Canon EOS 40D Digital SLR

10.1 Megapixels, 6.5 Frames Per Second, Digic III, Integrated Cleaning…

Canon EOS 40D Review

The new Canon EOS 40D has been out in the shops for a couple of months now and all seems well, whilst (as at Oct 2007) Canon have been recalling the unsold 1D Mark III's from all stores. It seems they have finally recognised the Autofocus issue and are prepared to do something about it.

Why do I mention the Canon EOS 1D Mark III in this quick review of the 40D?

Whereas the Canon EOS 30D wasn't enough of an upgrade from the hugely popular Canon EOS 20D for me to write about, the 40D appears to be an exceptional camera for the money. It seems very closely related to the EOS 1D Mark III. It is an upgrade worthy of a mention.

I guess it could have people putting the kybosh on splashing out thousands of $$$'s more for the 1-series EOS when they can get most of the functionality from its smaller sibling.

Main Features of the Canon EOS 40D:

  • APS-C CMOS 10.1 MP sensor
  • 75 JPEG image burst at 6.5fps
  • High precision, wide area AF
  • 3.0" LCD with new Live View mode
  • Canon DIGIC III processor
  • New EOS Integrated Cleaning System
  • Picture Styles
  • Tougher Magnesium alloy body
  • Compatible with EF/EF-S lenses and EX Speedlights

You can see the full spec sheet at Canon here - Canon EOS 40D Spec Sheet

The only differences between the 1D Mark III and the 40D on the surface are that the 40D has a slightly smaller sensor, slightly slower continuous mode, a slightly less durable body but a huge price difference.

Ok, deep down there is a lot more to it than that but you get the same megapixels, the same new live view 3.0" screen, the same Digic III processor, the same integrated cleaning system and picture styles menu. You also get all the same software and Wi-Fi capabilities…I am starting to wonder why I bought the 1D Mark III?

EOS 40D - $1,300, EOS 1D Mark III - $4,300. Lighter on the wallet as well as the arms…Hrmph!

Canon EOS 40D Review

This is one camera I would have no problems in recommending to anyone starting out in serious photography. The file sizes are good for wedding or stock photography, the low noise quality is exceptional and the new, higher dynamic range smoothing features are something else as I have seen in the 1D Mark III already.

So, what’s it all about?

10.1 MP CMOS sensor

Canon’s own CMOS sensor gives the 40D a wide dynamic range, which retains subtle details in highlight and shadow areas. A new and improved pixel design with on-chip noise reduction ensures crisp, clean images throughout the ISO range. Images are now converted at 14 bits for superior colour reproduction and finer gradations.

6.5 fps (frames per second) shooting

The Canon EOS 40D captures up to 6.5 fps for a continuous burst of up to 17 RAW images or 75 large JPEG images.

Wide area Autofocus with 9 cross-type points

The high precision Canon AF system employs 9 cross-type points to give precise focusing on both vertical and horizontal planes. Its central AF point offers sensitivity up to f2.8. AF points are spread out across the AF frame in order to better accommodate subjects that are off center.

3.0" LCD with Live View mode

The large, bright 3.0″ LCD gives pin-sharp definition for checking composition and focus with 10x magnification for finer details as well as having stunning colour rendition. When shooting from an awkward position, the new Live View mode gives you the option of composing and framing your image from the rear LCD like the original point and shoot cameras.

DIGIC III processor

The new and improved, fast and highly accurate DIGIC III processor processes images at 14 bits for finer colour gradations. Canon’s DIGIC III minimizes power consumption to give prolonged battery life which delivers instant 0.15 second start up time as with the Canon EOS 30D.

EOS Integrated Cleaning System

A welcome addition to many digital photographers is the built-in cleaning and dust prevention system which works well to keep the sensor clean. A combination of technologies repels, reduces and removes dust and also includes a Self Cleaning Sensor Unit which shakes dust from the cameras image sensor with each power on.

Picture Style

Canon’s Picture Style presets can provide easy control over many image processing parameters. Each individual style offers a different colour response and Picture Style presets are customizable either in-camera or through the supplied Canon Picture Style Editor software.

Magnesium alloy body

A tougher, durable magnesium alloy camera body with more environmental seals now protect the camera from the rigours of every day and heavy use.

EF lenses and accessories

The Canon EOS 40D is compatible with more than 60 EF-s and EF lenses, plus all EX Speedlite flash units. Wireless (Wi-Fi) shooting and remote file transfers are now possible with the (optional) Wireless File Transmitter WFT-E3.


Video Out will allow reviewing images on a TV screen. Connect the 40D with USB 2.0 (Hi-speed) for fast data transfers.

Been thinking about a new DSLR in this budget? You could do a lot worse and the $3000 you save over the 1D Mark III would buy an awful lot of nice glass!

Do you own this camera?

Do you own or have you used the Canon EOS 40D extensively? Why not write your own quick review and let others know what it is "really" like?

What Other Visitors Have Said:

I made the right choice with the Canon EOS 40D – by Morne Louw, (Cape Town)

With so many camera options out there I just found it extremely difficult to pick which one to buy for my relatively new ventures into wedding photography.

Do not dare to ask people on forums which is the best Nikon or Canon… yes, I did, won’t do it again. In the end I picked the Canon 40D thinking that when I get my business going better and get booked more often I will upgrade to the 5D, but I’m starting to doubt if I really need to. The 40D has everything I need for my wedding photography.

Low-noise at high ISO: I like low-light photography, so loved the idea of being able to push the ISO up to 1600 and find no trace of noise, combine that with some fast glass and you can hand-hold in conditions previously out of my humble skill-set. 10MP is more than enough for wedding photography, I often even crop photos out of existing photos and still get wonderful quality prints.

The 3inch LCD screen, man, you can see the difference, you’ll never be able to go back to less. I do however still find it very hard to review photos outside in the day as the screen is extremely glossy, but I don’t think that’s just a Canon issue as my Olympus had the same issue.

Ease of use: The Canon EOS 40D is amazingly well designed, with the right buttons in the right places and direct access to the most used features, I find I can finally set almost anything while keeping my eye at the view-finder. So make adjustment with that much ease really speeds up the shooting experience. I love my 40D, will probably rather get another one as a back-up body one-day and spend my money on more glass!!!

By Daniel K - (Johannesburg, South Africa)

I have bought the Canon EOS 40D yesterday after owning the 20D for 3 years. I must say that the 20D served me well in its life-time and it will now become my back-up. I've an assignment for the next week to shoot a clients buildings and I can’t wait to test this boy! I looked at the 5D but here in South Africa it is just too much to pay, also after 3 years I think Canon is pretty close to upgrading it.

Like you said, why pay so much more for a Mark III when this is soooo much more affordable. I work for an advertising company and had never had any complaints regarding quality and the company have used my images on billboards.

Canon EOS 40D Upgrade and Backup camera - By Bev Barker, Essex, England

I've had the Canon EOS 40D for about 4 months now and I'm getting to love it more and more every time I use it! I got this camera as an upgrade from my 20D and a backup to my 1D MKIIN. I especially like the large LCD screen and the live view is very helpful with my macro work. I'd highly recommend this camera as an upgrade or a move on from compact to first DSLR.

My first DSLR - By Viknesh Nadaraja, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

It was my first DSLR. I owned a Kodak Superzoom and was reaching the limit – I could not get what I wanted as of the pics from the camera after 4 years using it. Between the 40D and Nikon’s D300, 40D was more affordable and hence I went for it.

Been using it and am immensely satisfied. I take photography seriously, I invest my time reading, experimenting and exploring and here I have a camera that is well and far beyond me. Totally satisfied !

By Roz de-Layen Vian, Somerset, UK

I have an EOS20D - which I have loved and loved. (Still do, but it’s been relegated by the Canon EOS 40D). I also have an EOS400D which is my workhorse for general out and about shooting (like on the sand where if it’s damaged I won’t cry – as much!)

But, I now have the Canon EOS 40D. I bought it from Warehouse Express in March and can’t praise it enough. Love it. Adore it. Would sleep with it if it wasn’t so darned uncomfortable! It IS an amazing camera.

I run a very successful camera club and we have mostly Canons and Nikon’s (who?) and only two of us have this model EOS40D – and it is so tempting to crow – but we’re nice people, so we don’t! But it IS absolutely brilliant. It’s head and shoulders above the rest.

I’m a wedding photographer and can say that the shots are incredible and...Oh dear! I can’t say any more, I shall choke up with emotion! Buy it!

Superb piece of kit – by Kevin, Thailand

I’ve owned the Canon EOS 40D for about 9 months and hardly a day goes by when I don’t use it…sometimes I’m sad enough just to pick it up and cradle it. It feels ‘right’.

Coupled with the BG-E2 battery grip, I can go all day without having to change batteries and the advantage of the grip means shooting with the camera in portrait config. (camera turned thru 90 degrees) you can comfortably use the shutter release built into the grip. I’ve used the camera for close-up work and fashion with excellent results. I tell anyone interested to buy it.

Solid piece of Patrick, UK

The build and feel of this machine is excellent. Mine fell out of the top of my backpack from a height of about 1.5m onto solid concrete – a parking lot floor – and then bounced along for a bit…resulting in nothing more than a tiny crack in the CF door (I’m sure a less solid camera would have shattered).

Also, it’s not so big that it has to be carried in both hands. The 50D is available now but I would have no hesitation picking up a Canon EOS 40D (if in the same position now) as it represents considerably better value at its current price point (and then invest the difference in glass).

A grumble for me are 9 AF points as I feel Canon could offer more. But then, we don’t get any more until the 1D series cameras. And, as Nick points out, there are plenty of other features it has inherited from the 1D series. Also, the bundled software is very useful; have a look at a Canon tutorial on their site to get the most from it. (It’s straightforward enough but seeing a pro using it could give you the best workflow quickly)

I love mine! By Cheryl Lancaster, Cedar Rapids, IA

I purchased my Canon EOS 40D and about 2 days later they came out with the 50D. I was remorseful at first but have since decided that this is a great camera and does everything I want it to do plus I could spend the money I saved by not getting a 50D and used it to purchase some fun lenses.

By Mary, Carmarthen, Wales, UK

I bought this camera in July 2009, and gave my daughter my D70 Nikon. I was reasonably sure before I bought it that it was a very good camera and now I am sure. Just need to teach myself about the canon picture-taking. My first real picture is of my dog Patch.

The Stage - By Barry King, Eastbourne,E/Sussex, UK

The Canon EOS 40D is only a recent addition, so far I have been very impressed. Whilst I mainly shoot landscapes I shot some indoor theatre images in a local Victorian theatre, the shot attached was taken from the dress circle, whilst a tour was taken round the theatre on an open day. I had the EF 17-40mm f.4L attached, handheld at 1/6 sec, f/4 ISO 1600 focal length 17mm

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