Canon’s EOS 40D.. and Nikon’s D300 and D3..

Canon EOS 40D

Well, the news broke while I was on vacation (and with spotty internet access at that). I was pretty excited when going over the Canon 40D specs. I was thinking that this was a worth upgrade to the Canon 30D (something that the 30D should have been to the 20D). The 40D isnt a crazy upgrade (like how the new Infiniti M was to the old Infiniti M), but it was a fair, EVOlutionary upgrade. And with a drop in MSRP, I think its a good deal.

Canon EOS 40D - back

So here are the features that would make me want to upgrade to the Canon 40D:

Improved Auto-focus system
Yes! This is probably the biggest reason for me. Although the Canon 30D was a big change from my Digital Rebel 300D back in the day, I still get envious when I read about the high-90% keeper rates that 1D owners get when panning with a slow shutter speed. From the description, the Canon 40D AF system sounds like it should be a big change improvement – nine (9) cross-type sensors for F5.6 or faster lenses (as opposed to 1 cross-type in the 20D/30D), plus the all new (and never before seen) cross-diagonal-type high-precision center point.

10.1 megapixels
If there’s more to be had, why not, right?

14-bit A/D converter
Who knows if this will make a difference, but see above regarding “more”

DiGIC III vs DiGIC II
Gen 3 is better than Gen 2, kind of like the Acura Integra, Pentium 3 vs Pentium 4, etc

sRAW, sRAW + JPEG
I only shoot RAW for special occasions, but if I had the option of small RAW, why not do it all the time, right? Especially when you have a lot of high-density Kingston Technology compact flash cards

Dust reduction
Some Canon 400D owners claim that this feature doesnt do much. But it can’t be worse than NOT having an anti-dust mechanism right? Sure, you can argue moving parts n’ all that.. but a rotary engine has less moving parts than a piston engine.. but I’d still rather have an RB26DETT over a 13B-REW

Improved viewfinder
Early reports suggest that the Canon 40D’s viewfinder is a big improvement over the 30D. Although I’ve never had any real complaints about my 30D’s viewfinder, bigger and brighter is always welcome. Also, the Canon 40D’s viewfinder display will also show ISO!.. I’ve been pinched by that a few times on my 30D.. set it for ISO 3200 the night before, but then shoot the next day with a series of pics at ISO 3200 🙁

3″ LCD monitor
2.5″ is good, but hell, I’ll take 3″ any day. I used to think 2″ was fine on my Canon 20D.. until I got the 30D.. now when I see my friend’s 20D’s.. it seems so tiny. So although I have no real complaints regarding my 2.5″ LCD on my 30D, I’m sure once I see a 3″ display on a dSLR, mine is going to look small (kind of like being satisfied with 19″ wheels on your car, until you see 20s on the same car)

Live View
I can see this being good for macro photography and also odd angle stuff.. like having the camera on the floor or shooting at hip level. I think it would also be good for those times when you hand off your rig to Uncle Herb and ask him to take a family photo for you. Do I need it? Nah, hell no. But would it be cool to have? Hell yeah

6.5 frames per second
Do I need it? Actually, I can see myself needing it. Case in point.. when I originally started photography drift events (locally of course), I really only did it hoping to get some good captures of my friend’s drift car. Unfortunately, in the beginning, he had some technical difficulties and his driver had problems adapting to a new ride. So I’d commit to going out to an event, but if his car didnt qualify, I may only get 2 chances (2 passes) to get some good pics of his ride. As a result, it usually became a “spray and pray” situation.. firing off as many pictures as I could and then hoping I got some really good ones. But when I’m not shooting cars in action, the high-speed continuous shooting isn’t that big of a deal to me

75 shot JPEG buffer
I dont think I’ve ever hit the 30+ JPEG buffer limit on my Canon 30D.. but if the 40D can do 75 JPEGs, it should be able to do atleast double the number of RAW images, right? When I’ve shot whole days in RAW, I’ve hit the limit a few times with my Canon 30D. So a larger buffer is a welcome addition to the Canon 40D

Weather sealing?
Canon’s description makes it sound like it is weather-sealed, with attention-paid to the access doors (CF, battery, etc). But the description of like the 1D Mark III just says “weather-sealed”. So what does the Canon 40D’s “weather-sealing” actually mean? I’m guessing is the same “weather-sealing” as the 1D. Maybe they wanted to make it sound new? Maybe they wanted to differentiate it from the 1 series bodies? We’ll see.. but some weather-sealing is better than no weather-sealing, right?

I think thats about it.. at least thats all that jumps out at me looking at DPReview’s chart.

So will I sell my Canon 30D? Actually, when I first saw the Canon 40D, I was all set to do that. Then I toyed around with the idea of keeping my Canon 30D and just saving up for a Canon 40D also. But then I thought about maybe getting a used 1D Mark II or Mark IIn over a new Canon 40D.. but after reading about it some more, I dunno.. I guess it really depends if the AF system is really that much better. If not, then I’ll probably just sit this round out, maybe wait for the next Canon 5D (Canon 5D Mark II? Canon 6D? Canon 7D? who knows.. but we’ll see in Spring 2008). I’ve always read and seen good things about Canon’s full-frame images. Full-frame would be good news for my Canon 24-70mm f2.8L, but not so good for my Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS. But notice that image quality is not an issue for me? I’m more than happy with my Canon 30D’s image quality. And I’m sure the Canon 40D’s quality will be comparable, if not better. I trust Canon knows image quality is/has been one of their differentiators.

So right now, I guess I’m on the fence. If it will help with panning photography and AI Servo tracking, then I might have to make the upgrade to the Canon 40D.

Nikon D300 and Nikon D3??
But I guess what surprised me was that Nikon had a response for Canon’s 40D.. and this soon, even. They pretty much stole the thunder 2 days after Canon’s press release. I’m very impressed. The D300 looks great on paper. But it kind of starts to sound gimmicky. Thats not to say I dont think the D300 will be great, but in their press release they give names to all these new, fancy features. I’ll have to see the reviews to see if any of that stuff really makes sense (or works, even), but it looks good. I think the Nikon D300 is a good upgrade for the Nikon D200, definitely a good evolutionary upgrade.

And then there’s the Nikon D3.. wow. Canon has had a big lead in the full-frame arena for a while. So it will be interesting to see if the Nikon D3 will be comparable in quality to Canon’s offerings. If it is, then I think Canon will really be under the gun. But I have a good feeling that it wont be anywhere close.. at least not in the D3. But I could be wrong. Hell, 80% of the dSLRs I saw in Japan this past vacation were all Nikon.

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