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Canon 40D vs Nikon D80

The Canon EOS 40D and the Nikon D80 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in August 2007 and August 2006. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 10.1 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 10 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Canon 40D   Nikon D80
Canon 40D Nikon D80
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
10.1 MP, APS-C Sensor 10 MP, APS-C Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 100-1600 (100-3200) ISO 100-1600 (100-3200)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.0" LCD, 230k dots 2.5" LCD, 230k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
6.5 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
750 shots per battery charge600 shots per battery charge
146 x 108 x 74 mm, 822 g 132 x 103 x 77 mm, 668 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 40D and the Nikon D80? 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: Canon 40D vs Nikon D80

The physical size and weight of the Canon 40D and the Nikon D80 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Canon 40D vs Nikon D80
Compare 40D versus D80 top
Comparison 40D or D80 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D80 is notably smaller (14 percent) than the Canon 40D. Moreover, the D80 is markedly lighter (19 percent) than the 40D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 40D nor the D80 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. Yet, since both cameras are based around an APS-C sensor, their respective lenses will tend to have similar dimensions and heft. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (40D) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D80).

Concerning battery life, the 40D gets 750 shots out of its BP-511A battery, while the D80 can take 600 images on a single charge of its EN-EL3e power pack.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. 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» 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 750 n Aug 2007 1,299- i Canon 40D
 
Nikon D80« 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 668 g 600 n Aug 2006 999- i Nikon D80
 
Canon 70D« » 139 mm 104 mm 79 mm 755 g 920 Y Jul 2013 1,199- i Canon 70D
 
Canon 1100D« » 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 495 g 700 n Feb 2011 449- i Canon 1100D
 
Canon 60D« » 145 mm 106 mm 79 mm 755 g 1100 Y Aug 2010 1,399- i Canon 60D
 
Canon 50D« » 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 800 Y Aug 2008 1,299- i Canon 50D
 
Canon 450D« » 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 524 g 500 n Jan 2008 799- i Canon 450D
 
Canon 30D« » 144 mm 106 mm 74 mm 785 g 750 n Feb 2006 1,399- i Canon 30D
 
Canon 400D« » 127 mm 84 mm 65 mm 556 g 370 n Aug 2006 799- i Canon 400D
 
Canon 20D« » 144 mm 106 mm 72 mm 770 g 700 n Aug 2004 1,499- i Canon 20D
 
Nikon D5000« » 127 mm 104 mm 80 mm 590 g 510 n Apr 2009 749- i Nikon D5000
 
Nikon D90« » 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 703 g 850 n Aug 2008 1,299- i Nikon D90
 
Nikon D50« » 133 mm 102 mm 76 mm 620 g 400 n Apr 2005 749- i Nikon D50
 
Nikon D70s« » 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 500 n Apr 2005 899- i Nikon D70s
 
Nikon D70« » 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 400 n Jan 2004 999- i Nikon D70
 
Olympus E-30« » 142 mm 108 mm 75 mm 701 g 750 n Nov 2008 1,299- i Olympus E-30
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The D80 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 23 percent) than the 40D, 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 Nikon D80

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the 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 D80 is 12 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have format factors, respectively, of 1.6 (40D) and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Canon 40D and Nikon D80 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon 40D offers a higher resolution of 10.1 megapixels, compared with 10 MP of the Nikon D80. This megapixels 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 6.11μm for the D80). However, it should be noted that the 40D is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year) than the D80, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that partly offset its pixel-size disadvantage.

The Canon EOS 40D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 100-3200. The Nikon D80 offers exactly the same ISO settings.

40D versus D80 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 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
 
Nikon D80« APS-C 10.0 3872 2592-22.111.252461Nikon D80
 
Canon 70D« » APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p22.511.692668Canon 70D
 
Canon 1100D« » APS-C 12.2 4272 2848720/30p21.911.075562Canon 1100D
 
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 450D« » APS-C 12.2 4272 2848-21.910.869261Canon 450D
 
Canon 30D« » APS-C 8.2 3504 2336-21.510.873659Canon 30D
 
Canon 400D« » APS-C 10.1 3888 2592-22.111.066462Canon 400D
 
Canon 20D« » APS-C 8.2 3504 2336-21.911.072162Canon 20D
 
Nikon D5000« » APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.586872Nikon D5000
 
Nikon D90« » APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.597773Nikon D90
 
Nikon D50« » APS-C 6.0 3008 2000-20.910.856055Nikon D50
 
Nikon D70s« » APS-C 6.0 3008 2000-20.410.352950Nikon D70s
 
Nikon D70« » APS-C 6.0 3008 2000-20.410.352950Nikon D70
 
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 D80 lacks this capability. Both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.
 

Feature comparison: Canon 40D vs Nikon D80

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 40D and the D80 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 D80 has a higher magnification than the one of the 40D (0.62x vs 0.59x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 40D, the Nikon D80, and comparable cameras.

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)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
 
Canon 40D»optical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 6.5 Y n Canon 40D
 
Nikon D80«optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Nikon D80
 
Canon 70D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/8000s 7.0 Y n Canon 70D
 
Canon 1100D« »optical n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Canon 1100D
 
Canon 60D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel n 1/8000s 5.3 Y n Canon 60D
 
Canon 50D« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 6.3 Y n Canon 50D
 
Canon 450D« »optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n Canon 450D
 
Canon 30D« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n Canon 30D
 
Canon 400D« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Canon 400D
 
Canon 20D« »optical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n Canon 20D
 
Nikon D5000« »optical n 2.7 230 full-flex n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n Nikon D5000
 
Nikon D90« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 4.5 Y n Nikon D90
 
Nikon D50« »optical n 2.0 130 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n Nikon D50
 
Nikon D70s« »optical n 2.0 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 Y n Nikon D70s
 
Nikon D70« »optical n 1.8 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 Y n Nikon D70
 
Olympus E-30« »optical Y 2.7 230 swivel n 1/8000s 5.0 Y Y Olympus E-30

One feature that is present on the 40D, but is missing on the D80 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 D80 uses SDHC cards.

 

Connectivity comparison: Canon 40D vs Nikon D80

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 Nikon D80 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
 
Canon 40D»Y-----2.0---Canon 40D
 
Nikon D80«Y-----2.0---Nikon D80
 
Canon 70D« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--Canon 70D
 
Canon 1100D« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Canon 1100D
 
Canon 60D« »YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Canon 60D
 
Canon 50D« »Y----mini2.0---Canon 50D
 
Canon 450D« »Y----mini2.0---Canon 450D
 
Canon 30D« »Y-----2.0---Canon 30D
 
Canon 400D« »Y-----2.0---Canon 400D
 
Canon 20D« »Y-----1.1---Canon 20D
 
Nikon D5000« »Ymonomono--mini2.0---Nikon D5000
 
Nikon D90« »Ymonomono--mini2.0---Nikon D90
 
Nikon D50« »Y-----2.0---Nikon D50
 
Nikon D70s« »Y-----2.0---Nikon D70s
 
Nikon D70« »Y-----1.0---Nikon D70
 
Olympus E-30« »Y-----2.0---Olympus E-30

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Canon 40D (unlike the D80) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the 40D and the D80 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D80 was replaced by the Nikon D90, while the 40D was followed by the Canon 50D. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Nikon websites.


Review summary: Canon 40D vs Nikon D80

So what is the bottom line? Is the Canon 40D better than the Nikon D80 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS 40D:

  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.4 stops ISO advantage).
  • Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
  • 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 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (750 versus 600) on a single battery charge.
  • Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year after the D80).

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Reasons to prefer the Nikon D80:

  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.62x vs 0.59x).
  • More compact: Is smaller (132x103mm vs 146x108mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 154g or 19 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (23 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in August 2006).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 40D emerges as the winner of the contest (8 : 5 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 08:05 D80

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 40D and the Nikon D80 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the 40D and the D80 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.

Expert reviews: Canon 40D vs Nikon D80

This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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.

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»+ ++ +4.5/5o4.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299- i Canon 40D
 
Nikon D80«++ +o4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2006 999- i Nikon D80
 
Canon 70D« »+ +83/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Jul 2013 1,199- i Canon 70D
 
Canon 1100D« »80/10069/1004/54/54.5/5 Feb 2011 449- i Canon 1100D
 
Canon 60D« »+79/1004/55/54.5/5 Aug 2010 1,399- i Canon 60D
 
Canon 50D« »+ ++ +4.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299- i Canon 50D
 
Canon 450D« »+ ++ +4/55/54.5/5 Jan 2008 799- i Canon 450D
 
Canon 30D« »+ ++ +oo- Feb 2006 1,399- i Canon 30D
 
Canon 400D« »+ ++ +o4.5/54/5 Aug 2006 799- i Canon 400D
 
Canon 20D« »-+ +-o- Aug 2004 1,499- i Canon 20D
 
Nikon D5000« »+ +75/1004/55/54.5/5 Apr 2009 749- i Nikon D5000
 
Nikon D90« »+ ++ +4/55/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299- i Nikon D90
 
Nikon D50« »78/100+ +4/5o4.5/5 Apr 2005 749- i Nikon D50
 
Nikon D70s« »---o5/5 Apr 2005 899- i Nikon D70s
 
Nikon D70« »-+ +-o- Jan 2004 999- i Nikon D70
 
Olympus E-30« »-71/1004.5/5-4/5 Nov 2008 1,299- i Olympus E-30
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (-) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. 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
Nikon D80:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Canon 40D vs Nikon D80

    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 Nikon D80
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date August 2007 August 2006
    Launch Price USD 1299 USD 999
    Sensor Specs Canon 40D Nikon D80
    Sensor Technology CMOS CCD
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 22.3 x 14.9 mm 23.6 x 15.8 mm
    Sensor Area 332.27 mm2 372.88 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 26.8 mm 28.4 mm
    Crop Factor 1.6x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 10.1 Megapixels 10 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3888 x 2592 pixels 3872 x 2592 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 5.73 μm 6.11 μm
    Pixel Density 3.03 MP/cm2 2.69 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100-1600 ISO 100-1600 ISO
    ISO Boost 100-3200 ISO 100-3200 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 64 61
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 22.1 22.1
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.3 11.2
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 703 524
    Screen Specs Canon 40D Nikon D80
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.59x 0.62x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel no Top Display
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0 inch 2.5 inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon 40D Nikon D80
    Autofocus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 6.5 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy100 000 actuations100 000 actuations
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards SDHC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Canon 40D Nikon D80
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket no PC Sync
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon 40D Nikon D80
    Battery Type BP-511A power pack EN-EL3e power pack
    Battery Life (CIPA)750 shots per charge600 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 146 x 108 x 74 mm
    (5.7 x 4.3 x 2.9 in)
    132 x 103 x 77 mm
    (5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0 in)
    Camera Weight 822 g (29.0 oz) 668 g (23.6 oz)

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