Canon 40D Review

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A lot has been said already about the recently released Canon 40D. We will not be giving you it’s technical specs or it’s new features since those can be found on Canon’s website already. Instead, we’ll be focusing on our experience with using this camera.

First off, the camera build is amazing. The whole thing just feels right in your hand. It’s weight (740g without the battery) is just heavy enough to let you know that you are holding a well built machine. Canon also made small changes on on it’s grip but adding a small indentation right below the shutter button to make it more ergonomic. They also introduced some weatherproofing on the battery and CF card compartment but that’s about it.

It’s viewfinder which covers approximately 95% of the total image is definitely bigger and brighter compared to the 400D/Rebel XTi. The one thing we noticed though is that we needed to adjust the diopter close to +1 to get a clear image on the viewfinder. This was also the case with the 400D that we are currently using. I find this strange since I have 20/20 vision (or close to it).

The 40D also leaves the older models in it’s sheer speed in focusing. The wife and I actually did a side-by-side comparison with the 400D and the 40D focuses almost twice as fast and in some low light scenarios, it was still able to get a lock when the 400D couldn’t.

The 40D also features extended ISO capabilities up to 3600 but one thing we did notice is that it takes so little for you to blow the highlights. We were out shooting a few days ago and the sky was overcast. The wife was surprised that most of the images she was getting had a lot of blown highlights even after trying different ISO, aperture and shutter speed combinations. She does not have this problem with the 400D.

The most obvious difference when you look at the 40D from the rear from the 30D is or course the LCD. The thing is just huge. Some reviews both online and on print say that the LCD size forced Canon to make smaller and less comfortable menu buttons. We didn’t have a hard time navigating the four buttons under the LCD though. I guess it just takes some getting used to if you were a 30D owner. The biggest thing we have a problem with is that Canon has still not upgraded it to a VGA screen like the Nikon D300 and the Sony Alpha 700. The images end up looking soft on the LCD and color rendition seems a bit off. We honestly had a lot more fun looking at images from our 400D than from this camera. I know we’re not supposed to judge our shots from the LCD alone but what’s the use of the big bad screen if it’s way off?

Live view? It’s got it, baby! It’s really fun switching to live view mode and taking snapshots like you would from a point and shoot camera. It’s real purpose though is for high precision focusing since you can frame your subject and use the camera’s digital zoom and look at a very, very small detail on the screen and use manual focusing. This should be great for macro and product photography.

Oh yeah, something has to be said about the 40D’s shutter sound. Canon has introduced a mechanism that handles both the raising and dropping of the reflex mirror. This has created a muted shutter sound that also minimizes vibrations. In older models, a spring is used to raise the mirror which causes the very distinct sound of an SLR shooting. You can check out this link to watch this video so you’ll see (or hear) what I mean. It literally sounds like a silenced machine gun when High Speed shooting mode is selected.

Overall, this is definitely a great buy. We have some small complaints about it but then again, no one has made the perfect camera yet.

~Written by Jeff

Related Reading:
Upgrading to a Digital SLR

Lisa’s note: There is little to no difference in image quality between the 40D and the 5D. See it for yourself here. But damn, I hate that LCD.

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