Upgrading to the Canon EOS D

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Are you ready to upgrade to the Canon EOS 40D from an EOS 30D, or, even, an earlier model like the 20D or 10D? Perhaps you own a Digital Rebel in one of its incarnations, and lust for some of the muscular new features found in the 40D. You might even be a die-hard film camera owner with an earlier EOS model, and lots of EF lenses that will work great on the new Canon 40D. If you fall into any one of these categories, you probably want to know "what's new?" before you make the jump.

This appendix provides the information you need. I've placed it here at the end of the book, rather than as the first chapter because not every reader will need this upgrading advice. In addition, most of the descriptions of features and differences between the 40D and its immediate predecessor the 30D also appear in the main body of the text. I've collected all the relevant comparisons and considerations here in one place, where they are readily accessible for those considering an upgrade.

Is This Trip Really Necessary?

If you're a photographic old-timer (say, with more than 10 years' experience under your belt), you may feel that upgrades have become more frequent (and urgent) than they were in the relatively recent past. One of the most dramatic differences between film and digital single lens reflexes (other than the sensor) is that the rapid advances in digital technology have made upgrading a way of life for many. Even though it's been half a decade since the first Digital Rebel made the dSLR practical and affordable for the masses, the digital SLR is still in its infancy, and subject to rapid change and improvements. Resolution has leaped from the 3.1MP of the EOS D30 (not 30D!), introduced in April, 2000, to the 10.1MP of the 40D and astounding 21.1MP boasted by the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III. Features like faster frame rates, Live View, improved high-ISO performance, and enhanced custom features have made upgrading on a 24- to 36-month schedule positively alluring.

In contrast, the improvements in 35mm film SLRs over the past 70-plus years (the first successful 35mm SLR, the Kine-Exakta, was introduced in 1936) have been much slower in coming. Film cameras represented a relatively stable technology prior to the electronic/digital age. Gaps of five to ten years between introduction of major new features (like through-the-lens metering, automatic exposure, and autofocus) were common. Indeed, film cameras I purchased at the beginning of my career were, other than a few mechanical refinements, virtually state-of-the-art 15 years later, and I used them professionally for an even longer period. In the film era, upgrading to improve your results often meant buying a better lens, using a newer film, or replacing a camera that had simply worn out from use. Obsolescence was a term that was rarely applied to cameras using film.

That started to change when manufacturers like Canon began replacing mechanical components with improved and more versatile electronic counterparts. Recent film cameras share a lot of technology with their digital counterparts. A modern high-end film camera, like the Canon EOS-1v shoots at 10 frames per second, has a 45-point autofocus system (which evaluates the image on a CMOS sensor!), offers AI One Shot or AI Servo modes, and six metering modes (Evaluative, Partial, Center Spot, Spot, Multi-Spot, and Center-Weighted). You'll find Programmed, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, and Depth-of-Field exposure modes, just like the EOS 40D, along with automatic exposure bracketing, and many other features that new photographers have come to associate with "digital" cameras. If a wholesale transition to digital SLRs hadn't taken place, more frequent upgrading might have become part of the film SLR regimen, as well.

So, take heart. Upgrading to the Canon EOS 40D from whatever you were using before isn't an annoying necessity of the digital world. It's an opportunity that you can choose to embrace or to ignore. Your Canon EOS 30D or Digital Rebel XTi (see Figure A.1) still is capable of taking the exact same photos as it did the day you bought it. Neither is obsolete. But if you want or need a particular feature that the 40D has, the upgrade path is open to you. Your current camera can serve as an excellent backup, or it can be passed along to a friend or family member who will treasure it as much as you have.

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Figure A.1 The Canon EOS 40D (left) is a logical upgrade from either the 30D (center), Digital Rebel XTi (right), or perhaps some other camera.

The EOS 40D is a significant upgrade from its predecessor, the 30D. The differences between the two models are much greater than was evident between the 20D and 30D, as the 30D was considered a minor upgrade, at best. So, I'm going to start with a quick review of the improvements that were available when the EOS 30D was introduced in February, 2006:

■ Resolution: The Canon 30D offered 8.2MP of resolution, compared to the 20D's 6.3MP.

■ Metering: The 30D added a 3.5 percent image area "Spot" metering mode to the 20D's complement of 35-Zone Evaluative, Partial, and Center-Weighted average metering. The 30D offered both luminance (brightness) and RGB histograms for evaluating exposure; the 20D had only a luminance histogram.

■ ISO: The 30D's ISO settings could be adjusted in 1/3 stop increments, rather than full stops.

■ Image Parameters: Where the 20D had two default parameter settings, plus three "user" parameter custom settings, and black-and-white, the 30D switched to a new Picture Style system with Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral, Faithful, Monochrome, and three user-definable styles. In addition, the parameters themselves were given a new, wider range of adjustability.

■ LCD: The 30D's back-panel LCD was significantly improved at 2.5-inches and 230,000 pixels, compared to the 20D's tiny 1.8-inch LCD with just 118,000 pixels.

■ Shooting speed: While the 20D had a single continuous shooting speed of 5 frames per second (for up to 23 JPEG or 6 RAW images), the 30D had both 5 fps and 3 fps, and could suck 30 JPEG or 11 RAW images into its buffer in one burst.

■ Playback: The 30D's Jump button would leap ahead 10 images, just like the 20D, but also could jump 100 images, or advance by date. Images could be magnified during picture review, if desired.

■ Minor differences: The 30D had 19 Custom Functions and a choice of 53 settings (instead of 18 custom functions and 50 settings), was 2mm thicker, and 37 grams heavier.

Other than the upgrade from 6.3MP to 8.2MP, the easier-to-view LCD, and the more flexible image parameters settings, the EOS 30D offered little that made it a compelling upgrade from the earlier 20D model. Even so, the 30D was especially successful among first-time digital SLR buyers, and those upgrading from earlier Digital Rebel models. The desire for a "real" upgrade hit a fever pitch when the Digital Rebel XTi was introduced, which, at 10.2 MP, had better resolution than the 30D, and leap-frogged its older sibling with features like automatic sensor cleaning and the simpler tabbed menu settings (rather than the continuous scrolling menu of the 30D) found in other Canon EOS digital cameras.

The EOS 40D satisfied most of those who awaited its arrival. It blended a satisfying array of brand-new capabilities with a list of enhancements to existing features. Overall, the 40D is a worthy successor to the 20D and 30D. The next three sections will summarize the changes found in the new camera.

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