I have shot for several years and continue to shoot all of my work on
6.1 MP Nikon D40. KEH.com currently is offering used D40 bodies in
Like New, Excellent plus, and Excellent condition ranging from $275
to $325. Even an excellent rated camera from KEH is pretty much
pristine. And you get a fourteen day return privelege and a two
month warranty. As a disclaimer, I do not work for nor do I know
anyone at KEH. I am a satisfied customer, however.
They also have the Nikon 60mm f/2.8 D Micro (which will do 1:1 on the
D40) in a used unit from $374 to $379. While this lens is an auto
focus lens it will not auto focus on the D40 or on any of the entry
level DX cameras. But. You don’t want auto focus for close up
photography because the depth of field is usually so minimal precise
focusing can only be done the old fashioned way. By the time you
throw in shipping and an SD card or two you’ll be at your $700 limit
and have the best set up possible regardless of dollars spent
(IMHO). On a DX camera like the D40 the effective focal length of a
60mm lens is equivalent to a 90mm lens on a standard 35mm camera (or
the full frame digital units). This gives a very nice working
You could go even more economical by purchasing a used manual focus
Nikon Micro 55mm f/3.5 Micro. However, the meter will not function
with these lenses so you have to do some trial and error to get the
proper exposure. Not insurmountable but in the end a nuisance.
While there is a 10.2 MP version called the D40X for about the same
money the D40 makes superior images. Assuming you don’t want
anything larger than 18" X 12" print size. See below about ISO.
Here’s what’s so good about the D40:
It is about the smallest DSLR body on the market. Menu system and
controls are very simple but very effective. While it has some auto
exposure functions it has all the manual controls. It has no video
function which generally means that more of what you’re paying has
gone to more of what you bought it for.
While a mere 6.1 MP the sensor size is the same as the sensor size
in cameras in this class with more megapixels. This means that each
pixel is actually larger by almost double which means the D40 has a
wider value latitude than the others.
The base ISO on the D40 is 200 while the D40X and all other entry
level cameras to date start at ISO 100 - a full stop slower than the
D40. This is important because the D40 allows you to use smaller
apertures (which means more depth of field and more of your work - in
any given image - in tight focus) while using the the camera’s slowest
"film" speed which is the one at which any digital camera gives you
its best images.
Flash sync speed is 1/500" on the D40 and only 1/200 on the D40X and
other entry level cameras. Flash sync speed is the highest shutter
speed at which flash will coordinate with the shutter. When you begin
using off camera flash to light your setup you’ll find you more than
double the ability to stop action than the larger megapixel cameras.
This may seem unimportant for table top product photography but at
some point you’ll have a pendant or earrings or some component in a
piece that you just can’t get to hold still - the higher flash synch
speed then becomes essential. In more advanced flash work it gives
you more control of how light or dark your background is if you’re
using a two light source system.
You can check out the photos on my much neglected website,
goldwork.com with the usual www in front. Everything there was shot
with my D40. I use a Nikon 105mm f/2.8 Micro because I like the longer