Canon 40D vs Sony A7S
The Canon EOS 40D and the Sony Alpha A7S are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2007 and April 2014. The 40D is a DSLR, while the A7S is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (40D) and a full frame (A7S) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 10.1 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 12 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Canon 40D||Sony A7S|
|Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Canon EF mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|10.1 MP, APS-C Sensor||12 MP, Full Frame Sensor|
|no Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO 100-1600 (100-3200)||ISO 100-102400 (50-409600)|
|Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder (2400k dots)|
|3.0" LCD, 230k dots||3.0" LCD, 921k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Tilting screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|6.5 shutter flaps per second||5 shutter flaps per second|
|Not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|750 shots per battery charge||380 shots per battery charge|
|146 x 108 x 74 mm, 822 g||127 x 94 x 48 mm, 489 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 40D and the Sony Alpha A7S? 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 Sony A7S is provided 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A7S is notably smaller (24 percent) than the Canon 40D. Moreover, the A7S is substantially lighter (41 percent) than the 40D. It is noteworthy in this context that the A7S is splash and dust-proof, while the 40D does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
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 Sony FE Lens Catalog (A7S). Mirrorless cameras, such as the A7S, 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.
Concerning battery life, the 40D gets 750 shots out of its BP-511A battery, while the A7S can take 380 images on a single charge of its NP-FW50 power pack. The power pack in the A7S can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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|
|Sony A7S«||5.0 in||3.7 in||1.9 in||17.2 oz||380||Y||Apr 2014||2,499||Sony A7S|
|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 Df« »||5.7 in||4.3 in||2.6 in||26.8 oz||1400||Y||Nov 2013||2,749||Nikon Df|
|Nikon D90« »||5.2 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||24.8 oz||850||n||Aug 2008||1,299||Nikon D90|
|Sony A7S II« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||22.1 oz||370||Y||Sep 2015||2,999||Sony A7S II|
|Sony A7 II« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||21.1 oz||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999||Sony A7 II|
|Sony A7« »||5.0 in||3.7 in||1.9 in||16.7 oz||340||Y||Oct 2013||1,699||Sony A7|
|Sony A7R« »||5.0 in||3.7 in||1.9 in||16.4 oz||340||Y||Oct 2013||2,299||Sony A7R|
|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 retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The 40D was launched at a markedly lower price (by 48 percent) than the A7S, 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.
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. 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 tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 40D features an APS-C sensor and the Sony A7S a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A7S is 158 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.6 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 12MP, the A7S offers a higher resolution than the 40D (10.1MP), but the A7S nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 8.45μm versus 5.73μm for the 40D) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the A7S is a much more recent model (by 6 years and 7 months) than the 40D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The resolution advantage of the Sony A7S implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A7S for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 21.2 x 14.2 inch or 53.8 x 36 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 17 x 11.3 inch or 43.1 x 28.8 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 14.1 x 9.4 inch or 35.9 x 24 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 Sony Alpha A7S are ISO 100 to ISO 102400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-409600.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 consideration, the A7S offers substantially better image quality than the 40D (overall score 23 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.8 bits higher color depth, 1.9 EV in additional dynamic range, and 2.4 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|Canon 40D||APS-C||10.1||3888||2592||none||22.1||11.3||703||64||Canon 40D|
|Sony A7S||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||1080/60p||23.9||13.2||3702||87||Sony A7S|
|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 Df||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||none||24.6||13.1||3279||89||Nikon Df|
|Nikon D90||APS-C||12.2||4288||2848||720/24p||22.7||12.5||977||73||Nikon D90|
|Sony A7S II||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/30p||23.6||13.3||2993||85||Sony A7S II|
|Sony A7 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90||Sony A7 II|
|Sony A7||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.8||14.2||2248||90||Sony A7|
|Sony A7R||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.6||14.1||2746||95||Sony A7R|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The A7S indeed provides for movie recording, while the 40D does not. The highest resolution format that the A7S can use is 1080/60p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A7S has an electronic viewfinder (2400k 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 viewfinder in the A7S offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the 40D (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the A7S has a higher magnification (0.71x vs 0.59x), 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 Sony A7S along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|Canon 40D||optical||Y||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.5||Y||n||Canon 40D|
|Sony A7S||2400||n||3.0||921||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n||Sony A7S|
|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 Df||optical||Y||3.2||921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.5||n||n||Nikon Df|
|Nikon D90||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/4000s||4.5||Y||n||Nikon D90|
|Sony A7S II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y||Sony A7S II|
|Sony A7 II||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y||Sony A7 II|
|Sony A7||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n||Sony A7|
|Sony A7R||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||4.0||n||n||Sony A7R|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The 40D has one, while the A7S 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 reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the A7S is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The 40D writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the A7S uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo 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 Sony Alpha A7S 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|
|Sony A7S||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony A7S|
|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 Df||Y||none||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon Df|
|Nikon D90||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D90|
|Sony A7S II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony A7S II|
|Sony A7 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony A7 II|
|Sony A7||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony A7|
|Sony A7R||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony A7R|
It is notable that the A7S offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the 40D does not offer wifi capability.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Canon 40D (unlike the A7S) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the 40D and the A7S have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 40D was replaced by the Canon 50D, while the A7S was followed by the Sony A7S II. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Sony websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon 40D and the Sony A7S? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS 40D:
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (6.5 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (750 versus 380) 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 affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (48 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2007).
Advantages of the Sony Alpha A7S:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (12 vs 10.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 9%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (23 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.8 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.9 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (2.4 stops ISO advantage).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60p video.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 95%).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.71x vs 0.59x).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (921k vs 230k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- More compact: Is smaller (127x94mm vs 146x108mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 333g or 41 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- More modern: Reflects 6 years and 7 months of technical progress since the 40D launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A7S is the clear winner of the contest (19 : 8 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. 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 Sony A7S 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 A7S in practical situations. 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 where reviews by experts come in. 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.
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time 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.
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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Canon 40D vs Sony A7S
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||Sony A7S|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||August 2007||April 2014|
|Launch Price||USD 1299||USD 2499|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 40D||Sony A7S|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.3 x 14.9 mm||35.8 x 23.9 mm|
|Sensor Area||332.27 mm2||855.62 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||26.8 mm||43 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||10.1 Megapixels||12 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3888 x 2592 pixels||4240 x 2832 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.73 μm||8.45 μm|
|Pixel Density||3.03 MP/cm2||1.40 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||100-1600 ISO||100-102400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100-3200 ISO||50-409600 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 3||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||64||87|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.1||23.9|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.3||13.2|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||703||3702|
|Screen Specs||Canon 40D||Sony A7S|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2400k dots|
|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||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 40D||Sony A7S|
|Autofocus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||No Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000/s||1/8000/s|
|Continuous Shooting||6.5 shutter flaps/s||5 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||YES|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 40D||Sony A7S|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon 40D||Sony A7S|
|Environmental Sealing||Not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||750 shots per charge||380 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
146 x 108 x 74 mm
(5.7 x 4.3 x 2.9 in)
127 x 94 x 48 mm
(5.0 x 3.7 x 1.9 in)
|Camera Weight||822 g (29.0 oz)||489 g (17.2 oz)|
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