Canon 70D vs Nikon D40
The Canon EOS 70D and the Nikon D40 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in July 2013 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 20 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.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 70D 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 70D and the Nikon D40. 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 measures 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 (19 percent) than the Canon 70D. Moreover, the D40 is markedly lighter (31 percent) than the 70D. It is worth mentioning in this context that the 70D is splash and dust resistant, while the D40 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. 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 (70D) 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 would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Canon 70D||139 mm||104 mm||79 mm||755 g||920||Y||Jul 2013||1,199|
|2.||Nikon D40||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||470||n||Nov 2006||499|
|3.||Canon 80D||139 mm||105 mm||79 mm||730 g||960||Y||Feb 2016||1,199|
|4.||Canon G3 X||123 mm||77 mm||105 mm||733 g||300||Y||Jun 2015||999|
|5.||Canon 7D II||149 mm||112 mm||78 mm||910 g||670||Y||Sep 2014||1,799|
|6.||Canon 6D||145 mm||111 mm||71 mm||770 g||1090||Y||Sep 2012||2,099|
|7.||Canon 60D||145 mm||106 mm||79 mm||755 g||1100||Y||Aug 2010||1,399|
|8.||Canon 7D||148 mm||111 mm||74 mm||860 g||800||Y||Sep 2009||1,699|
|9.||Canon 50D||146 mm||108 mm||74 mm||822 g||800||Y||Aug 2008||1,299|
|10.||Nikon D7100||136 mm||107 mm||76 mm||765 g||950||Y||Feb 2013||1,199|
|11.||Nikon D3100||124 mm||96 mm||75 mm||505 g||550||n||Aug 2010||599|
|12.||Nikon D3000||126 mm||97 mm||64 mm||536 g||500||n||Jul 2009||599|
|13.||Nikon D40X||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||520||n||Mar 2007||729|
|14.||Nikon D50||133 mm||102 mm||76 mm||620 g||400||n||Apr 2005||749|
|15.||Nikon D70s||140 mm||111 mm||78 mm||679 g||500||n||Apr 2005||899|
|16.||Sony RX10 II||129 mm||88 mm||102 mm||813 g||400||Y||Jun 2015||1,299|
|17.||Sony RX10||129 mm||88 mm||102 mm||813 g||420||Y||Oct 2013||1,299|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. 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 D40 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 58 percent) than the 70D, 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 imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels 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 more expensive and 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 9 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have format factors, respectively, of 1.6 (70D) 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 70D offers a higher resolution of 20 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 4.11μm versus 7.85μm for the D40). However, it should be noted that the 70D is much more recent (by 6 years and 7 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 70D implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the 70D for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 27.4 x 18.2 inches or 69.5 x 46.3 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 21.9 x 14.6 inches or 55.6 x 37.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 18.2 x 12.2 inches or 46.3 x 30.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D40 are 15 x 10 inches or 38.2 x 25.4 cm for good quality, 12 x 8 inches or 30.6 x 20.3 cm for very good quality, and 10 x 6.7 inches or 25.5 x 16.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
The 70D has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Canon EOS 70D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 12800, which can be extended to ISO 100-25600. 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.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 70D provides substantially higher image quality than the D40, with an overall score that is 12 points higher. This advantage is based on 1.5 bits higher color depth, 0.6 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.7 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.
|4.||Canon G3 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||21.4||12.3||521||63|
|5.||Canon 7D II||APS-C||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.4||11.8||1082||70|
|6.||Canon 6D||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||1080/30p||23.8||12.1||2340||82|
|16.||Sony RX10 II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||23.0||12.6||531||70|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The 70D indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the D40 does not. The highest resolution format that the 70D can use is 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The 70D 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 viewfinder in the 70D offers a wider field of view (98%) than the one in the D40 (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the 70D has a higher magnification (0.59x 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 70D, the Nikon D40, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Canon 70D||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/8000s||7.0/s||Y||n|
|2.||Nikon D40||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5/s||Y||n|
|3.||Canon 80D||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/8000s||7.0/s||Y||n|
|4.||Canon G3 X||optional||n||3.2 / 1620||tilting||Y||1/2000s||5.9/s||Y||Y|
|5.||Canon 7D II||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0/s||Y||n|
|6.||Canon 6D||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||fixed||n||1/4000s||4.5/s||n||n|
|7.||Canon 60D||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||n||1/8000s||5.3/s||Y||n|
|8.||Canon 7D||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.0/s||Y||n|
|9.||Canon 50D||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.3/s||Y||n|
|10.||Nikon D7100||optical||Y||3.2 / 1229||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0/s||Y||n|
|11.||Nikon D3100||optical||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|12.||Nikon D3000||optical||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|13.||Nikon D40X||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|14.||Nikon D50||optical||n||2.0 / 130||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5/s||Y||n|
|15.||Nikon D70s||optical||n||2.0 / 130||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|16.||Sony RX10 II||2359||Y||3.0 / 1229||tilting||n||1/3200s||14.0/s||Y||Y|
|17.||Sony RX10||1440||Y||3.0 / 1229||tilting||n||1/3200s||10.0/s||Y||Y|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
One feature that is present on the 70D, but is missing on the D40 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.The 70D has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the D40 does not have a selfie-screen.
The 70D writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the D40 uses SDHC cards. The 70D supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the D40 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD 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 70D and Nikon D40 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon 70D||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|2.||Nikon D40||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon 80D||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|4.||Canon G3 X||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|5.||Canon 7D II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Canon 6D||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|7.||Canon 60D||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Canon 7D||Y||mono / -||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Canon 50D||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Nikon D7100||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Nikon D3100||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Nikon D3000||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Nikon D40X||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Nikon D50||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Nikon D70s||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Sony RX10 II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|17.||Sony RX10||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the 70D offers wifi support, while the D40 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.
Both the 70D and the D40 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D40 was replaced by the Nikon D40X, while the 70D was followed by the Canon 80D. 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 what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon 70D and the Nikon D40? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS 70D:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (20 vs 6MP) with a 82% higher linear resolution.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (12 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.5 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (0.6 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.7 stops ISO advantage).
- Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/30p movies.
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (98% vs 95%).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.59x vs 0.53x).
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- 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 (1040k vs 230k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7 vs 2.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (920 versus 470) on a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Reflects 6 years and 7 months of technical progress since the D40 launch.
Advantages of the Nikon D40:
- More compact: Is smaller (124x94mm vs 139x104mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 233g or 31 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (58 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in November 2006).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 70D is the clear winner of the match-up (22 : 4 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 70D 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 incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the 70D or the D40 perform in practice. 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 table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). 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.
|1.||Canon 70D||5/5||+ +||..||83/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2013||1,199|
|2.||Nikon D40||..||81/100||..||+ +||o||4.5/5||Nov 2006||499|
|3.||Canon 80D||4/5||+ +||4.5/5||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||1,199|
|4.||Canon G3 X||3.5/5||+||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2015||999|
|5.||Canon 7D II||4.5/5||+||3.5/5||84/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||1,799|
|6.||Canon 6D||5/5||+ +||..||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099|
|7.||Canon 60D||5/5||+||..||79/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||1,399|
|8.||Canon 7D||5/5||+ +||..||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2009||1,699|
|9.||Canon 50D||..||+ +||..||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2008||1,299|
|10.||Nikon D7100||5/5||+ +||..||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||1,199|
|11.||Nikon D3100||5/5||+ +||..||72/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||599|
|12.||Nikon D3000||..||+||..||72/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||599|
|13.||Nikon D40X||..||79/100||..||+ +||4/5||4/5||Mar 2007||729|
|14.||Nikon D50||..||78/100||..||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2005||749|
|15.||Nikon D70s||..||..||..||..||..||5/5||Apr 2005||899|
|16.||Sony RX10 II||5/5||+ +||..||82/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2015||1,299|
|17.||Sony RX10||5/5||+||..||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,299|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date 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 use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon 600D vs Canon 70D
- Canon 70D vs Canon G3 X
- Canon 70D vs Leica V-LUX Typ 114
- Canon 70D vs Olympus E-PL10
- Canon 70D vs Sony NEX-5T
- Canon 70D vs Sony RX10 IV
- Canon SX420 vs Nikon D40
- Canon T6s vs Nikon D40
- Fujifilm GFX 100 vs Nikon D40
- Leica X Vario vs Nikon D40
- Nikon D1X vs Nikon D40
- Nikon D40 vs Sony A5100
Specifications: Canon 70D 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 70D||Nikon D40|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||July 2013||November 2006|
|Launch Price||USD 1,199||USD 499|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 70D||Nikon D40|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.5 x 15.0 mm||23.7 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||337.5 mm2||369.72 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||27 mm||28.4 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||20 Megapixels||6 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5472 x 3648 pixels||3008 x 2000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.11 μm||7.85 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.91 MP/cm2||1.63 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 12,800 ISO||200 - 1,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 25,600 ISO||200 - 3,200 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||68||56|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.5||21.0|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.6||11.0|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||926||561|
|Screen Specs||Canon 70D||Nikon D40|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||98%||95%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||2.5inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||230k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 70D||Nikon D40|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||7 shutter flaps/s||2.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations||50 000 actuations|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDHC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 70D||Nikon D40|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||no HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon 70D||Nikon D40|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||920 shots per charge||470 shots per charge|
139 x 104 x 79 mm
(5.5 x 4.1 x 3.1 in)
124 x 94 x 64 mm
(4.9 x 3.7 x 2.5 in)
|Camera Weight||755 g (26.6 oz)||522 g (18.4 oz)|
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