when focus is achieved.
Nikon has been getting better and better at this aspect of their SLR cameras, and the D40 surpasses them all. Not only do you feel right at home, the chair feels at home with you, having formed itself to match your shape. The top of the dial isn't flat, but domed, and it has a texture that my thumb finds easy to grip. When you reach the one you want, hit the OK button in the center of the Multi selector and a menu is displayed with photographic examples for the various modes. I found myself particularly frustrated with the EV settings, because I frequently overshot my goal, thinking the camera had missed my input.
We also noticed that the D40 didn't adjust for our eyesight well enough (which isn't unusual for me).
That's a bit of an unwelcome surprise when you raise the camera to your eye for a quick candid portrait and the D40 focuses on the subject's belt.
Just a minor tweak in Photoshop brought the highlights back into this deliberately underexposed ISO 1,600 shot, with very little noise added to the already low noise shot. I took the Nikon D40 and its kit lens into a dark room where my son was napping and fired off several shots. The market in late 2006 is replete with 10 megapixel SLRs, and a few older models, notably the Canon Rebel XT and Olympus E-500, have 8 megapixel sensors for about the same price. The Nikon D40's dynamic range is excellent, leaving good detail in the shadows, which allowed me to make the image look quite natural with very little increase in noise. It was my one major disappointment with that camera: both our lab shots and my real-world shooting revealed significant trouble with incandescent light. But if you're just getting started in SLR photography and want a light, sweet, competent, and simultaneously friendly digital SLR, the Nikon D40 is a superb choice. Then we remind ourselves that all this quality comes at less than $600, and we shake ourselves awake. A big, bright LCD is great for reviewing photos from a wide variety of angles; though we do wish they'd put some kind of eye detection method to prevent glare while you're looking through the viewfinder. The good news, however, is that the Nikon D40's low light performance at ISO 1,600 is startling, even without noise reduction turned on. If nothing else, I hope my approach in breaking down the considerations might provide a useful means of making what is for many photographers a very individual decision.
I guess then what we are really looking for is what you might call the Goldilocks factor, not too big and not too small. So working with a single fixed 35mm focal length equivalent works for me (it might be 50mm for somebody else), although the flexibility of changeable lenses would be ideal. Clearly there are a few contenders, but my own assertion is that with its picture quality, viewfinder, control, build quality and style, the Fuji X100 takes that mantle. Well, a professional street photographer could still get a far better picture on a phone camera than what an unskilled photographer might achieve using the best equipment. The camera and lens will only be offered as a kit, the body and lens will not be sold separately in the US market. The D40 leaves support for this old AF method behind in favor of the original AF concept Nikon introduced with 1983's F3AF, where the focusing motor is built into the lens. For more complete detail on this relatively complex issue, see the Optics section of this review. It's not critical to have a nice soft shutter sound, but it does much to foster appreciation among users, and even subjects. When I raise the camera to my eye, I can easily control where the straps go, bending them out toward the sides. I just went out for a walk with the Nikon D40 around my neck, and my nylon shirt buttons didn't mar the screen.
The Canon Rebel XTi and Sony A100 have IR sensors in place to detect your face against the viewfinder so that the screen shuts off. It shows a wheel in the left corner that represents a shutter speed dial and aperture display. Rather than the wheel Nikon used on the D200 and D80, the D40 has a slider next to the rubber eyepiece.
What I don't like is the incessant flashing of the question mark in the viewfinder and on the back LCD when I'm trying to do something unconventional.


I prefer a bright red LED to tell me where the camera is focusing, as exist on the entire Canon SLR lineup. It's a drag to be without your camera while you wait for the battery to charge; and it usually dies when you need it most. The comparably-priced Nikon D40 does far better, relatively matching the Canons I'm used to using.
It's so good that we don't really feel like we're pushing the D40 until we jump into ISO 3,200. Of course, a camera with a fixed zoom bridges that gap, but this does compromise quality and possibly robs you of a consistent (and dare I say classic) focal length look to your shots. This brings us nicely onto a camera’s operation which I tend to distinguish on a scale of digitally automated at one end and manual at the other. But the Nikon D40 won't work with any of the current close range Nikon prime AF lenses in AF mode.
There's plenty of latitude in the Nikon D40's wide dynamic range to bring it all back later if you have to; but you probably won't even need to try. My index finger finds the shutter release perfectly, and the remaining three fingers fit quite well around the grip. I had thought that this might be why they usually have the loops on the outside of the body, so the strap falls away easily, but this is working just fine.
Changing it while looking through the viewfinder is cumbersome, and you frequently slide past your desired setting due to the force necessary to move it in the first place.
I guess I could get more lights in here, but I'd rather have an option to turn this feature off.
The best news, though, is that most Lithium ion batteries can sit charged for a long time (often a month or so) and still be good when you need them.
I've also not seen evidence of the tendency to bias the white balance toward blue when shooting near window light, as I saw in the Nikon D70. The difference between 6 and 8 megapixels is negligible, but some might still see it as an advantage on the XT's side. The GF2 epitomizes the issue for me, in how it has become a dumbed down GF1, taking important control away for the discerning photographer. So although DSLRs and point & shoots may still have a role to play, if your shooting is more purposeful, if you are specifically wondering the urban jungle on an afternoon’s hunting, then you do still want something discreet and more capable.
A softer sound allows the photographer to be part of the background rather than the center of attention.
Though I wouldn't mind a slightly deeper grip, this is quite good for a camera this small, and a slight recess gives my fingertips a good place to settle, offering tactile feedback that tells me I have sufficient purchase on the camera.
Just press the Function button on the side of the lens with your left thumb and turn the Command dial. The screens are very much like those we've seen on consumer digicams over the past few years, and it is appropriate to see them here on the Nikon D40, an SLR aimed at consumers.
To this day, however, I've never even seen a scratched LCD display on an SLR, so just be aware, using the care you should be with your fragile photographic tool, and you should be able to maintain a scratch-free LCD cover glass with little trouble. It's not a big problem in good light indoors or out, but when it gets dark, it's a nuisance, one that gets worse if you have glasses. The LED display in the optical viewfinder doesn't have this problem, however, moving instantaneously to reflect your choice. Not a big deal, though, just a rant, and one enthusiasts might want to make note of: this digicam's help feature just might bug you.
And yes, there are only three, but I'm really not as jazzed as I used to be about multiple AF points. So the $300 to $400 difference between the cost of this camera kit and one of its 10 megapixel competitors certainly accounts for its 6 megapixel sensor. Since we're mentioning the K100D, however, it does have something the D40 does not: body-based image stabilization.
Weight is also only slightly different, with the XTi coming in just 24 grams heavier than the D40.
The Rebel XT autofocuses with Canon's entire EF lens set, including fast primes, so those looking to upgrade to a prime lens or a whole lot of lenses would do well with the XT.
And you can still slap high quality glass on it and shoot with the pros on occasion if you like. For many, this innovative new camera from Fuji, the X100, can be your primary street photography camera.
One exception to this rule is when photographing models, when it's helpful for the model to know when to change poses, but that's far from the Nikon D40's intended market. My thumb finds its special notch high up on the D40's back, right between the AE-Lock button and the Command dial.
It seems like a good idea to educate those who are unfamiliar with how cameras work, though they'll have to be the types to pay close attention.
It's just a minor nudge to either of these controls, just like picking up my drink from the side table without taking my eyes off the book as I sit in that comfortable chair.
I'm sure that the type who will notice the display at all will have already spent some time looking down the lens and watching the aperture blades move as they snap the shutter.
The center point is usually more accurate, and I find that SLRs just aren't as accurate at guessing what I want in focus. I noticed that the battery of the D70 and D80 were halted in the same way, but it was a thin wire that did the arresting.
For me, I'd have to go with the camera that delivers the best white balance performance in more situations, so I do give the edge to the Nikon D40.
Though the XTi's resolution is a significant difference, the D40 still holds its own, serving as a fine family camera, and more. On digicams it's not as important, because they usually have a depth of field as long as my truck, but on SLRs point-of-focus becomes more critical. The shots were a little blurry due to my breathing and heartbeat, and slightly overexposed; probably because of the dark sweatshirt he was wearing. And there's nothing coming in the future that will make 6 megapixels obsolete, unless someone significantly improves human vision, or provides us with unlimited wall space to hang huge snapshots everywhere.
The Nikon D40 has image retouching built in, and the lens is a little better, and a whole lot quieter than the XT. It focuses and shoots so quietly, you're less likely to scare the animals you're trying to capture. You can release the Nikon D40's shutter only halfway and keep shooting with the same AF setting, and the LCD does not come back on.
For the most part, I prefer the Classic display, with its no-nonsense, bold display of the important data.
Check out the other sections of this review, download the test images and print some of them out.
The histogram showed little noticeable clipping on the left side, so I figured I'd have enough shadow detail when I processed it in Photoshop.
I was pleasantly surprised by the camera's ISO 1,600 output in a real-world, low-light setting.
All I did to tweak the image you see above right is bring up the Levels tool, slide the right control point about halfway to the first bit of data, and hit OK.



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