Nikon d40 vs Canon 350d

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    So, I’m getting set to go back to Kenya for about 16 months of field research and want to get a dSLR camera to carry with me. I’ve currently got a nice old Canon AE-1 (inherited from my grandfather, and it’s nearly as old as me), and a busted up Powershot A60 or something (it’s in the other room… and I won’t even bother adding the weight to my bag by bringing it with me this time).

    The two I’m looking at in terms of price range and features are the two in the subject line. I’m a bit wary of the many complaints about the 18-55 lens that comes in the 350d kit, but I don’t want to shell out the extra $250 or so it would cost me to upgrade to the 17-85 lens, and I reckon the 18-55 will be sufficient for the type of pictures I intend to take (I’ll probably be using my film camera and a rented zoom lens for any safari pictures, which worked out beautifully the first time around). I recall one online review that slammed the D40 for a slow shutter release, which has been one of my major sources of frustration with the point and shoot A60 I have.

    It seems like the Canon is the way to go, but I’m wondering if anyone can give me a sense of whether the Canon fluffing that I see online is a matter of brand popularity, or whether the 350 would be a superior camera to the D40.

    thanks a bundle.

    /also, if anyone could clue me in to what step 2 might be, I’d love to successfully move on to step 3 (profit)


    The Canon has a better image sensor and processing engine, I don’t think anyone would argue otherwise.

    All that other stuff, well…
    How tiny are your hands?

    Step two would be go to a camera store and demand they let you manhandle those mofos.

    (I love my 350D)

    But… the kit lens is horrific. I’m not a quality nut by any stretch of the imagination and I never touch it. I don’t even let it sit by my other lenses. If I wasn’t so lazy I would get out a marker and change “Canon” to “Cannot” on it.
    How badly do you need the extra wide-ity?
    I hear slightly nicer things about the 28-105mm (but never used it, saw it, or have any proof it even exists)


    Ooo Canon AE-1–very nice! I’ve got my Dad’s AE-1 Program on extended loan. It’s a shame those FD lenses won’t work on EOS bodies. There are adapters, though I haven’t read great things about them. I’m a Canon girl myself (I have an A620 and a 30D), and I definitely love the better ISO noise handling of Canon compared to Nikon.

    However, Nikon’s no slouch, and from what I’ve read, they’ve packed a lot of nice features onto the D40 (and D80, for that matter). One thing in favor about Nikon’s noise is that it tends to be a little more like film grain than Canon’s noise, because Nikon controls the color splotches more. Only concern I saw about the D40 (though I haven’t researched it a lot since I already have my 30D) is that it’s handicapped when it comes to using certain lenses that require the camera body to run autofocus (I may be explaining it wrong, but it’s something about not being able to use AF on all lenses. They’ll still mount, but some, including the ubiquitous and cheap 50mm f/1.8, will have to be manual focus). That seems like a pretty silly thing for them to do, but then the D40 is intended to be a very entry level camera, and it certainly has other nice features.

    As for the kit lens, I’d heard enough bad things about it that when I got my 30D, I just didn’t bother with it. I got a 50mm f/1.8 because it was cheap (though probably not very useful for safari photography). But my favorite walkaround lens is my Tamron 28-75 f/2.8. It’s very sharp, and only marginally softer wide open. The constant aperture through the zoom range is very nice, and the f/2.8 means it can be used in low light. Being third party, it’s cheaper than Canon, but it has a 6 year warranty (Canon only offers a 1 yr warranty), and it comes with a lens hood free (an extra cost for Canon unless you buy an ‘L’ lens) The crop factor of our digital sensors makes the long end even longer (equivelent to 120 mm on a 35mm body), but of course the wide end suffers–28mm works out to be about 45mm, which isn’t very wide. Tamron also makes a 17-50mm f/2.8 that gets equally rave reviews, though, and that might be a consideration. It all depends on how wide or long you want.

    Ultimately, like Staplermofo said, it’s going to be a good idea to get your hands on both cameras. I had no problem with the 350D myself, but a lot of people find it small and cramped. The Nikon bodies are a bit bigger and feel more solid, at least compared to the 350D. When I made my choice, I really wanted to like the Nikons for the price, but when I tried them both out, the ergonomics of the Nikons didn’t feel right in my hands, so I went Canon.


    Thanks for the responses.

    I’m a pretty tall guy, with big hands (and you know what they say… or something), so the reviews of the 350d being a bit small are slightly worrisome. I’ll definitely be getting my paws all over these two cameras before I decide which one to buy.

    The lenses. Yeah. I read the same thing about the D40 having no AF drive pin on the body. The way I interpreted that is that Nikon either wants to introduce a new series of lenses, or they want to keep the D40 separate from their other dSLRs for some reason. Not really a huge issue for me, since the only lenses I’ve got (a 28 and a 50) are for my AE-1 and not applicable to either the Canon or the Nikon. On the other hand, it would be nice to have AF if I want it, which might limit which lenses I could blow my hard(ly) earned cash on in the future.

    I do like the 28, and I tend to take a lot of landscape shots, so the wideness is something I’d like in a lens. Factoring in the magnification, a 17-85 (or 18-55) isn’t really all that wide. I guess I’ll have to see what I can find out about lenses and prices. I may just bite the bullet and buy the upgraded kit that the cheapest local store is offering (17-85 in place of the 18-55, for an extra $360… but the price for the crappy lens kit is $729, and it’s canuck dollars… so…). I’ll check what they’ve got for 3rd party lenses though.

    thanks again for the input. I’ll keep y’all posted, and maybe even post a shot or two from kenya in some of the contests.


    If you’re wanting more wide angle action, Tokina has a 12-24mm f/4 wide angle zoom that gets excellent reviews, and Canon has an EF-S mount (only for crop-bodies) 10-22mm (dunno the f stop) that is also raved about. Of course, you’d need something else for telephoto, but you said you’d probably have that covered for film anyway. Just more to consider 🙂


    I love my D40 so far. It is even smaller than the Canon, but to me has a better feel nevertheless, image quality is great, and the kit-lens truly excellent.

    The only problem is indeed the still limited availability of lenses, but if you are starter in SLR-photography, it should be more than enough to keep you happy for a while.

    Ken Rockwell has an excellent review on site:


    The Canon EF-S 10-22mm is f/3.5-4.5.

    My friend loves his 350D. It is a little tiny, I definitely prefer the big feel and weight of the 30D in my hands. Getting a portrait/battery grip helps a lot in that department. It’s a a couple hundred bucks, but it means you can go twice as long on full charge and shoot sideways comfortably, as well as giving you a nice hefty-feeling grip.


    I know I’m way late to the conversation, but if you haven’t picked up a camera yet, I’d suggest the D-50, which you can probably pick up for about the same price as the D-40.

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