Canon officially unveiled its latest SLR camera, the Canon EOS 40D, alongside five new compact digital cameras today.

The Canon EOS 40D digital SLR builds on the previous EOS 20D and 30D models and is aimed at professional photographers and passionate amateur snappers. It features an enhanced 10.1-megapixel CMOS imaging sensor, ISO 3200 and Canon's proprietary DIGIC III image processor. The EOS 40D also has a completely redesigned autofocus sensor and 6.5fps continuous shooting capability.

The camera has a larger, 3-inch LCD screen, upgraded viewfinder and a durable magnesium alloy exterior designed to resist dust and wet weather conditions. It's connection ports, battery compartment and single-slot compact flash memory card door are all weather resistant.

The Canon EOS 40D also features optional highlight tone priority and the high-ISO noise reduction functions that Canon first introduced earlier this year in the EOS-1D Mark III Professional Digital SLR.

New auto-focus

In addition, it's equipped with a completely redesigned nine-point auto-focus sensor providing cross-type AF measurement at all nine focusing points for maximum apertures up to f/5.6.

For the first time in any EOS camera model, the central AF point offers enhanced precision for both vertical and horizontal subject contrast when using EF or EF-S lenses featuring maximum apertures of f/2.8 or faster. Canon said the AF calculation speed with the EOS 40D camera is 30 per cent faster than the EOS 30D model.

New features also include live view functionality, offering the framing and capturing of subjects using the camera's LCD screen instead of the viewfinder. The Canon EOS 40D SLR has a 0.15-second initial start-up, a top shutter speed of 1/8000 sec and 1/250 maximum X-sync flash shutter speed setting.

The Canon EOS 40D will go on sale in September, but pricing has yet to be confirmed.