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Canon 50D versus Canon 40D

The Canon EOS 50D and the Canon EOS 40D are two enthusiast cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2008 and August 2007. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The 50D has a resolution of 15.1 megapixel, whereas the 40D provides 10.1 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 50D vs Canon 40D

The physical size and weight of the Canon 50D and the Canon 40D are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also use the toggle button 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 side – the 50D – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Canon 50D vs Canon 40D
Compare 50D versus 40D top
Compare 50D and 40D rear

In this particular case, the Canon 50D and the Canon 40D have exactly the same width and height, and, thus, have identically-sized bodies. Moreover, the two cameras also share the same weight. It is worth mentioning in this context that the 50D is splash and dust resistant, 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. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can find an overview of suitable optics in the Canon EF Lens Catalog.

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
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Canon 50D» 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.9 in 29.0 oz 800 Y Aug 2008 1,299- i
Canon 40D« 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.9 in 29.0 oz 750 n Aug 2007 1,299- i
Canon 7D II« » 5.9 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 32.1 oz 670 Y Sep 2014 1,799 i i
Canon 70D« » 5.5 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 26.6 oz 920 Y Jul 2013 1,199- i
Canon 60D« » 5.7 in 4.2 in 3.1 in 26.6 oz 1100 Y Aug 2010 1,399- i
Canon 7D« » 5.8 in 4.4 in 2.9 in 30.3 oz 800 Y Sep 2009 1,699- i
Canon 1D Mark IV« » 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 43.4 oz 1500 Y Oct 2009 4,999- i
Canon T1i« » 5.1 in 3.9 in 2.4 in 18.3 oz 400 n Mar 2009 799- i
Canon XSi« » 5.1 in 3.9 in 2.4 in 18.5 oz 500 n Jan 2008 799- i
Canon 30D« » 5.7 in 4.2 in 2.9 in 27.7 oz 750 n Feb 2006 1,399- i
Canon XTi« » 5.0 in 3.3 in 2.6 in 19.6 oz 370 n Aug 2006 799- i
Canon 5D« » 6.0 in 4.4 in 3.0 in 31.6 oz 400 Y Aug 2005 3,299- i
Canon 20D« » 5.7 in 4.2 in 2.8 in 27.2 oz 700 n Aug 2004 1,499- i
Nikon D90« » 5.2 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 24.8 oz 850 n Aug 2008 1,299- i

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 two cameras under review were launched at the same price and fall into the same 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Canon 50D vs Canon 40D

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. 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 tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.6. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Canon 50D and Canon 40D sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the 50D offers a higher resolution of 15.1 megapixel, compared with 10.1 MP of the 40D. This megapixel advantage translates into a 22 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the 50D has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.69μm versus 5.73μm for the 40D). In this context, it should be noted, however, that the 50D 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 at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size.

50D versus 40D MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most 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. The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar image quality. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Canon 50D» APS-C 15.1 4752 3168-21.811.469663
Canon 40D« APS-C 10.1 3888 2592-22.111.370364
Canon 7D II« » APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.411.8108270
Canon 70D« » APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p22.511.692668
Canon 60D« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.211.581366
Canon 7D« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.011.785466
Canon 1D Mark IV« » APS-H 16.0 4896 32641080/30p22.812.0132074
Canon T1i« » APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363
Canon XSi« » APS-C 12.2 4272 2848-21.910.869261
Canon 30D« » APS-C 8.2 3504 2336-21.510.873659
Canon XTi« » APS-C 10.1 3888 2592-22.111.066462
Canon 5D« » Full Frame 12.7 4368 2912-22.911.1136871
Canon 20D« » APS-C 8.2 3504 2336-21.911.072162
Nikon D90« » APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.597773
Both the 50D and the 40D offer Live View, so that they make it possible to use the rear screen for framing. Both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.
 

Feature comparison: Canon 50D vs Canon 40D

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The 50D and the 40D 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon 50D and Canon 40D in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
  Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Canon 50D»optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 6.3 Y n
Canon 40D«optical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 8000 6.5 Y n
Canon 7D II« »optical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 8000 10.0 Y n
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 7D« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 8.0 Y n
Canon 1D Mark IV« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 10.0 n n
Canon T1i« »optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 4000 3.4 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 5D« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 3.0 n n
Canon 20D« »optical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 8000 5.0 Y n
Nikon D90« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 4000 4.5 Y n

Both the 50D and the 40D have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 40D was replaced by the Canon 50D, while the 50D was followed by the Canon 60D.

Review summary: Canon 50D vs Canon 40D

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Canon 50D better than the Canon 40D or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 50D:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (15.1 vs 10.1MP) with a 22% higher linear resolution.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 230k dots).
  • Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year after the 40D).


Advantages of the Canon EOS 40D:

  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in August 2007).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 50D emerges as the winner of the contest (4 : 1 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.

50D 04:01 40D

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the 50D and the 40D 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 why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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.

Review scores
  Camera cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Canon 50D»HiRecHiRec4.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299- i
Canon 40D«HiRecHiRec4.5/5rev4.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299- i
Canon 7D II« »Rec84/1004/55/54.5/5 Sep 2014 1,799 i i
Canon 70D« »HiRec83/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Jul 2013 1,199- i
Canon 60D« »Rec79/1004/55/54.5/5 Aug 2010 1,399- i
Canon 7D« »HiRec84/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2009 1,699- i
Canon 1D Mark IV« »-89/100-5/5- Oct 2009 4,999- i
Canon T1i« »HiRec74/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799- i
Canon XSi« »HiRecHiRec4/55/54.5/5 Jan 2008 799- i
Canon 30D« »HiRecHiRecrevrev- Feb 2006 1,399- i
Canon XTi« »HiRecHiRecrev4.5/54/5 Aug 2006 799- i
Canon 5D« »88/100HiRecrevrev- Aug 2005 3,299- i
Canon 20D« »-HiRec-rev- Aug 2004 1,499- i
Nikon D90« »HiRecHiRec4/55/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299- i

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when refering 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 rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. 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? 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. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, please send me an email, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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