Canon 40D versus Panasonic GH1
The Canon EOS 40D and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 are two enthusiast cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2007 and March 2009. The 40D is a DSLR, while the GH1 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (40D) and a Four Thirds (GH1) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 10.1 megapixel, whereas the Panasonic provides 12 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 Panasonic GH1
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon 40D and the Panasonic GH1 is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also toggle the display to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the 40D – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic GH1 is notably smaller (29 percent) than the Canon 40D. Moreover, the GH1 is substantially lighter (53 percent) than the 40D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 40D nor the GH1 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 find an overview of optics for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (40D) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (GH1). Mirrorless cameras, such as the GH1, 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 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|
|Canon 40D»||5.7 in||4.3 in||2.9 in||29.0 oz||750||n||Aug 2007||1,299||-|
|Panasonic GH1«||4.9 in||3.5 in||1.8 in||13.6 oz||300||n||Mar 2009||1,499||-|
|Canon 70D« »||5.5 in||4.1 in||3.1 in||26.6 oz||920||Y||Jul 2013||1,199||-|
|Canon 60D« »||5.7 in||4.2 in||3.1 in||26.6 oz||1100||Y||Aug 2010||1,399||-|
|Canon 50D« »||5.7 in||4.3 in||2.9 in||29.0 oz||800||Y||Aug 2008||1,299||-|
|Canon XSi« »||5.1 in||3.9 in||2.4 in||18.5 oz||500||n||Jan 2008||799||-|
|Canon 30D« »||5.7 in||4.2 in||2.9 in||27.7 oz||750||n||Feb 2006||1,399||-|
|Canon XTi« »||5.0 in||3.3 in||2.6 in||19.6 oz||370||n||Aug 2006||799||-|
|Canon 20D« »||5.7 in||4.2 in||2.8 in||27.2 oz||700||n||Aug 2004||1,499||-|
|Canon 10D« »||5.9 in||4.2 in||3.0 in||30.0 oz||500||n||Feb 2003||1,999||-|
|Nikon D90« »||5.2 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||24.8 oz||850||n||Aug 2008||1,299||-|
|Olympus E-30« »||5.6 in||4.3 in||3.0 in||24.7 oz||750||n||Nov 2008||1,299||-|
|Panasonic GF2« »||4.4 in||2.7 in||1.3 in||10.9 oz||300||n||Nov 2010||549||-|
|Panasonic GH2« »||4.9 in||3.5 in||3.0 in||15.6 oz||330||n||Sep 2010||1,499||-|
|Panasonic G2« »||4.9 in||3.3 in||2.9 in||15.1 oz||360||n||Mar 2010||599||-|
|Panasonic GF1« »||4.7 in||2.8 in||1.4 in||13.6 oz||380||n||Sep 2009||749||-|
|Panasonic G1« »||4.9 in||3.3 in||1.8 in||12.7 oz||410||n||Sep 2008||599||-|
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 GH1, 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 Panasonic GH1
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.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 40D features an APS-C sensor and the Panasonic GH1 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the GH1 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 GH1 offers a 4:3 aspect.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the GH1 offers a higher resolution of 12 megapixel, compared with 10.1 MP of the 40D. 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 4.33μm versus 5.73μm for the 40D). However, it should be noted that the GH1 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 6 months) than the 40D, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that partly offset its pixel-size disadvantage.
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"). The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar image quality. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|Panasonic GH1«||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/24p||21.6||11.6||772||64|
|Canon 70D« »||APS-C||20.0||5472||3648||1080/30p||22.5||11.6||926||68|
|Canon 60D« »||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.2||11.5||813||66|
|Canon 50D« »||APS-C||15.1||4752||3168||-||21.8||11.4||696||63|
|Canon XSi« »||APS-C||12.2||4272||2848||-||21.9||10.8||692||61|
|Canon 30D« »||APS-C||8.2||3504||2336||-||21.5||10.8||736||59|
|Canon XTi« »||APS-C||10.1||3888||2592||-||22.1||11.0||664||62|
|Canon 20D« »||APS-C||8.2||3504||2336||-||21.9||11.0||721||62|
|Canon 10D« »||APS-C||6.3||3072||2048||-||21.1||10.9||571||57|
|Nikon D90« »||APS-C||12.2||4288||2848||720/24p||22.7||12.5||977||73|
|Olympus E-30« »||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||-||21.3||10.4||530||55|
|Panasonic GF2« »||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||21.2||10.3||506||54|
|Panasonic GH2« »||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||21.2||11.3||655||60|
|Panasonic G2« »||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.3||493||53|
|Panasonic GF1« »||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.3||513||54|
|Panasonic G1« »||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||-||21.1||10.3||463||53|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The GH1 indeed provides for movie recording, while the 40D does not. The highest resolution format that the GH1 can use is 1080/24p.
Feature comparison: Canon 40D vs Panasonic GH1
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the GH1 has an electronic viewfinder (1440k dots), while the 40D has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 40D, the Panasonic GH1, and comparable cameras. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.
|Canon 70D« »||optical||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||8000||7.0||Y||n|
|Canon 60D« »||optical||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||n||8000||5.3||Y||n|
|Canon 50D« »||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||8000||6.3||Y||n|
|Canon XSi« »||optical||n||3.0||230||fixed||n||4000||3.5||Y||n|
|Canon 30D« »||optical||Y||2.5||230||fixed||n||8000||5.0||Y||n|
|Canon XTi« »||optical||n||2.5||230||fixed||n||4000||3.0||Y||n|
|Canon 20D« »||optical||Y||1.8||118||fixed||n||8000||5.0||Y||n|
|Canon 10D« »||optical||Y||1.8||118||fixed||n||4000||3.0||Y||n|
|Nikon D90« »||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||4000||4.5||Y||n|
|Olympus E-30« »||optical||Y||2.7||230||swivel||n||8000||5.0||Y||Y|
|Panasonic GF2« »||-||n||3.0||460||fixed||Y||4000||2.6||Y||n|
|Panasonic GH2« »||1534||n||3.0||460||swivel||n||4000||3.0||Y||n|
|Panasonic G2« »||1440||n||3.0||460||swivel||Y||4000||2.6||Y||n|
|Panasonic GF1« »||-||n||3.0||460||fixed||n||4000||3.0||Y||n|
|Panasonic G1« »||1440||n||3.0||460||swivel||n||4001||3.0||Y||n|
Both the 40D and the GH1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 40D was replaced by the Canon 50D, while the GH1 was followed by the Panasonic GH2.
Review summary: Canon 40D vs Panasonic GH1
So how do things add up? Is the Canon 40D better than the Panasonic GH1 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 40D:
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Easier setting verification: Has an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) 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.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (13 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in August 2007).
Arguments in favor of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (12 vs 10.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 7%.
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/24p video.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (460k vs 230k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- More compact: Is smaller (124x90mm vs 146x108mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 437g or 53 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 6 months) more recently.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the GH1 emerges as the winner of the match-up (9 : 7 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.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the 40D or the GH1 handle or perform in practice. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable. 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 detailed reviews can be accessed by clicking on the site logo in the table header.
|Canon 40D»||HiRec||HiRec||4.5/5||rev||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,299||-|
|Panasonic GH1«||HiRec||72/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2009||1,499||-|
|Canon 70D« »||HiRec||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2013||1,199||-|
|Canon 60D« »||Rec||79/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||1,399||-|
|Canon 50D« »||HiRec||HiRec||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2008||1,299||-|
|Canon XSi« »||HiRec||HiRec||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2008||799||-|
|Canon 30D« »||HiRec||HiRec||rev||rev||-||Feb 2006||1,399||-|
|Canon XTi« »||HiRec||HiRec||rev||4.5/5||4/5||Aug 2006||799||-|
|Canon 20D« »||-||HiRec||-||rev||-||Aug 2004||1,499||-|
|Canon 10D« »||-||HiRec||-||rev||-||Feb 2003||1,999||-|
|Nikon D90« »||HiRec||HiRec||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2008||1,299||-|
|Olympus E-30« »||-||71/100||4.5/5||-||4/5||Nov 2008||1,299||-|
|Panasonic GF2« »||82/100||70/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2010||549||-|
|Panasonic GH2« »||HiRec||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2010||1,499||-|
|Panasonic G2« »||-||72/100||4/5||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2010||599||-|
|Panasonic GF1« »||85/100||69/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2009||749||-|
|Panasonic G1« »||HiRec||70/100||4/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2008||599||-|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when refering to cameras in the same category and of the same age. 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. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
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