Primes sales are growing at a great pace here in Canada. And it has Nikon a little annoyed.
I went to the Toronto Digital Imaging and Photography show (aka, the Henrys show and sale). I showed up at the show carrying an FM3a w/ MD-12 motor drive and a Nikkor 35mm f/1.4 AI mounted on it. It was the starting point of many conversations. Most notably with one of the head Nikon reps. The discussion quickly moved to primes. Or the lack there off. It turns out the popularity of primes is taking Nikon a bit off guard. Apparently they're having a hard time stocking enough 85mm f/1.4s and 50mm f/1.8s to keep up with demand! I lamented the lack of wide angle primes that were of any value and he agreed. It seems Nikon has spent a lot of time investing into making a lot of zoom lenses because that was what the populace wanted a few years ago (gee, you think?). Now the trend is swinging back to primes. (site note: notice how many people are selling off the 18-200mm VR Zoom?).
Being a Nikon rep he didn't have, or more specifically wasn't willing to offer any future product information. As to be expected.
Why not to buy the D40 or D40x
What does this mean? I'm sure the D40 is a hot seller for Nikon. It's a very good SLR in a lot of ways. Most notably it's price and comfort compared to the competition. However, I wonder how many of the people who end up buying this DSLR find themselves pissed off when they find out that the cheap and good prime lenses offered by Nikon won't auto focus? I wonder how many sales of primes Nikon is loosing because of the D40?
A lot of people point out that the D40s target market is not the type of people who would buy primes. And they're probably right for the majority of D40 owners. They get the kit lens, and maybe the 55-200 and they're happy. To those people I recommend one of the many P&S super zoom cameras that are littering the camera landscape and cost a lot less than the D40 + 18-200mm.
To all those who actually care about taking photography, I recommend a used D50/70 or a the D80. (To be fair the Pentax offerings are rather nice as well). Though I'm not one of those people who think all zooms are crap (they're not). For the average person, "good" zooms are a fortune. Inexpensive primes are a great value and really bring out ones photographic capabilities.
So if you are reading this, I assume you have some passing interest in photography. If you care enough to read a post like this, you care enough not to get the Nikon D40.