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The EOS-40D is Canon's midrange digital SLR, replacing their popular EOS-30D, which was introduced back in February of 2006. While the 30D was a relatively minor update to the 20D, the new 40D has some significant new features. They include:
There are many other new features, but those are the big ones. Things that haven't changed on the 40D include support for EF and EF-S lenses, full manual controls, and all the accessories you could possibly imagine.
Ready to learn more about the EOS-40D? Read on, our review starts now!
What's in the Box?
The EOS-40D comes in two "kits". One includes the body and accessories only ($1299), while the second includes all that plus an F3.5-5.6, 28 - 135 mm IS lens (for $1499). Here's what you'll find in the box for both of those:
If you buy the 40D lens kit then you'll get Canon's venerable 28 - 135 IS lens in the box. While I was unable to try the lens, it is generally VERY well liked in the Canon community. If you have any other EF or EF-S lenses, they'll work just fine with the 40D. Just remember that there's a 1.6X focal length conversion at work here, so that 28 - 135 will have a field-of-view of 44.8 - 216 mm.
Something you definitely won't find in the box is a memory card. Thus, if you don't have a CompactFlash card laying around, you'll need to buy one. The 40D supports both Type I and II CompactFlash cards, which include things like the Microdrive (does anyone even use those anymore?). I'd recommend a 2GB card as a good starter size. Buying a high speed card (100X or above) is strongly recommended. Unlike the Nikon D300 and the Olympus E-3, the EOS-40D does not support UDMA-enabled memory cards.
The 40D uses the same BP-511A battery as its predecessor. This battery packs a powerful punch, with 10.3 Wh of energy stored in its plastic shell. That means that you can expect big battery life numbers out of the camera. The chart below shows you how many shots you can squeeze out of the 40D, as well as its competitors:
The EOS-40D's battery life numbers are an improvement over the 30D's, and in the group as a whole, they're well above average. Only the new Nikon D300 can beat it.
Although none of the cameras above support AA batteries (which some people, including myself, prefer) straight out of the box, quite a few support them via their optional battery grips.
The 40D with the optional battery grip
Image courtesy of Canon USA
Want even better battery life? Then pick up the new BG-E2N battery grip. This holds two BP-511A or six AA batteries, for double the battery life of the camera alone. You can use the old BG-E2 battery grip as well -- the different is that the new one has weather-sealed compartments. Both battery grips have additional buttons, which are handy for shooting in the portrait orientation.
When it's time to charge the BP-511A battery, just snap it into the included charger. It takes about 100 minutes to fully charge the battery. This is my favorite type of charger, too, as it plugs directly into the wall (though it may not in some countries).
Digital SLRs support a load of accessories, and the table below covers just a selection of those available for the EOS-40D:
Like I said, those are just a few of the available accessories. You can also buy diopteric adjustment lenses (for the viewfinder), dual battery chargers, and different focusing screens.
One accessory I want to touch on briefly is the optional (and quite pricey) Wireless File Transmitter. As it's name implies, the WFT allows you to transfer photos wirelessly to a computer or FTP site. It even has a built-in web server, so you can view files that are stored on the camera remotely. There's more, though -- the WFT also allows you to remotely control the camera from your compute, just as you can over USB (more on that below). If that's still not enough, there's are also Ethernet and USB ports, with the latter supporting both GPS and USB flash drives. I didn't get the chance to use the WFT, so that's all I can tell you, but you'll find much more on Canon's WFT website.
EOS Utility in Mac OS X
Canon includes version 15.1 of their EOS Digital Solutions Disk with the 40D. The first application that you'll probably bump into is EOS Utility, which you can use for transferring photos from the camera, adjusting settings, or controlling the camera remotely. You can choose to transfer some or all of your photos to your computer, and they end up in ImageBrowser or ZoomBrowser, which I'll describe in a second.
Remote shooting in EOS Utility, complete with live view
The next feature in EOS Utility is a big one -- you can control the camera remotely, whether over a USB cable or a wireless connection (assuming you've bought the WFT described below). You can adjust many of the camera's settings (though not the custom functions), and images are saved on directly onto your computer hard drive. What more, the live view feature on the 40D works here too, with the same benefits. You can compose your photo, zoom in on an area of your choosing, and tweak the focus precisely using those arrow buttons right in the center of the screenshot above. There are also interval and bulb shooting options available in this part of the software.
Customizing the My Menu settings in EOS Utility
EOS Utility also lets you set up the My Menu feature on the camera (click on the "star" icon in the remote shooting window). Just pick up to six of your favorite settings using the software tool, and they'll be transferred over to the 40D.
Picture Style Editor in Mac OS X
From EOS Utility you can also get to the Picture Styles editor. To use this, you must first open up a RAW image. You can then tweak the tone curve, color settings, contrast, and sharpness, and then save a new Picture Style, which can be used both on the camera and in the Digital Photo Professional software (see below).
ImageBrowser (Mac OS X)
One of the included options for editing images are the ImageBrowser/ZoomBrowser "twins" that come with all of Canon's cameras. ImageBrowser is for the Mac, while ZoomBrowser is for Windows PCs. The Mac version is not Universal, so it doesn't run as fast as it could on Intel-based Macs. However, a Universal version now exists (it comes with the PowerShot G9), so it may be worth contacting Canon for an upgrade.
After you download photos using EOS Utility, you'll end up with the screen above, which has a standard-issue thumbnail view. Photos can be organized, printed, and e-mailed from this screen.
The JPEG viewing/editing window in ImageBrowser
Double-click on a thumbnail and you'll bring up the edit window. Editing functions include trimming, redeye removal, and the ability to adjust levels, color, brightness, sharpness, and the tone curve.
RAW editing in ImageBrowser
ImageBrowser/ZoomBrowser can also be used to edit your RAW images. The software lets you adjust nearly of all major RAW properties, including exposure, white balance, sharpness, contrast, and color, Picture Style, noise reduction, and color space.
Digital Photo Professional in Mac OS X
For slightly more powerful RAW editing plus a batch image conversion tool, you'll want to fire up Digital Photo Professional. The main screen isn't too different from Image/ZoomBrowser, with your choice of three thumbnail sizes, plus a thumbnail w/shooting data screen. The batch processing tool lets you quickly resize and rename a large number of photos.
Editing JPEGs in DPP
If you're working with a JPEG, you'll find several editing tools available. They include brightness, contrast, hue, saturation, sharpness, and chrominance noise. You can also adjust the tone curve, with the software offering an "assist" tool if you need a little help.
You can also apply remove dust from your photos by applying the Dust Delete Data information that you gather on the camera itself.
RAW editing in DPP
The RAW editor can do everything that I listed above, and more. You can adjust RAW properties including exposure, white balance, Picture Style (which contains contrast, color tone, saturation, and sharpness), and both luminance and chrominance noise. The software is very responsive, making adjustments almost instantly.
I've been talking about RAW for several paragraphs without explaining what it is. RAW images contain unprocessed image data direct from the camera's sensor. Thus, you can adjust settings like white balance and exposure without damaging the original image, so it's almost like taking the photo again. The downside is the large file size (compared to JPEG) and the need to post-process each image on your computer before you can turn it into a more common format like JPEG.
The 40D offers two RAW file formats: regular and small. The only difference is that the small (sRAW) files are 2.5 Megapixel, allowing for much smaller file sizes. Of course, this limits your output options, but if you're shooting for the web or making small prints, it's worth a look.
I should mention that Adobe Photoshop CS3 (paired with the latest Camera Raw plug-in) also supports the 40D's RAW image format.
PhotoStitch in Mac OS X
A separate program called PhotoStitch can, well, stitch together separate photos into one giant panorama. The interface is simple, the process takes seconds, and the results are impressive, as you can see. The camera doesn't have the Stitch Assist feature found on Canon's point-and-shoot cameras, so you won't get any help composing your photos.
A camera as complex as the EOS-40D requires a detailed manual, and Canon has delivered a book nearly 200 pages in length. It'll answer any question you may have about the 40D, though it's not exactly what I'd call user friendly. You'll definitely want to give it a read to get the most out of the camera.
Look and Feel
From a distance, the EOS-40D could easily be mistaken for its predecessors. Once you get closer, though, you'll see that the 40D is noticeably larger, as Canon needed more real estate to make room for that 3-inch LCD. The camera's build quality is exceptional: it has a magnesium alloy and stainless steel frame, with a outer shell made of high grade plastic and rubber. The grip is enormous, giving the camera a very "safe" and comfortable feel when it's in your hands. While the camera has more than its share of buttons and dials, they're logically placed and fairly well labeled.
One of the new features on the 40D (in terms of design) is that certain parts of the camera are now weather-sealed. These parts include the battery and memory card compartments, and the I/O ports. The various doors and covers on the optional battery grip and wireless file transmitter are sealed as well. This doesn't mean that you can take a shower with the 40D -- it's really just extra protection against dust and moisture.
Now, here's a look at how the EOS-40D compares to other D-SLRs in terms of size and weight (body only, of course):
(W x H x D, excluding protrusions)
Canon Digital Rebel XTi
5.0 x 3.7 x 2.6 in.
48.1 cu in.
510 g Canon EOS-30D
5.7 x 4.2 x 2.9 in.
69.4 cu in.
700 g Canon EOS-40D
5.7 x 4.2 x 2.9 in.
69.4 cu in.
740 g Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro
5.8 x 4.4 x 2.9 in.
74 cu in.
830 g Nikon D300
5.8 x 4.5 x 2.9 in.
75.7 cu in.
825 g Olympus E-3
5.6 x 4.6 x 2.9 in.
74.7 cu in.
810 g Panasonic Lumix DMC-L10
5.3 x 3.8 x 3.1 in.
62.4 cu in.
480 g Pentax K10D
5.6 x 4.0 x 2.8 in.
62.7 cu in.
710 g Sony Alpha DSLR-A700
5.6 x 4.3 x 3.3 in.
79.5 cu in.