Conclusion - Pros

  • Excellent resolution, very good per-pixel sharpness
  • Good tonal and color response, same as EOS 20D 'Parameter 1' in Standard PS
  • Now with four metering modes, spot metering very welcome
  • Trademark Canon CMOS noise free images, remain detailed even at high sensitivities
  • About a third of a stop more sensitive than indicated
  • Confidence to use camera at high sensitivities (ISO 1600, 3200)
  • Excellent long exposure capability, no noticeable hot pixels at 30 seconds with NR off
  • New Picture Styles make it easier to get 'ready to use' results straight from the camera
  • Wide range of image parameter adjustment (-4 to +4 for most)
  • Instant power on time, excellent operational speed, always feels responsive
  • Five frames per second continuous shooting, excellent buffering, fast CF throughput
  • Good nine point auto focus system, works well even in low light
  • Selectable color space (sRGB / Adobe RGB)
  • Supports both EF and smaller, lighter EF-S 'digital' lenses
  • Excellent build, very robust, good ergonomics (although buttons a little small for gloves)
  • Built as a Digital SLR from the ground up
  • Proper RAW+JPEG with immediately selectable JPEG image size
  • Much less of a 'dust problem' than CCD-based digital SLRs (less static? distance to LPF?)
  • Excellent supplied software bundle, remote capture and good RAW conversion (DPP)
  • Quick magnification up to 10x (perfect for checking focus), easier panning (joystick)
  • Excellent battery life, light weight and small batteries (now more powerful)
  • High pop-up flash, should make red-eye less of a problem
  • E-TTL II flash metering, includes distance information from lens
  • New large 2.5" LCD monitor
  • Playback jump by 10, 100 images or by shot date
  • USB 2.0 Hi-speed connectivity
  • Orientation sensor
  • Optional WFT-E1 wireless transmitter (802.11 b/g)
  • Value for money

Conclusion - Cons

  • Average automatic white balance performance, still very poor under incandescent light
  • AI Servo (continuous AF) interference banding issue (certain lenses, high sensitivities)
  • Same old 'CF compartment door shuts camera down' issue
  • Picture Style differences between RAW Image Task/Camera and DPP
  • Picture Style tone curve not indicated in camera menu (contrast is an offset, not absolute)
  • ISO sensitivity not displayed on top LCD panel / viewfinder status permanently
  • Flash must be up for AF assist lamp (although AF is good even in low light)
  • Confusing sequence of lights in AI Servo auto focus
  • Virtually unused 'print / share' button should be a customizable
  • No user memories

Overall conclusion

Maybe Canon do listen, with the i EOS 30D they have addressed no less than five of the 'Cons' from my EOS 20D review; Lack of spot metering, Fixed continuous shooting rate, Limited range of image parameter adjustment, Small LCD monitor and ISO sensitivity not displayed on viewfinder status bar while being changed. Of course everyone has different priorities and some of these changes may seem insignificant however it's fair to say we've seen all of these issues discussed at one time or another on our forums.

It wasn't surprising to see a certain level of disappointment among existing Canon owners in the evolution that is the EOS 30D, I'm sure some were at least expecting a nominal megapixel upgrade as well as the changes included. I happen to agree with many who suggested that the EOS 30D should really have been named the 'EOS 20D Mark II'. To be fair an increase to ten megapixels would have gained little in resolution and to one degree or another its encouraging to think that manufacturers are getting out of the routine megapixel upgrade 'for the sake of marketing'. And of course Canon couldn't have gone to twelve megapixels at this price point (yet) for the fear of spoiling the EOS 5D's position.

There are a few minor gripes, from an imaging point of view there's the risk of AI Servo banding which can manifest itself with some lenses at high sensitivities and there's also the average incandescent white balance performance. From a usability front I would like to have seen the pretty pointless print / share button customizable, the option for user memories and perhaps embedded comments which can be set in-camera.

We have to consider every camera as a whole, the sum of its parts. Compare it to the competition and it's clear that the 30D really can hold its own. The primary competition coming from Nikon's excellent D200, a camera which in many ways betters the EOS 30D, user interface, features and flexibility are all a step up. However as we have noted there's no significant difference between eight and ten megapixels (especially considering the EOS 30D's "crisper" per-pixel sharpness) and that the D200's sensor just isn't as good as the Canon CMOS at higher sensitivities (ISO 1600 / 3200).

Nobody should then be too surprised that the EOS 30D, despite its relatively minor range of updates still deserves our Highly Recommended rating. It's a great camera to shoot with, image quality is excellent and the high sensitivity performance is still notably better than the competition, the EOS 30D inspires confidence and delivers shot after shot.

Highly Recommended

Highly Recommended

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