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Canon 40D versus Canon 20D

The Canon EOS 40D and the Canon EOS 20D are two enthusiast cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2007 and August 2004. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The 40D has a resolution of 10.1 megapixel, whereas the 20D provides 8.2 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Canon 40D vs Canon 20D

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 40D and the Canon 20D. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions 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 – the 40D – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Canon 40D vs Canon 20D
Compare 40D versus 20D top
Compare 40D and 20D rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon 20D is somewhat smaller (3 percent) than the Canon 40D. Moreover, the 20D is markedly lighter (6 percent) than the 40D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 40D nor the 20D 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 camera comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Canon 40D» 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.9 in 29.0 oz 750 n Aug 2007 1,299- i Canon 40D
Canon 20D« 5.7 in 4.2 in 2.8 in 27.2 oz 700 n Aug 2004 1,499- i Canon 20D
Canon 7D II« » 5.9 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 32.1 oz 670 Y Sep 2014 1,799 i i Canon 7D II
Canon 70D« » 5.5 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 26.6 oz 920 Y Jul 2013 1,199- i Canon 70D
Canon 60D« » 5.7 in 4.2 in 3.1 in 26.6 oz 1100 Y Aug 2010 1,399- i Canon 60D
Canon 50D« » 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.9 in 29.0 oz 800 Y Aug 2008 1,299- i Canon 50D
Canon XSi« » 5.1 in 3.9 in 2.4 in 18.5 oz 500 n Jan 2008 799- i Canon XSi
Canon 30D« » 5.7 in 4.2 in 2.9 in 27.7 oz 750 n Feb 2006 1,399- i Canon 30D
Canon XTi« » 5.0 in 3.3 in 2.6 in 19.6 oz 370 n Aug 2006 799- i Canon XTi
Canon XT« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 19.0 oz 400 n Feb 2005 899- i Canon XT
Canon 10D« » 5.9 in 4.2 in 3.0 in 30.0 oz 500 n Feb 2003 1,999- i Canon 10D
Canon Rebel« » 5.6 in 3.9 in 2.8 in 22.9 oz 400 n Aug 2003 899- i Canon Rebel
Nikon D90« » 5.2 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 24.8 oz 850 n Aug 2008 1,299- i Nikon D90
Olympus E-30« » 5.6 in 4.3 in 3.0 in 24.7 oz 750 n Nov 2008 1,299- i Olympus E-30

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The 40D was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 13 percent) than the 20D, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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: Canon 40D vs Canon 20D

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color depth than smaller pixel-units 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 tend 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 20D is 2 percent bigger. 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 40D and Canon 20D sensor measures

Despite having a slightly smaller sensor, the Canon 40D offers a higher resolution of 10.1 megapixel, compared with 8.2 MP of the Canon 20D. 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 20D). However, it should be noted that the 40D is much more recent (by 3 years) than the 20D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.

40D versus 20D MP

For many 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"). The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar image quality. 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
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Canon 40D» APS-C 10.1 3888 2592-22.111.370364Canon 40D
Canon 20D« APS-C 8.2 3504 2336-21.911.072162Canon 20D
Canon 7D II« » APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.411.8108270Canon 7D II
Canon 70D« » APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p22.511.692668Canon 70D
Canon 60D« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.211.581366Canon 60D
Canon 50D« » APS-C 15.1 4752 3168-21.811.469663Canon 50D
Canon XSi« » APS-C 12.2 4272 2848-21.910.869261Canon XSi
Canon 30D« » APS-C 8.2 3504 2336-21.510.873659Canon 30D
Canon XTi« » APS-C 10.1 3888 2592-22.111.066462Canon XTi
Canon XT« » APS-C 8.0 3456 2304-21.810.863760Canon XT
Canon 10D« » APS-C 6.3 3072 2048-21.110.957157Canon 10D
Canon Rebel« » APS-C 6.3 3072 2048-21.010.854455Canon Rebel
Nikon D90« » APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.597773Nikon D90
Olympus E-30« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024-21.310.453055Olympus E-30
The 40D offers Live View, so that it can project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen for framing. The 20D lacks this capability. Both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.
 

Feature comparison: Canon 40D vs Canon 20D

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The 40D and the 20D 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 40D and Canon 20D in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Canon 40D»optical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 8000 6.5 Y n Canon 40D
Canon 20D«optical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 8000 5.0 Y n Canon 20D
Canon 7D II« »optical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 8000 10.0 Y n Canon 7D II
Canon 70D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 7.0 Y n Canon 70D
Canon 60D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel n 8000 5.3 Y n Canon 60D
Canon 50D« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 6.3 Y n Canon 50D
Canon XSi« »optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 4000 3.5 Y n Canon XSi
Canon 30D« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 5.0 Y n Canon 30D
Canon XTi« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Canon XTi
Canon XT« »optical n 1.8 115 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Canon XT
Canon 10D« »optical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Canon 10D
Canon Rebel« »optical n 1.8 118 fixed n 4000 2.5 Y n Canon Rebel
Nikon D90« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 4000 4.5 Y n Nikon D90
Olympus E-30« »optical Y 2.7 230 swivel n 8000 5.0 Y Y Olympus E-30

Both the 40D and the 20D have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 20D was replaced by the Canon 30D, while the 40D was followed by the Canon 50D.

Review summary: Canon 40D vs Canon 20D

So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon 40D and the Canon 20D? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 40D:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (10.1 vs 8.2MP) with a 11% higher linear resolution.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 1.8") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (230k vs 118k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (6.5 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (13 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 3 years of technical progress since the 20D launch.


Advantages of the Canon EOS 20D:

  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in August 2004).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 40D is the clear winner of the match-up (6 : 1 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera.

40D 06:01 20D

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the 40D and the 20D 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 hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Canon 40D»HiRecHiRec4.5/5rev4.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299- i Canon 40D
Canon 20D«-HiRec-rev- Aug 2004 1,499- i Canon 20D
Canon 7D II« »Rec84/1004/55/54.5/5 Sep 2014 1,799 i i Canon 7D II
Canon 70D« »HiRec83/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Jul 2013 1,199- i Canon 70D
Canon 60D« »Rec79/1004/55/54.5/5 Aug 2010 1,399- i Canon 60D
Canon 50D« »HiRecHiRec4.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299- i Canon 50D
Canon XSi« »HiRecHiRec4/55/54.5/5 Jan 2008 799- i Canon XSi
Canon 30D« »HiRecHiRecrevrev- Feb 2006 1,399- i Canon 30D
Canon XTi« »HiRecHiRecrev4.5/54/5 Aug 2006 799- i Canon XTi
Canon XT« »80/100HiRecrevrev- Feb 2005 899- i Canon XT
Canon 10D« »-HiRec-rev- Feb 2003 1,999- i Canon 10D
Canon Rebel« »-HiRec-rev- Aug 2003 899- i Canon Rebel
Nikon D90« »HiRecHiRec4/55/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299- i Nikon D90
Olympus E-30« »-71/1004.5/5-4/5 Nov 2008 1,299- i Olympus E-30

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time 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. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

 

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, please send me an email, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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