Canon EOS 400D review

Price when reviewed

Between them, the EOS 300D and 350D spent almost three years on our A List, but the 400D failed to continue that success, losing out to the superior Nikon D80. However, in this Labs its direct competitor is the D40x, which costs almost the same.

Canon EOS 400D review

But where the D40x panders to the novice upgrading from a compact digital camera, the 400D feels more advanced. For one thing, it has exposure and white-balance bracketing modes, which the D40x lacks. It also has a nine-point auto-focus system compared to the Nikon’s measly three-point offering.

However, the 400D lacks spot metering and also has the Achilles heel of needing to use the 2.5in TFT to show status information, as Canon has removed the 350D’s separate LCD. This also has the effect of reducing battery life, since the colour TFT uses a lot more power than a mono LCD. Canon claims only 360 shots per charge, which is disappointing compared to the D40x’s 520 shots, which are thanks to the higher-capacity battery.

The 400D has one trick, though. The 10.1-megapixel sensor is attached to a piezo-electric element that shakes the CCD each time the camera is switched off in an effort to dislodge any dust particles. We couldn’t be sure of the effectiveness of the system, but didn’t have any dust problems during testing.

Where image quality is concerned, the Canon is on a par with the D40x. But, where the Nikon tended to oversaturate colours, the 400D muted them. The 18-55mm kit lens isn’t quite as sharp as the D40x’s, leading to softer focus. Like the Nikon, we noticed purple fringing at high-contrast edges – a trait of the lens. Thankfully, noise performance is good, and even at ISO 1,600 – where noise is apparent – it isn’t distracting. While you’ll want to buy a dedicated macro lens for such shots, the kit lens allows you to get relatively close: take a look at our test shots for an example.

If you’re an enthusiastic amateur photographer looking to upgrade to a DSLR, the 400D isn’t a bad choice. The D40x is a better teach-as-you-go option, but don’t dismiss Sony’s A100, which is cheaper than both and boasts a CCD-shift anti-shake system for slightly better low-light shots.

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