Phydeaux Turns 40!

Well, 40D, actually.

Yep, I bit the bullet and put a new Canon EOS 40D in my hands tonight. I picked up the kit with the 28-135 IS f/3.5-5.6 lens and lemme tell ya, this camera rocks.

So first, why this camera? Well, all my accessories from my 20D will fit it, and I mean all… the battery grip, cable releases, batteries, all my lenses, everything. And then there’s the features.

This body has a huge LCD display on the back — 3 inches! — which makes photo review a joy by comparison to the 20D. Also, this camera has a self-cleaning sensor — after having just cleaned the sensor on the 20D, I can really appreciate the benefit that’ll be. And, you can change the focusing screen for the first time in this line of cameras. The biggest new feature though is one I thought could never happen: live view.

Live view is a new feature that allows you to use the 40D like a point-and-shoot, composing and shooting using the LCD instead of the viewfinder. The mechanics of SLRs really prohibit that kind of functionality, but somehow Canon figured out a way to do it. It sounds like the shutter lifts in this mode, allowing the sensor to see light all the time, and then shuts and opens when a shot is fired. This is a really cool feature, and since you can zoom in on the live image on the LCD, it appears that I’ll be able to use it to achieve really fine focus on macro and astronomical shots.

How about performance? Well, it’s 10Mp at 6.5fps. In large JPEG mode, I shot over 170 shots on a 4GB Sandisk Extreme III card before the camera had to pause to write to the card. That’s pretty dang amazing! I sure wish I’d had that kind of frame buffering and write speed when I shot the Blue Angels a couple of weeks ago.

Weight-wise, it feels a little lighter than the 20D. I’ll never complain about having less weight in the bag.

As with anything, there’s a couple of warts. The first one is the battery door. In order to install the battery grip, you have to remove the battery door. On the 20D (and I think the 10D also), you had to move a little metal slide to “de-hinge” the door from the camera. On the 40D, you just pull the door off the camera. The hinge posts are plastic, and I’m pretty convinced you wouldn’t wanna do that a whole bunch.

The other wart is on the included lens. The AF/MF switch on the new lens doesn’t have as much height to it as the old version of this lens. This isn’t a huge thing, but it’s a little bit of an annoyance, as I have to look at the lens to figure out where the switch is, and to what it’s set. I’m sure I’ll get used to it.

Overall, this is a gem of a camera, and a steal, given the inclusion of a lens that usually goes for a D-note ($500) on it’s own. With the big changes between this body and either the 20D or 30D, that just makes the deal sweeter. The step from the 20D to the 30D wasn’t huge, but this one is monumental. Absolutely a keeper!