Nikon is to launch a 10.2-million pixel digital SLR which will sit between Nikon?s D40 and D80 models.

The D40x, which is compatible with SD memory cards, will be out from 29 March, in a £599.99 kit that includes an AF-S 18-55mm DX lens.

Incorporating a 10.2MP CCD imaging sensor the debutante also includes 3D Colour Matrix Metering II and an equivalent ISO sensitivity ranging from ISO 100-1600 (expandable to ISO 3200).

It borrows the mechanical shutter mechanism from Nikon?s D80 DSLR which makes it slightly heavier than the D40, explained a spokesman for Nikon UK who told us that the camera is expected to appeal to enthusiasts and students ?on a budget?.

Features include three frames-per-second shooting for up to 100 JPEG images.

Shots can also be recorded in raw format. Simultaneous recording of NEF (raw) and JPEG formats is also possible.

The D40x boasts a 0.18sec start-up time, a three-area AF system and in-camera digital editing effects such as b&w, sepia and cyanotype, as well as filter effects including skylight and ?warm filter?.

Claimed to be ?the most compact Nikon digital SLR? ever the D40x measures 126x64x94mm and weighs 495g (body only).

The Nikon F-mount model carries a 35mm focal length conversion factor of 1.5x.

The 2.5in LCD screen has a resolution of 230,000 pixels.

Exposure compensation of ±5EV is possible in 1/3EV steps and the top shutter speed is 1/4000sec.The camera?s maximum flash sync is 1/200sec.

Nikon tells us that the D40x is not designed to replace the D40 but is launched as a ?separate product?.

It is also expected to be available body only at a future date.

Further details will appear in an upcoming issue of AP.

? To coincide with the launch Nikon has announced a new AF-S DX VR Zoom-Nikkor 55-200mm f/4-5.6G IF-ED lens, priced a penny under £250. The Vibration Reduction (VR) model is designed to help reduce camera shake.