d40 does look like a nice camera. I have heard many good things about it. The camera feels much smaller then my d70s, I would also miss the auto focus on my prime.
I would imagine someone would have picked up that they made changes , maybe you should try a test shot like with my 'model' sitting in the window and see what you get . Set up a model/subject next to a bright window and take a picture in matrix metering . keep the camera in the same position and move your focus point to something outside the window and then to something darker inside and see if things start going crazy . Let us know what happens . [ With normal landscapes and 'easy' situations it was ok but when the lighting got tricky I was dialing in tons of compensation - endlessly .]first let me say i think your deal sounds great, but i have a question. I started with a D70 and I loved it, It always seemed to under expose, so I used a custom curve and got just what i wanted. I have now up-graded to a D80 and I find it meters much better, Matrix / spot, it doesn't seem to matter, I can honestly say that in over a year even in the shots that suck under exposure or blown highlights have not been any kind of problem worth mentioning.
Now my question, I did wait a full year after it's release before buying the D80, I guess being an early buyer of the D70 and all of the BGLOD reports, and then the banding complaints of the D200 made me a bit gun shy. So is it possible that the exposure issues that some complain about with the D80 are in fact an issue that Nikon corrected with later cameras and just never admitted?
I did some iso tests and the D40 has some really clean images at iso 1600 compared to the D70S , today I went into town to process some 8X12 pictures taken at different iso's on my D70S , still waiting for them to be done but on my D40 things looked good up to iso 800 before I could really notice noise in a large print [8X12] but for the type of photography I do I'm quite happy with the D70S and it's grainy iso 1600 .....d40 does look like a nice camera. I have heard many good things about it. The camera feels much smaller then my d70s, I would also miss the auto focus on my prime.
They were pretty expensive when they came out , about the same price as the D80 over here . There are still some people trying to get half their money back - the price of a D40 , for their old D70's .Desmond, I stumbled onto the to the D70s when my point N shoot died on a vacation in Beckenridge, Colorado a couple of years ago. Totally fed-up with my experience with the P&S, I purchased a D70s with 18-200 Vr knowing nothing much about DSLRs except what the guy at the camera store told me. Turns out that I paid way more than I should have but the D70s and the 18-200 have remained favorites since and a back-up to my D2Xs, and my primary camera when I don't want to lug along the D2Xs. I agree that this is a great camera and that it sounds like you got a killer deal. Way to go!!
My D40 is amazingly better at high iso's , but most of the time I don't need it higher than 400 .I rarely use the higher iso performance (800-1600) on my D70s. The photos are a little too noisy for my taste, and the colors change. I can see there has been significant improvements in this area from the posts online from the newer cameras. I am not sure how much of an improvement since there are a lot of software wizards. People when asked, will hold still for my photos, so I have little need of the higher iso range for my style of shooting.
That would be how I'd want the exposure to come out but since you have the central 'diamond focus pattern ' almost entirely taken up by her face it should be right . Try it landscape orientation with half the frame in the light and half in darkness , try with one focus point focussed on the dark-side and then one focused on the bright sidehere is a picture of my wife sitting in a window. It was shot with my D80 in matirx metering mode and except for rotating the image it is straight from the camera.
I can guarantee you this same shot would have been very under exposed using my d70 without the custom curve.
I suppose a lot of it is down to personal taste and the type of pictures a person takes , in your case I suppose it is mainly portrait type shots while I often take wider views and landscapes . There are times when your focus point is not where you want to expose for , for instance a landscape where I may frame the picture on a tripod but move the focus point to the side where the closest part is to get the hyperfocal distance and then shoot .... the closest part of the picture might be in shade which will blow everything else [ on the D80 ] . It was too unpredictable for me .why would I ever want to shoot a shot where the focus point is not on my main subject without using AE lock?
Sure this would trick the cameras metering as it it designed to favor the focus point, but I don't see any reason why the focus point would ever not be on the subject unless I wanted to focus and then recompose and when I do this I always use AE lock so that the exposure does not change when I recompose.
Isn't that what AE lock is for?
There probably is a "work-around" for it but I don't like to have to learn a sequence of events to work around what I would call 'bad programming' .Well perhaps it is all down to different styles, for me I found the D70 to under expose, but I can see where for you perhaps the D80 is not the best,
there really is no right or wrong, just what is best for you.
As a side note couldn't you set the back AE-l/AF-l button to control your focus alone. If you did this you could set your focus by pressing the back button, then recompose and half press the shutter button to set your exposure without changing focus. between the AE lock setting in the menu and the options that can be selected with the AE-l/AF-l button it seems that your problem should be easily dealt with.
Anyway as I said your two D70s deal seems like a great deal and if it fits you better then it also the best deal