The Nikon D40 was my very first dSLR camera. A fantastic leap from the point-and-shoot side of the fence! I had the camera for about 4 years, but really only started getting serious about photography a little over a year ago. After shooting with the D40 body and mastering it (the camera, not photography) over the course of a year, I was starting to hit imitations of the camera hardware and it was starting to look like it was time for an upgrade. I really prefer and like the Nikon camera bodies, so I knew I would be upgrading to a new Nikon. I studied all the bodies and reviews for months to find out what would be the best upgrade for me. It came down to the D90 and the D300.
The two seemed to have pretty similar specs minus the video on the D90, although the D300 was touted as more of a “professional” camera. One of the biggest features I wanted was the command and sub-command dials for aperture and shutter speed adjustments.
The video on the D90 leaves a little to be desired. Especially compared to the new D300s that came out a couple months after purchasing the D90. Video is not all that important to me, so it is just a bonus to be able to shoot little video clips with the same camera I already have with me.
I find the build quality of the D90 to be much higher than some of the newer bodies coming out like the D3000. The body feels great in the hand and is a good weight. I like a larger camera body and this is just that. I found the D40 a little annoying to hold due to its small size. I had a battery grip on the D40 simply to make it more comfortable to hold with a longer lens.
The image quality on the D90 is great. A very nice improvement from the D40, although the raw files were a lot harder to work with on my old laptop. The D40 raw files were no problem, but the D90 at twice the size made the computer chug. I have since upgraded to a new MacBook Pro, so it is no longer an issue.
As far as lenses go with this new body, I bought the Nikon 35mm f/1.8. This lens is AMAZING! Super sharp and fast. And for only $200, you have to have this lens in your bag. I also rented the Nikon 18-200mm from Lensrentals.com and I WILL be buying that lens at some point. It was so versatile and handled a full day shoot walking around town without having to stop and swap lenses.
Overall, If you are in the market for a Nikon body upgrade from one of the lower tier bodies I would say this is definitely a camera to look at. If video is more important to you, you may want to look into the D300s instead. For me, stills are where I want to be, and this camera body does not disappoint!