Conclusion - Pros
- Great resolution, clean, noise-free images (even at high ISO / long exposures)
- Noise reduction algorithm works well
- Good range of sensitivities (100 - 1600)
- Smooth gradients, little or no edge aberration effects (no over-sharpening)
- Fast reaction, good burst and buffer
- Good colour balance, vivid colours (with Colour set to "High")
- Good metering
- RAW mode and TWAIN driver to process them (think of it as a digital negative)
- Remote capture software for studio work
- Canon EF Lens compatibility
- Digital SLR built as such from the ground up
- Good ergonomics, easy to use yet still flexible
- All Canon components (body, electronics, CMOS sensor, controls)
- Very flexible photographic controls (creativity will become your middle name ;)
- Electronically controlled pop-up flash with E-TTL metering
- Parameter "sets" allow you to pre-configure image processing settings
- Flexible custom settings provide full control over camera settings
- CF Type II (Microdrive) compatible
- Long lasting battery packs, good power options (AC adapter included -dummy battery, car battery charger, additional grip with space for two batteries)
Conclusion - Cons
- Images may seem a little "soft" to some users, increasing sharpness setting on the camera improves things and there's actually no less detail in a D30 image than any other 3 megapixel
- Opening the CF door shuts the camera down, loses any buffered images
- Strange hot pixels ("Weird dots") on our resolution chart shot (isolated)
- TWAIN driver doesn't support batch conversion of RAW files (copy to...)
- TWAIN driver RAW mode doesn't allow for after-shot exposure compensation
- TWAIN driver is very slow
- Contrast, sharpening and saturation settings can't be changed through camera menus (must programmed as parameter sets using the TWAIN driver)
- Some "blooming" on the boundaries between overexposed areas and detail
- Highlights sometimes look blown-out (though this can be solved by shooting with compensation -0.3EV) - perhaps an even lower contrast setting should be introduced as the data is definitely there (check the dynamic range of RAW samples)
Canon really did made life difficult for themselves, they knew full well that they would be judged on success of the D30, they know how important the digital photography market has become and how a camera like the D30 could affect their reputation.
An all Canon body, exposure system, electronics and imaging sensor plus the decision to use CMOS for the first time in a high resolution digital camera was a tough enough task, but to do all that at a price which would undercut the competition?
Canon's engineers, designers and developers haven't let them down, the D30 WILL go down in history books as a very important camera, breaking a price barrier and opening up the digital SLR market (more so than Fujifilm's S1 Pro) to a new wave of users, both new and old.
From the minute you pick up the D30 (it's amazing to think it's over 5 months since I first handled it) you get a feeling of quality you weren't expecting, so many times I've heard "oh, it feels better than I thought", sure it's not the "take on anything" Nikon D1 (nor was it promoted as such) but it's solid and very well built, cleverly thought out, intuitive controls make it easy for everything from point-and-shoot photography all the way to photo journalism. I have no doubt that we'll see professionals using the D30, despite this not being Canon's target market, the D30 really is that good.
Lets talk about image quality, right from the first time I got to take samples home from a D30 shooting session (back in August) I was stunned and amazed at the purity of the images, they're so clean and smooth yet not lacking in detail, this grainless look goes well beyond film quality to a new arena of high quality "scene digitization" which captures every detail of the scene without any noise or stray artifacts. Colour rendition is very good as is pure resolution (as measured by our test charts).
Operationally the camera is quick (at this price), no major quirks or "why did they put it there?", great battery life and support for the Microdrive means you'll be taking hundreds of images instead of worrying about how many rolls you have in the bag... The D30 is a very complete, very satisfying camera to use, and time after time you'll load up images and (straight out of the camera) be amazed... Isn't this what photography is all about? As you can see, I like the EOS-D30. A lot.
Sure, there are things I'd like to see improved, the odd little niggle here and there, nothing that would change the photography experience itself. Value for money? Unbeatable (at the time of writing this review). I have no doubt that Canon will sell every single D30 they ever produce, the question is can they make enough of them?
So which one should I buy? A question I get asked several times a day, and I wouldn't like to say. In a new addition to my reviews (after the amount of feedback I normally get) I've added a link to a specific forum in which you can discuss the review or ask me specific questions which I've not answered in these pages.
You can order the D30 from our approved affiliate State Street Direct, they have three different packages available for the D30: (all orders help support this site and future reviews)
- Canon EOS-D30 Body (inc. 16MB CF, Battery, Charger, Software)
- Canon EOS-D30 Body (as above) + EF 28 - 105 mm f/3.5 - 4.5 lens + 340 MB Microdrive
- Canon EOS-D30 Body (as above) + EF 28 - 200 mm f/3.5 - 4.5 lens + 1 GB Microdrive