Canon 500D vs Nikon D40
The Canon EOS 500D (called Canon T1i in some regions) and the Nikon D40 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in March 2009 and November 2006. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 15.1 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 6 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Canon 500D||Nikon D40|
|Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Canon EF mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|15.1 MP, APS-C Sensor||6 MP, APS-C Sensor|
|1080/20p Video||no Video|
|ISO 100-6400 (100-12800)||ISO 200-1600 (200-3200)|
|Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|3.0" LCD, 920k dots||2.5" LCD, 230k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|3.4 shutter flaps per second||2.5 shutter flaps per second|
|400 shots per battery charge||470 shots per battery charge|
|129 x 98 x 62 mm, 520 g||124 x 94 x 64 mm, 522 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 500D and the Nikon D40? 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.
The physical size and weight of the Canon 500D and the Nikon D40 are illustrated 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.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D40 is notably smaller (8 percent) than the Canon 500D. However, the D40 is slightly heavier (0 percent) than the 500D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 500D nor the D40 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 (500D) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D40).
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.
|Canon 500D»||5.1 in||3.9 in||2.4 in||18.3 oz||400||n||Mar 2009||799||-||Canon 500D|
|Nikon D40«||4.9 in||3.7 in||2.5 in||18.4 oz||470||n||Nov 2006||499||-||Nikon D40|
|Canon 750D« »||5.2 in||4.0 in||3.1 in||19.6 oz||440||n||Feb 2015||749||-||Canon 750D|
|Canon 760D« »||5.2 in||4.0 in||3.1 in||19.9 oz||440||n||Feb 2015||649||-||Canon 760D|
|Canon 1200D« »||5.1 in||3.9 in||3.1 in||16.9 oz||500||n||Feb 2014||449||-||Canon 1200D|
|Canon G1 X Mark II« »||4.6 in||2.9 in||2.6 in||19.5 oz||240||n||Feb 2014||799||Canon G1 X Mark II|
|Canon 700D« »||5.2 in||3.9 in||3.1 in||20.5 oz||440||n||Mar 2013||649||-||Canon 700D|
|Canon 650D« »||5.2 in||3.9 in||3.1 in||20.3 oz||440||n||Jun 2012||849||-||Canon 650D|
|Canon G1 X« »||4.6 in||3.2 in||2.6 in||18.8 oz||250||n||Jan 2012||799||-||Canon G1 X|
|Canon 600D« »||5.2 in||3.9 in||3.1 in||20.1 oz||440||n||Feb 2011||599||-||Canon 600D|
|Canon 550D« »||5.1 in||3.9 in||2.4 in||18.7 oz||440||n||Feb 2010||699||-||Canon 550D|
|Canon 450D« »||5.1 in||3.9 in||2.4 in||18.5 oz||500||n||Jan 2008||799||-||Canon 450D|
|Nikon D3400« »||4.9 in||3.9 in||3.0 in||15.7 oz||1200||n||Aug 2016||499||-||Nikon D3400|
|Nikon D3300« »||4.9 in||3.9 in||3.0 in||15.2 oz||700||n||Jan 2014||499||-||Nikon D3300|
|Nikon D3100« »||4.9 in||3.8 in||3.0 in||17.8 oz||550||n||Aug 2010||599||-||Nikon D3100|
|Nikon D40X« »||4.9 in||3.7 in||2.5 in||18.4 oz||520||n||Mar 2007||729||-||Nikon D40X|
|Nikon D50« »||5.2 in||4.0 in||3.0 in||21.9 oz||400||n||Apr 2005||749||-||Nikon D50|
|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 D40 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 38 percent) than the 500D, 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.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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.
Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the D40 is 11 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have format factors, respectively, of 1.6 (500D) and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon 500D offers a higher resolution of 15.1 megapixels, compared with 6 MP of the Nikon D40. 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 4.69μm versus 7.85μm for the D40). However, it should be noted that the 500D is much more recent (by 2 years and 4 months) than the D40, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.
The resolution advantage of the Canon 500D implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the 500D for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 23.8 x 15.8 inch or 60.4 x 40.2 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 19 x 12.7 inch or 48.3 x 32.2 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 15.8 x 10.6 inch or 40.2 x 26.8 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D40 are 15 x 10 inch or 38.2 x 25.4 cm for good quality, 12 x 8 inch or 30.6 x 20.3 cm for very good quality, and 10 x 6.7 inch or 25.5 x 16.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS 500D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 100-12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D40 are ISO 200 to ISO 1600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 200-3200.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under review, the 500D has a notably higher overall DXO score than the D40 (overall score 7 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.7 bits higher color depth, 0.5 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.2 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|Canon 500D»||APS-C||15.1||4752||3168||1080/20p||21.7||11.5||663||63||Canon 500D|
|Nikon D40«||APS-C||6.0||3008||2000||-||21.0||11.0||561||56||Nikon D40|
|Canon 750D« »||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||22.7||12.0||919||71||Canon 750D|
|Canon 760D« »||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/30p||22.6||12.0||915||70||Canon 760D|
|Canon 1200D« »||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||21.9||11.3||724||63||Canon 1200D|
|Canon G1 X Mark II« »||1.5-inch||13.0||4160||3120||1080/30p||21.5||10.8||581||58||Canon G1 X Mark II|
|Canon 700D« »||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||21.7||11.2||681||61||Canon 700D|
|Canon 650D« »||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||21.7||11.2||722||62||Canon 650D|
|Canon G1 X« »||1.5-inch||14.2||4352||3264||1080/24p||21.7||10.8||644||60||Canon G1 X|
|Canon 600D« »||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.1||11.5||793||65||Canon 600D|
|Canon 550D« »||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.1||11.5||784||66||Canon 550D|
|Canon 450D« »||APS-C||12.2||4272||2848||-||21.9||10.8||692||61||Canon 450D|
|Nikon D3400« »||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.8||13.9||1192||86||Nikon D3400|
|Nikon D3300« »||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.3||12.8||1385||82||Nikon D3300|
|Nikon D3100« »||APS-C||14.2||4608||3072||1080/24p||22.5||11.3||919||67||Nikon D3100|
|Nikon D40X« »||APS-C||10.0||3872||2592||-||22.4||11.4||516||63||Nikon D40X|
|Nikon D50« »||APS-C||6.0||3008||2000||-||20.9||10.8||560||55||Nikon D50|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The 500D indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the D40 does not. The highest resolution format that the 500D can use is 1080/20p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The 500D and the D40 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 500D has a higher magnification than the one of the D40 (0.54x vs 0.53x), 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 500D, the Nikon D40, and comparable cameras.
|Canon 500D»||optical||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.4||Y||n||Canon 500D|
|Nikon D40«||optical||n||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5||Y||n||Nikon D40|
|Canon 750D« »||optical||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Canon 750D|
|Canon 760D« »||optical||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Canon 760D|
|Canon 1200D« »||optical||n||3.0||460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Canon 1200D|
|Canon G1 X Mark II« »||-||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||5.2||Y||Y||Canon G1 X Mark II|
|Canon 700D« »||optical||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Canon 700D|
|Canon 650D« »||optical||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Canon 650D|
|Canon G1 X« »||optical||n||3.0||922||Swivel||n||1/4000s||1.9||Y||Y||Canon G1 X|
|Canon 600D« »||optical||n||3.0||1040||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.7||Y||n||Canon 600D|
|Canon 550D« »||optical||n||3.0||1040||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.7||Y||n||Canon 550D|
|Canon 450D« »||optical||n||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5||Y||n||Canon 450D|
|Nikon D3400« »||optical||n||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Nikon D3400|
|Nikon D3300« »||optical||n||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Nikon D3300|
|Nikon D3100« »||optical||n||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Nikon D3100|
|Nikon D40X« »||optical||n||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Nikon D40X|
|Nikon D50« »||optical||n||2.0||130||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5||Y||n||Nikon D50|
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the 500D and the D40 write their files to 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 500D and Nikon D40 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Canon 500D»||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 500D|
|Nikon D40«||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D40|
|Canon 750D« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-||Canon 750D|
|Canon 760D« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-||Canon 760D|
|Canon 1200D« »||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 1200D|
|Canon G1 X Mark II« »||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-||Canon G1 X Mark II|
|Canon 700D« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 700D|
|Canon 650D« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 650D|
|Canon G1 X« »||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon G1 X|
|Canon 600D« »||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 600D|
|Canon 550D« »||Y||stereo||-||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 550D|
|Canon 450D« »||Y||-||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 450D|
|Nikon D3400« »||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||Y||Nikon D3400|
|Nikon D3300« »||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D3300|
|Nikon D3100« »||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D3100|
|Nikon D40X« »||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D40X|
|Nikon D50« »||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D50|
Both the 500D and the D40 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D40 was replaced by the Nikon D40X, while the 500D was followed by the Canon 550D. 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.
So how do things add up? Is the Canon 500D better than the Nikon D40 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 500D:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (15.1 vs 6MP) with a 58% higher linear resolution.
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (7 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/20p movies.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.54x vs 0.53x).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 230k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3.4 vs 2.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 4 months of technical progress since the D40 launch.
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D40:
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (470 versus 400) out of a single battery charge.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (38 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in November 2006).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 500D is the clear winner of the match-up (8 : 3 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 500D and the Nikon D40 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 technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 500D or the D40. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is why expert reviews 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.
|Canon 500D»||+ +||74/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2009||799||-||Canon 500D|
|Nikon D40«||81/100||+ +||o||5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2006||499||-||Nikon D40|
|Canon 750D« »||-||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||749||-||Canon 750D|
|Canon 760D« »||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||649||-||Canon 760D|
|Canon 1200D« »||+||-||4/5||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||449||-||Canon 1200D|
|Canon G1 X Mark II« »||+||77/100||4/5||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||799||Canon G1 X Mark II|
|Canon 700D« »||-||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2013||649||-||Canon 700D|
|Canon 650D« »||+ +||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2012||849||-||Canon 650D|
|Canon G1 X« »||+||76/100||4/5||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2012||799||-||Canon G1 X|
|Canon 600D« »||o||77/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||599||-||Canon 600D|
|Canon 550D« »||+ +||77/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||699||-||Canon 550D|
|Canon 450D« »||+ +||+ +||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2008||799||-||Canon 450D|
|Nikon D3400« »||+||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||499||-||Nikon D3400|
|Nikon D3300« »||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2014||499||-||Nikon D3300|
|Nikon D3100« »||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||599||-||Nikon D3100|
|Nikon D40X« »||79/100||+ +||4/5||o||4/5||Mar 2007||729||-||Nikon D40X|
|Nikon D50« »||78/100||+ +||4/5||o||4.5/5||Apr 2005||749||-||Nikon D50|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (-) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated 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 would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
Specifications: Canon 500D vs Nikon D40
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 500D||Nikon D40|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||March 2009||November 2006|
|Launch Price||USD 799||USD 499|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 500D||Nikon D40|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.3 x 14.9 mm||23.7 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||332.27 mm2||369.72 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||26.8 mm||28.4 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||15.1 Megapixels||6 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4752 x 3168 pixels||3008 x 2000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.69 μm||7.85 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.53 MP/cm2||1.63 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/20p Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||100-6400 ISO||200-1600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100-12800 ISO||200-3200 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||63||56|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.7||21.0|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.5||11.0|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||663||561|
|Screen Specs||Canon 500D||Nikon D40|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0 inch||2.5 inch|
|LCD Resolution||920k dots||230k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 500D||Nikon D40|
|Autofocus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||3.4 shutter flaps/s||2.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations||50 000 actuations|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDHC cards||SDHC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 500D||Nikon D40|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||no HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon 500D||Nikon D40|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||400 shots per charge||470 shots per charge|
129 x 98 x 62 mm
(5.1 x 3.9 x 2.4 in)
124 x 94 x 64 mm
(4.9 x 3.7 x 2.5 in)
|Camera Weight||520 g (18.3 oz)||522 g (18.4 oz)|
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