Canon EOS 4000D review

The optical viewfinder delivers 95% coverage, which is pretty typical on a entry-level DSLR

The EOS 4000D is Canon’s latest stripped-back entry-level DSLR, and while the naming convention may suggest otherwise it sits below the also-new EOS Rebel T7 / EOS 2000D in Canon’s range.

Until now, the EOS model line designated by four digits (in all regions other than the US, where we’ve had the Rebel XS, T3, T5 and T6) has been Canon’s no-frills entry-level DSLR. Until recently the 2000D held that dubious honor, but Canon obviously thinks there’s room for another camera that trims the fat even more, and – confusing nomenclature aside – the EOS 4000D is the result.

Canon hopes the aggressively priced EOS 4000D will appeal to new users who have been drawn into photography via their smartphones, and are now ready to make the next step.

However, those new users have become accustomed to large and intuitive touchscreen displays, and, significantly, Canon hasn’t seen fit to include one on the EOS 4000D – so will it feel like a step backwards rather than forwards?

Features

  • 18MP sensor can trace its roots back to 2010
  • Small and low-resolution screen
  • Wi-Fi only 

The EOS 4000D inherits an aging 18MP sensor that can trace its roots back to the EOS Rebel T2i / EOS 550D, which was released in 2010. The latest tech this is not.

It’s a similar story with the DIGIC 4+ image processor used in both the EOS 4000D and EOS 2000D. To put it in perspective, we’re now onto the eighth iteration of Canon’s DIGIC processor, although the latest EOS DSLRs are using DIGIC 7 chips. Native sensitivity remains the same at ISO100-6,400, expandable up to 12,800.

The autofocus system is also pretty dated – it’s the modest 9-point system that has been in Canon’s arsenal since 2009. And while pretty much every DSLR in the last five years or so has featured a 3.0-inch rear display, Canon has actually shrunk the LCD on the EOS 4000D down to 2.7 inches, with the resolution also taking a tumble, down to 230k dots. And don’t even think about touchscreen control.

The optical viewfinder delivers 95% coverage, which is pretty typical on a entry-level DSLR – so, as we always warn, it’s worth paying particular attention to the edges of the frame when reviewing your images, as there’s a chance you’ll find unwanted elements creeping into you shots.

There’s Wi-Fi connectivity, but no NFC or Bluetooth Low Energy options, while video is capped at Full HD (1920 x 1080), with 30, 25 and 24fps frame rates available.

Build and handling

  • Plasticky feel overall
  • Logical button placement
  • Plastic lens mount

The EOS 4000D looks very similar to its entry-level sibling, EOS 2000D, but there are a number of differences when you look a little closer.

For starters, while there’s a textured coating on the chunky front grip, Canon has done away with it for the rear thumb rest, and the lens mount is plastic, rather than the more durable metal of the EOS 2000D; if you’re not often going to be switching lenses this might not be a concern, but if you’re looking to regularly swap optics it’s something to consider, as plastic is more susceptible to wear.

While these design choices do bring a slight weight saving over the EOS 2000D, they make the EOS 4000D feel even more plasticky.

The EOS 4000D has also done away with a dedicated on/off switch – instead there’s now an ‘off’ setting on the mode dial on the top of the camera. Speaking of the mode dial, the normally green-labelled ‘Scene Intelligent Auto’ mode is now the same color as all the other settings, allowing Canon to cut costs further, and yet more penny pinching has been carried out at the rear, with the icons for the controls printed on the body, rather than on each individual button.

All in all it’s not what we’d expect from a DSLR in 2018

That said, the button configuration is easy to understand and navigate for the new user, while the ‘Q’ (short for Quick Menu) button enables you to quickly access and adjust commonly used settings.

As we’ve also moaned about with the EOS 2000D, the absence of Canon’s clean-looking graphical interface, as found on the EOS Rebel T7i / EOS 800D and EOS Rebel SL2 / EOS 200D, is disappointing.

All in all it’s not what we’d expect from a DSLR in 2018. The reduction in screen size to 2.7 inches, together with the drop in resolution, makes you feel like you’re stepping back in time by about five years when you use this camera.

Autofocus

  • 9-point AF system feels dated
  • Coverage biased towards center of frame
  • Sluggish Live View performance

The EOS 4000D uses an AF system that’s the best part of 10 years old, and sure enough the 9-point system feels really dated. Coverage is basically limited to the centre of the frame, with the points in a diamond formation, so be prepared to re-frame your subject if they’re off-centre.

Performance-wise, with a single (and more sensitive) cross-type sensor at the center of the array the system will be fine for general shooting with static subjects, but it may struggle when light levels drop or when subjects are moving.

Canon’s brilliant Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology has always impressed, allowing for quick focusing speeds in Live View mode (using the rear screen rather than the viewfinder); this is something a lot of rival DSLRs struggle with, so it’s disappointing not to see it on the 4000D.

Instead, you’re stuck with sluggish focusing speeds, a far cry from the performance of even some of the most affordable mirrorless cameras – not that you’ll want to use Live View that much given the poor screen.

Performance

  • One of the slowest DSLRs available
  • Tends to overexpose scenes
  • Good battery life

Entry-level DSLRs may not be renowned for their burst shooting speeds, but even so the EOS 4000D’s 3fps makes it one of the slowest cameras out there, along with the EOS 2000D.

The 4000D’s metering is handled by a 63-zone dual-layer metering sensor that’s linked to all AF points, which we found to be pretty consistent for most situations, although it tended to overexpose the scene when presented with high-contrast lighting.

Another thing counting against the rear 2.7-inch display is the aspect ratio – at 4:3 it’s at odds with the camera’s 3:2 sensor format, so you’re presented with black bars along the top and bottom of the frame when using live view or reviewing images.

While the EOS 4000D features a smaller screen and lower-resolution sensor compared to the 2000D, which we’d expect to mean reduced power consumption, the 4000D actually matches it for battery life at 500 shots. That’s nothing remarkable, but it still compares well to similarly priced mirrorless cameras, which in some cases can struggle to achieve even half that.

Image quality

  • Image quality solid but unremarkable
  • Pleasing colors from JPEG files
  • Offers a range of Picture Styles

While the 18MP sensor may be showing its age, those looking to make the jump from a smartphone or point-and-shoot compact camera will be rewarded with decent images displaying a good amount of detail. The EOS 4000D certainly isn’t the best in its class here, but it’s a solid performer nonetheless.

JPEG images display a good level of warmth and saturation straight out of the camera, while Canon’s Picture Styles are also on offer if you want to tweak the tones; portraits, for instance, will benefit from the more muted tones of the dedicated preset available.

Image noise is handled pretty well, although here again the 4000D isn’t a match for newer models. That said, images appear to be pretty clean from ISO100 to 1600, although if you’re shooting JPEGs you’ll see some softening of detail at higher settings as the camera attempts to suppress noise. Raw files are a little better though, with both luminance (granular) noise and chroma (color) noise pretty well controlled at ISO6400.

When it comes to dynamic range there’s a little bit of latitude in the raw files that enables you to recover lost detail, but edits can’t be pushed too far before image quality starts to deteriorate.

Verdict

The Canon EOS 4000D really does feel like a camera that’s been designed and built to a budget imposed by especially parsimonious accountants.

With most of the camera made up of components from the parts bin for long-superseded Canon DSLRS, there really is nothing much to recommend it over other entry-level DSLR rivals, apart from, perhaps, the price.

At £369.99 with the EF-S 18-55mm kit lens (Australian pricing is still to be confirmed, while the camera isn’t expected to come to the US just yet), the EOS 4000D is one of the most affordable DSLRs you can buy right now.

However, while this low price is designed to tempt new users, our worry is that the limited feature set and poor screen will see them quickly revert back to their smartphone. Eat beans for a month if you have to, but if you want an entry-level DSLR you’ll be better off spending a bit more and getting something like the EOS 2000D or the Nikon D3400.