Review Canon 40D. First Encounter.

CT

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OK - I only picked this body up last night, so these are my initial impressions covering mainly the new features of this camera or those which are particularly important to me. It's not in any way intended to be a full in - depth review - those are out there on the web anyway.

BODY

The body feels really solid and well built, with a more deeply sculpted slot for the second finger (right hand) very much like the Canon 1 Series, so a big improvement there. It's difficult to quantify the feel - I never had any complaints about the 20D build quality, but the 40D just feels more robust and solid, although I'm just not sure why. The battery grip just improves matters even more, giving a nice weighty feel too, which I like. The grip locks tightly to the body with no sign of looseness or flexing at all.

The new 3" screen is impressive to say the least and is visible out of doors when I'd normally be moving into the shade or indoors to review my shots properly. I can't really see the screen getting much bigger in subsequent models as they've used up every bit of free space around the screen to reposition the interface buttons. They'll still present no problem to 20D, 30D and 5D users though - despite their new locations they're much the same in use.

The much lauded weather sealing is limited to the CF compartment and battery doors and is obviously welcome but not that much of a big deal. Weather sealing has also been added to the (now silver) hot shoe, but you need the weather sealed 580EX 11 flash to take advantage of the feature.

VIEWFINDER

This is now noticeably larger and brighter with much bigger, bolder LCD exposure info at the bottom, with the ISO permanently displayed too (about time). ISO is also displayed on the top right screen. Spot metering is now added too - a welcome improvement as it was sadly lacking in the 20D.

SHUTTER

This is the quietest shutter I've ever heard on an SLR so it's a big bonus for wildlife photographers and it seems is due to the mirror now being damped upwards and downwards rather than just spring operated. A choice of two super quiet modes is also available and they really are whisper quiet but only available in Live View.... Bugger!

AUTOFOCUS

The 40D has the same 9 AF points as previous XXD models, but they're now all the cross type, so are sensitive vertically and horizontally. In addition the centre AF point has been given added sensitivity. Using this in Servo mode I was very impressed with the speed of tracking and the positive way it snapped into focus.

LIVE VIEW

I can take it or leave it to be truthful although I can see it has it's uses. If it had the swiveling screen we used to see in compact digicams it would be really beneficial, but this implementation doesn't really float my boat. The fact that you can't AF in Live View really limits it's usefulness for me. What I will say though is that if you ever doubted the worth of image stabilisation, compose a shot in Live View with a long lens and watch that image dithering around until IS engages!!!

HIGHLIGHT PROTECTION

A really useful feature this which you can choose to engage and looks like being a boon when shooting in contrasty light or against the sky. Time will tell though.

CUSTOM SETTINGS

Three custom settings are now provided, C1, C2 and C3, all now selectable positions on the mode dial on the top left plate. You can now set the camera up for three different shooting situations and recall the settings instantly by a turn of the Mode Dial. The obvious thing for me is that Mirror Lock Up can now be assigned to one of these positions and is now only a click away instead of having to delve through the menus. I'm sure these user modes will be really useful when I've thought about how I want to set them up..

SENSOR

The 40D now outputs a file with the smallest pixel pitch and greatest pixel density of any camera in the Canon line up, so is the body to stick behind long lenses for maximum image quality, particularly with small birds etc.

It has a single Digic 3 processor and outputs 14 bit images which should show a big improvement in colour and tonal range in images. It's also claimed to perform better at higher ISOs and be usable up to 1600 ISO with no appreciable noise. From what I've seen so far, I'm encouraged that it delivers on it's promises.

AUTO ISO

I'm not sure I really want or need it, preferring to choose ISO myself, but having used it on Auto ISO this morning, I have say the system was making the same choices I would make myself so it seems a good intelligent implementation and could prove a godsend - no more shooting with the wrong ISO because you forgot to change it.

I think I've covered the main points, so off to take some shots. The bad news is RSP doesn't support the 40D and no upgrades are available now, so I have to find a new RAW processor. The following shots though are jpegs shot in Neutral picture setting and processed and sharpened in Paint Shop Pro. All shots were at 700mm ( The 500 f4L plus 1.4X TC) and 800 ISO. Conditions were very dull so none are really taken with a fast enough shutter speed.

ROBIN

This shot is full frame, and I could have got 3 or 4 feet closer, so straight away I can see that I'll be doing a lot less cropping and full frame shots are now a real possibility for very small birds. The advantages for interpolating image library shots are obvious.



FEMALE HOUSE SPARROW

Taken at about 30 feet. Quite a substantial crop, but much less than I'm used to, and showing far more fine detail than I usually would at this range. The bird is still far smaller than it is at 1:1



MALE HOUSE SPARROW

Taken at around 35 feet. I rarely get usable images at this dark location due to noise in the dark areas and subsequent cropping just intensifies the noise and loses too much definition for the images to be usable, so I'm particularly pleased with this result which looks very encouraging. No noise reduction has been used on any of these shots, so I have to say the decreased noise at high ISO claims seem well justified.



So I'm feeling pretty chuffed at this early stage. If you really need the weather sealing and bouncabilty of a 1 Series body, or you just want one and can't live another day without one - there's nothing for it but to get one. If not though, do yourself a favour, spend the wonga on glass and get a 40D.

Hope this helps anyone hovering over a body purchase - I'll add to this thread as and when I've got anything useful to impart.
 

mmcp42

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#2
what an excellent review
and a great set of pictures to go with
thanks!

btw you compare it with 1 series
but how would you rate it against, for example, the 5D?
 

George

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#3
Wait till you try the 6.5 fps, for wildlife action it's superb and really, for the money, gets prety close to the 1D speed to all intents and purposes, a huge step up from 3fps, and the cache enables plenty of sequences to be taken.

George
 
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CT

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#4
but how would you rate it against, for example, the 5D?
I have no experience of the 5D at all. Most 40D reviewers agree that image quality is indistinguishable from 5D ones. The two camera are very different animals though, aimed at different users and obviously the 40D couldn't compete with the FOV of the 5D for landscape/studio work.

a 5D and a 40D might just be a perfect combo though. For the next couple of weeks anyway. :D
 

mmcp42

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I have no experience of the 5D at all. Most 40D reviewers agree that image quality is indistinguishable from 5D ones. The two camera are very different animals though, aimed at different users and obviously the 40D couldn't compete with the FOV of the 5D for landscape/studio work.

a 5D and a 40D might just be a perfect combo though. For the next couple of weeks anyway. :D
no no no no
the question was meant to help me decide between - not to get both
(she'd kill me!)

(unless I get both and sell the 400D :nuts:)
(& then she'd kill me again)
 
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CT

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Oh gawd! you really are selling this to me CT :LOL:

Look forward to hearing how you find the 'Highlight Protection'
PMSL. :LOL:

The 2nd shot above (female spuggy) was taken with highlight protection enabled and evaluative metering. It seems to have dealt with that situation very well?
 

Les McLean

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#8
That's an excellent review CT-thanks :)
 
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Thanks for that, highlight protection is something I did not even know existed - would have masde a lot of things easier for me if I'd used it! Out comes the manual again tonight :LOL:

I will have to try a couple of other bits you have used and see what the results are like, one day I will get something good!
 
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CT

CT

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Thanks for that, highlight protection is something I did not even know existed - would have masde a lot of things easier for me if I'd used it! Out comes the manual again tonight :LOL:
Custom Function II/3- I just checked. :D

It's actually called 'Highlight Tone Priority' There are just two options... Enabled/Disabled.
 
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susie

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Custom Function II/3- I just checked. :D

It's actually called 'Highlight Tone Priority' There are just two options... Enabled/Disabled.
Thanks that saved my poor eyes!
I will see if it makes the ducks and other feathered things any easier to shoot :LOL:
 
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#15
The fact that you can't AF in Live View really limits it's usefulness for me. .
I dont know if I have got you wrong here, CT.. but autofocus is possible with Liveview... you just have to press the AF ON button quickly and the screen goes black for a second and the view returns autofocused.

it may not be ideal... but it is certainly possible... as I have tried!! ;)

Also, the zooming in bit in Liveview by 5x or 10x is brilliant when doing macro work.. it really enables you to get brilliant accuracy with focusing.

Just my 2p worth!!
 
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susie

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Damn you, CT!! I had just convinced myself I really wasn't ready for this.....I had heard the noise levels were not good......now you have just gone and made me want one all over again......*%$£!$ :bonk:
Just to be very helpful, I have been shooting at ISO 3200 and not seen any obvious noise, even comparing with someone using a 1D and L lens - but then I'm not the greatest at seeing bad iq
 

Cobra

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#18
Great reveiw CT another one here that didn't know about the "highlight thingy" either :banghead:
I have the equipment (y) but not the skill unfortunately :(
The one thing that did become apparent very quickly to me though was the Digic 3 processors abillity, it knocked the hell outta my previous 400D

 
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Very good report there CT, sounds a nice piece of equipment. Sadly I won't be getting one due to spending limit (set by the boss) being reached. Looks like I'll have to wait for the 60D.
 

Marcel

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#20
I know it's not a HUGE increase on my 30D.....But it does have some things on it I'd like....
Not that that justifies the cost of course.......but then justification doesn't stop me wanting one....just buying one :p
 
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CT

CT

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#21
I dont know if I have got you wrong here, CT.. but autofocus is possible with Liveview... you just have to press the AF ON button quickly and the screen goes black for a second and the view returns autofocused.

it may not be ideal... but it is certainly possible... as I have tried!! ;)
That would be much better Janice, but I'm having no luck with that at the moment - probably a custom function setting? At the moment whatever I do the AF start button just takes the shot - focused or not.
 
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#23
That would be much better Janice, but I'm having no luck with that at the moment - probably a custom function setting? At the moment whatever I do the AF start button just takes the shot - focused or not.

There are lots of alternative functions of the af button but I believe this is under liveview functions to enable autofocus during liveview with af on button.

I am at work so i am going from memory!!

You need to first enable "AF during Live View shooting" which is in the C.FnIII Auto focus/Drive menu, #6.
 
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CT

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I'll check it out then Janice . (y)

Although I do have that enabled. Probably something daft.:thinking:
 
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#25
Oh will people PLEASE stop telling me how good this camera is?!

*sulks*

:p
 
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#27
CT when you press 'af on' button and it clicks and the screen goes black and it sounds like the mirror going up etc .... is that what you refer to when you say the shutter takes a photo?

Because that action is the autofocusing action... it isnt taking a photo... its autofocusing. if you look you wont find a photo taken until you press the shutter release button.


I also Love the exposure simulation part of liveview.... so you can see if you will be over or underexposed.. (going back to point and shoot days.. but its pretty useful!)


Another thing to remember with Hightlight Priority enabled... you cannot use ISO 100 or ISO 3200 if you want to use these you have to disable the highlight priority.
 
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#28
Nice review CT. I just got my 40D a few days ago and agree with almost everything you say. Only thing is, I find the screen disappointing. The brightness is fine, I just can't tell whether an image is sharp or properly focussed on that screen. Maybe it's just me :thinking:
 
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#30
great review, there are so many about but you had a good angle to that. I got my 40D last friday and couldn't be more pleased with it!!! I agree with the comment above about a 40D and 5D (or preferably its successor) being my ideal body combo :)
 
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#31
Lol, I did think that, seriously.

But on the computer screen I'm fine with assessing sharpness, focus and the rest.

Has anyone noticed the pixels are hexagonal (octagonal?? circular?!? :shrug:) and not square like on my MacBook and probably every other computer screen?
 
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#35
The auto focus is possible with the live view I'm sure I enabled something in the CFs :thinking:
Yes... its here: You need to first enable "AF during Live View shooting" which is in the C.FnIII Auto focus/Drive menu, #6.
 

Jimmy_Lemon

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#37
The auto focus is possible with the live view I'm sure I enabled something in the CFs :thinking: I think theyed ironed out a few problems that I though when I first got mine.
Yeah I have seen that option too and tried it on and off, but it still doesnt auto focus on live view, so **** knows :(
 

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This live view/autofocus bit is interesting, I was also under the assumption that the autofocus didn't work on live view, must have a go but it won't be until after Focus.

Thanks for the comments, Janice.
 
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#39
Yeah I have seen that option too and tried it on and off, but it still doesnt auto focus on live view, so **** knows :(
Does on mine!! :D

When I hold the af on button down during liveview, the screen goes black, I hear the mirror.. and i see and hear the autofocus work for as long as you hold the button. As you let the 'af on' button off, the mirror goes back, the view comes up again and it is in focus... this all takes a second or two.
 

Jimmy_Lemon

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Does on mine!! :D

When I hold the af on button down during liveview, the screen goes black, I hear the mirror.. and i see and hear the autofocus work for as long as you hold the button. As you let the 'af on' button off, the mirror goes back, the view comes up again and it is in focus... this all takes a second or two.
AH! the AF button! Didnt think of that at all - D'oh! Works a charm, nice one Janice (y)
 
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