Canon’s EOS 40D is the company’s latest DSLR designed for enthusiasts and semi-pros. Announced in August 2007, it’s the successor to the EOS 30D, and continues Canon’s 18 month cycle for this product line. While the EOS 30D represented a minor upgrade over its predecessor though, the new 40D features significant improvements – and not a moment too soon considering arch rival Nikon’s leadership in mid-range DSLRs over the past two years.
Canon’s bumped the resolution from 8 to 10.1 Megapixels, added anti-dust features, increased continuous shooting to 6.5fps, and improved the viewfinder, AF system and weatherproofing. The A-D conversion and RAW files now work in 14-bits, the colour monitor is bigger at 3in, and perhaps most notably of all, the EOS 40D now features Live View facilities. Finally, the EOS 40D supports interchangeable focusing screens, an optional wireless transmitter and even shows the ISO in the viewfinder by popular demand.
Canon also launched two new zooms with the EOS 40D: a new version of the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens now with Image Stabilisation (although sadly no USM focusing), and an EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS budget zoom, again with stabilisation but no USM.
The EOS 40D’s kit options vary depending on your region. Europe and Australasia have the sensible choice of either the new EF-S 18-55mm IS or the popular EF-S 17-85mm IS USM, while America has the somewhat curious option of the EF 28-135mm IS USM. The latter offers a decent reach, but misses out on wide angle capabilities, but at least all three kit lenses have stabilisation, no doubt a reaction to rival DSLRs with built-in anti-shake facilities. The EOS 40D is of course also available as a body alone.
So what we have with the EOS 40D is a camera which appears comfortably superior to Nikon’s D80 and better in many respects to the D200. Indeed the EOS 40D is arguably a mini version of the EOS 1D Mark III with a cropped-frame sensor. Canon clearly took Nikon’s success over the last generation very seriously and after resting on its laurels with the EOS 30D, is now back and fighting.
Of course the competition hasn’t stood still either, and the EOS 40D has a tough new rival in the form of the Nikon D300. Like the D200 before it, this is a higher-end camera with a higher price tag to match, but if the past two years have proven anything, it’s that discerning DSLR buyers don’t mind paying extra for a superior product which could last them longer. Canon’s 400D / XTi lost out on many sales to the D80, as did the 30D to the D200. Nikon’s bodies were pricier, but ultimately preferred by many.
Then there’s Sony’s second-ever DSLR, the Alpha A700 which is priced close to the EOS 40D. Like the Nikon D300, this features higher 12 Megapixel resolution, a beautiful-looking 3in screen with VGA resolution (four times that of the 40D), and even an HDMI port for connecting to an HDTV. So Canon may have pulled-out the stops for the EOS 40D, but is it enough to compete in the increasingly tough semi-pro category?
Find out in our Canon EOS 40D full review, where we’ll compare its features against the Nikon D300 and Sony A700, along with showing how it measures-up quality-wise against its predecessor and the full-frame EOS 5D, not to mention the Nikon D80. And as always, for a demonstration of its key features, check out our Canon EOS 40D video tour.
New: Canon WFT-E3(A) wireless transmitter review and video tour.
We tested a final-production Canon EOS 40D, running firmware version 1.0.3. Following our convention of testing cameras using their factory default settings unless otherwise stated, the EOS 40D was set to Large Fine JPEG quality, Auto White Balance, Evaluative metering and the Standard Picture Style; High ISO Noise Reduction and Highlight Priority were set to their default OFF and Disable settings respectively. Throughout this review though, we have additional samples taken with the EOS 40D’s other settings.