Nikon has broken the price barrier with its latest DSLR by launching the D40 with a price point of £449.99 (€679.99).

The successor to the D50, the tiny new DSLR is squarely aimed at compact camera owners who are frustrated by the limitations of the compact; in other words, the point and shoot crowd who are looking to move up in quality and features.

At the heart of the D40 is a 6.1-effective megapixel sensor and Nikon’s 3D Colour Matrix Metering II engine to ensure accurate exposure. It comes with a 3x zoom, the new 18-55mm f3.5-5.6G ED II AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor lens, and a new battery, a small Li-ion.

The D40 incorporates an Auto ISO feature to shoot manually why the camera selects the ISO; the ISO ranges from 200-1600. The viewfinder provides a 0.8x magnification to ensure a clear view of the composition. Images can then be reviewed on the 2.5-inch LCD, which doubles as a status panel.

Because this is aimed at beginners or eager shooters without much camera knowledge, Nikon has provided a help button that will explain functions, as well as “assist images” that show sample images to demonstrate when certain settings should be used.

Six scene modes as well as the usual manual modes are included, as well as a new Auto Flash Off mode that prevents the flash from popping up and indicates that the camera should boost the ISO in low-light situations.

A retouch menu allows for in-camera post-processing of images, with options like D-Lighting, to lighten shadow areas and improve the lighting in a scene, red-eye correction, and image trim, which shrinks the image for easier emailing.

Although all AF-S/AF-I Nikkor lenses are compatible, older Nikon lenses without autofocus motors will only function manually. A Nikon spokesperson said that this is because Nikon did not include an autofocus motor in camera in order to save on weight.

The camera is bundled with PictureProject software, which makes organising and editing quick and easy, as well as Capture NX for processing RAW files.

The D40 will be on sale on 1 December.