Canon EOS 40D
- Brilliant image quality, speedy burst mode, robust construction, dust reduction solution
- Some minor auto focus problems in low light
For at least a little while it appears the Canon 40D is king of the hill. While the Nikon D80 and D200 both provide reasonable alternatives for enthusiasts, and the Nikon D40x and Canon EOS 400D are both more suitable options for amateurs, the 40D's blend of great pictures, rugged construction and speedy operation make it a great purchase.
Price$ 1,999.00 (AUD)
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It's been a long time coming, but Canon has finally released the successor to the EOS 30D, unsurprisingly named the EOS 40D. Featuring an upgraded 10-megapixel sensor, live view technology and dust reduction, along with the standard Canon feature set, the 40D is a brilliant piece of imaging hardware.
While we have yet to see the 40D's real main competitor, the Nikon D300, the unit compares favourably to the current crop of competitors, namely the Nikon D200 and Nikon D80 (lying between the two in price).
For a very long time image quality has been one of Canon's key strengths and as anticipated the 40D lives up to this reputation. We took several hundred pictures with this unit and were thoroughly pleased with the results.
It comes in two packages at this time, either the body on its own or packed with an EF-S 17-85mm USM lens kit with built in image stabilisation. This lens is one of Canon's better all-around entry-level lenses and it's great to see them bundle it with the 40D here.
Our test shots were crisp and exceptionally sharp. The 10-megapixel sensor does a fantastic job with no softness or fringing to note. There was some minor chromatic aberration highlighted by haloing in high contrast areas towards the edges of the frame, but it wasn't severe. Switching to a more expensive lens should help in this regard.
Colour was excellent with bright vivid hues and no over saturation to speak of. Similarly, noise was kept well under control. Everything captured up to ISO 400 is flawless and both ISO 800 and ISO 1600 are perfectly usable for small and medium print sizes. All up, the pictures taken by the 40D are some of the best available and perhaps slightly edges out those produced by other 10-megapixel units on the market right now.
Of course the image quality of the 40D was never really in doubt, so the question is what else is on offer? Well for starters there's the dust reduction technology, which shakes free dust particles by vibrating a small filter in front of the sensor every time you power up or down. As a backup there is also an option that remembers where dust shows up in your shots and uses an algorithm to try and remove it.
The other new feature is live review, which allows you to use the LCD to frame your shot, rather than the viewfinder. This is nifty in some situations, particularly when shooting at difficult angles; however, you should note that this disables the autofocus mechanism. We don't see too many professionals using this option, but it is a nice touch nonetheless.
The viewfinder itself is fairly good, offering a large clear image with roughly 95 per cent sensor coverage (i.e: your shot will be roughly 5 per cent larger than you see). Meanwhile, the camera body itself is extremely well built. It has a much more rugged feel than its little brother, the EOS 400D and the sturdy design should serve nature photographers well.
All the features you'd expect are there, including Canon's 9-point focus system and white balance presets along with both custom mode and full temperature adjustment. ISO sensitivities only extend as high as ISO 1600; however, the burst mode is quite impressive, shooting at 6.5 frames per second for 75 shots (JPEG) or 17 shots (RAW).
The speedy performance doesn't end with the burst mode however. There is no shutter lag to speak of and both power up and shot to shot times are basically instant. The autofocus generally operated well, although it did struggle a little at times in low light.
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