Nikon D40 vs Panasonic GF3
The Nikon D40 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in November 2006 and June 2011. The D40 is a DSLR, while the GF3 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (D40) and a Four Thirds (GF3) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 6 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic provides 12 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D40 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Nikon D40 and the Panasonic GF3. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The GF3 can be obtained in five different colors (black, brown, pink, red, white), while the D40 is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic GF3 is considerably smaller (38 percent) than the Nikon D40. Moreover, the GF3 is substantially lighter (49 percent) than the D40. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D40 nor the GF3 are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Nikon Lens Catalog (D40) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (GF3). Mirrorless cameras, such as the GF3, have moreover the advantage that they can use many lenses from other systems via adapters, as they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Nikon D40||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||470||n||Nov 2006||499|
|2.||Panasonic GF3||108 mm||67 mm||32 mm||264 g||300||n||Jun 2011||549|
|3.||Nikon D3400||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||445 g||1200||n||Aug 2016||499|
|4.||Nikon D3300||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||430 g||700||n||Jan 2014||499|
|5.||Nikon D3200||125 mm||96 mm||77 mm||505 g||540||n||Apr 2012||599|
|6.||Nikon D3100||124 mm||96 mm||75 mm||505 g||550||n||Aug 2010||599|
|7.||Nikon D3000||126 mm||97 mm||64 mm||536 g||500||n||Jul 2009||599|
|8.||Nikon D40X||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||520||n||Mar 2007||729|
|9.||Nikon D80||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||668 g||600||n||Aug 2006||999|
|10.||Nikon D50||133 mm||102 mm||76 mm||620 g||400||n||Apr 2005||749|
|11.||Nikon D70s||140 mm||111 mm||78 mm||679 g||500||n||Apr 2005||899|
|12.||Panasonic GF5||108 mm||67 mm||37 mm||267 g||360||n||Apr 2012||499|
|13.||Panasonic LX7||111 mm||68 mm||46 mm||298 g||330||n||Jul 2012||499|
|14.||Panasonic G10||124 mm||84 mm||74 mm||388 g||380||n||Mar 2010||499|
|15.||Panasonic G2||124 mm||84 mm||74 mm||428 g||360||n||Mar 2010||599|
|16.||Panasonic GF2||113 mm||68 mm||33 mm||310 g||300||n||Nov 2010||549|
|17.||Panasonic L10||135 mm||96 mm||78 mm||556 g||450||n||Aug 2007||599|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The D40 was somewhat cheaper (by 9 percent) than the GF3 at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D40 features an APS-C sensor and the Panasonic GF3 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the GF3 is 39 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 2.0. The sensor in the D40 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the GF3 offers a 4:3 aspect.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the GF3 offers a higher resolution of 12 megapixels, compared with 6 MP of the D40. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.33μm versus 7.85μm for the D40). However, it should be noted that the GF3 is much more recent (by 4 years and 6 months) than the D40, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.
The resolution advantage of the Panasonic GF3 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the GF3 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 20 x 15 inches or 50.8 x 38.1 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 16 x 12 inches or 40.6 x 30.5 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 13.3 x 10 inches or 33.9 x 25.4 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D40 are 15 x 10 inches or 38.2 x 25.4 cm for good quality, 12 x 8 inches or 30.6 x 20.3 cm for very good quality, and 10 x 6.7 inches or 25.5 x 16.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Nikon D40 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 200-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 are ISO 160 to ISO 6400 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under review, the D40 has a notably higher overall DXO score than the GF3 (overall score 7 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.4 bits higher color depth, 1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.3 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
| DXO |
|2.||Panasonic GF3||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||20.6||10.0||458||49|
|12.||Panasonic GF5||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||21.4||11.6||618||61|
|14.||Panasonic G10||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.1||411||52|
|15.||Panasonic G2||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.3||493||53|
|16.||Panasonic GF2||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||21.2||10.3||506||54|
|17.||Panasonic L10||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.3||10.8||429||55|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The GF3 indeed provides for movie recording, while the D40 does not. The highest resolution format that the GF3 can use is 1080/60i.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the D40 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the GF3 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon D40 and Panasonic GF3 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The GF3 has a touchscreen, while the D40 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.
The D40 writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the GF3 uses SDXC cards.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Nikon D40 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
It is notable that the D40 has a hotshoe, while the GF3 does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.
Both the D40 and the GF3 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D40 was replaced by the Nikon D40X, while the GF3 was followed by the Panasonic GF5. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon and Panasonic websites.
So how do things add up? Is the Nikon D40 better than the Panasonic GF3 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Nikon D40:
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (7 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1 EV of extra DR).
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (470 versus 300) on a single battery charge.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in November 2006).
Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (12 vs 6MP), which boosts linear resolution by 38%.
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60i video.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (460k vs 230k dots).
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3.2 vs 2.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (108x67mm vs 124x94mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 258g or 49 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- More modern: Reflects 4 years and 6 months of technical progress since the D40 launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the GF3 is the clear winner of the contest (10 : 6 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D40 and the Panasonic GF3 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the D40 or the GF3 perform in practice. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Nikon D40||..||81/100||+ +||o||4.5/5||Nov 2006||499|
|2.||Panasonic GF3||3/5||82/100||71/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||549|
|3.||Nikon D3400||4/5||+||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||499|
|4.||Nikon D3300||3/5||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2014||499|
|5.||Nikon D3200||5/5||+ +||73/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2012||599|
|6.||Nikon D3100||5/5||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||599|
|7.||Nikon D3000||..||+||72/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||599|
|8.||Nikon D40X||..||79/100||+ +||4/5||4/5||Mar 2007||729|
|9.||Nikon D80||..||+||+ +||o||4.5/5||Aug 2006||999|
|10.||Nikon D50||..||78/100||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2005||749|
|11.||Nikon D70s||..||..||..||..||5/5||Apr 2005||899|
|12.||Panasonic GF5||3/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2012||499|
|13.||Panasonic LX7||3/5||+ +||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2012||499|
|14.||Panasonic G10||3/5||..||70/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2010||499|
|15.||Panasonic G2||..||..||72/100||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2010||599|
|16.||Panasonic GF2||3/5||82/100||70/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2010||549|
|17.||Panasonic L10||..||85/100||+||3.5/5||4/5||Aug 2007||599|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
Specifications: Nikon D40 vs Panasonic GF3
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Nikon D40||Panasonic GF3|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||November 2006||June 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 499||USD 549|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D40||Panasonic GF3|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.7 x 15.6 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||369.72 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.4 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||6 Megapixels||12 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3008 x 2000 pixels||4000 x 3000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||7.85 μm||4.33 μm|
|Pixel Density||1.63 MP/cm2||5.34 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 1,600 ISO||160 - 6,400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||200 - 3,200 ISO||no Enhancement|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||56||49|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.0||20.6|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.0||10.0|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||561||458|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D40||Panasonic GF3|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||no viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.5inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D40||Panasonic GF3|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||2.5 shutter flaps/s||3.2 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDHC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D40||Panasonic GF3|
|External Flash||Hotshoe||no Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Nikon D40||Panasonic GF3|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||470 shots per charge||300 shots per charge|
124 x 94 x 64 mm
(4.9 x 3.7 x 2.5 in)
108 x 67 x 32 mm
(4.3 x 2.6 x 1.3 in)
|Camera Weight||522 g (18.4 oz)||264 g (9.3 oz)|
Did you notice an error on this page? If so, please get in touch, so that we can correct the information.