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”

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

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.

Canon Rumors.. 2007 Canon EOS 40D, 3D, 7D ??

Update 12/7/07: Did some more “research” and re-iterated my thoughts here

Sorry, its human nature, right? You buy a car and you dread the day the new model comes out, instantly tossing your car into the “past model” column.. But with cameras (and cell phones, in my case).. you DO like your current gear.. but after a few minutes/hours of playing with it, you quickly develop a list of shortcomings. Now factor in the power of the internet to be able to communicate with millions of people and add in the fact that unhappy customers are more prone to write about it than happy customers, and all of a sudden, you’re anxiously awaiting the next camera.. in my case, the Canon EOS 40D.

I’ve been happy with my Canon EOS 30D.. in fact, when I did own the Canon EOS 20D, I was happy with that too.. but since I was within my return period, I figured I’d upgrade to the 30D, if nothing else, for the larger 2.5″ LCD. I have about 20,000 or so pictures on my 30D since I bought it almost 1 year ago (I’ll find out exactly how many shutter actuations when I take in to Canon Irvine tomorrow). Am I still happy with my camera? Yeah.. I am.. but here’s what I’d want in a new model and why:

My Canon EOS 40D Wish List

1.6x APS-C sensor
I like the 1.6x reach. Its not as clean or noise free as a full-frame sensor.. I’m sure if I used a Canon EOS 5D (or even 1D MkIII or 1Ds MkII), I’d quickly learn to appreciate the image quality of the full-frame sensor. But I think there’s room in my bag for a FF camera later. For now, I like the 1.6x

10+ Megapixels
No big secret here.. but mainly, I’d like more megapixels for cropping. When my 200mm doesnt reach or I’m too chicken $hit to zoom in too tight on a car, it would be good to be able to crop tight on a car, but still retain good image size for printing and/or publication. And hell, if Canon DID make the Canon EOS 40D with MORE than 10 megapixels.. yeah, I would want it.. and yeah, I would be bragging about it.

Faster Frame Rate
I can’t really ask for much more than 5 frames per second. But I’d think Canon would want to improve in this area, since the Nikon D200 is at 5fps also.. so I think the Canon EOS 40D will probably be 6fps.. not a big step up, no where near the 1D MkIIN and definitely a far cry from the 10fps of the 1D MkIII. So, why not? And if it doesnt come true, oh well.. this is my wish list anyway

Better Auto Focus
This is especially true for AI Servo use. I’d like greater accuracy and tracking in the new Canon EOS 40D. The Canon EOS 30D isn’t that bad, but I’m sure there’s much better available (especially in the 1 series). As I’ve predicted in the past, I think the Canon EOS 40D will use the current Canon EOS 5D’s AF, especially since the EOS 30D’s AF is now in the EOS 400D Digital Rebel XTi.

Greater Dynamic Range
No brainer.. but it never really bothered me before.. that is, until I shot a few events in RAW and saw the slight increase in DR and what you could do with it. Since the 1D MkIII is now being touted with greater dynamic range, I doubt this would make its way into the Canon EOS 40D.

Lower Noise
With the introduction of the DiGIC III, I’m sure this will be true. I used to really like the fact the EOS 20D/30D had decent ISO 1600 or 3200 performance. But I find that I’m reluctant to use it that much nowadays because of he need to post-process and the inevitable loss of sharpness/detail. I does surprise me when I use it, but of course, if I didn’t have to use it (or if it was better!), I could bemuch happier. As you can see in my previous post, all of my lenses are now f2.8 or better. I think thats because I’m shooting mostly low light when I’m just “messing around” at home.

With that said.. here’s the latest rumor I read.. it was posted on FM and DPReview.. I read through it, thinking it was just another speculation thread.. but it makes A LOT of sense..

Its a long read.. but if you’re really interested in Canon’s 2007 line up (especially the Canon EOS 40D and potentially the Canon EOS 3D and/or 7D), then read on.. alternatively, if you’re a marketing type.. this would make a good case study.. hard to believe Canon, as big as they are, would screw something like this up.. and yes, I view it as a marketing screw up..

Posted by Sunkyung Kim

I posted on this topic in August 2007 way back in the old Photokina Rumour thread. My ‘source” has just come back from one of his regular business trips to Japan (days ago) where he again met his old colleague buddy now involved in DSLR marketing at Canon at their favourite Sushi bar…

Summarising the previous post Canon was going to replace all their DSLR range in 2007 except for the 400D. There would be:

30D Replacement (40D?) with
• Anti-dust
• 5D like AF
• 10.2mp 4 channel sensor (though they were testing a 12 mp one)
• Still 1.6 crop for those EF-S lenses

• DIGIC III and sensor changes to give better high ISO and lower noise (especially at 1600 and 3200 ISO)

• Very similar appearance to 30D

5D would be split into FF two lines to create full frame demand

• Low end – similar to current 12 Mp sensor but with a more 30D like body (could be a 7D?) and DIGIC III. This low end and xxD series were meant to provide a more cost effective choice between 1.6 and FF for the advance amateur and allow a gradual migration to more full frame over time driven by the market.

• High end with more MP (16mp but not the 1D sensor), improved AF for the full frame, DIGIC III etc. (could be a 3D?)

The 1 Series was being replaced as well
• Canon were very excited by this replacement

• A different division markets these to the normal DSLRs so details were more sketchy (DIGIC III and much better ISO and dynamic range mentioned)

• There had been some late changes which back then (August 2006) were risking the 1 series not making Photokina.

• Canon were working on two new 1 series abut would probably only release one of them for now.

History shows that the 1 series replacment was not announced at Photokina. So that leaves a lot of cameras for 2007

Anyway, according to my “source” this is all still true and Canon is ready to produce these cameras (technology finalised). Indeed 1 series samples are apparently out there (Jeff / Fred?). But the 1 series delay has meant that they need to select what to announce at the PMA – they don’t want to announce all 4 cameras as the dealer channels would complain (too much change / obsolete product at once.) Canon’s thinking (as far as my sources contact was ‘on the inside” was to announce 2 cameras at PMA and 2 later in the year.

This is where it gets interesting – the dilemma for Canon here is:

• The 1 series should be announced first for pride / reputation with the new features

• Even though the 1 series sells in very limited quantities, the professional camera division in Canon has a lot of clout – seen as creating a brand image leadership in the whole camera space.

• The 30D replacement is badly required as the 20D/30D’s combined market share has dropped radically over the last few months due to a combination of internal competition from the 400D and the market impact of the Nikon D80 and Sony A100 etc.

• The 30D series segment is seen as important to Canon because of lens on-sell. This market and upwards tends to buy extra lenses, including high value lenses (I interpret that to be “high profit”).

• The two 5D replacements make the most sense if sold together. Though they could announce the high end one first (as a 5D replacment) and then follow with the low end (entry level FF). The low end 5D repalcement is thought too similar to the 5D to be released while the 5D is in the market.

• The 5D has not sold as well as hoped in most markets except when rebates are offered. However Canon still sell lots more of them that the 1 series and they are nicely profitable. They also have excellent resell on high value lenses.

• The combination of Nikon’s aggressive D40 / D80 / D200 range, with the Sony A100 is taking more DSLR market share than Canon predicted. The 400D is selling very well but Canon know they need to regain more of the midrange DLR market quickly to maintain the lens sales and ‘own’ the system for the advanced amateur and semi-pro etc.

• Sony is known to be working on CMOS sensors at 1.6 and FF for their DSLR range and are expected to continue to complete aggressively on features. (Interesting to see what this does for Nikon who currently buy their CCD sensor from Sony) (Also interesting to see no mention of Pentax, which seems stange..).

• Hence the big dilemma – 30D replacement and 1 series replacement now or 30D and one of the 5D replacements now and leave the other 5D and 1 series for later. Or do they upset their channels (never a good idea) and issue 3 cammeras to give the market at knockout puch. In terms of revenue and immediate market share protection delaying the 1 series further makes sense. But the new high end 5D replacement to very close to the 1 series performance (16mp etc), and in terms of prestige, the 1 series should be the best… (Note, no mention of delaying the 30D replacement so I guess that is a given?)

Apparently the internal discussions at Canon have been “very vigorous”. As far as my “source’s” contact was concerned it was 99% likely to be the 1 series and 30D replacement for PMA, the 5D replacements being left to later this year and potentially even split into 2 years.

Anyway – still a grain of salt needed – these are Sushi and Saki conversations in Japan and my “source’s” colleague buddy may be boasting / trying to impress etc… But it makes some sense..

Interesting that there is no mention of a Nikon D40 competitor… Maybe too soon for Canon to react…. Regardless it would seem that the free market is working with Nikon and Sony likely to force a faster pace out of Canon than we have had over the last few years where they have dominated the DSLR market. This can only be good!

More fuel for the fire…

So if any of this is true.. which I totally believe to be mostly true.. then maybe I’ll just hang on to my Canon EOS 30D and add a Canon EOS 7D (or 3D!) to the camera bag.. I still dig the 1D MkIII though..

Latest Canon EOS 40D and Canon EOS 7D Rumor

Update 12/7/07: I’ve done some more “research” and re-iterated some thoughts on the soon-to-be Canon 5D Mark II / Canon 7D / Canon 3D, here

I’ve been sorting through a lot of rumor threads on various internet forums and I found this gem:

Canon EOS 40D
– It will be called the Canon EOS 40D

– 5 frames per second

– DiGIC III – will provide lower noise and higher ISO, quite possibly above 3200, better dynamic range

– Better Auto-Focus system – more focus points and faster AF (DiGIC III)

– An improved 10.1MP (improved upon the one in the Digital Rebel XTi / Canon EOS 400D)

– 1.6x crop image sensor

Additionally, the author of the post said that there is a 12 megapixel 1.6x CMOS sensor currently in testing, but most likely reserved for the Canon EOS 50D. Looking at the list, there’s not much different from my previous post. But since this kind of just reaffirms the previous rumor. Like I said before, the DiGIC III is a given since the last three (3) Powershots, SD900, SD800IS, SD40, all have the DiGIC III processor. Since the Canon EOS 400D/Digital Rebel XTi comes with a DiGIC II, this would allow Canon to further differentiate the 400D from the 40D, something I think they had difficulty doing with the Digital Rebel XT/Canon EOS 350D. One added “rumor” is the “more focus points”. That would be nice.. maybe the existing focusing system from the Canon EOS 5D (12 points)?

Canon EOS 7D
Nothing majorly new to report on as far as the EOS 7D. Its been widely rumored to be a “5D Lite” or “Low Cost EOS 5D”. I mentioned before that I thought it would be difficult to actually create a “5D Lite” given that, I think, the Canon EOS 5D is already fairly slim on features. HOWEVER, the poster mentioned that the 7D would be a smaller 5D (closer to exisiting 30D size), added anti-dust sensor, DiGIC III, etc. But what is interesting to note is that he mentions that the Canon EOS 5D would be upgraded to 16.2 megapixels, DiGIC III, improved AF, 5fps, etc.

If this “Canon EOS 5D MkII” (or whatever it is to be called) does materialize as rumored, then I think this would be a good alternative to the Canon EOS 1D MkIIn. Although the MkIIn is much faster at 8.5fps, I think I would rather have the 16.2MP full-frame sensor and 5fps than the 8.2MP 1.3x sensor and 8.5fps (although the 8.5fps is intoxicating).

A few more days to go..