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Nikon D40 entry-level digital SLR

Passed your compact proficiency test? Time to take on the DSLR

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When it comes to handling, the D40 is good, although it does have one or two operating quirks. The LCD can be set to three display formats: Classic, Graphic and Wallpaper. The default setting is Graphic, which looks hideous and includes a tacky animated aperture. We quickly switched to Classic. Wallpaper lets you use your own image as a background.

The second quirk is the default setting is for a short LCD display time - eight seconds - which can be disconcerting until you find the procedure for extending this buried in the instruction book. Even then, if you alter a camera mode setting - say, from auto to manual - the LCD screen goes blank.

Nikon D40 DLSR

On top you'll find a pop-up flash, large mode dial, shutter button and all the usual controls

Every now and again, a question mark icon flashes on the LCD screen, which can be disconcerting. But if you press the Help button, all is revealed: the D40 is warning you that the camera settings are not optimised for the shot.

You can quickly restore the display by pressing the Info or Help buttons - we preferred using the latter because it’s also very useful for quickly altering a number of parameters, including image quality, white balance, ISO, shooting mode, focus mode, metering and exposure compensation.

The D40 offers no fewer than five menus for playback, shooting, customisation, camera settings and retouching images - such as cropping and red-eye reduction. Some menus, most notably Custom Setting, require a fair bit of scrolling around. The viewfinder display is excellent, capable of showing 16 items of shooting information, such as shutter speed and ISO rating.

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