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Canon 40D vs 500D

The Canon EOS 40D and the Canon EOS 500D (labelled Canon T1i in some countries) are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2007 and March 2009. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The 40D has a resolution of 10.1 megapixels, whereas the 500D provides 15.1 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Canon 40D
versus
Canon 500D
Canon 40D   Canon 500D
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Canon EF mount lenses
10.1 MP, APS-C Sensor 15.1 MP, APS-C Sensor
no Video 1080/20p Video
ISO 100-1,600 (100 - 3,200) ISO 100-6,400 (100 - 12,800)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.0 LCD, 230k dots 3.0 LCD, 920k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
6.5 shutter flaps per second 3.4 shutter flaps per second
750 shots per battery charge400 shots per battery charge
146 x 108 x 74 mm, 822 g 129 x 98 x 62 mm, 520 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 40D and the Canon EOS 500D? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 40D and the Canon 500D. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Canon 40D vs Canon 500D
Compare 40D versus 500D top
Comparison 40D or 500D rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon 500D is notably smaller (20 percent) than the Canon 40D. Moreover, the 500D is substantially lighter (37 percent) than the 40D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 40D nor the 500D 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 compare the optics available in the Canon EF Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the 40D gets 750 shots out of its BP-511A battery, while the 500D can take 400 images on a single charge of its LP-E5 power pack.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon 40D 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 750 n Aug 2007 1,299i
2.
 
Canon 500D 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 520 g 400 n Mar 2009 799i
3.
 
Canon G1 X Mark II 116 mm 74 mm 66 mm 553 g 240 n Feb 2014 799i
4.
 
Canon 70D 139 mm 104 mm 79 mm 755 g 920 Y Jul 2013 1,199i
5.
 
Canon 650D 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 575 g 440 n Jun 2012 849i
6.
 
Canon G1 X 117 mm 81 mm 65 mm 534 g 250 n Jan 2012 799i
7.
 
Canon 1100D 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 495 g 700 n Feb 2011 449i
8.
 
Canon 60D 145 mm 106 mm 79 mm 755 g 1100 Y Aug 2010 1,399i
9.
 
Canon 550D 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 530 g 440 n Feb 2010 699i
10.
 
Canon 50D 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 800 Y Aug 2008 1,299i
11.
 
Canon 450D 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 524 g 500 n Jan 2008 799i
12.
 
Canon 30D 144 mm 106 mm 74 mm 785 g 750 n Feb 2006 1,399i
13.
 
Canon 400D 127 mm 84 mm 65 mm 556 g 370 n Aug 2006 799i
14.
 
Canon 20D 144 mm 106 mm 72 mm 770 g 700 n Aug 2004 1,499i
15.
 
Nikon D90 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 703 g 850 n Aug 2008 1,299i
16.
 
Olympus E-30 142 mm 108 mm 75 mm 701 g 750 n Nov 2008 1,299i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The 500D was launched at a markedly lower price (by 38 percent) than the 40D, which puts it into a different market segment. 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 size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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 tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.6. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Technology-wise, the 500D uses a more advanced image processing engine (DIGIC 4) than the 40D (DIGIC 3), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.

Canon 40D and Canon 500D sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the 500D offers a higher resolution of 15.1 megapixels, compared with 10.1 MP of the 40D. This megapixels advantage translates into a 22 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the 500D has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.69μm versus 5.73μm for the 40D). However, it should be noted that the 500D is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 7 months) than the 40D, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size.

The resolution advantage of the Canon 500D implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the 500D for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 23.8 x 15.8 inches or 60.4 x 40.2 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 19 x 12.7 inches or 48.3 x 32.2 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 15.8 x 10.6 inches or 40.2 x 26.8 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon 40D are 19.4 x 13 inches or 49.4 x 32.9 cm for good quality, 15.6 x 10.4 inches or 39.5 x 26.3 cm for very good quality, and 13 x 8.6 inches or 32.9 x 21.9 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Canon EOS 40D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 100-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Canon EOS 500D are ISO 100 to ISO 6400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-12800.

40D versus 500D 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 imaging performance. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

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Sensor Characteristics
    Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
1.
 
Canon 40D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.370364
2.
 
Canon 500D APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363
3.
 
Canon G1 X Mark II 1.5-inch 13.0 4160 31201080/30p21.510.858158
4.
 
Canon 70D APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p22.511.692668
5.
 
Canon 650D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.272262
6.
 
Canon G1 X 1.5-inch 14.2 4352 32641080/24p21.710.864460
7.
 
Canon 1100D APS-C 12.2 4272 2848720/30p21.911.075562
8.
 
Canon 60D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.211.581366
9.
 
Canon 550D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.578466
10.
 
Canon 50D APS-C 15.1 4752 3168none21.811.469663
11.
 
Canon 450D APS-C 12.2 4272 2848none21.910.869261
12.
 
Canon 30D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.510.873659
13.
 
Canon 400D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.066462
14.
 
Canon 20D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.911.072162
15.
 
Nikon D90 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.597773
16.
 
Olympus E-30 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024none21.310.453055

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The 500D indeed provides for movie recording, while the 40D does not. The highest resolution format that the 500D can use is 1080/20p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 40D and the 500D 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 viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (95%), but the viewfinder of the 40D has a higher magnification than the one of the 500D (0.59x vs 0.54x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon 40D and Canon 500D along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Canon 40Doptical Y3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 6.5 Y n
2.
 
Canon 500Doptical n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.4 Y n
3.
 
Canon G1 X Mark IIoptional n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 5.2 Y Y
4.
 
Canon 70Doptical Y3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/8000s 7.0 Y n
5.
 
Canon 650Doptical n3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
6.
 
Canon G1 Xoptical n3.0 / 922 swivel n 1/4000s 1.9 Y Y
7.
 
Canon 1100Doptical n2.7 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
8.
 
Canon 60Doptical Y3.0 / 1040 swivel n 1/8000s 5.3 Y n
9.
 
Canon 550Doptical n3.0 / 1040 fixed n 1/4000s 3.7 Y n
10.
 
Canon 50Doptical Y3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/8000s 6.3 Y n
11.
 
Canon 450Doptical n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n
12.
 
Canon 30Doptical Y2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
13.
 
Canon 400Doptical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
14.
 
Canon 20Doptical Y1.8 / 118 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
15.
 
Nikon D90optical Y3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 4.5 Y n
16.
 
Olympus E-30optical Y2.7 / 230 swivel n 1/8000s 5.0 Y Y

One feature that is present on the 40D, but is missing on the 500D is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.

The 40D writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the 500D uses SDHC cards.

Connectivity comparison

For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS 40D and Canon EOS 500D and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
    Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Canon 40DY- / ----2.0---
2.
 
Canon 500DYmono / mono--mini2.0---
3.
 
Canon G1 X Mark IIYstereo / mono--mini2.0YY-
4.
 
Canon 70DYstereo / monoY-mini2.0Y--
5.
 
Canon 650DYstereo / monoY-mini2.0---
6.
 
Canon G1 XYstereo / mono--mini2.0---
7.
 
Canon 1100DYstereo / mono--mini2.0---
8.
 
Canon 60DYmono / monoY-mini2.0---
9.
 
Canon 550DYstereo / -Y-mini2.0---
10.
 
Canon 50DY- / ---mini2.0---
11.
 
Canon 450DY- / ---mini2.0---
12.
 
Canon 30DY- / ----2.0---
13.
 
Canon 400DY- / ----2.0---
14.
 
Canon 20DY- / ----1.1---
15.
 
Nikon D90Ymono / mono--mini2.0---
16.
 
Olympus E-30Y- / ----2.0---

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Canon 40D (unlike the 500D) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the 40D and the 500D have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 40D was replaced by the Canon 50D, while the 500D was followed by the Canon 550D. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon website.

Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Canon 40D better than the Canon 500D or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS 40D:

  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.59x vs 0.54x).
  • Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (6.5 vs 3.4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (750 versus 400) on a single battery charge.
  • Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in August 2007).


Advantages of the Canon EOS 500D:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (15.1 vs 10.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 22%.
  • Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (DIGIC 4 vs DIGIC 3).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/20p video.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 230k dots).
  • More compact: Is smaller (129x98mm vs 146x108mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 302g or 37 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (38 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 7 months) more recently.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 500D comes out slightly ahead of the 40D (8 : 7 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

40D 07:08 500D

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 40D and the Canon 500D place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 40D or the 500D. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.

Expert reviews

This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon 40D..+ +..+ +4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299i
2.
 
Canon 500D..+ +..74/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799i
3.
 
Canon G1 X Mark II3/5+..77/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2014 799i
4.
 
Canon 70D5/5+ +..83/1004.5/55/5 Jul 2013 1,199i
5.
 
Canon 650D4/5+ +..77/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2012 849i
6.
 
Canon G1 X5/5+..76/1004/54.5/5 Jan 2012 799i
7.
 
Canon 1100D..80/100..69/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2011 449i
8.
 
Canon 60D5/5+..79/1004/54.5/5 Aug 2010 1,399i
9.
 
Canon 550D..+ +..77/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2010 699i
10.
 
Canon 50D..+ +..+ +4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299i
11.
 
Canon 450D..+ +..+ +4/54.5/5 Jan 2008 799i
12.
 
Canon 30D..+ +..+ +o.. Feb 2006 1,399i
13.
 
Canon 400D..+ +..+ +o4/5 Aug 2006 799i
14.
 
Canon 20D......+ +.... Aug 2004 1,499i
15.
 
Nikon D90..+ +..+ +4/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299i
16.
 
Olympus E-30......71/1004.5/54/5 Nov 2008 1,299i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

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 comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Canon 40D:
Check Ebay offers
Canon 500D:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.

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    Specifications: Canon 40D vs Canon 500D

    Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Canon 40D Canon 500D
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Canon EF mount lenses
    Launch Date August 2007 March 2009
    Launch Price USD 1,299 USD 799
    Sensor Specs Canon 40D Canon 500D
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 22.3 x 14.9 mm 22.3 x 14.9 mm
    Sensor Area 332.27 mm2 332.27 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 26.8 mm 26.8 mm
    Crop Factor 1.6x 1.6x
    Sensor Resolution 10.1 Megapixels 15.1 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3888 x 2592 pixels 4752 x 3168 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 5.73 μm 4.69 μm
    Pixel Density 3.03 MP/cm2 4.53 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video 1080/20p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 1,600 ISO 100 - 6,400 ISO
    ISO Boost 100 - 3,200 ISO 100 - 12,800 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC 3 DIGIC 4
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 64 63
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 22.1 21.7
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.3 11.5
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 703 663
    Screen Specs Canon 40D Canon 500D
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.59x 0.54x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel no Top Display
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 920k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon 40D Canon 500D
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 6.5 shutter flaps/s 3.4 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy100 000 actuations100 000 actuations
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards SDHC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Canon 40D Canon 500D
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket no PC Sync
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon 40D Canon 500D
    Battery Type BP-511A LP-E5
    Battery Life (CIPA)750 shots per charge400 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 146 x 108 x 74 mm
    (5.7 x 4.3 x 2.9 in)
    129 x 98 x 62 mm
    (5.1 x 3.9 x 2.4 in)
    Camera Weight 822 g (29.0 oz) 520 g (18.3 oz)

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