Last August Canon released an update to its camera lineup with the EOS 40D. With some parts that have previously been “tested” in the EOS 400D/Rebel XTi this camera now has some nifty stuff that the 30D lacked. It now has the self-cleaning-sensor, they call it “EOS Integrated Cleaning System”, a 10.1 Megapixel sensor, the DIGIC III processor and live view using the 3″ display.
I currently am in the decision-making-process about upgrading from a 400D and recently had the chance to get the 40D, 5D – both of which are the primary suspects to go into my bag soon – and also Nikon’s D300. I unfortunately had rather short time to spend with the D300, but from what I can say it has some nice features compared to the 40D, but the price, lenses and handling are keeping me from going Nikon.
That being said the 40D also has its shortcomings compared to the Nikon. For example the screen on the 40D is basically the same like the one being used on the 400D, just 0.5″ larger. This might sound like a big step forward, but Canon didn’t up the pixel count. The screen on the D300 is much better with almost 4-times the pixel count (230.000 on the 40D vs. 922.000 on the Nikon).
Another major difference between the Canon and Nikon style cameras are the user controls. While Nikon gives almost every finger a button, Canon has – in my opinion – found the right combination of what’s really needed to frame a shot. There are just too many buttons around the Nikon body. It’s almost like comparing Windows to Mac OS. This goes on in the menu system on both cameras. While Nikon has a packed menu, Canon has the main features you might want to change on a daily basis. The less important features – read the features you aren’t changing that often – are seperated into the so called custom functions (C. Fn I to IV).
Another nice feature of the 40D are the three customizable quick presets which are chosen by the small dial on the left side of the viewfinder. For example you can create a seperate configuration which does AEB for taking HDR shots. Talking about AEB: I don’t understand why Canon is still giving the users only three different exposures, while Nikon can take up to – if I remember correctly – 9 different exposures in a row. This of course is just a simple “problem” which can be solved in software, but I don’t think Canon will step up and “fix” this.
The D300 also has the ability to go up to ISO 3200 (6400 with boost) while the 40D maxes out at 3200. This might sound great on paper, but the noise of the 12 MP sensor of the D300 at ISO 6400 is really huge, so I personally would never make use of it. This where the 5D comes in with the 2.5 years old full frame sensor and kicks both out of the ring. Noise is almost no issue at ISO 1600, thanks to the huge sensor and relatively low pixel count (12 MP). It’s incredible how Canon is still able to sell this camera left and right without any real competition.
So why the 40D?
Another big advantage of the 5D is the already mentioned full frame sensor in terms of crop. It simply doesn’t crop. I’d love this as I almost only do real wide shots or macro close shots. There’s almost nothing in between if you look at my photos. The problem here: money. The EF lenses, L-series mind you, which really take advantage of FF like the 14mm prime or 16-35mm are really expensive pieces. This is the main reason to order the 40D.
My decision is almost made and I’m probably getting the 40D, as I can get the much cheaper EF-S 10-22mm. Of course I’ll be waiting for January 24th and PMA in February until I make the order. Until then I still have the opportunity of testing the 5D which Canon provided. So I won’t be without a camera; I sold my 400D recently.
I look forward to get the 40D with the mentioned EF-S 10-22 and still have money left I wouldn’t have if I got the 5D or D300. I can already see a “What’s in my bag”-post in my drafts section. I might do a “What I use”-episode first, where I talk again about using Trekbuddy to get GPS data into my photos. So watch out!