From the front at least there are very few changes from the EOS 30D, a little chiseling of the viewfinder chamber and a new finger tuck on the hand grip but overall no real surprises. The rear however has undergone more of a re-design, mostly thanks to the now three inch LCD monitor. Several buttons which ran down the left side of the EOS 30D's monitor have now shifted to below the EOS 40D's monitor also there's now a dedicated AF-ON button 'under your thumb'. We should be thankful that Canon hasn't removed the most useless button of all; Direct Print.

The same materials, build and construction as the EOS 30D, a two piece magnesium shell which makes up much of the front and rear of the camera which is well put together with no rattles or creaks, as with previous EOS x0D cameras the 40D feels just as solid and reliable.

Side by side

Despite a $500 price difference it's clear that many people will compare these two cameras as the current state-of-the-art serious-amateur (stroke semi-professional) digital SLRs from Canon and Nikon. The D300 is the larger and heavier of the two, by 80g, although in use it's unlikely you'd really notice this. One more difference is a two megapixel advantage to the D300.

In your hand

In your hand the EOS 40D feels almost exactly the same as the EOS 30D, except for the subtle new finger hook moulded into the front of the hand grip which I'm sure will be noticed by some but didn't really have a significant effect for me (it is however more in-keeping with the EOS-1D design). One thing you can't take away from the EOS 40D is that it does feel solid, reliable and 'well sorted' from an ergonomics point of view.

Design changes compared to the EOS 30D

Place your mouse cursor over either image below to compare the design of the EOS 40D to the EOS 30D.

LCD Monitor

The EOS 30D saw a step up to a 2.5" LCD monitor, the EOS 40D gets a 3.0" LCD although maintains the same 230,400 dot count (320 x 240 x RGB) which although good has now been overtaken by the amazing 921,600 dot 3.0" LCD's seen on the new Nikon D3, D300 and Sony DSLR-A700. As you can see from this shot the lack of an anti-reflective coating means that the screen does tend to pick up reflections.

LCD control panel

On top of the camera is a large LCD control panel which provides a wide range of information about camera settings and exposure. The main numeric section of the panel doubles up to provide other types of information such as the 'Busy' warning, AF point selection etc. The EOS 40D panel now features a dedicated readout of ISO sensitivity. The panel has an orange backlight which is illuminated by pressing the backlight button to the top left of the panel, the backlight stays on for approximately six seconds.

A breakdown of information displayed on the LCD panel can be found on the diagrams below.