Canon 40D first look

Posted on 16 September 2007, 12:48

I’d just like to point out that this is not a review, it’s simply a collection of first impressions.

Keith, 27 October 2007

Although I’d not planned to upgrade, a chance encounter with a 40D in Jessops in Newcastle changed things.

I haven’t “tested” it as such – I don’t really do that pixel-peeping thing – but I did take it out for the first time for a few hours yesterday (15 September) just to get in initial feel for the thing.

Here are some very brief first impressions, pending a full user report down the line.

Handling
It feels very nice indeed to handle. Although only a couple of millimetres bigger than the 30D it definitely looks and feels bigger – the “shoulders” of the camera are noticeably higher than those on the 30D.

It feels great, and even better with the grip.

I was initially unsure about the relocation of some of the most used buttons from the left edge of the back of the 30D to the bottom edge of the 40D, but in fact they sit very nicely there, with no ergonomic downside that I can detect.

Everything else is very familiar from using the 30D and there is no appreciable learning curve in moving from one camera to the other.

Features
Too many new things to list really, much less to test in a couple of hours, but one thing I was very keen to examine was the new sRAW file format.

This is a proprietary Canon format (“small RAW”) which generates significantly smaller file sizes than the normal 40D output (I’ve had RAW files up to 20mb from the 40D, whereas sRAW is averaging out at 6-7mb) while – supposedly – keeping all the detail and processing benefits of RAW.

Given that I very rarely print, having the web as the main destination for my pictures, it made sense to see how sRAW would “fit” for me.

It fits just fine, thanks..!

sRAW seems to provide images with all the detail, resolution and image quality I need from a smaller file, and very smooth, well graduated backgrounds (possibly as a result of the Digic III processor and 14 bit A/D conversion – in which case it will be the same for standard RAW files).

Whatever it is, I’m very pleased with the image quality of the camera, and I would go as far as to say that there is a small but definite improvement in IQ over the 30D.

40D images seem to take sharpening very well too.

It must be noted however that practically everything I did yesterday is different to how I’ve been using the 30D: no TC used yesterday (there’s a story there too); a different file format; and therefore a different processing workflow, because RawShooter Essentials does not support the 40D.

Nevertheless, I’m liking what I see, a lot – there’s seems to be a quality of crispness to the images I’ve taken so far which I haven’t seen previously from my 30D.

Colour handling appears to be different too – more saturation and contrast from the 40D, it seems (again with the caveat that I’m processing things differently).

I’ve drawn a few tentative conclusions about the auto focusing (AF) performance of the 40D.

AF is crisper and – I’m sure – more accurate, but it is more sensitive too and seems capable of being “distracted” by messy backgrounds unless the photographer does his bit: it isn’t a problem though, although the first time it happened my mind strayed to thoughts of the problems the 1D Mk III has been having!

In combination with the 40D’s 6.5 frames per second shutter speed (which feels a lot faster than the 30D’s 5 fps) the snappy IS should make short work of flight shots, and I look forward to testing that in anger, even though I’m not really a BIF shooter.

The quiet shutter is nice too – it has a real “quality” sound to it.

Now that I’m straying into über subjective territory I’ll end with a few pictures…

Curlew at St Mary's - 40D



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