Conclusion - Pros
- Excellent resolution, a match for the EOS-1D Mark II
- Good color, virtually identical response to the EOS 10D, lighter overall tone
- Now trademark Canon CMOS noise free 'silky smooth' images
- Very low noise levels even at high sensitivities, fully usable ISO range (100 - 3200)
- Excellent long exposure capability, better with noise reduction on (some black pits)
- Near-instant power on time, more responsive overall, reduced write times
- Five frames per second continuous shooting, up to 23 JPEG in a burst
- Another step improvement in auto focus, 9 point, noticeably faster, better in low light
- Dual-purpose buffering means there's always space for the next shot
- Good metering, but still no specific 'spot metering'
- In-camera programmable 'parameter sets' to control image processing algorithms
- Selectable color space (sRGB / Adobe RGB)
- Now supports new smaller EF-S 'digital' lenses
- Very solid body build, feels extremely robust, almost a 'baby EOS-1D'
- Built as a Digital SLR from the ground up
- Much less of a 'dust problem' than CCD-based digital SLRs
- Remote capture software for studio setups
- Playback magnification up to 10x (perfect for checking focus), easier panning (joystick)
- Excellent battery life, light weight and small batteries (now more powerful)
- Very good supplied software suite (EVU, DPP, Remote Capture and Elements)
- Higher pop-up built-in flash, should make red-eye less of a problem
- E-TTL II flash metering, includes distance information from lens
- USB 2.0 Hi-speed connectivity
Conclusion - Cons
- Opening the CF compartment door shuts camera down, loses any buffered images
- Average automatic white balance performance, still very poor under incandescent light
- PowerShot-like sharpening algorithm (same as EOS 10D) could be improved
- Not a major leap forward in output size, this is not a reason for 10D owners to upgrade
- No spot metering
- Louder shutter release noise
- Can't adjust continuous shooting frame rate (always 5 fps)
- Flash sync 1/250 sec (compared to 1/500 sec for the Nikon D70)
- Confusing sequence of lights in AI Servo auto focus
- Still only five levels of adjustment for image parameters, should be more flexible
- Only 1.8" LCD monitor (time for a high resolution 2.0" I would think)
- ISO sensitivity not displayed on viewfinder status bar while being changed
As soon as we got our hands on the Nikon D70 it became fairly clear that it was a camera which although priced nearer to the EOS 300D (Digital Rebel) could compete with the more expensive EOS 10D. Canon knew this and obviously also knew that they would have to raise the bar still higher to stay ahead. They should then be fairly proud that with the EOS 20D they have certainly done that.
That's not to say the EOS 20D is perfect, the camera still shuts down when you open the CF compartment door which can mean losing buffered images (my pet peeve), it's still missing the flexibility of adjustment of its professional brothers and image processing could be better still (notably sharpening).
Back on the positive, a swathe of improvements and changes from the EOS 10D; faster startup and in-use performance, five frames per second continuous shooting, increased buffer space, an all new improved AF system, white balance fine tuning, USB 2.0 connectivity, improved design and control layout all add up to a camera which is formidable competition for anyone trying to place a digital SLR in the $1500 to $2000 price bracket. Stack that up with the new eight megapixel CMOS sensor and continuing low noise performance across the sensitivity range and the EOS 20D maintains Canon's edge over other manufacturers in this prosumer / semi-professional digital SLR market.
The real question is how many current digital SLR owners will see real value upgrading to the EOS 20D. It's certainly a better camera than the 10D (faster, better AF, more features) however when you see side-by-side image comparisons it becomes clear that the increase from six to eight megapixels doesn't make a very large difference to resolution and for the majority wouldn't add any more value to their photographs.
New entrants to this segment of the market however, those upgrading from the likes of the Digital Rebel or from prosumer level digital cameras, should have the EOS 20D high on their list, it's the best in its class.