Metering modes

Metering isn't something we normally cover in our reviews, primarily because it's a fairly "known quantity" and the characeteristics of metering between different brands varies. However the EOS 30D is important in this respect as it is the first 'consumer / prosumer' level Canon digital SLR to have spot metering (yes, it has taken this long). Below you will find a comparison of the different metering modes available on the EOS 30D as well as the Nikon D200. Where available we have indicated the approximate metering area with a semi-transparent red overlay. Note that this test scene is deliberately designed to test spot metering, strong backlight and a small subject.

Canon EOS 30D

As you can see the strong backlight is too much for Evaluative or Center weighted average metering, the 'good old' Partial metering actually copes fairly well however it's a whole stop different to the Spot metering result which is the best here (for our required outcome).

Evaluative metering
(whole frame, subject distance etc.)
1/640 sec, F5.6, ISO 400
Partial metering
(covers approx. 9% at center of frame)
1/100 sec, F5.6, ISO 400
Spot metering
(covers approx. 3.5% at center of frame)
1/50 sec, F5.6, ISO 400
Center weighted average metering
(weighted at center but averaged across frame)
1/800 sec, F5.6, ISO 400

Nikon D200

The Nikon D200's metering modes produced similar results to Canon's Evaluative, Center weighted average and spot metering. Although it's worth noting that in spot metering mode the metered area is even smaller than the EOS 30D.

3D Color matrix metering II
(whole frame, subject distance, color etc.)
1/400 sec, F5.6, ISO 400
Center weighted metering
(weighted at center but averaged across frame)
1/500 sec, F5.6, ISO 400
Spot metering
(covers approx. 3 mm at center of viewfinder)
1/40 sec, F5.6, ISO 400

Artificial light White Balance

The EOS 30D's automatic white balance in artificial light appears to be identical to the EOS 20D, that is pretty mediocre under incandescent light (even using the incandescent preset) and very good under fluorescent light (although interestingly better in auto than with the preset). This warm color cast on incandescent shots appears to be a decision made by Canon to 'preserve the natural look of the original scene'. If this is the case and if the camera can truly produce white in incandescent light then the choice between the 'natural look' and the technically correct look should be a custom function option.

Incandescent - Auto WB
Red: 7.7%, Blue: -12.1%, Average
Incandescent - Incandescent preset WB
Red: 3.4%, Blue: -6.3%, Average
Fluorescent - Auto WB
Red: -0.1%, Blue: -0.9%, Excellent
Fluorescent - Fluorescent 1 preset WB
Red: -1.2%, Blue: -3.4%, Good

Long Exposure noise reduction / Night shots

The EOS 30D has typical 'dark frame subtraction' noise reduction for exposures of one second or longer, this can be enabled or disabled via a custom function. Dark frame subtraction NR works by taking a second equal exposure immediately after the first but with the shutter closed, any hot pixel noise in this second exposure can then be subtracted from the first to produce a cleaner image. With noise reduction off we were not able 'hot pixels' in our 30 second exposure.

Noise reduction Off Noise reduction On
ISO 100, 30 sec, F9 ISO 100, 30 sec, F9


Just like the EOS 20D and 5D the 30D features E-TTL II metering which utilizes distance information provided to the camera by the lens (although not all lenses provide this). Using the kit lens (EF-S 18-55 mm, F3.5-F5.6 II) the built-in flash has a specified range of 3.7 m (12.1 ft) at wide angle and 2.3 m (7.5 ft) at telephoto (all at ISO 100).

Built-in flash direct Canon 430 EX direct
Canon 430 EX bounced Built-in flash direct

Overall Image Quality / Specifics

It won't come as much of a surprise if we were to say that we are just as impressed with the EOS 30D as we were with the EOS 20D, no surprise because they share the same sensor and image processing engine. Because of this then it's remarkable that eighteen months after the introduction of this sensor / image processing combination (in the EOS 20D) we've still not really seen any competition that can get close to this overall package of resolution, quality image development and low noise at high sensitivities.

One big change from the EOS 20D is of course the introduction of PictureStyles, the Standard PictureStyle approximately equating to the EOS 20D's 'Parameter 1'. As I said in my EOS 5D review I wasn't initially a big fan of PictureStyle but it has grown on me. The only advice I would give to anyone new to PictureStyles is to spend time experimenting and tuning each PictureStyle to suit you (for instance I prefered to have color saturation down one step in the Landscape PictureStyle).

AI Servo interference banding

This issue gained a lot of attention around the time of the introduction of the EOS 5D. However, tracking back through older forums postings it's clear that this has actually been around for a couple of generations of Canon EOS digital SLR's. The issue relates to the use of certain lenses at high sensitivities in AI Servo (continuous auto focus) mode. This combination can sometimes lead to banding interference artifacts, most clearly in shadow areas. This appears to be some kind of radio frequency or electrical interference from the auto focus motor. Obviously this is a fairly specific issue which would only be an issue if you do a lot of continuous auto focus shooting with certain lenses.

EF 50 mm F1.4, ISO 1600 EF 50 mm F1.4, ISO 3200
50% crop (Brightness boosted slightly) 50% crop (Brightness boosted slightly)