Canon EOS 40D SLR Review

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Canon EOS 40D

Steve's Conclusion

The Canon EOS 40D is the highly-anticipated successor to the popular EOS 30D. Canon has incorporated features of the high-end of the EOS line including, Live View shooting, the advanced DIGIC III image processor found in the EOS-1D Mark III, a redesigned autofocus sensor, the beautiful 3" LCD and an impressive 6.5 fps continuous shooting capability. All in an "amateur" dSLR model. An enhanced 10.1-megapixel CMOS image sensor is a welcomed upgrade and should be enough resolution for an enthusiast-level dSLR. Using a 14 bits per channel color space, instead of the previous 12 bits, the 40D provides better image gradation. When compared to the EOS 30D, the image quality of the EOS 40D is clearly better.

Ergonomics are quite good on the 40D and the new contoured grip was easier to manage than the 30D's. The controls on the top of the camera are the same, but the other controls are in a layout more akin to the Mark III. The control set retains the Multi-controller, a small "joystick" that's used to select the AF point, set White Balance correction, select the focusing point in Live View and perform other functions.

Shooting performance is slightly improved over the 30D. It took 3/10 of a second between turning the camera on and capturing the first shot, a 1/10 second improvement. Waking the 40D from it's power-saving sleep mode took only 2/10 second to capture an image. Shutter lag when pre-focused was under 1/10 second, while lag including AF measured 3/10 second, about the same as the 30D. In single shot mode, I was able to capture images at 3/10 second intervals without flash, and every 6/10-to-2.9 seconds with flash, depending on subject distance. In Low-speed continuous drive mode, the EOS 40D fires at approximately 3 fps. The drive mode selection loop now includes a 2-sec. self-timer.

The 40D's maximum burst at 6.5 fps is approximately 75 shots in JPEG Large/Fine and approximately 17 shots in RAW. In comparison, the maximum bursts for the EOS 30D were 30 Large/Fine JPEGs and 11 RAW. (Stats calculated using a 2GB Extreme IV CF card. The maximum burst during continuous shooting varies, depending on such factors as subject, CF card brand, ISO speed, and Picture Style selected.)

At 6.5 fps, no camera in the mid-range class has as high of a continuous capture capability. The lightweight 40D is great for shooting sports and other action subjects (see the girl on the bunjy jump on the Sample Photos page). The speed comes from the combination of the DIGIC III processor, DDR SDRAM high-speed memory, 4-channel per line sensor readout, and 2 separate motors for shutter and mirror operation.

We used a Canon EF 28-135mm f3.5-5.6 IS USM (Micro UltraSonic Motor) for most of the samples in this review. This is a standard zoom lens with an Image Stabilizer and uses the ring-type USM for fast, responsive autofocus. At a diminutive 3.1" x 3.8" (78.4mm x 96.8mm) size and 18.9 oz (540g) weight this is a very compact, lightweight lens.

The 40D's body is a tad lighter than the 30D, at 26.1oz versus 27.5 oz.. The pop-up flash, the same one provided in the 30D, has a range of approx.12 feet at ISO 100 as is effective for portraits. Another feature shared with the EOS-1D Mark III is that both built-in flash and external flash settings can be set on the EOS 40D from the camera's menu screen. With EX-series Speedlites, this includes Flash mode, sync setting, FEB, flash exposure compensation, E-TTL II, zoom and wireless flash settings.

Long exposure noise reduction is the identical on both the EOS 40D and 30D cameras.The time required for noise reduction processing is equal to the duration of the original exposure; the next photograph cannot be shot until noise reduction processing in progress is complete. Long exposure noise reduction is controlled in menus and Off, Auto, or On/Always Applied settings can be selected. High ISO noise reduction is also available. The High ISO noise reduction setting really seemed to improve images taken at a high ISO speeds, as we discovered with the EOS-1D Mark III. And Highlight Tone Priority improves highlight detail. The range is extended between 18% gray and the maximum highlight tone. Please visit our Sample Photos to view the results obtained using a range of ISO settings.

Picture Style function is a simple method to control the 40D's image processing.The EOS 40D's Picture Styles have the same specifications as those of the EOS 30D and there is now a separate Picture Style selection button positioned conveniently at the bottom right of the LCD monitor to make selection easier. Picture Styles are included for a wide variety of requirements, and each can be adjusted in terms of sharpness, contrast, saturation and color tone.

Do you like to tinker with customization? The EOS 40D can be configured many, many ways. The EOS 40D has 24 Custom Functions with 62 settings. Frequently used settings can be saved and then selected using the Mode Dial's C1, C2, and C3 settings. Up to 6 top-tier menu options and Custom Function settings can be registered in My Menu. With the Speedlite 580EX II attached to the camera, you can set or cancel all the flashes Custom Function settings (C.Fn-0 to 13) with the camera.

Camera Direct Printing is compatible with PictBridge and a Camera Direct Print button has been added to the camera. Two useful additions have been made to printing direct from the camera. First, a preview display shows effects such as B/W, Vivid, Brightness correction, Hue, and Adjust levels before printing. Then, tilt angle correction adjusts the angle of images shot with a tilt to print horizontally. As with the EOS-1D Mark III, RAW, sRAW and JPEG printing and Red-Eye 1 are provided.

The Bottom Line - there's a lot to like about the 40D. If you're looking for a 10-megapixel camera that can fire long bursts, is compatible with a mature system of professional accessories, and creates superb images in almost any light, look no further. This lightweight (26.1oz) camera, with it's comfortable molded grip, is small and tough enough to travel easily with active users. Certainly, the 40D is the best performance-cost value that Canon has ever offered, with a street price of just US$1299 or less (Body only). While the 40D is perfect for advanced amateurs, it will appeal to entry-level professional photographers too. The large LCD and improved menu structure make this camera a breeze to use. Canon fans will find the EOS 40D to be a wonderful camera and an excellent choice compared to most of the dSLRs in its price class.

Canon has announced an updated firmware for the EOS 40D

Details - EOS 40D Firmware Update Version 1.0.5

This firmware update incorporates the following improvements and fixes:

  • 1.When playing back images just after recovering from Auto Power Off, the display now shows the last image played back.
  • 2.During remote shooting, images are now displayed on the camera's LCD monitor right after they are taken.
  • 3.Corrects a warning message in Korean that appears when updating the firmware.
  • 4.Corrects errors in the Spanish menu screens.
  • 5.Corrects a phenomenon that prevented printing with some print systems.
  • 6.Corrects a rare phenomenon in which file numbers or image numbers were sometimes skipped.

Canon has announced yet another firmware update for the EOS 40D

Details - EOS 40D Firmware Update Version 1.0.8

This firmware update (Version 1.0.8) incorporates the following improvements and fixes:

  • 1.Fixes a phenomenon in which Image Stabilization operation emits a sound when certain buttons are pressed, with the EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS lens attached to the camera.
  • 2.Fixes a phenomenon in which the Image Stabilization operation emits a sound from the lens when IS lenses are attached to the camera.
  • 3.Fixes a phenomenon in which a part of the image looks unnatural when reviewed on the LCD.
  • 4.Corrects errors in the Spanish and Norwegian menu screens.

To download either of these new updates, visit Canon's U.S.A. Support site.

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