I own 10D, 20D and 30D cameras, so I could hardly wait for the new Canon EOS 40D to arrive. While the 30D represented a relatively minor upgrade of the 20D, the 40D represents a major overhaul of its excellent predecessor. New features include a 10.1-megapixel Canon-produced CMOS image sensor, a 3-inch LCD monitor with live-view capability, 6.5 fps shooting, a self-cleaning image sensor unit, a latest-generation Canon DIGIC III image processor, 14-bit A/D conversion and more—for $100 less than the 30D when it was introduced.
My favorite new feature is the EOS Integrated Cleaning System, which consists of the Self-Cleaning Sensor unit (ultrasonic vibrations clear dust off the sensor’s low-pass filter every time you switch the camera on or off), components that generate less dust and minimize dust adherence, and Dust Delete Data, which maps any dust left on the sensor unit and deletes it in postprocessing. Anyone who changes lenses frequently in harsh field conditions will love this feature.
While the image sensor is slightly smaller than the 30D’s and contains 23% more pixels, making the pixels smaller (5.7 microns vs. 6.4), new fabrication processes and microlens technology, plus the Canon DIGIC III image processor, 14-bit (vs. 12-bit in the 30D) A/D conversion, and high-ISOs and long-exposure noise reduction result in excellent image quality—even the top setting of ISO 3200 is quite usable if images are properly exposed. The 40D also seems to handle contrasty subjects better than the 30D.
The AF system still uses nine points, user- or camera-selectable, but all nine are now cross-types, sensitive to both vertical and horizontal lines. A diagonally oriented central cross-point further enhances AF performance with lenses of ƒ/2.8 or faster. Autofocusing is quicker and more stable, even at 6.5 fps. The 40D can shoot up to 17 RAW or 75 highest-quality JPEG images at that rate. There’s also a 3 fps rate and a silent advance mode (in live-view operation).
The new Canon EOS 40D features a 10-megapixel CMOS sensor and live-view capability amidst its powerful collection of features. The camera is priced at a very moderate $1,299 estimated street price
Canon introduced its first live-view D-SLR monitor in the EOS-1D Mark III. The 40D improves on that, allowing autofocusing and silent operation as well as standard manually focused live-view operation. I found live view useful when trying to focus a 300mm lens with a 2x teleconverter manually—the viewfinder image is dim with that setup, but enlarging the image 10x on the 3-inch monitor in live-view mode made focusing easier. Live view is also handy for odd-angle shooting, when it would be awkward to look through the finder. While it doesn’t tilt and rotate like the monitors on some compact cameras, the monitor can be viewed at angles up to 140 degrees. You can display the live-view image on a computer monitor using the provided EOS Utility software—wirelessly, with the optional Wireless File Transmitter WFT-E3 or E3a. The wireless unit also lets you record GPS data or write images to an external hard drive via Hi-Speed USB. Estimated Street Price: $1,299. Contact: Canon, (800) OK-CANON, www.usa.canon.com.