Nikon D90 versus Canon 40D
The Nikon D90 and the Canon EOS 40D are two enthusiast cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2008 and August 2007. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 12.2 megapixel, whereas the Canon provides 10.1 MP.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Nikon D90 and the Canon 40D. 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 – the D90 – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).
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 larger (16 percent) than the Nikon D90. Moreover, the 40D is markedly heavier (17 percent) than the D90. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D90 nor the 40D 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 find an overview of optics for the two cameras in the Nikon Lens Catalog (D90) and the Canon EF Lens Catalog (40D).
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 comparisons there.
|Camera Body Specifications
|Nikon D90 (⇒ rgt)||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||703 g||850||no||2008||1,299||discont.||check|
|Canon 40D (⇒ lft)||146 mm||108 mm||74 mm||822 g||750||no||2007||1,299||discont.||check|
|Canon 50D (⇒ lft | rgt)||146 mm||108 mm||74 mm||822 g||800||YES||2008||1,299||discont.||check|
|Canon XSi (⇒ lft | rgt)||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||524 g||500||no||2008||799||discont.||check|
|Canon 30D (⇒ lft | rgt)||144 mm||106 mm||74 mm||785 g||750||no||2006||1,399||discont.||check|
|Canon XTi (⇒ lft | rgt)||127 mm||84 mm||65 mm||556 g||370||no||2006||799||discont.||check|
|Nikon D7500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||136 mm||104 mm||73 mm||720 g||950||YES||2017||1,299||latest||check|
|Nikon D7200 (⇒ lft | rgt)||136 mm||107 mm||76 mm||765 g||1110||YES||2015||1,199||discont.||check|
|Nikon D7100 (⇒ lft | rgt)||136 mm||107 mm||76 mm||765 g||950||YES||2013||1,199||discont.||check|
|Nikon D7000 (⇒ lft | rgt)||132 mm||105 mm||77 mm||780 g||1050||YES||2010||1,499||discont.||check|
|Nikon D300S (⇒ lft | rgt)||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||938 g||950||YES||2009||1,799||discont.||check|
|Nikon D3000 (⇒ lft | rgt)||126 mm||97 mm||64 mm||536 g||500||no||2009||599||discont.||check|
|Nikon D5000 (⇒ lft | rgt)||127 mm||104 mm||80 mm||590 g||510||no||2009||749||discont.||check|
|Nikon D80 (⇒ lft | rgt)||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||668 g||600||no||2006||999||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GH1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||124 mm||90 mm||45 mm||385 g||..||no||2009||1,499||discont.||check|
The listed 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.
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 tent 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 40D is 11 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have format factors, respectively, of 1.52194470078621 (D90) and 1.6. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 12.2MP, the D90 offers a higher resolution than the 40D (10.1MP), but the D90 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.53μm versus 5.73μm for the 40D). However, the D90 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 enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
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 review, the D90 has a notably higher overall DXO score than the 40D (overall score 9 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.6 bits higher color depth, 1.2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.5 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.
|Nikon D90 (⇒ rgt)||APS-C||12.2||4288||2848||720/24p||22.7||12.5||977||73|
|Canon 40D (⇒ lft)||APS-C||10.1||3888||2592||no||22.1||11.3||703||64|
|Canon 50D (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||15.1||4752||3168||no||21.8||11.4||696||63|
|Canon XSi (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||12.2||4272||2848||no||21.9||10.8||692||61|
|Canon 30D (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||8.2||3504||2336||no||21.5||10.8||736||59|
|Canon XTi (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||10.1||3888||2592||no||22.1||11.0||664||62|
|Nikon D7500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||20.7||5568||3712||4K/30p||24.8||13.9||1192||86|
|Nikon D7200 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.5||14.6||1333||87|
|Nikon D7100 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.2||13.7||1256||83|
|Nikon D7000 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||10800/24p||23.5||13.9||1167||80|
|Nikon D300S (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||12.2||4288||2848||720/24p||22.5||12.2||787||70|
|Nikon D3000 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||10.0||3872||2592||no||22.3||11.1||563||62|
|Nikon D5000 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||12.2||4288||2848||720/24p||22.7||12.5||868||72|
|Nikon D80 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||10.0||3872||2592||no||22.1||11.2||524||61|
|Panasonic GH1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/24p||21.6||11.6||772||64|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The D90 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the 40D does not. The highest resolution format that the D90 can use is 720/24p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D90 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Nikon D90 and Canon 40D along with similar information for a selection of comparators. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.
|Nikon D90 (⇒ rgt)||optical||YES||3||920||fixed||no||4000||4.5||YES||no|
|Canon 40D (⇒ lft)||optical||YES||3.0||230||fixed||no||8000||6.5||12||no|
|Canon 50D (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||920||fixed||no||8000||6.3||13||no|
|Canon XSi (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.0||230||fixed||no||4000||3.5||13||no|
|Canon 30D (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||2.5||230||fixed||no||8000||5.0||13||no|
|Canon XTi (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.5||230||fixed||no||4000||3.0||13||no|
|Nikon D7500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||922||tilting||YES||8000||8.0||12||no|
|Nikon D7200 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||1229||fixed||no||8000||6.0||12||no|
|Nikon D7100 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||1229||fixed||no||8000||6.0||12||no|
|Nikon D7000 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||921||fixed||no||8000||6.0||12||no|
|Nikon D300S (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||920||fixed||no||8000||7.0||12||no|
|Nikon D3000 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.0||230||fixed||no||4000||3.0||12||no|
|Nikon D5000 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.7||230||full-flex||no||4000||4.0||17||no|
|Nikon D80 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.5||230||fixed||no||4000||3.0||YES||no|
|Panasonic GH1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||1440||no||3.0||460||swivel||no||4000||3.0||10.5||no|
Both the D90 and the 40D have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The 40D was replaced by the Canon 50D, while the D90 was followed by the Nikon D7000.
So what is the bottom line? Is the Nikon D90 better than the Canon 40D or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Nikon D90:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (12.2 vs 10.1MP) with a 10% higher linear resolution.
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (9 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.2 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.5 stops ISO advantage).
- Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 720/24p movies.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 230k dots).
- More compact: Is smaller (132x103mm vs 146x108mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 119g or 14 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (850 versus 750) on a single battery charge.
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year after the 40D).
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS 40D:
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (6.5 vs 4.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in August 2007).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D90 is the clear winner of the match-up (10 : 3 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.
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 handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the D90 or the 40D. 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. The detailed reviews can be accessed, respectively, on the websites of cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.
|Nikon D90 (⇒ rgt)||89/100 HiRec||HiRec||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||2008||1,299||discont.||check|
|Canon 40D (⇒ lft)||90/100 HiRec||HiRec||4.5/5||reviewed||4.5/5||2007||1,299||discont.||check|
|Canon 50D (⇒ lft | rgt)||90/100 HiRec||HiRec||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2008||1,299||discont.||check|
|Canon XSi (⇒ lft | rgt)||88/100 HiRec||HiRec||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||2008||799||discont.||check|
|Canon 30D (⇒ lft | rgt)||87/100 HiRec||HiRec||reviewed||reviewed||-||2006||1,399||discont.||check|
|Canon XTi (⇒ lft | rgt)||85/100 HiRec||HiRec||reviewed||4.5/5||4/5||2006||799||discont.||check|
|Nikon D7500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||86/100 Silver||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2017||1,299||latest||check|
|Nikon D7200 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||84/100 Silver||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||2015||1,199||discont.||check|
|Nikon D7100 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||85/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2013||1,199||discont.||check|
|Nikon D7000 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||80/100 Silver||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2010||1,499||discont.||check|
|Nikon D300S (⇒ lft | rgt)||90/100 HiRec||82/100 HiRec||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||2009||1,799||discont.||check|
|Nikon D3000 (⇒ lft | rgt)||80/100 Rec||72/100 HiRec||4/5||3.5/5||4.5/5||2009||599||discont.||check|
|Nikon D5000 (⇒ lft | rgt)||88/100 HiRec||75/100 HiRec||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||2009||749||discont.||check|
|Nikon D80 (⇒ lft | rgt)||86/100 Rec||HiRec||reviewed||4.5/5||4.5/5||2006||999||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GH1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||89/100 HiRec||72/100 HiRec||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2009||1,499||discont.||check|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, 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.
In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool. If the camera you are interested in is not available, please contact me, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.
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