As usual, this is not a review per se but more
of an opinion
about a camera I bought. Actually, I did not buy this camera
for myself but for my wife who was desperate to own it. She
was fed up with her 400 XTI complaining about a 'smeariness' to the
files it produced. I couldn't really see what she was talking
about but it was a case of either buying the 40D for her or she was
threatening to jump ship to the Nikon camp and I didn't relish buying
every lens we needed twice. Her birthday was very soon after the 40D
so I did the necessary and order the highly anticipated successor to
The two digit Canon DSLRs have always been a favorite among
amateur and semi-professional photogs. As my wife falls into
this category with a few paying gigs under her belt the 40D is perfect
for her. I am still perfectly happy with my digital rebel,
the 400 XTI, but I can see the professional image problem of
turning up to a client with the same camera as they just
bought at Costco. The 40D does set you apart from the
beginner DSLR user. At $1300 for the body alone it takes
considerably more commitment, or at least more disposable income, than
the Rebel. You have to put some thought into this purchase, at least we
did. So, for twice the money of the Rebel, do you get twice
The answer, as usual, is both 'Yes', and 'No'.
If, like me, you are perfectly happy with the results of your
the 40D does seem like something of an expensive extravagance.
After all, they share much the same spec in the
sensor department; 10 megapixels, APS-C sized, dust-removal.
Camera buffs know that you can't reply on specs alone, nevertheless,
let's look at a few more specs just for fun:
||40D is twice as fast but also considerably less noisy
at most settings
||1 cross point + 8 others
||9, all cross points
||I only use the center point on my rebel because it is
the only cross point one on the camera. All 9 on the 40D are
fast, accurate and usable - but I still only use the center one -
sorry, force of habit.
||3 fps (27JPEGS)
||6.5 fps (75 JPEGS)
||The 40D is more than twice as fast in continuous mode
and can save more than twice the images at once - the 40D really feels
more professional as a result
||20 ounces(5 x 3.7 x 2.6 in)
||29 ounces (5.7 x 4.2 x 2.9 in)
||The 40D is about a third bigger and heavier but feels
much less pasticy the the Rebel
||Twice as many shots from the larger 40D battery
So the results are starting to weigh up and the 40D is looking
premium you pay is justified. Stats aside, this
reinforced when you pick up the two cameras. The 40D is more
solid and less creaky than the Rebel - many complain that the Rebel was
just too small and fiddly in larger hands; an issue the 40D definitely
resolves. Most functions are available with a single button
press and a roll of a wheel rather than having to navigate menus.
The 40D also has a much more professional approach to ISO.
I've already mentioned that the 40D is considerably less
noisy than the rebel but the 40D also has many more ISO steps for
adjustment than the usual, simple doubling and halving of values.
It also displays the ISO value in the viewfinder which is
appropriate for those of us who use the ISO in a much more dynamic way
than we did with film, of the Rebel. The Rebel, like most DSLRs of its
kind, invites you to set the ISO setting and then leave it alone, using
the shutter speed and aperture to control the exposure from then on.
The 40D has a much more integrated approach to the three
exposure controls, making the ISO setting as easy to tweak as the
Other professional features include spot metering, which is
I really wish the Rebel did have. The 40D's viewfinder is not
only more informative than the Rebels but bigger and brighter too.
The 40D has a separate LCD screen on the top plate of the
camera displaying all your settings whereas the rebel makes dual use of
the rear screen for both reviewing pictures and displaying your camera
settings. The 40D's rear screen is also bigger, although, for
some reason, not higher resolution than the Rebel's.
'What about live-view?' I deludingly hear you ask. Live-view
is the ability to frame the shot through the rear LCD. I'll
be honest, I haven't used it beyond trying it out and thinking, 'Hmm,
that might be useful one day'. That day is yet to come.
It seems that everyone wants this feature in their new camera
but no one is entirely sure why. We all complained about
having to frame our shots using the rear LCD when we had no choice
using our digicams before there were affordable DSLRs. Now we
want our DSLRs to be digicams too?
So, what is the answer to the $650 (or more) question - is the
the upgrade price from the digital rebel? When the new rebel
came out and the 'step up' was the 30D it was a no-brainer; the XTI was
more camera for less money. The 40D has restored the correct
Canon DSLR line hierarchy and if I were choosing between buying the
Rebel or the 40D today, and I had the extra money I'd probably go with
the 40D. If you already own the latest Rebel, and, like me,
you're pretty happy with it, I can't see the real justification for
buying the 40D. If, however, you are like my wife and are
starting to shoot for clients and are frustrated by the amateurism of
the Rebel then the 40D is worth the money. Does the 40D make
better pictures than the Rebel? In some situations it does
make getting the shot easier. It is faster to operate and
shoot. If you're a sports photographer it's speed will
definitely improve your hit rate. If you shoot a lot in low
light, it's low light capabilities will come in handy. If you
shoot the family on holiday, however, the difference will be
negligible. As always, at the end of the day, your mileage
may vary and the camera you carry is a matter of personal choice.
I keep shooting my Rebel and I don't feel like I'm missing a
whole lot most of the time. My wife adores the 40D and looks
down on my measly Rebel and the amateur that I am
PS: It is totally a matter of
personal taste but I believe that the Rebel sounds better than the 40D
so if I were buying on acoustics alone I'd go for the swish of
the XTI rather than the muffled clump of the 40D
- but that's just me...