Canon 40D vs Olympus E-P1
The Canon EOS 40D and the Olympus PEN E-P1 are two enthusiast cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2007 and June 2009. The 40D is a DSLR, while the E-P1 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (40D) and a Four Thirds (E-P1) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 10.1 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 12.2 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Canon 40D||Olympus E-P1|
|Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Canon EF mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|10.1 MP, APS-C Sensor||12.2 MP, Four Thirds Sensor|
|no Video||720/30p Video|
|ISO 100-1600 (100-3200)||ISO 100-6400|
|Optical viewfinder||No viewfinder, LCD framing|
|3.0" LCD, 230k dots||3.0" LCD, 230k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|6.5 shutter flaps per second||3 shutter flaps per second|
|Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|750 shots per battery charge||300 shots per battery charge|
|146 x 108 x 74 mm, 822 g||121 x 70 x 36 mm, 355 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 40D and the Olympus PEN E-P1? 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon 40D and the Olympus E-P1 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The E-P1 can be obtained in three different colors (black, silver, white), while the 40D is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-P1 is considerably smaller (46 percent) than the Canon 40D. Moreover, the E-P1 is substantially lighter (57 percent) than the 40D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 40D nor the E-P1 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. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (40D) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-P1). Mirrorless cameras, such as the E-P1, have moreover the advantage that they can use many lenses from other systems via adapters, as they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.
|Canon 40D»||5.7 in||4.3 in||2.9 in||29.0 oz||750||n||Aug 2007||1,299||Canon 40D|
|Olympus E-P1«||4.8 in||2.8 in||1.4 in||12.5 oz||300||n||Jun 2009||799||Olympus E-P1|
|Canon T3« »||5.1 in||3.9 in||3.1 in||17.5 oz||700||n||Feb 2011||449||Canon T3|
|Canon 60D« »||5.7 in||4.2 in||3.1 in||26.6 oz||1100||Y||Aug 2010||1,399||Canon 60D|
|Canon 50D« »||5.7 in||4.3 in||2.9 in||29.0 oz||800||Y||Aug 2008||1,299||Canon 50D|
|Canon XS« »||5.0 in||3.9 in||2.6 in||17.7 oz||500||n||Jun 2008||449||Canon XS|
|Canon XSi« »||5.1 in||3.9 in||2.4 in||18.5 oz||500||n||Jan 2008||799||Canon XSi|
|Canon 30D« »||5.7 in||4.2 in||2.9 in||27.7 oz||750||n||Feb 2006||1,399||Canon 30D|
|Canon XTi« »||5.0 in||3.3 in||2.6 in||19.6 oz||370||n||Aug 2006||799||Canon XTi|
|Canon 20D« »||5.7 in||4.2 in||2.8 in||27.2 oz||700||n||Aug 2004||1,499||Canon 20D|
|Canon 10D« »||5.9 in||4.2 in||3.0 in||30.0 oz||500||n||Feb 2003||1,999||Canon 10D|
|Nikon D90« »||5.2 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||24.8 oz||850||n||Aug 2008||1,299||Nikon D90|
|Olympus E-P3« »||4.8 in||2.7 in||1.3 in||13.0 oz||330||n||Jun 2011||799||Olympus E-P3|
|Olympus E-PL2« »||4.5 in||2.8 in||1.7 in||12.8 oz||280||n||Jan 2011||599||Olympus E-PL2|
|Olympus E-PL3« »||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.5 in||11.0 oz||300||n||Jun 2011||599||Olympus E-PL3|
|Olympus E-P2« »||4.8 in||2.8 in||1.4 in||12.5 oz||300||n||Nov 2009||799||Olympus E-P2|
|Panasonic GH1« »||4.9 in||3.5 in||1.8 in||13.6 oz||300||n||Mar 2009||899||Panasonic GH1|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. 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 E-P1 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 38 percent) than the 40D, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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.
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. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to 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.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 40D features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus E-P1 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-P1 is 32 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.6 and 2.0. The sensor in the 40D has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-P1 offers a 4:3 aspect.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the E-P1 offers a higher resolution of 12.2 megapixels, compared with 10.1 MP of the 40D. 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 4.29μm versus 5.73μm for the 40D). However, it should be noted that the E-P1 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 9 months) than the 40D, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that partly offset its pixel-size disadvantage.
The resolution advantage of the Olympus E-P1 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the E-P1 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 20.2 x 15.1 inch or 51.2 x 38.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 16.1 x 12.1 inch or 41 x 30.7 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 13.4 x 10.1 inch or 34.1 x 25.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon 40D are 19.4 x 13 inch or 49.4 x 32.9 cm for good quality, 15.6 x 10.4 inch or 39.5 x 26.3 cm for very good quality, and 13 x 8.6 inch 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 Olympus PEN E-P1 are ISO 100 to ISO 6400 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under review, the 40D has a notably higher overall DXO score than the E-P1 (overall score 9 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.7 bits higher color depth, 0.9 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.4 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|Canon 40D||APS-C||10.1||3888||2592||none||22.1||11.3||703||64||Canon 40D|
|Olympus E-P1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.4||536||55||Olympus E-P1|
|Canon T3||APS-C||12.2||4272||2848||720/30p||21.9||11.0||755||62||Canon T3|
|Canon 60D||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.2||11.5||813||66||Canon 60D|
|Canon 50D||APS-C||15.1||4752||3168||none||21.8||11.4||696||63||Canon 50D|
|Canon XS||APS-C||10.1||3888||2592||none||..||..||..||..||Canon XS|
|Canon XSi||APS-C||12.2||4272||2848||none||21.9||10.8||692||61||Canon XSi|
|Canon 30D||APS-C||8.2||3504||2336||none||21.5||10.8||736||59||Canon 30D|
|Canon XTi||APS-C||10.1||3888||2592||none||22.1||11.0||664||62||Canon XTi|
|Canon 20D||APS-C||8.2||3504||2336||none||21.9||11.0||721||62||Canon 20D|
|Canon 10D||APS-C||6.3||3072||2048||none||21.1||10.9||571||57||Canon 10D|
|Nikon D90||APS-C||12.2||4288||2848||720/24p||22.7||12.5||977||73||Nikon D90|
|Olympus E-P3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.8||10.1||536||51||Olympus E-P3|
|Olympus E-PL2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.2||573||55||Olympus E-PL2|
|Olympus E-PL3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52||Olympus E-PL3|
|Olympus E-P2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.4||505||56||Olympus E-P2|
|Panasonic GH1||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/24p||21.6||11.6||772||64||Panasonic GH1|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The E-P1 indeed provides for movie recording, while the 40D does not. The highest resolution format that the E-P1 can use is 720/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the 40D has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the E-P1 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 40D, the Olympus E-P1, and comparable cameras.
|Canon 40D||optical||Y||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.5||Y||n||Canon 40D|
|Olympus E-P1||none||n||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||Y||Olympus E-P1|
|Canon T3||optical||n||2.7||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Canon T3|
|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 XS||optical||n||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Canon XS|
|Canon XSi||optical||n||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5||Y||n||Canon XSi|
|Canon 30D||optical||Y||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||Y||n||Canon 30D|
|Canon XTi||optical||n||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Canon XTi|
|Canon 20D||optical||Y||1.8||118||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||Y||n||Canon 20D|
|Canon 10D||optical||Y||1.8||118||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Canon 10D|
|Nikon D90||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/4000s||4.5||Y||n||Nikon D90|
|Olympus E-P3||optional||n||3.0||614||fixed||Y||1/4000s||3.0||Y||Y||Olympus E-P3|
|Olympus E-PL2||optional||n||3.0||460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||Y||Olympus E-PL2|
|Olympus E-PL3||optional||n||3.0||460||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.5||n||Y||Olympus E-PL3|
|Olympus E-P2||optional||n||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||Y||Olympus E-P2|
|Panasonic GH1||1440||n||3.0||460||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Panasonic GH1|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The 40D has one, while the E-P1 does not. While the built-in flash of the 40D is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The 40D writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the E-P1 uses SDHC cards.
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 Olympus PEN E-P1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Canon 40D||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 40D|
|Olympus E-P1||Y||stereo||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-P1|
|Canon T3||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon T3|
|Canon 60D||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 60D|
|Canon 50D||Y||none||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 50D|
|Canon XS||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Canon XS|
|Canon XSi||Y||none||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon XSi|
|Canon 30D||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 30D|
|Canon XTi||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Canon XTi|
|Canon 20D||Y||none||none||-||-||none||1.1||-||-||-||Canon 20D|
|Canon 10D||Y||none||none||-||-||none||1.1||-||-||-||Canon 10D|
|Nikon D90||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D90|
|Olympus E-P3||Y||stereo||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-P3|
|Olympus E-PL2||Y||stereo||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-PL2|
|Olympus E-PL3||Y||stereo||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-PL3|
|Olympus E-P2||Y||stereo||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-P2|
|Panasonic GH1||Y||stereo||none||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic GH1|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Canon 40D (unlike the E-P1) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the 40D and the E-P1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 40D was replaced by the Canon 50D, while the E-P1 was followed by the Olympus E-P2. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Olympus websites.
So how do things add up? Is the Canon 40D better than the Olympus E-P1 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 40D:
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (9 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (0.9 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.4 stops ISO advantage).
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- 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 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (750 versus 300) on a single battery charge.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- 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).
Arguments in favor of the Olympus PEN E-P1:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (12.2 vs 10.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 8%.
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 720/30p video.
- More compact: Is smaller (121x70mm vs 146x108mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 467g or 57 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (38 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 9 months) more recently.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 40D emerges as the winner of the contest (11 : 8 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 sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 40D and the Olympus E-P1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings 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 E-P1 in practical situations. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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.
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. 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. 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 are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon 40D vs Leica M-E Typ 240
- Canon 40D vs Nikon D700
- Canon 40D vs Nikon D810
- Canon 40D vs Panasonic GM5
- Canon 40D vs Panasonic LX5
- Canon 40D vs Panasonic ZS100
- Canon 40D vs Sony A7R III
- Canon 40D vs Sony HX350
- Canon 5D Mark III vs Olympus E-P1
- Canon 700D vs Olympus E-P1
- Nikon D5000 vs Olympus E-P1
- Olympus E-P1 vs Olympus TG-6
Specifications: Canon 40D vs Olympus E-P1
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 Model||Canon 40D||Olympus E-P1|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||August 2007||June 2009|
|Launch Price||USD 1299||USD 799|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 40D||Olympus E-P1|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.3 x 14.9 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||332.27 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||26.8 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||10.1 Megapixels||12.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3888 x 2592 pixels||4032 x 3024 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.73 μm||4.29 μm|
|Pixel Density||3.03 MP/cm2||5.42 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||720/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100-1600 ISO||100-6400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100-3200 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 3||TruePic V|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||64||55|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.1||21.4|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.3||10.4|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||703||536|
|Screen Specs||Canon 40D||Olympus E-P1|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||No viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0 inch||3.0 inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||230k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 40D||Olympus E-P1|
|Autofocus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||6.5 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||SDHC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 40D||Olympus E-P1|
|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||Olympus E-P1|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||750 shots per charge||300 shots per charge|
146 x 108 x 74 mm
(5.7 x 4.3 x 2.9 in)
121 x 70 x 36 mm
(4.8 x 2.8 x 1.4 in)
|Camera Weight||822 g (29.0 oz)||355 g (12.5 oz)|
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