Canon 40D vs 20D ISO 1600 Comparison

I took a similar shot with my new 40D and my old 20D at ISO 1600. I scaled the shots to 50% and cropped them for comparison here. The first shot is from 40D and the 2nd shot is from 20D.



You can see the Canon EOS 40D full review article here.


41 thoughts on “Canon 40D vs 20D ISO 1600 Comparison

  1. Hello, thanks a lot for the effort you took. Have you been using the same lens and aperture on both shots? To me, the first looks much more three-dimensional than the first. Thanks again, Matthias.

  2. Maybe its just me, but the 40D seems to have better color recognition than the 20D. The red apple seems to look more realisitic with the 40D than the 20D. The colors from the 20D look a little more washed out than the colors on the 40D. As far as noise level is concerned, their both pretty similar with their level of noise.

  3. Hi Roland,

    Thanks for taking the time to write this up — also your “initial impressions” entry is very much appreciated.

    Any chance of you posting a 100% crop of those two pictures?

    (I’m also interested in a ISO 3200 comparison, though I realize that’s asking for much.)

  4. Something’s not right here; this doesn’t seem like an “apples to apples” comparison to me. The 40d’s shot makes the 20d’s look like a 1999 point and shoot photo. The color is extremely different, as well as having major sharpness and contrast differences. Hmmmm…

  5. All shot in RAW with the same DPP conversion settings? Or is this just comparing the Digic II vs. Digic III in-camera JPEG converter?

  6. Hi AI,

    As I have said before, I don’t know why there was a color difference between the 20D and 40D shots. Both shots were processed in the same way with DPP and Photoshop. I have shoot more than one shot of the same scene with the 20D and they all showed the same color, looked washed out compared to the 40D shot.

    The only difference between the 2 shot was the shutter speed. I left the cameras on Av mode and forgot to match the shutter speed. For some reason, the 20D metered the shot at 1/60sec and the 40D metered the shot at 1/50sec.

    I also used the same lens and focus on exactly the same point. I will try and repeat the test later to see if there was a focus problem with the 20D though.

  7. Hi Daveed V.,

    Actually, I have already done the test at ISO 3200 and the noise profile between the 2 cameras were pretty similar as well.

    I will process and post some 100% crops and also ISO 3200 comparison later

  8. Maybe not really apple-to-apple. We take pictures to show them, either on the web or in prints. I assume that we contioune to present them in the same sizes so You should have scaled the pictures to be equally large (i.e. apples in same size on svcreen) – this will actuall lead to that noise is less on the pic that was scaled smaller i.e. for the 40D. Correct?

  9. Hi shutte’r

    If you look at the shots again and try to make a rough measure of the size of the red apple, you can see that the apple is bigger in the 40D shot than the 20D shot. I scaled both the shot by 50%.


  10. Roland,

    Just wanted to say thanks for responding to all these requests!

    And now for another (lol): if you use just the center autofocus sensor, do you find it to be faster/more accurate than the 20d? In low light? I know you may not be able to respond to this quickly, but if you get the chance…

  11. Hi nak,

    So far, I haven’t noticed any major difference with focusing between the 20D and 40D with the center focusing point.

    I haven’t really had much problem with the center focusing point with the 20D previously though. Unlike the peripheral sensors, the center focusing point in the 20D is fast and sensitive even under low light. The peripheral sensors are hardly usable under low light in the 20D.

  12. Is it possible the light source changed between these two shots? On the 2nd shot I notice that the right side of the red apple there appears to be more shading. Is it possible that the difference in colour could be due to differences in bounced light from walls/windows/your hands/arms, etc.?

  13. Hi!

    Sounds like a good improvement from the 20D then =)

    My biggest gripe is the lack of a spot meter and the fact that the peripheral focus points work really poorly in poor light. Glad that they have fixed those issues. I wonder if LiveView will be usefull or if it’ll remain as a gimmick. And of course a larger screen is always welcome =)

  14. Hi Roland
    Have you changed any settings in-camera on the 20D – such as hue adjustment, picture mode, etc., that would account for the differences?

    I am a Nikon shooter so I am not sure what can be done on the Canon models that would change the data that gets fed into the RAW converter.

    Which RAW converter did you use, by the way?


  15. Hi David,

    I left all in camera settings at 0 on the 20D. Since I am a RAW shooter, I always prefer to make image adjustment during post-processing anyway.

    I am using Canon’s Digital Photo Professional (DPP) for RAW conversion for the test shots since no third party RAW software supports the 40D yet. Otherwise, I normally would use Lightroom for RAW conversion.

  16. Nah the difference is gonna be because the 40D uses Picture Styles and the 20D does not. Roland stated that the 20D was set to 0 for all parameters but doesn’t say what Picture Style was used in the DPP conversion for the 40D, My guess is if Standard Picture Style was used then this would account for the difference because Standard Picture Style has boosted saturation/contrast compared to everything set to 0 on 20d.

  17. Pingback: Canon EOS 40D Review « The World According to Roland

  18. Just wanted to say thanks for the postings. I love my 30D but, have to admit, the 40D caught my eye. There does not seem to be enough upside for making the move. I might have been nudged into making the move in exchange for MUCH better high ISO performance. I think I’ll wait for an updated version of the 5D. I’m guessing that will come along in the Spring of ’08. Do you agree?????

  19. The 20D image clearly has camera shake whereas the 40D image does not. I can see motion blur in the vertical direction. Also the difference in colour saturation and contrast is due to the RAW converter not the camera. The saturation and contrast should be matched in both images for a fair comparison. This also explains why the 40D appears to have more colour noise.

    A jpg comparision would be more insightful for judging saturation and contast.

  20. Dear Bayu Arya

    I think the missed focus would wash out the colour because the lighting would be more diffuse and less contrasty, rather like looking at an object through a sheet of tracing paper.

  21. Hey ppl, I can tell you why the 40D picture looks more 3D than the 20D one.

    It is quite simple. Look at the focus! The 40D one has got it precisely on the apple, hence sharp as.

    The 20D image seems to have mis focused slightly, I would say front focus, as in the focus point is just in front of the apple, hence why the apple edge and the detail on the apple is not pronouced.

    As for colours, I think the 40D has indeed a more aggressive default setting, hence a much richer picture to start with.


  22. I found your site to be very helpful. Have you sone any comparisons between the 40D and the 5D? I have been considering the 40D but I hear the 5D MkII may be out next Jan or Aug.

    I’m assuming the 5D MkII will have similar image quality to the 5D, so I feel comfortable making my decision based on the 40D vs. 5D results.


  23. Hi Greg,

    I haven’t done any comparison between the 40D and 5D personally. There are other sites that have done the comparison though. The consensus seemed to be that the 40D is pretty closed to the 5D in image quality at lower ISO at least. At higher ISO, the 5D obviously has less noise, but the 40D seemed to be quite close in image quality as well.

    However, I would not be so sure if the 5D Mark II will have similar image quality as 5D. With improvement in sensor technology, 14 bit D/A conversion, faster and better image processor…..etc, nobody really knows if the upcoming 5D replacement will have better image quality than the present 5D or not. So personally, I would wait until the new 5D replacement is available before making any conclusion on image quality of an as yet non-existent camera.

  24. Pingback: Canon 40D ¿Ruido o no? « Rango dinĂ¡mico

  25. Pingback: Canon EOS 40D First Review from Bob Atkins & Roland Lim »

  26. I believe that the light source, if natural light could have changed between the two shots. I however, do not think that this is the problem here. You said that the 20D metered and shot at 1/60th, and the 40D metered and shot at 1/50th. There is your apparent color aberration. The 20D shot with a faster shutter speed which created a shot that is more gray. Did all of you miss this? Further, I don’t think that the focal point was the same on either picture. How did you convert them out of camera. Are you color managing? What profile are you shooting with on the 20D? The 40D? All of these things are considerations. The 40D is not a major improvement over the 20D. A bigger TFT, the buttons are now in an awkward place, and it is weather proofed. Digic III vs. Digic II? Again not major. A speed increase. Doesn’t matter for me. I want the most out of the images I shoot, so I shoot RAW. Editing in 16 bit is safer. There are a lot of questions that are not addressed here. The crop is off too, look at the specular highlight on the second picture. You can see more of it than in the first image. While I do understand that this test is less than scientific, I do find it amusing that no one else has seen these flaws. By the way, yes the 5D and 40D/30D/20D have very similar picture quality. The trade off comes when you need speed vs. full frame, or weather proofing vs. full frame. I need the speed, I shoot sports, and the 5D is slower than my 20D when shooting in RAW. First chance I get, I am going to do what I should have done to start with. Purchase a 1D Mk II or Mk III.

  27. I assume both pictures shot under the 40d and 20d original color model setting, next, I try to trim the 20D picture RGB color and it’s brightness, but without touch the focus and other parameters value, now both photos close in color tone.

    Please check the result picture:

    From that, I believe both photo quality are same!
    But the color models may be setting in different way.

    Thanks for your reading!

    (Working software: CorelPaint Pro Photo X2)

  28. So what are you waiting for Roland? Shoot them both at the same aperture, same ISO and same shutter speed.

    We are looking forward to the new shots.

  29. Hi all, an old post but it is worth commenting…

    there is an important factor that was ignored, which is sensor age!

    When a sensor is aging, the colors it produces start to be washed out.

    The 40D is still young while the 20D may had 100ks of shoots behind it.

    I think the comparison to be valid one should use cameras of the same age…. otherwise it is only for these two specific cameras.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s