Canon 40D vs Canon 450D / Digital Rebel XSi

First published on: Saturday, 26 January 2008

It came as quite a shock to many that the lower-priced Canon XSi / 450D / Kiss X2 that was introduced in January 2008 had better specifications in some areas when compared to its more expensive sibling, the Canon 40D, which was released not even half a year before in August 2007.

In this post, I attempt to compare and summarize the differences between these two digital SLR cameras from Canon and hopefully, this will help those deciding whether to get the 40D or 450D.

Canon EOS 40D Advantages

You might think it’s weird to qualify this factor as a 40D advantage, but as of today, 30-Jan-2008, if you need a camera urgently, you can get the 40D right now. The XSi / 450D starts shipping only in April 2008. Now that the XSi / 450D is shipping worldwide, this is no longer a 40D advantage.

For those who can wait, Amazon and B&H Photo Video have already started taking pre-orders for what seems to be four possible XSi / 450D configurations :- body, black or silver, with or without the EF-S 18-55mm IS kit lens — more details here.

Autofocus points
On surface, both cameras seem to have the same 9 AF points. The AF system in the 40D is superior to that in the 450D because all 9 AF sensors in the 40D are of the cross type, whereas in the 450D, only the center AF point is a cross type sensor. With the 40D, even the non-center AF points can be used to track subjects with greater precision and accuracy (especially on low contrast subjects in low light — think indoor sports) than you could with the outlying AF points on the 450D.

Construction and build
You’d be better served by the Canon 40D if you have a preference for well-built hardware. The 40D is larger with a more solid, magnesium shell while the 450D uses durable plastic on the outer body.

ISO range
The 40D is able to go to ISO 3200 in a pinch, while the 450D maxes out at ISO 1600. For those who anticipate shooting a lot of low light action photography where high ISO values are needed to freeze action, the 40D serves this purpose better.

The viewfinder in the 40D uses a pentaprism while a pentamirror is used for the viewfinder in the 450D. Pentaprism viewfinders give a brighter and larger image compared to pentamirror types. Viewfinder magnification is higher in the 40D, 0.95x compared to only 0.87x on the 450D’s viewfinder.

The 40D has a higher eyepoint (22mm) than the 450D (19mm). This is an advantage for those who wear glasses as it means that you can still view the entire image in the viewfinder even if your eye is physically 22mm away.

For a really good read on viewfinders, please refer to this Luminous Landscape article.

Frames per second (fps)
The 40D is rated at 6.5 fps compared to 3.5 fps on the 450D. If you shoot lots of action or sports photography where high frame rates is paramount, or even want to capture as many frames within the shortest interval of time possible, then the 40D is your camera.

Top shutter speed
The fastest shutter speed on the Canon 40D is 1/8000 sec while you can only go as fast as 1/4000 sec on the XSi / 450D. The difference probably won’t matter significantly in most photography, but it’s always a convenience to be able to call on fast shutter speeds if you’re shooting at low ISO values with your lens at wide open apertures (say, larger than f/2) in bright light.

Shot buffer
The 40D has a larger memory buffer, being able to store 75 JPEG or 17 RAW files in one continuous burst, while the 450D only manages 53 JPG files or 6 RAW files in one burst. This is a huge difference in buffer performance, something that is significant if you shoot a lot of RAW photos in quick succession, say at weddings, sports or any other event where the action is thick and fast and you don’t want to miss shots.

White balance
The 40D allows you to dial in exact Kelvin values for setting the white balance. The 450D has no such feature.

Battery life
The Canon BP-511A / BP-511 / BP-512 battery in the 40D gives you 1100 shots on a single charge if flash isn’t used, while you get only 600 shots with a fully-charged LP-E5 battery in the 450D.

Photographers who desire the flexibility to be able to glance at important camera settings off the top LCD get this feature on the 40D. The XSi / 450D only shows this information on the rear LCD.

sRAW format
For photographers who want the flexibility of processing that RAW files offer, yet are willing to give up some loss of bit information in return for smaller files, the sRAW format offered on the 40D is the answer. sRAW files are approximately only a quarter of the size of regular RAW files and is a feature that’s not found on the XSi / 450D.

Canon EOS 450D Advantages

No comparison here — the 450D is expected to sell for no more than $800 USD once it hits the shelves sells for only $570, while the best price you can get now from a reputable store for the 40D is about $823.

Sensor Resolution
This is a curious one — the 450D, despite being lower priced, has more resolution than the 40D. The 450D sensor is rated at 12.2 MP (Megapixels), compared to the 10.1 MP sensor found in the 40D. A 2 MP difference might be considered negligible, but if you intend to crop or print large, every additional megapixel helps., in its Canon XSi / 450D review, puts the resolution advantage of the 450D / XSi a little more strongly:

  1. In the conclusion page: “The new sensor is superb, and from a resolution point of view puts the EOS 40D to shame without losing any of the high ISO performance that has been Canon’s trump card for so long.”

  2. RAW output compared with the Nikon D60: ” … and in fact these are some of the most detailed results we’ve ever seen from a non-professional Canon DSLR thanks to what appears to be a slightly lighter anti alias filter (certainly compared to the 40D, for example).”

Dimensions and weight
Those with smaller hands and want a lighter camera might prefer the 450D — here are the relevant specifications:

  • Dimensions:
    Canon 40D — 146 x 108 x 74 mm (5.7 x 4.2 x 2.9 in)
    Canon 450D — 129 x 98 x 62 mm (5.1 x 3.9 x 2.4 in)

  • Weight:
    Canon 40D — 740 g (1.6 lb)
    Canon 450D — 475 g (1.0 lb)

Despite its smaller size, the grip on the 450D is reported to be much better built than the older 400D / XTi and 350D / XT models, so this should go a long way toward making the camera feel more comfortable to hold.

Autofocus during LiveView mode
The 450D introduces an additional, contrast-detection Autofocus capability when you’re shooting in LiveView mode. By pressing the AE lock button on the back of the camera, the 450D can focus the lens while continuously showing an image of the scene on the rear LCD. Focus is slower in this mode, but is nevertheless useful when you’re composing for static objects while having the camera mounted on the tripod. See the video on this page which explains the Live View mode on the 450D. Like the 40D, the 450D also has the traditional mirror-down Autofocus where the focus acquisition is very much faster but requires the mirror in the body to come down causing a momentary loss of image on the LCD.

Shooting information on the rear LCD
The 450D instantly displays all the usual shooting information at the back of LCD. On the 40D, you would need to hit the “Info” button twice (or once if you change a setting) in order to view that information. Those who wear glasses swear that it’s so much more functional and easier to view this data on a bright, clear 3-inch screen than squint at the small characters on the top LCD (which the 450D doesn’t have but the 40D does). When you have your camera set up high on a tripod, it’s also impossible to view the information on the top LCD so getting that same information on the rear screen is a strong benefit.

Multi-shot self timer mode
The 450D is the first digital SLR from Canon to have this feature. This allows you to capture multiple photos every time you activate the self-timer. Imagine being able to shoot a continuous series of group shots with yourself in it — very handy indeed for photographing such moments.


Canon XSi / 450D / Kiss X2 – Main page

Canon 40D – Main page

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