The EOS 400D features a new larger, brighter 2.5" LCD monitor. Not only is it bigger and has higher resolution (230K pixels) it also has a significantly better viewing angle, 160° horizontal and vertical, this most noticeable when looking down from above where the improvement is some 60° (important when you're using the main LCD for camera settings display). Canon's own white paper states that this display is brighter even than that of the EOS 30D and EOS 5D, and I can believe it. Despite the lack of an anti-reflective coating it proved bright enough to be seen even on a sunny day outdoors.
Camera settings display
Gone is the EOS 350D's status LCD panel which used to sit above the main LCD monitor, now shooting status information is shown on the main LCD. This display can be turned off by simply pressing the DISP button and will automatically disappear if you raise your eye to the viewfinder thanks to the new proximity sensor. The diagram below summarizes all of the information available on the camera settings display.
The EOS 400D's viewfinder appears to be identical to the EOS 350D, at least that's what the specifications and our own experience tell us. Its 0.8x magnification means it's a smaller view than you'd have from an Nikon D80 (although about the same as the Sony DSLR-A100). Of course the main difference is the actual view because of the nine-point AF and new status bar.
Like the EOS 350D the EOS 400D has no center / spot metering circle indicated on the viewfinder focusing screen. The AF areas are indicated by a small LED dot in the center of the AF point rectangle rather than the entire rectangle glowing red (as on the EOS 30D). With a depression of the shutter release button (half or full) this dot will briefly light to indicated the selected AF point (either automatic or manual).
The EOS 400D's battery compartment is in the base of the hand grip behind a plastic door (with a metal hinge). The battery fits horizontally into the base (rather than into the grip itself) and is held in place by an orange flip. The Lithium-Ion NB-2LH is the same battery used in the EOS 350D (and the PowerShot S60/S70/S80 compact digital cameras), which is rated at 7.4V, 720 mAh (5.3 Wh). This is noticeably less capacity than some of the competition and the extra power requirements of having the LCD monitor on for more of the time will have an impact on battery life.
With the EOS 400D Canon has refreshed the battery charger, the CB-2LW (or CB-2LWE in Europe) is slimmer and lighter than the CB-2LT provided with the EOS 350D. A full charge from flat takes approximately 90 minutes.
Battery Grip (optional)
Compact Flash Compartment
Canon appear to have resisted the temptation to switch to SD with the EOS 400D and so Compact Flash lives on for at least another generation (this makes sense when you consider many existing upgraders will own plenty of Compact Flash cards). The door itself is plastic with a metal hinge, opened by pulling back and flipping open to the right. The EOS 400D is compatible with either Type I or Type II CompactFlash cards, it also supports the FAT32 filesystem which means you can use cards over 2 GB in capacity.
I won't repeat myself, it's clear Canon has no interest in addressing the design flaw which has affected every Canon digital SLR since the EOS D30. If you want more information see my comment six years ago from my EOS D30 review (or my EOS D60 review, etc. etc.)
On the left side of the camera are all of the cameras connections, these are protected by a rubber cover which fits flush when closed. In summary from top to bottom: Video Out, Remote terminal (right; E3 type), USB 2.0 (Hi-Speed).