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Outback Photo Handbook: Cameras

Canon EOS 40D Review Diary

review by Uwe Steinmueller

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Diary Index

Note on image processing:

As usual we work only with raw files.

We now mainly use ACR 4.2 or LightZone also for the Canon 40D.

All images are also sharpened using EasyS Plus Sharpening Toolkit.


10/11/2007 L-Bracket for 40D

Almost all our cameras are equipped with Really Right Stuff L-Brackets. You can find more information at our Tripod, Plates and Clamps page. Really Right Stuff is quite fast to support new cameras.


9/30/2007 Builtin flash and ISO 1600

On Saturday we had the pleasure to listen once again to live music at the San Gregorio General Store. One of our favorite singer/songwriters David Elias was playing joined by a larger group (all of these guys are great musicians by themselves). Good opportunity to try the builtin flash of the 40D.

David Elias at San Gregorio

100% pixel view crop

Crop of the ISO 1600 photo background

Some image data:

  • Canon 40D
  • ISO 1600
  • f/4.0
  • 1/160 sec
  • Manual mode
  • builtin flash
  • Canon 70-200mm f/4 IS (means full open)
  • Processed in ACR 4.2
  • ACR noise removal at default

We are quite impressed by this result. David thanks for your music and letting us use this photo.

9/26/2007 LightZone now also supports 40D

We can now also work with LightZone 3.1 on our 40D images.


9/13/2007 Adobe Camera Raw 4.2 supports 40D

Camera Raw 4.2 (Mac, Windows) supports now Canon EOS 40D.


9/7/2007 High Speed HDR using the Canon 40D

We now also use the Canon 40D successfully for our new High Speed HDR technique. Please read more in this article. We also offer hands-on workshops that teach this new and innovative approach (you find more about our workshops here). The 6.5 fps rate is key to it.

9/5/2007 Bibble 4.9.8e supports 40D

Now also Bibble supports the 40D RAW files. Bibble seems to get very close to 5.0 (deducted from the version numbering) :-).

We are glad to see more and more raw converters supporting this very attractive camera.

9/4/2007 Silkypix 3.0.12 supports 40D

Today we found out that Silkypix 3.0.12 (seems to be a beta) supports the 40D RAW files. I think the results look good.

9/2/2007 Diary Start

The Canon 40D is a major update to the previous model the Canon EOS 30D. The 40D inherits quite a few features from the big brother the Canon EOS 1D Mark III.

  • Improved body (much improved viewfinder)
  • 10MP sensor (likely very much like the Canon 400D, which is also a very nice camera)
  • Large 3" LCD
  • Live View for focusing directly on the LCD with mirror up
  • Dust cleaning feature
  • 6.5 frames per second at 10MP bursts (this is big news)
  • 14 bit A/D converter
  • 9 cross sensor auto focus system

The histogram

Same comment as for the Canon 1D Mark III: Histogram shows now all 3 channels and the luminance histogram at the same time. So far so good. Unfortunately it is hard to see whether the data clip because the background of the histogram is dark gray and the rest on the LCD is black. It would be much easier to check the histogram if there would be a clear visible line around the histogram area.

Los Gatos test shots


Ristorante @ISO 100

Crop @100% magnification

We used for this test our EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM zoom. We found that our trusty 24-70mm f/2.8 lens produces more chromatic aberrations. We think the photos is as expected. Using a different RAW converter makes it hard for us to really compare results.

You can download the original RAW from here (>12MB). The only RAW converter that can convert it right now (9/2/2007) is Canon's DPP 3.1 (comes with the camera)

Note: Remember that the service we provide is financed by selling our ebooks and PS tools. Also direct donations are welcome.

Antique store @ ISO 400

@ 100% magnification

Shadow noise at ISO 400 is ok. Again judging noise with a different RAW converter is difficult. We used the setting "Low" in DPP for "Chrominance Noise".


ISO Test

We converted with DPP 3.1(luminance noise and chrominance noise removal both set to zero) and then sharpened with the same level in DPP 3.1 and EasyS Plus.


Bear Coffee Shop

Canon EOS 40D

ISO 100
ISO 200

ISO 400

ISO 800

ISO 1600


Remember all these shots are with all noise removal off in camera and raw converter. Up to ISO 200 very smooth with virtually no noise. ISO 400 shows a bit of noise that can be handled easily. ISO 800 shows still manageable noise (mainly color noise). At 1600 the noise is too much for our taste. You can likely rescue even shots at ISO 1600 with noise removal tools.

Note about high ISO noise: Many people ask why they should worry about noise at ISO 800 or more if they only use 400 ISO at max. This is of course a good question. In the past we did not care either. Then we changed our photographic style and make now often use of Tonemapping (learn more about HDR and Tonemapping). During this process we brighten the shadows and this brings out the noise otherwise seen at way higher ISO. It often starts to matter at even ISO 200 photos.

Note about Frame Rate: We hardly photograph action and still we find the high frame rate very interesting. Why? We shoot high speed exposure brackets freehand. Please read this article for our motivation behind high speed brackets. We find that the 40D works for our new technique very well.

First conclusions

  • 10MP is a nice upgrade but not the main story (compared to 30D or Rebel XTi/400D)
  • Viewfinder is much better as on the 400D
  • If dust removal works as well as on the Canon 1D Mark III then this would be very good news
  • 6.5 fps is a lot for a camera at this price point
  • Shutter sound is much lower than for the 1D Mark III
  • We think the noise level is slightly higher than 1D Mark III. No surprise because the pixels are just quite a bit smaller
  • We also think that the AA filter maybe stronger which results in slightly softer images and also requires stronger sharpening



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Canon EOS 40D
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