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Nikon D60 upgrades D40X

In August 2008, I upgraded to the Nikon D60 from Nikon D40X digital SLR camera (DSLR). The D60 thankfully introduces a good sensor dust-removal system, plus Vibration Reduction (VR) kit lenses (good for resale). The previous model Nikon D40X (used since May 2007) required tediously correction of dust spots in a photo editor. To be fair in retrospect, correcting dust and scratches was much worse with scanned slide film!

By the way, the Nikon D90 (new in October 2008) offers superior resolution with 12 megapixel sensor, a 920,000-pixel 3-inch LCD with live view, and 1280 x 720 (720p) movie support 24fps with mono sound, but its 26 ounce body is heavier than the 18 ounce D60 or D40X. One appreciates lighter weight cameras when trekking all day with a camera bag. When combined with the all-in-one Nikkor 18-200mm VR lens (20 ounces), the Nikon D60 (or D40X) offers the best 2008 quality for the weight for active travelers — camera and lens together weigh only 38 ounces.

[ I have upgraded cameras since this article was posted. Click here for Tom’s latest camera recommendations. Click here for my personal photo gear history. ]

Dynamic range

Nikon’s new Active D-Lighting feature in the Nikon D60 (and D300) only improves dynamic range of JPEG shots, and has no effect on raw files. Better dynamic range captures more detail simultaneously in both bright and dark parts of images. If you shoot any JPEG files, be sure to use Active D-Lighting (although it delays preview of your latest shot by 2 seconds; and delays the next shot after a quick burst of four).

However, if you only shoot raw files like I do, Nikon’s Active D-Lighting is useless and slows performance, so leave it disabled.

Canon offers a superior dynamic range feature helping both raw and JPEG, called “Highlight Tone Priority” mode, new in the Canon EOS 40D and Rebel XSi. The Canon Rebel XSi is one of the best lightweight cameras for travel, similar to the Nikon D60 or D40X.

Raw is better than JPEG

Raw gives you several extra stops of dynamic range versus normal JPEG files on the latest DSLR cameras. Raw also extends the dynamic range of advanced non-SLR compact cameras such as the Canon G9, though by half as much versus a DSLR, due to a smaller sensor. If you need to edit shots after shooting as I do, shooting raw gives much better quality than JPEG, especially to preserve details in bright highlights, and to change white balance. To get the most out of every image, I recommend using a good raw editor such as “Adobe Photoshop Lightroom version 2.0”:

Adobe Lightroom expedites photographic work flow

I love Adobe Lightroom (currently selling for $299, or $99 upgrade; or save about 50% with academic discount), which elegantly organizes images, and drastically reduces my time spent in Adobe Photoshop. My photo editing is now quicker than ever from download to edit to output. The excellent upgrade from Lightroom version 1.4 to 2.0 thankfully adds graduated filters, localized editing brushes, and a quicker interface to Photoshop such as for Photomerge, stitching panoramas. It easily and automatically exports image files to handsome web pages, or to files of any size, such as for e-mail or for Microsoft Powerpoint presentations.

More details: Adobe Lightroom automatically outputs to standard sRGB color space (or Adobe RGB if desired), while working internally with the broader color space of Adobe RGB or ProPhoto RGB. Adobe Lightroom smartly stores its non-destructive editing commands and labels in a powerful database (and in .XMP sidecar files for raw), and is compatible with JPG, TIF, most raw and .XMP files. If you buy a new camera with raw, check if the latest Lightroom update has added support for its raw files — for example, Adobe Lightroom version 1.4 added support for the Nikon D60 camera, and version 1.1 added Nikon D40X.

2 thoughts on “Nikon D60 upgrades D40X”

  1. Wow awesome but I have 3 Nikon D90 and D7000 and D3200 not sure whichever best use one do them help me point that one camera DSLR. Thank for your help hope find right answer

    1. – Firstly, compare camera specs at:
      All three have APS-C size sensors, but critical differences stand out:
      Nikon D90 (released in 2008, 12 MP sensor, body weight 1.55 lb)
      D7000 (2010, 16 MP, 1.72 lb)
      D3200 (2012, 24 MP, 1.11 lb) is most recent and best for travel photography

      – If I were somehow limited to just these three, my top pick for travel would be the D3200, which is significantly sharper (highest resolution 24 MP) and has a much lighter-weight and smaller body.
      – However, these models (and most DSLR cameras of 2014 and earlier) have excruciatingly slow autofocus (2-4 seconds) in Live View on the LCD, making focusing almost unusable, thereby forcing you to focus only when using the optical viewfinder. The optical view usually differs from the live digital view (and from the final digital image file) — therein is the art of photography. (Back when we used film SLR cameras, the film appearance also differed from the optical view, requiring much feedback and knowledge to create a good image.) “What you see is what you get, WYSIWYG” digital photography is severely hampered using DSLRs (although they do beat film SLRs). A photographer needs immediate feedback on how to compensate, using Live View, as each shot is framed.
      – Before 2017, the best solution for superior focusing during Live View (and WYSIWYG) was upgrading to a mirrorless APS-C camera, such as Sony A6xxx series, like A6300 or later.
      – Now, from 2017-2024, the Sony RX10M4 easily beats all mirrorless APS-C cameras for travel versatility.
      — Sony RX10M4 packs the ultimate all-in-one travel tool into 37 ounces, with bright f/2.4-4 lens with remarkable 25x zoom, sharp across the frame from 24-600mm equivalent, well into birding territory. With an efficient 1”-Type sensor, it captures great depth-of-field details, everywhere from close flower shots to distant bird feathers.

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