Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Canon EOS 40D

The Canon EOS 40D is the much-anticipated replacement DSLR for the popular EOS 30D. At first glance, the 40D looks like a restrained upgrade; there are several new features that make this a better camera. The new 40D comes with a 10 megapixel APS-C format CMOS sensor with includes the same dust reduction technology as the Canon EOS Rebel 400D / XTi, which is an ultrasonic low pass filter shaker. Other refinements bring the 40D ever closer to the flagship EOS-1D series. The menu system now uses the same page-by-page system as that found on it more expensive siblings and the 40D now supports both RAW and sRAW image capture, along with a move from the prior 12-bit to an impressive 14-bit RAW format made possible by a single DIGIC III processor. Improvements in the auto-focus system include cross-type AF points for F5.6 or faster lenses. Most welcome is a larger and brighter viewfinder, with the ability to change focusing screens, and a larger 3-inch LCD Live-View screen. The 40D also receives a boost in the frame rate up to a blistering 6.5 fps, making this the second fastest member of the Canon EOS Camera System.

One of the most impressive things we noticed right out of the box was that this is a well-made camera. It just feels “right” in the hand, and for anyone upgrading from the Rebel line, a welcome improvement to the somewhat cramped feeling of the Canon EOS Rebel 400D and Canon EOS Rebel 450D models. The build quality is excellent and substantial. Canon had also seen fit to include weather sealing, although just around the battery compartment doors. Another thing you notice is the sound of the shutter. Much quieter than in previous XXD models. One of the most welcome features is the inclusion of the current ISO setting in the viewfinder and top LCD. It looks like Canon finally listened to those wanting this feature.

In performance testing, the EOS 40D really shines. The combination of the new 10-megapixel CMOS sensor and the DIGIC III Image Processor really looks to be a very good one. In comparison test with the EOS 30D and a competitive model such as the Nikon D200, an extension of the cameras dynamic range readily becomes apparent, especially in areas of shadow. RAW images are typically very sharp right out of the camera. Canon cameras gained a reputation for their noise free images, and the 40D does not fail to deliver. Both ISO 1600 and ISO 3200 images were relatively noise free, and certainly were useable for most situations. There is a new noise reduction option available that removes chroma noise.

The EOS 40D is by all accounts, a very nice DSLR and a worthy successor to the EOS 30D. With the recent introduction of a new entry-level of DSLR, the Canon EOS Rebel XS / 1000D, where does this leave the future direction of the XXD models? Will we see a merger of the XXD and XD lines, maybe in the form of a full-frame 50D / 5D? One has to wonder if Canon really needs 4 lines of DSLR models.


JackAllCodeManager said...

Interesting point about a full frame 50D, but many 40D users are using EF-s lenses, so a full format sensor would make these redundant for those who upgraded from 40 to 50D.

ics said...

Good point. I just wonder where Canon is headed with respect to how many lines of DSLRs they actually think we need. Look like they are now targeting 6 distinct market segments:
Entry level: 1000D
Amateur level:400D,450D
Prosumer Full-Frame:5D
Pro(Sports Shooter APS-H):1D

Maybe the 50D (9D?) will be a pro level (fully weather sealed, 45-point AF, magnesium frame) APS-C format body.

This move would allow an updated 500D to take the place of the current 40D market segment, and allow Canon to have a fully pro body using all 3 current format sensors. Who knows?