The Canon EOS 40D, like its predecessors, is a mid-level digital SLR, intended as a step up from entry-level cameras like the Digital Rebels. It's suitable for more advanced photographers, especially those who can live without the most advanced features found in Canon's "pro" line, such as the Canon EOS-1D Mark III or Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III. Even so, the 40D is upscale enough to excite any avid photographer. For example, its magnesium alloy body and weatherproofing of the battery compartment and Compact Flash doors make it eminently suitable for professional use, too, either as a main camera or back up. In fact, because the 40D accepts both EF-style lenses and newer "digital only" EF-S lenses (the "pro" cameras can use only the EF-class optics), it offers a tad more flexibility in lens choice. (Chapter 6 has more detail about lenses.)
Here's a quick rundown of the cool new capabilities found in the EOS 40D that the older 30D lacks.
■ Live View: Those who want or need to be able to see what the sensor is seeing in real-time while composing an image will be pleased with the Live View feature. With Live View, the mirror is elevated (blanking the optical viewfinder), and the shutter opens, allowing the LCD to display a preview image, with optional grid lines if you want them. Although the 40D defaults to manual focusing when Live View is active, you can access autofocus by pressing the AF-ON button, which lowers the mirror to focus the image, then lifts it again to restore Live View. You can magnify the live image 5X or 10X, and access a quieter mirror cycle for "silent shooting" mode. I think Live View is most practical when the 40D is mounted on a tripod, but it works much better than I expected.
■ Dust Reduction: As with all the other current models in the Canon product line, the 40D features an anti-static coating on the low-pass (anti-aliasing) filter that covers the sensor, and a piezoelectric element that vibrates this filter to remove any stubborn dust and particles when the camera is turned on or off. You can also perform this anti-dust operation manually, or turn it off entirely.
■ DIGIC III processor: The Live View feature is actually part of the new DIGIC III digital image processor included in the 40D. The processor uses a 14-bit (rather than 12-bit) analog-to-digital converter that is faster and provides an improved dynamic range.
■ sRAW format: The sRAW format is a reduced-size RAW file containing about 25% of the pixels found in a full-size .CR2 file. This option is useful when you need an image with less resolution, but still want the ability to tweak the camera settings when importing the photo into your image editor. You can shoot sRAW only, or sRAW+Large, Medium, or Small JPEGs using Fine or Normal JPEG compression. Don't be confused by the fact that regular RAW can also be captured at the same time as Large, Medium, and Small resolution JPEGs; in all cases the conventional RAW file is a full resolution image, regardless of the resolution of the accompanying JPEG. If you want your RAW file to match your JPEG file in resolution, use sRAW instead.
■ Interchangeable focus screens: The EOS 40D now can be fitted with three different focus screens. These include the EF-A Standard Precision Matte screen furnished with the camera, and two optional screens: the EF-S Super Precision Matte, which has a coarser texture that makes manual focus easier; and the EF-D Precision Matte with Grid, which has embedded grid lines that make it easier to align vertical and horizontal subjects. (See Figure A.2.)
■ Main LCD shooting information display: While the 40D retains the top panel information status display, it now features an optional info display on the color LCD, with much of the same data and settings in a format that may be easier to see and interpret, especially when the camera is mounted high on a tripod, so that the top panel LCD is not visible.
■ Mode dial camera user settings: The mode dial includes C1, C2, and C3 positions that can be programmed to contain three different groups of settings. If you want to file away your 40D's current shooting parameters, you can pop into a menu and define those settings in one of the three user slots.
■ AF-ON button: While the 40D can be set so that pressing the shutter release halfway locks in autofocus and exposure, the new AF-ON button simplifies separating the two functions. A Custom Function option can set the AF-ON button to either start or stop autofocus, as well as work in conjunction with the shutter release in several different combinations of metering/autofocus activation. This feature adds extra flexibility when shooting fast-moving action, as you can choose when to lock in focus and/or exposure. If you don't like the position of the AF-ON button, the 40D lets you move the function to another button.
■ New Picture Style button: If you want to switch among Picture Styles quickly (or often), press this button to produce the Picture Style menu on the color LCD. You can choose or define a Picture Style with the exact sharpness, color, and tonal settings you want.
■ Picture Style Editor Software: Creating custom Picture Styles has become even easier with this software utility that allows you to define the settings you want and upload them to the EOS 40D.
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