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Canon 40D vs Sony A900

The Canon EOS 40D and the Sony Alpha A900 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2007 and September 2008. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (40D) and a full frame (A900) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 10.1 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 24.4 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 Sony A900
Canon 40D Sony A900
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Sony A mount lenses
10.1 MP, APS-C Sensor 24.4 MP, Full Frame Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 100-1,600 (100 - 3,200) ISO 200-3,200 (100 - 6,400)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.0 LCD, 230k dots 3.0 LCD, 922k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
6.5 shutter flaps per second 5 shutter flaps per second
Lens stabilization onlyIn-body stabilization
not weather sealedWeathersealed body
750 shots per battery charge880 shots per battery charge
146 x 108 x 74 mm, 822 g 156 x 117 x 82 mm, 895 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 40D and the Sony Alpha A900? 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 physical size and weight of the Canon 40D and the Sony A900 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. 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 Sony A900
Compare 40D versus A900 top
Comparison 40D or A900 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A900 is notably larger (16 percent) than the Canon 40D. Moreover, the A900 is markedly heavier (9 percent) than the 40D. It is noteworthy in this context that the A900 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. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.

Concerning battery life, the 40D gets 750 shots out of its BP-511A battery, while the A900 can take 880 images on a single charge of its NP-FM500H power pack.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.

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Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Canon 40D 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.9 in 29.0 oz 750 n Aug 2007 1,299i
 
Sony A900 6.1 in 4.6 in 3.2 in 31.6 oz 880 Y Sep 2008 2,999i
 
Canon T3 5.1 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 17.5 oz 700 n Feb 2011 449i
 
Canon 60D 5.7 in 4.2 in 3.1 in 26.6 oz 1100 Y Aug 2010 1,399i
 
Canon 50D 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.9 in 29.0 oz 800 Y Aug 2008 1,299i
 
Canon XS 5.0 in 3.9 in 2.6 in 17.7 oz 500 n Jun 2008 449i
 
Canon XSi 5.1 in 3.9 in 2.4 in 18.5 oz 500 n Jan 2008 799i
 
Canon 30D 5.7 in 4.2 in 2.9 in 27.7 oz 750 n Feb 2006 1,399i
 
Canon XTi 5.0 in 3.3 in 2.6 in 19.6 oz 370 n Aug 2006 799i
 
Canon 20D 5.7 in 4.2 in 2.8 in 27.2 oz 700 n Aug 2004 1,499i
 
Canon 10D 5.9 in 4.2 in 3.0 in 30.0 oz 500 n Feb 2003 1,999i
 
Nikon D90 5.2 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 24.8 oz 850 n Aug 2008 1,299i
 
Sony A9 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.5 in 23.7 oz 650 Y Apr 2017 4,499i
 
Sony A99 II 5.6 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 29.9 oz 490 Y Sep 2016 3,199 i
 
Sony A7S II 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.4 in 22.1 oz 370 Y Sep 2015 2,999i
 
Sony A99 5.8 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 28.6 oz 500 Y Sep 2012 2,799i
 
Sony A850 6.1 in 4.6 in 3.2 in 31.6 oz 880 Y Aug 2009 1,999i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.

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 40D was launched at a markedly lower price (by 57 percent) than the A900, 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.

Sensor comparison

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. 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 Sony A900 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A900 is 160 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.

Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.

Canon 40D and Sony A900 sensor measures

With 24.4MP, the A900 offers a higher resolution than the 40D (10.1MP), but the A900 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.94μm versus 5.73μm for the 40D) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the A900 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year) than the 40D, and its sensor might 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 A900 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A900 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30.2 x 20.2 inches or 76.8 x 51.2 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24.2 x 16.1 inches or 61.4 x 41 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20.2 x 13.4 inches or 51.2 x 34.1 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 Sony Alpha A900 are ISO 200 to ISO 3200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-6400.

40D versus A900 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the A900 offers substantially better image quality than the 40D (overall score 15 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.6 bits higher color depth, 1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1 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.

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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
 
Canon 40D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.370364
 
Sony A900 Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032none23.712.3143179
 
Canon T3 APS-C 12.2 4272 2848720/30p21.911.075562
 
Canon 60D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.211.581366
 
Canon 50D APS-C 15.1 4752 3168none21.811.469663
 
Canon XS APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none........
 
Canon XSi APS-C 12.2 4272 2848none21.910.869261
 
Canon 30D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.510.873659
 
Canon XTi APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.066462
 
Canon 20D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.911.072162
 
Canon 10D APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.110.957157
 
Nikon D90 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.597773
 
Sony A9 Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.913.3351792
 
Sony A99 II Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p25.413.4231792
 
Sony A7S II Full Frame 12.0 4240 28324K/30p23.613.3299385
 
Sony A99 Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.014.0155589
 
Sony A850 Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032none23.812.2141579
The 40D offers Live View, so that it can project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen for framing. The A900 lacks this capability. Both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The 40D and the A900 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 viewfinder in the A900 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 A900 has a higher magnification (0.74x 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 Sony A900, and comparable cameras.

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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
 
Canon 40Doptical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 6.5 Y n
 
Sony A900optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n Y
 
Canon T3optical n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Canon 60Doptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel n 1/8000s 5.3 Y n
 
Canon 50Doptical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 6.3 Y n
 
Canon XSoptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Canon XSioptical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n
 
Canon 30Doptical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
 
Canon XTioptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Canon 20Doptical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
 
Canon 10Doptical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Nikon D90optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 4.5 Y n
 
Sony A93686 n 3.0 1440 tilting Y 1/8000s 20.0 n Y
 
Sony A99 II2400 Y 3.0 1229 full-flex n 1/8000s 12.0 n Y
 
Sony A7S II2400 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 1/8000s 5.0 n Y
 
Sony A992359 Y 3.0 1229 full-flex n 1/8000s 6.0 n Y
 
Sony A850optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 n Y

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The 40D has one, while the A900 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 A900 uses Compact Flash or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The A900 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the 40D only has one slot.

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 Sony Alpha A900 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
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
 
Canon 40DY-----2.0---
 
Sony A900Y----mini2.0---
 
Canon T3Ystereomono--mini2.0---
 
Canon 60DYmonomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Canon 50DY----mini2.0---
 
Canon XSY-----2.0---
 
Canon XSiY----mini2.0---
 
Canon 30DY-----2.0---
 
Canon XTiY-----2.0---
 
Canon 20DY-----1.1---
 
Canon 10DY-----1.1---
 
Nikon D90Ymonomono--mini2.0---
 
Sony A9YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YYY
 
Sony A99 IIYstereomonoYYmicro2.0YYY
 
Sony A7S IIYstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-
 
Sony A99YstereomonoYYmini2.0---
 
Sony A850Y----mini2.0---

Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.

Both the 40D and the A900 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 40D was replaced by the Canon 50D, while the A900 was followed by the Sony A99. 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.

Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon 40D and the Sony A900? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 40D:

  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (6.5 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (146x108mm vs 156x117mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (57 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in August 2007).

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Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha A900:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (24.4 vs 10.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 56%.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (15 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.6 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1 stops ISO advantage).
  • 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 (0.74x vs 0.59x).
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (922k vs 230k dots).
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (880 versus 750) out of a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year) more recently.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A900 is the clear winner of the contest (13 : 5 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 wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

40D 05:13 A900

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 40D and the Sony A900 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 specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the 40D and the A900 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.

Expert reviews

This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear 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.

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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Canon 40D+ ++ +4.5/5o4.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299i
 
Sony A900+ ++ +4.5/54/55/5 Sep 2008 2,999i
 
Canon T380/10069/1004/54/54.5/5 Feb 2011 449i
 
Canon 60D+79/1004/55/54.5/5 Aug 2010 1,399i
 
Canon 50D+ ++ +4.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299i
 
Canon XS82/100+ +3.5/54/54.5/5 Jun 2008 449i
 
Canon XSi+ ++ +4/55/54.5/5 Jan 2008 799i
 
Canon 30D+ ++ +oo.. Feb 2006 1,399i
 
Canon XTi+ ++ +o4.5/54/5 Aug 2006 799i
 
Canon 20D..+ +..o.. Aug 2004 1,499i
 
Canon 10D..+ +..o.. Feb 2003 1,999i
 
Nikon D90+ ++ +4/55/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299i
 
Sony A9+ +89/1005/55/55/5 Apr 2017 4,499i
 
Sony A99 II..85/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2016 3,199 i
 
Sony A7S II+..4.5/55/55/5 Sep 2015 2,999i
 
Sony A99..84/1004.5/5o4.5/5 Sep 2012 2,799i
 
Sony A850..75/100..4/54.5/5 Aug 2009 1,999i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, 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 comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Canon 40D:
Check Ebay offers
Sony A900:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, 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 Sony A900

    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 Sony A900
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Sony A mount lenses
    Launch Date August 2007 September 2008
    Launch Price USD 1,299 USD 2,999
    Sensor Specs Canon 40D Sony A900
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 22.3 x 14.9 mm 35.9 x 24.0 mm
    Sensor Area 332.27 mm2 861.6 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 26.8 mm 43.2 mm
    Crop Factor 1.6x 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 10.1 Megapixels 24.4 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3888 x 2592 pixels 6048 x 4032 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 5.73 μm 5.94 μm
    Pixel Density 3.03 MP/cm2 2.83 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 1,600 ISO 200 - 3,200 ISO
    ISO Boost 100 - 3,200 ISO 100 - 6,400 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC 3 BIONZ
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 64 79
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 22.1 23.7
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.3 12.3
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 703 1431
    Screen Specs Canon 40D Sony A900
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.59x 0.74x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 922k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon 40D Sony A900
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 6.5 shutter flaps/s 5 shutter flaps/s
    Image StabilizationLens stabilization onlyIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards CF or MS cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs Canon 40D Sony A900
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon 40D Sony A900
    Environmental Sealingnot weather sealedWeathersealed body
    Battery Type BP-511A NP-FM500H
    Battery Life (CIPA)750 shots per charge880 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 146 x 108 x 74 mm
    (5.7 x 4.3 x 2.9 in)
    156 x 117 x 82 mm
    (6.1 x 4.6 x 3.2 in)
    Camera Weight 822 g (29.0 oz) 895 g (31.6 oz)

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