Samy's is running a deal on "factory renewed" D40's with an 18-55mm lens for $299 and no tax! Last I checked, factory demos were going on ebay for over $300 plus shipping, and body only. I picked one up this past Sunday since it was too good a deal to pass up. I sold my first one last year and have been missing it lately so when I saw this deal it was like it was meant to be! Damn you Samy's, for making me spend more money. Anyway, the body has 6k actuations on it which is a little high but about how much I had on my old D40 so I'm not too worried about it. I'll mostly be using it for snapshots and fun stuff when I don't want to lug my D700 around (that thing is heavy!) and also as a backup.
Cosmetically, the body looks brand new. If I didn't check the exif data I probably would have never guessed it was used at all. The lens however, is not so great. It might just be the one I got but it does catch a little while focusing and is a little noisy as well and feels a little loose. It also looks like it's taken a beating. As with all refurbs, they come with a 90 day warranty so that gives me plenty of time to test out both the body and lens. I'll probably keep the body and get the lens replaced. I can deal with it's ugly appearance but the fact that it was a little wonky right out of the box worries me a bit. On the other hand, the kit was so cheap and the lens is pretty cheap new it might not be worth the hassle to get it replaced/repaired.
If you're looking for a cheap way to enter into DSLR's or are looking for a backup, then this is it. You won't find it much cheaper anywhere else and the D40 is a great little camera. It's so user friendly it almost feels like a glorified point and shoot but with all the benefits of a DSLR. Other than portability, I don't see much use for a point and shoot. The image quality of a DSLR is so much better and the D40 is small and light enough to drop into a handbag, which is what I would often do with my old one. I also picked up the Nikon L100 wide angle point and shoot for my dad and the D40 isn't much bigger than the L100. BTW, that is a slick little camera as well. The screen is HUGE and feels good in the hands. I haven't played around with it yet but I LOVE wide angles so I'm sure I will be "borrowing" that from my dad often.
One more thing, much has been said about refurb vs new and there are pros and cons to both sides so I guess it's a matter of personal preference and how much you are willing to pay for peace of mind. But even new gear doesn't always work right out of the box and for $299 (remember, no tax too!) you could save the extra $200 you didn't spend on buying new and use that money on a lens, which I think is more of an investment than a camera body anyway. There will always be newer and better bodies with even more features I don't really need (ie HD video!) but lenses are meant to be an investment and made to last.
Check out Ken Rockwell's raving review of the D40 here.
Make sure to go soon, or they might be all gone!