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Canon EOS 40D

Review Date: Aug 6, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Rewarding photographic tool. Very high image quality (even though only 10 Mpix). Superb, crisp pictures, especially with good lens used, when shot RAW and then postprocessed. Reasonably priced. Very high build quality although better weathersealing could be applied.
Requires some knowledge how to take good pictures, no P&S dSLR ! REALLY misses high res LCD (like alpha 700 / D300 have). Sometimes unpredictable exposure metering in worse than ideal lighting conditions (underexposure or blown highlights).

I am an owner of 40D for a few months now and have taken 7000+ shots with it so I think I can judge over this camera right now. Sorry but it will be long as 40D is not a kind of thing that gives comfort of simple review.

I also had a good occasion to compare it directly against SONY's Alpha 700 and NIKON D300. Recently I had a trip to USA with some colleagues who own these aforementioned cameras. We have been shoothing in same situations, same things attracted us, etc. I got all their pictures to compare against mine.

First of all, all good things told here about 40D are true ! This is great and rewarding camera which offers superb image quality. I do not think it is missing extra 2Mpix offered by 700/D300. Low noise, crisp, contrast pictures with authentic color replication. What else do we need ? But all of these if you need how to shoot good pictures. It is not a kind of tool that thinks for a human. Bad step and you are in the trouble (read ahead).

Personally I do not like JPEGs going straight out of the camera. I shoot RAW and than postprocess - this gives me more control and better pictures at the end of the day.

I must also mention that with my camera I do not have any of the front/back focus issues with, esp. with any of my four lenses.

Also 40D offers very good build quality (with some "pseudo" weather sealing) and reasonable price for what it gives.

But every rose has its thorns ! This camera really is missing high resolution LCD found on A700/D300. My colleagues could instantly tell if their pictures were sharp or not. I could not. What looked sharp on 40D's LCD, was not sharp on computer screen anymore.

Also light metering subsystem is poor. Everything is OK in good lighting conditions (eg. sunlight on the beach with clear blue sky). But if lighting is not so good eg. sky completely covered with gray clouds. If such kind of sky appears on your pictures things go wrong. For unknown reasons some pictures are heavily underexposed. Even worse they look pretty decent on LCD ! Some pictures are overexposed (sky is blown out), which in contrast is easily detectable on LCD thanks to flashing areas. I really could not find a rule when exposure wil be good or when there will be over or under exposure. It is good when you have a second chance to tak the same picture with exposure compensation but what if not ?

Then I compare my pictures form the US trip agains my colleagues' pictures from theit A700/D300 I see that they are comparable. But then I discover that all my pictures were RAWs and post procesed - exposure was corrected if (frequently) necessary. All their pictures are JPEGs directly from their cameras with rare cases of over/under exposure Sad

To end this already too long review Smile...

I can surely highly recommend 40D to everybody who knows how to take good pictures with dSLR and how to handle this demanding but rewarding device. D300 is maybe easier to use and more predictable camera, has better LCD screen but at the other end is much higher priced than 40D so they both are not direct competitors. A700 is on the same price tag as 40D but personally I would not but it (at least for now) due to its limited popularity in my country where Nikon and Canon rule the dSLR market, not so wide selection of available quality lenses, etc.

Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM

Review Date: Aug 5, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: High image quality (drops a bit at 10mm). Good build quality. (pseudo) internal zooming.
Too pricey !

This lens gave me super wide capabilty missing in 17-85 and 17-55.

Image quality is high but at wide end (10mm) IQ drops a bit, especially sharpness and visible CA at image corners (maybe a fult of my copy ? - still CA is easily correctable in post processing). Low distortions for this class of lens (ultra wide).
High build quality. Fast and silent ring USM with full time manual focusing.

Lens does not change its lenght when zooming (internal zoom/focus) but it is some kind of a trick as front lens is in fact moving to and fro but lens movement is "covered" by a tube to which filter element can be mounted (so it is rather pseudo internal zoom)

No IS but who wants IS in ultra-wide zoom ?

Cons ? Definetly price. If it is so high why at least no front hood in the set ?

Highly recommended !

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM

Review Date: Aug 5, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Image quality, very effective IS, very reasonably priced. Decent build quality.
USM but not ring-USM - AF a bit slow and loud. Rotating front lens when focusing.

This is the second lens I bought for my 40D, to complement with my 17-85 (now also 17-55).

I strongly recommend it to everybody who cannot afford any of the "white" 70-200 L's.

This lens costs half or less than any of those 70-200's but still gives you high image quality (esp. sharpness) and versatility (focal lenght range is even better). IS is very effective, offers two modes (Mode 1 - full IS and Mode 2 - only vertical IS when panning). Very decent build quality.

Weak points: front lens rotating when focusing so it might be difficult to use polarizer filters. IS though effective is a bit too loud when active (much louder than in 17-85 and 17-55).
It is an USM lens but it is not a ring USM. So it is a bit slow and loud (still better than classic DC motor lenses) when compared to other ring USM lenses I have and does not allow full time manual focusing (cannot focus manually when in AF mode - you have to switch to MF mode before manual focusing).

Highly recommended telephoto lens (if you cannot afford L's) !

Canon EF-S 17-85mm f4-5.6 IS USM

Review Date: Aug 5, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

Pros: Versatile zoom range - from moderate wide to moderate telephoto.
Poor IQ at wide end - distortion, CA. New too pricey - buy only used or as a kit. A bit too heavy/large for what it offers.

I've bought this lens as as kit for 40D, so it was my first 40D lens.

This lens is a kind of one that gives and takes.

It gives you superb versatility due to its zooming range - from decent wide to moderate telephoto. Ideal walkround lebs. Even though now I own superb 17-55, If I was only to take one lens with me (e.g. going with small photo bag to the beach etc.), I would take this one.

It also gives good image quality in focal lengths range approx. 24-85mm - decent sharpness, low chromatic abberations and low distortions. Also low susceptibility to flaring across all focal lenghts. IS works perfectly and silently. Ring USM is very fast and silent plus it allows full time manual focusing (FTM). Decent build quality.

What it takes from you is image quality at wide end (approx. 17-24) - visible chromatic aberrations, image sharpness goes down, especially at image borders, strong barrel distortions...

It also takes a lot of size and weight in your bag, especially for the limited brightness that it offers.

However I would still recommend this lens as a versatile walkround lens, but you have to know its limitations (eg. avoid shooting at focal lenghts of 17-20mm, if you do not have to).

It is worth buying as a kit lens or second hand. Brand new bought separately is a bit too expensive for what it offers.

Canon EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM

Review Date: Aug 5, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Very high IQ - very sharp, little or no CA; very fast
Large, heavy and pricey. For this price I would expect at least lens hood included and higher build quality. Flaring when shooting against the sun.

I've got this lens for some time. I've bought it as as replacement for 40D kit 17-85 IS USM (now is only backup walkround lens).

Although this lens is large and heavy, it is worth having it in your photo bag. Image quality is simply superb - pictures are very sharp, have little or no chromatic aberration, also very little distortion, even at wide angle end (these faults were common for 17-85 at wide end). Simply L lens in terms in IQ.
Also very fast lens (when compared to 17-85) - constant f/2.8 across all focal lengths.
Weak point - susceptible to flaring then shooting agains the sun. At least more flaring than in 17-85.

Build quality is good but not as high as with L lenses. Made of plastic, no weather sealing. We might expect more in this area as this lens is more expensive than some L lenses ! (e.g. 17-40 or 24-105) However Canon saves L marking for EF lenses and since it is EF-S, Canon probably purposely gave it more "classic" build quality.

Strongly recommended walkround EF-S lens for everybody that can afford buying it !