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Viewfinder

The EOS 20D's viewfinder is clear and bright with a high quality eyepiece lens (very little corner distortion). It has an all new 'Precision Matte' focusing screen which is supposed to have a more neutral color response and provide better manual focus with faster lenses thanks to a steeper change in blur at the focus point (in use I have to agree, it's a noticeable improvement over the 10D which I never considered 'bad').

The rubber surround can be removed and the supplied eyepiece cover (on the shoulder strap) can be slipped over to stop stray light from entering the chamber during long exposures. The eyepiece will also take E-series dioptre adjustment lenses to further expand the dioptre correction range.

Viewfinder view

Through the viewfinder you'll see the partial metering circle and the nine focus points of the new AF system. In automatic AF point selection mode the AF points chosen by the camera are highlighted when you initiate AF (half-press shutter release / AF button), otherwise the selected AF point is highlighted*. In the example below all AF points are illuminated, this would only occur if you had pressed the AF point button with all points selected.

* In automatic AF point selection mode the AF point will only highlight once an AF lock has been achieved. With a single AF point selected it will blink once as you half-press the shutter release and once more upon AF lock (or not if no AF lock was possible). In AI Servo AF mode (with the shutter release half-pressed) the EOS 20D blinks the selected AF point once and then tracks AF, in this mode it would certainly have been more logical to highlight the AF point only when the camera is sure of a good AF lock.

Battery Compartment

The battery compartment on the EOS 20D is in the base of the hand grip, behind a simple clip- locked door. The door itself is removable (to make way for the optional battery grip). The EOS 20D is supplied with the higher capacity BP-511A Lithium-Ion battery pack, it provides 1390 mAh at 7.4 V which is 10.3 Wh vs. the older BP-511's 8.1 Wh, this will no doubt mean longer battery life. There's a tiny door on the inside edge of the hand grip where the cable from the optional AC adapter's dummy battery exits.

Battery Charger

As with the EOS 10D the 20D is supplied with the CB-5L battery charger, it's relatively small and lightweight and easy to pack for trips. Charge time is around 90 minutes and the LED on the top of the charger indicates charge progress.

Battery Grip (optional)

Because of its smaller dimensions the EOS 20D gets a new battery grip, the BG-E2. This provides additional battery capacity as it can take two BP-511A (or BP-511/512/514) batteries. Also supplied is a new six AA battery magazine which is described by Canon as for 'get you home' use only (this basically means that the camera will soon suck a set of AAs dry).

The grip is attached to the EOS 20D by removing the battery compartment door (which fits neatly into a slot on the edge of the inserted part of the grip), inserting into the battery compartment and screwing tightly to the tripod mount. The grip and two batteries adds 374 g (13.2 oz) to the weight of the EOS 20D with just one battery.

CompactFlash Compartment

The CompactFlash compartment on the EOS 20D is at the rear corner of the hand grip and is opened by sliding the door towards you and flipping outwards. The door itself has a metal hinge and opens with plenty of room to remove the CF card once ejected. It's worth noting that the CF activity light has moved from a hole in the compartment door to just below the quick control dial on the rear of the camera. The EOS 20D supports both Type I and Type II CompactFlash cards and cards greater than 2 GB in capacity (FAT32).

The same old design flaw

I am dumbfounded as to why Canon still hasn't addressed a serious design flaw in operation of the CF door, which has been a problem with this line of digital SLR's since the EOS D30. As soon as you open the CF door the camera powers down and you lose any buffered images which haven't yet been written to the CF card. What's even more amazing is that the ever-so-simple fix has been available on the PowerShot G series since the G3 (and can be found on the latest, the G6). The fix is simply to have a beep alarm which sounds if you open the door and images are still being written, this beep sounds until writing has completed. Come on Canon, we need a firmware fix for this, it's unacceptable. *

* Canon's response to this is that it's better to ensure the CF card is not corrupted by removal during write rather than continuing to save buffered images. My solution is simply to do what they did on the PowerShot G series and to have a loud alarm beep if the door is opened.

Connections

On the left side of the camera are all of the camera's connections, these are protected by a rubber cover which allows you to expose the PC sync and remote terminals while keeping the USB and Video out terminals covered. In summary from top to bottom: USB (2.0 Hi-Speed), Video Out, PC Sync (left), Remote terminal (right; N3 type). Kudos to Canon for including USB 2.0.

USB 2.0 speed test

To test the EOS 20D's USB transfer speed we used twelve standard images (six RAW, six JPEG) totaling 76.2 MB and transferred them from a SanDisk Ultra II 1 GB CF card via four different methods. As you can see from the results below the EOS 20D's native USB 2.0 interface performed fairly well managing over two and a half megabytes per second and out-performing a typical USB 2.0 Card reader. However for real transfer speed there's still no beating Firewire or a CardBus 32 PCMCIA adapter (if you're using a Notebook).

Method Time taken Transfer rate
USB 2.0 Card reader 36.6 sec 2.1 MB/sec
EOS 20D USB 2.0 28.9 sec 2.6 MB/sec
Firewire Card reader 18.0 sec 4.2 MB/sec
CardBus 32 PCMCIA adapter 16.8 sec 4.5 MB/sec
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