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Canon 5D Mark III versus Canon 40D

The Canon EOS 5D Mark III and the Canon EOS 40D are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in March 2012 and August 2007. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a full frame (5D Mark III) and an APS-C (40D) sensor. The 5D Mark III has a resolution of 22.1 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 5D Mark III vs Canon 40D

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon 5D Mark III and the Canon 40D 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 you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the 5D Mark III – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Canon 5D Mark III vs Canon 40D
Compare 5D Mark III versus 40D top
Compare 5D Mark III and 40D rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon 40D is notably smaller (11 percent) than the Canon 5D Mark III. Moreover, the 40D is markedly lighter (13 percent) than the 5D Mark III. It is worth mentioning in this context that the 5D Mark III 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. A larger imaging sensor (as in the 5D Mark III) will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, while more compact options are available for the smaller-sensor camera (40D). You can find a comprehensive overview of suitable optics in the Canon EF Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the 5D Mark III gets 950 shots out of its LP-E6 battery, while the 40D can take 750 images on a single charge of its BP-511A power pack.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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.

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)
Camera
Model
Canon 5D Mark III» 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 33.5 oz 950 Y Mar 2012 3,499- i Canon 5D Mark III
Canon 40D« 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.9 in 29.0 oz 750 n Aug 2007 1,299- i Canon 40D
Canon 5D Mark IV« » 5.9 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 31.4 oz 900 Y Aug 2016 3,499 i i Canon 5D Mark IV
Canon 5DS« » 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 32.8 oz 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS
Canon 5DS R« » 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 32.8 oz 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS R
Canon 6D« » 5.7 in 4.4 in 2.8 in 27.2 oz 1090 Y Sep 2012 2,099- i Canon 6D
Canon 60D« » 5.7 in 4.2 in 3.1 in 26.6 oz 1100 Y Aug 2010 1,399- i Canon 60D
Canon 5D Mark II« » 6.0 in 4.5 in 3.0 in 30.0 oz 850 Y Sep 2008 3,499- i Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 50D« » 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.9 in 29.0 oz 800 Y Aug 2008 1,299- i Canon 50D
Canon 30D« » 5.7 in 4.2 in 2.9 in 27.7 oz 750 n Feb 2006 1,399- i Canon 30D
Canon 5D« » 6.0 in 4.4 in 3.0 in 31.6 oz 400 Y Aug 2005 3,299- i Canon 5D
Canon 20D« » 5.7 in 4.2 in 2.8 in 27.2 oz 700 n Aug 2004 1,499- i Canon 20D
Canon 10D« » 5.9 in 4.2 in 3.0 in 30.0 oz 500 n Feb 2003 1,999- i Canon 10D
Nikon D610« » 5.6 in 4.4 in 3.2 in 30.0 oz 900 Y Oct 2013 1,999 i i Nikon D610
Nikon D600« » 5.6 in 4.4 in 3.2 in 30.0 oz 900 Y Sep 2012 2,099- i Nikon D600
Nikon D800« » 5.7 in 4.8 in 3.2 in 35.3 oz 900 Y Feb 2012 2,999- i Nikon D800
Nikon D800E« » 5.7 in 4.8 in 3.2 in 35.3 oz 900 Y Feb 2012 3,299- i Nikon D800E

The camera’s price is obviously a critical decision-making factor. 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 markedly lower price (by 63 percent) than the 5D Mark III, 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Canon 5D Mark III vs Canon 40D

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. 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 tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 5D Mark III features a full frame sensor and the Canon 40D an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the 40D is 62 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 1.6. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

In terms of chip-set technology, the 5D Mark III uses a more advanced image processing engine (DIGIC 5+) than the 40D (DIGIC 3), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.

Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 40D sensor measures

With 22.1MP, the 5D Mark III offers a higher resolution than the 40D (10.1MP), but the 5D Mark III nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.25μm versus 5.73μm for the 40D) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the 5D Mark III is a somewhat more recent model (by 4 years and 6 months) than the 40D, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.

5D Mark III versus 40D MP

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 review, the 5D Mark III provides substantially higher image quality than the 40D, with an overall score that is 17 points higher. This advantage is based on 1.9 bits higher color depth, 0.4 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.7 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.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Canon 5D Mark III» Full Frame 22.1 5760 38401080/30p24.011.7229381Canon 5D Mark III
Canon 40D« APS-C 10.1 3888 2592-22.111.370364Canon 40D
Canon 5D Mark IV« » Full Frame 30.1 6720 44804K/30p24.813.6299591Canon 5D Mark IV
Canon 5DS« » Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/60p24.712.4238187Canon 5DS
Canon 5DS R« » Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/60p24.612.4230886Canon 5DS R
Canon 6D« » Full Frame 20.0 5472 36481080/30p23.812.1234082Canon 6D
Canon 60D« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.211.581366Canon 60D
Canon 5D Mark II« » Full Frame 21.0 5616 37441080/30p23.711.9181579Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 50D« » APS-C 15.1 4752 3168-21.811.469663Canon 50D
Canon 30D« » APS-C 8.2 3504 2336-21.510.873659Canon 30D
Canon 5D« » Full Frame 12.7 4368 2912-22.911.1136871Canon 5D
Canon 20D« » APS-C 8.2 3504 2336-21.911.072162Canon 20D
Canon 10D« » APS-C 6.3 3072 2048-21.110.957157Canon 10D
Nikon D610« » Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/30p25.114.4292594Nikon D610
Nikon D600« » Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/30p25.114.2298094Nikon D600
Nikon D800« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/30p25.314.4285395Nikon D800
Nikon D800E« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/30p25.614.3297996Nikon D800E

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The 5D Mark III indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the 40D does not. The highest resolution format that the 5D Mark III can use is 1080/30p.

 

Feature comparison: Canon 5D Mark III vs Canon 40D

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 5D Mark III 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 5D Mark III and Canon 40D in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

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)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec)
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Canon 5D Mark III»optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 6.0 n n Canon 5D Mark III
Canon 40D«optical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 8000 6.5 Y n Canon 40D
Canon 5D Mark IV« »optical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 8000 7.0 n n Canon 5D Mark IV
Canon 5DS« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n Canon 5DS
Canon 5DS R« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n Canon 5DS R
Canon 6D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 4000 4.5 n n Canon 6D
Canon 60D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel n 8000 5.3 Y n Canon 60D
Canon 5D Mark II« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 3.9 n n Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 50D« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 6.3 Y n Canon 50D
Canon 30D« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 5.0 Y n Canon 30D
Canon 5D« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 3.0 n n Canon 5D
Canon 20D« »optical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 8000 5.0 Y n Canon 20D
Canon 10D« »optical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Canon 10D
Nikon D610« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 4000 6.0 Y n Nikon D610
Nikon D600« »optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 5.5 Y n Nikon D600
Nikon D800« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 8000 4.0 Y n Nikon D800
Nikon D800E« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 8000 4.0 Y n Nikon D800E

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The 40D has one, while the 5D Mark III does not. While the build-in flash of the 40D is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

Both the 5D Mark III and the 40D write their imaging data to Compact Flash cards. The 5D Mark III features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the 40D only has one slot.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
Canon 5D Mark III»YmonomonoYYmini2.0---Canon 5D Mark III
Canon 40D«Y-----2.0---Canon 40D
Canon 5D Mark IV« »YmonomonoYYmini3.0YY-Canon 5D Mark IV
Canon 5DS« »YmonomonoY-mini3.0---Canon 5DS
Canon 5DS R« »YmonomonoY-mini3.0---Canon 5DS R
Canon 6D« »YmonomonoY-mini2.0Y--Canon 6D
Canon 60D« »YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Canon 60D
Canon 5D Mark II« »YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 50D« »Y----mini2.0---Canon 50D
Canon 30D« »Y-----2.0---Canon 30D
Canon 5D« »Y-----2.0---Canon 5D
Canon 20D« »Y-----1.1---Canon 20D
Canon 10D« »Y-----1.1---Canon 10D
Nikon D610« »YmonomonoYYmini2.0---Nikon D610
Nikon D600« »YmonomonoYYmini2.0---Nikon D600
Nikon D800« »YmonomonoYYmini3.0---Nikon D800
Nikon D800E« »YmonomonoYYmini3.0---Nikon D800E

Both the 5D Mark III and the 40D have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 40D was replaced by the Canon 50D, while the 5D Mark III was followed by the Canon 5D Mark IV.

Review summary: Canon 5D Mark III vs Canon 40D

So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon 5D Mark III and the Canon 40D? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


Advantages of the Canon EOS 5D Mark III:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (22.1 vs 10.1MP) with a 48% higher linear resolution.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (17 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.9 bits more color depth).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1.7 stops ISO advantage).
  • Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (DIGIC 5+ vs DIGIC 3).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/30p movies.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 230k dots).
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (950 versus 750) on a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • More modern: Reflects 4 years and 6 months of technical progress since the 40D launch.


Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 40D:

  • More compact: Is smaller (146x108mm vs 152x116mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 128g or 13 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (63 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in August 2007).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the 5D Mark III is the clear winner of the match-up (12 : 5 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.

5D Mark III 12:05 40D

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the 5D Mark III and the 40D in practical situations. 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 where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major 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
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Canon 5D Mark III»HiRec82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2012 3,499- i Canon 5D Mark III
Canon 40D«HiRecHiRec4.5/5rev4.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299- i Canon 40D
Canon 5D Mark IV« »HiRec87/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2016 3,499 i i Canon 5D Mark IV
Canon 5DS« »Rec83/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS
Canon 5DS R« »Rec83/1005/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS R
Canon 6D« »HiRec83/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,099- i Canon 6D
Canon 60D« »Rec79/1004/55/54.5/5 Aug 2010 1,399- i Canon 60D
Canon 5D Mark II« »91/10079/1004/55/5- Sep 2008 3,499- i Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 50D« »HiRecHiRec4.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299- i Canon 50D
Canon 30D« »HiRecHiRecrevrev- Feb 2006 1,399- i Canon 30D
Canon 5D« »88/100HiRecrevrev- Aug 2005 3,299- i Canon 5D
Canon 20D« »-HiRec-rev- Aug 2004 1,499- i Canon 20D
Canon 10D« »-HiRec-rev- Feb 2003 1,999- i Canon 10D
Nikon D610« »HiRec87/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 1,999 i i Nikon D610
Nikon D600« »HiRec87/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,099- i Nikon D600
Nikon D800« »HiRec82/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2012 2,999- i Nikon D800
Nikon D800E« »-84/1005/54.5/55/5 Feb 2012 3,299- i Nikon D800E

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, 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 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? 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. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If the camera you are interested in is not available, please contact me, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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