Nikon has this morning officially confirmed the launch of a new 6.1-million-pixel digital SLR called the D40, along with a new Speedlight flashgun and 18-55mm lens.

Billed as Nikon?s smallest and lightest DSLR, the 475g D40 is 65g lighter than the D50.

Due out on 1 December, the new model measures 126x64x94mm compared with the 133x102x76mm dimensions of the 18-month-old D50.

The D40 will come with a new 18-55mm lens in a kit priced £449.99.

One improvement over the D50 is a 2.5in LCD screen instead of the D50?s 2in monitor.

?The lightest, most compact Nikon digital SLR ever features intuitive controls and ergonomically designed operation that even first-time SLR users [will] feel comfortable with,? claims Nikon. Images can be previewed on the screen at up to 19 times magnification, according to the company.

Also on board is simultaneous recording of raw (NEF) and JPEG (Basic) images, and a built-in flash. Flash modes include auto (flash off) that is designed to prevent the built-in flash from popping up. The top flash synchronisation speed is 1/500sec.

Features include 3D Colour Matrix Metering II.

Equivalent ISO sensitivity ranges from ISO 200-1600, expandable to ISO 3200.

Nikon claims that the camera has a start-up time of 0.18sec and can deliver a 2.5-frames-per-second burst rate for up to 100 JPEG images

The 35mm lens conversion factor for the D40 is 1.5x.

The camera will be bundled with Nikon?s PictureProject software (Nikon?s Capture NX software is available separately).

Coinciding with the launch comes a new 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED II lens, hailed by Nikon as the ?ideal companion? for its ?most affordably priced? digital SLR?, the D40.

Nikon has also confirmed the launch in January of a new flashgun called the Speedlight SB-400, which is also expected to cost £149.99.

Full specification for the D40 had not yet been confirmed at the time of writing. Nikon has confirmed that it will not be available body-only.

? Full details will appear in next week?s issue of AP, available to subscribers from Saturday 18 November and in shops on Tuesday 21 November