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Canon 30D versus Canon 40D

The Canon EOS 30D and the Canon EOS 40D are two enthusiast cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2006 and August 2007. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The 30D has a resolution of 8.2 megapixel, whereas the 40D provides 10.1 MP.

Body comparison

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 30D and the Canon 40D. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the 30D – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Canon 30D vs Canon 40D front
30D versus 40D top view
30D and 40D rear side
Body view (30D on the left)

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon 40D is somewhat larger (3 percent) than the Canon 30D. Moreover, the 40D is slightly heavier (5 percent) than the 30D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 30D nor the 40D are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can find an overview of suitable optics in the Canon EF Lens Catalog.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
Camera Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(y/n)
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Canon 30D (⇒ rgt) 5.7 in 4.2 in 2.9 in 27.7 oz 750 no 2006 1,399discont. check
Canon 40D (⇒ lft) 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.9 in 29.0 oz 750 no 2007 1,299discont. check
Canon T6i (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.2 in 4.0 in 3.1 in 19.6 oz 440 no 2015 749discont. check
Canon T6s (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.2 in 4.0 in 3.1 in 19.9 oz 440 no 2015 849discont. check
Canon T5i (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 20.5 oz 440 no 2013 649discont. check
Canon 70D (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.5 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 26.6 oz 920 YES 2013 1,199discont. check
Canon SL1 (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.6 in 3.6 in 2.7 in 14.4 oz 380 no 2013 549discont. check
Canon 60D (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.7 in 4.2 in 3.1 in 26.6 oz 1100 YES 2010 1,399discont. check
Canon 7D (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.8 in 4.4 in 2.9 in 30.3 oz 800 YES 2009 1,699discont. check
Canon 50D (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.9 in 29.0 oz 800 YES 2008 1,299discont. check
Canon 20D (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.7 in 4.2 in 2.8 in 27.2 oz 700 no 2004 1,499discont. check
Panasonic L10 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.3 in 3.8 in 3.1 in 19.6 oz 450 no 2007 599discont. check

The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The 40D was somewhat cheaper (by 7 percent) than the 30D at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

Sensor comparison

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tent to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the 40D is 2 percent smaller. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.6. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Canon 30D and Canon 40D sensor measures
Sensor size

Despite having a slightly smaller sensor, the 40D offers a higher resolution of 10.1 megapixel, compared with 8.2 MP of the 30D. This megapixel advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 5.73μm versus 6.42μm for the 30D). However, it should be noted that the 40D is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 5 months) than the 30D, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that partly offset its pixel-size disadvantage.

30D versus 40D MP
Sensor resolution

For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the 40D has a markedly higher DXO score than the 30D (overall score 5 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.6 bits higher color depth, 0.5 EV in additional dynamic range, 0.1 stops of reduced low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

Sensor Characteristics
Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Canon 30D (⇒ rgt) APS-C 8.2 3504 2336 no 21.5 10.8 736 59
Canon 40D (⇒ lft) APS-C 10.1 3888 2592 no 22.1 11.3 703 64
Canon T6i (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 22.7 12.0 919 71
Canon T6s (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/30p 22.6 12.0 915 70
Canon T5i (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 17.9 5184 3456 1080/30p 21.7 11.2 681 61
Canon 70D (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 20.0 5472 3648 1080/30p 22.5 11.6 926 68
Canon SL1 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 17.9 5184 3456 1080/30p 21.8 11.3 843 63
Canon 60D (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 17.9 5184 3456 1080/30p 22.2 11.5 813 66
Canon 7D (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 17.9 5184 3456 1080/30p 22.0 11.7 854 66
Canon 50D (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 15.1 4752 3168 no 21.8 11.4 696 63
Canon 20D (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 8.2 3504 2336 no 21.9 11.0 721 62
Panasonic L10 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736 no 21.3 10.8 429 55
The 40D offers Live View, so that it can project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen for framing. The 30D lacks this capability. Both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 30D and the 40D are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon 30D and Canon 40D in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(Y/n)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(Y/n)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(GN)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Canon 30D (⇒ rgt) optical YES 2.5 230 fixed no 8000 5.0 13 no
Canon 40D (⇒ lft) optical YES 3.0 230 fixed no 8000 6.5 12 no
Canon T6i (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 1040 swivel YES 4000 5.0 12 no
Canon T6s (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 1040 swivel YES 4000 5.0 12 no
Canon T5i (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 1040 swivel YES 4000 5.0 13 no
Canon 70D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 1040 swivel YES 8000 7.0 12 no
Canon SL1 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 1040 fixed YES 4000 4.9 9.4 no
Canon 60D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 1040 swivel no 8000 5.3 13 no
Canon 7D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 920 fixed no 8000 8.0 12 no
Canon 50D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 920 fixed no 8000 6.3 13 no
Canon 20D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 1.8 118 fixed no 8000 5.0 13 no
Panasonic L10 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.5 207 swivel no 4000 3.0 11 no

Both the 30D and the 40D have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The 30D was replaced by the Canon 40D, while the 40D was followed by the Canon 50D.

Summary

So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon 30D and the Canon 30D? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Advantages of the Canon EOS 30D:

  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in February 2006).

Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 40D:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (10.1 vs 8.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 11%.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (5 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (6.5 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 5 months) more recently.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 40D is the clear winner of the contest (5 : 1 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features.

30D 01:05 40D

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the 30D and the 40D in practical situations. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased. This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites. The full reviews are available, respectively, at cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.

Review scores
Camera camera
labs
dp
review
ephoto
zine
imaging
resource
photography
blog
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Canon 30D (⇒ rgt) 87/100 HiRec HiRec reviewed reviewed - 2006 1,399discont. check
Canon 40D (⇒ lft) 90/100 HiRec HiRec 4.5/5 reviewed 4.5/5 2007 1,299discont. check
Canon T6i (⇒ lft | rgt) - 75/100 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2015 749discont. check
Canon T6s (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 77/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2015 849discont. check
Canon T5i (⇒ lft | rgt) - 76/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2013 649discont. check
Canon 70D (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 83/100 Gold 4.5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2013 1,199discont. check
Canon SL1 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 78/100 Gold 4/5 4/5 4/5 2013 549discont. check
Canon 60D (⇒ lft | rgt) 87/100 Rec 79/100 Silver 4/5 5/5 4.5/5 2010 1,399discont. check
Canon 7D (⇒ lft | rgt) 93/100 HiRec 84/100 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2009 1,699discont. check
Canon 50D (⇒ lft | rgt) 90/100 HiRec HiRec 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2008 1,299discont. check
Canon 20D (⇒ lft | rgt) - HiRec - reviewed - 2004 1,499discont. check
Panasonic L10 (⇒ lft | rgt) 85/100 Rec 3.5/5 reviewed 4/5 2007 599discont. check

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Other comparisons

In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, please send me an email, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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