40D, First Impressions

I’ve had the 40d for about two weeks of shooting, and in that time I’ve done some plain old outdoor bright sun shooting, some studio/flash with the kids, a photowalk, and some other random stuff.

The Good:

* Focus is fast and positive. I’m getting shots of the kids that would not have happened on the Rebel because the focus would be hunting. It’s still not great about choosing the right focus point, but thankfully, I’m used to doing that myself, and the method is just about the same.

* It’s fast. And pretty intelligent. It takes a lot of pictures, quickly, and allows review quickly. No more 30 second wait. And I’ve never come close to filling the buffer, except when I just held down the shutter to see how long it took to fill the buffer.

* Noise performance and image quality in general seem really good. It’s a couple of generations better than the old camera, so it’s pretty much as expected.

* Auto Iso seems to be reasonably good. It would be nice if it would go to 1600.

The Bad:

* I can’t get confirmation of good focus on the LCD. Everything looks soft on it, even stuff that is razor sharp when the RAW is opened in Lightroom.

* Who ever designed the on/off/- switch should be fired. In the on position, the big dial and anything that it controls is disabled (e.g., aperture in M mode. Exposure bias in Av/Tv. White balance and drive if you press their buttons). In the – position, the dial can be used. I know that this dates to the 30D at least, since I borrowed one of those and it baffled me then. I understand the possibility of wanting some settings to be protected, but to have the protection be part of a switch that’s touched every single time the camera is turned on — that’s just dumb. It gets in the way in a “Why isn’t this working, what’s set wrong” way. I’d prefer that it was a custom function, or a menu item, or overload the print button for that. Or, even better, just turn it off in any of the modes where the camera assumes that the operator has a clue. (M/av/tv)

* I don’t understand the metering. The Rebel was dumb, but consistent, so I could meter and adjust as necessary. This one has 4 modes, and I haven’t figured out how they differ from what I want. It seems to push towards over exposure more in very contrasty situations, but then again, there’s more headroom on the sensor. It’s a learning curve thing.

* It’s fast. Very easy to outrun the flash recycle time. Also, files are bigger. Fills the cards and drives faster.


* I’d like to choose some focus points, not all, not just one, and have the camera choose from those. e.g., I’m shooting a portrait. I’d like to enable the three top off center ones, since that’s where the face is going to be.

* Mirror Lockup.

* I understand that there’s a great history in custom functions, but really. There’s a menu system. It would be nice for them to be a little more explained and integrated, and most importantly, grouped so that mutually exclusive ones can’t be activated at the same time. (e.g. Extended iso range and highlight priority)

* Bigger cards, laptop hard drive, and storage drives :>

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