Canon EOS 30D Digital SLR

It might be logical to assume that the new Canon EOS 30D , the successor to the company’s popular EOS 20D, would pack a higher resolution sensor. But such is not the case. The EOS 30D provides the same imaging circuitry as its predecessor, but the new model includes some much-needed new features at a price of $1,399 (body only), $100 less than the original price of the EOS 20D.

Same body, bigger screen

At first glance, the 30D looks exactly like its predecessor. The camera has the same control layout as the 20D, but a glance at the back of the camera reveals a 2.5-inch LCD screen--a marked improvement over the 20D’s 1.8-inch screen.

The 30D’s interface is a model of elegant simplicity: Almost all of the controls that you’d use in everyday shooting are available from an external button. However, because Canon doubles up the functions of the camera’s buttons, the unit is not over-laden with buttons and knobs. Thus, finding the control you’re looking for is simple, and it’s easy to make adjustments with one hand. Despite such conveniences, I’d like to see an external bracketing control, and a better placement of the power switch, which is still in a very inconvenient location.

Canon’s menu system is simple and intuitive and you can quickly navigate using the control wheel on the back of the camera. With the new larger screen, menu items are bigger and easier to read. Overall, Canon’s interface is still the best in the industry.

New features

The most important change to the 30D is the addition of a spot meter. While previous models offered a Partial Metering mode, which metered off of the middle 9 percent of the viewfinder, the spot meter meters off of the middle 3.5 percent. The spot meter works well and Canon's mid-range cameras have long needed one, so this is a welcome addition. The Evaluative and Center-Weight Averaging metering modes are still available.

Canon has also added the Picture Styles feature, originally from its EOS 5D model. For JPEG shooters, this allows you to save up to nine sets of image-processing parameters. Each set can contain custom Sharpness, Contrast, Saturation, and Color Tone settings. This feature is not significantly different from the 20D’s Parameters feature, but it gives you more sets. JPEG shooters will also welcome the new ability to completely deactivate in-camera sharpening. (For raw shooters, these additions are irrelevant, as the Raw file does not have any processing applied by the camera.)

Other important new features include the ability to adjust ISO in 1/3-stop increments; the inclusion of an in-viewfinder ISO readout which lets you change the ISO without taking your eye away from the viewfinder; the option for a slower burst speed, which allows for more shots in a single burst; and a more durable shutter. All of these features are welcome, but I’d still like to see the ability to auto-bracket more than three shots (and as few as two) and an easier-to-access mirror lockup feature.

performance

Image Quality Excellent
Battery Life Excellent

Scale = Excellent, Very Good, Good, Flawed, Unacceptable

The image-quality rating of the camera is based upon a panel of judges’ opinions in five categories: exposure, color, sharpness, distortion, and overall. Battery life testers follow a precise script, including shots with and without flash, until the battery dies —Tested in conjunction with the PC World Test Center.

specifications

Resolution 8.2 megapixels
Zoom/Focal Length 28-88mm (35mm equivalent)
Batteries Rechargeable Li-ion
Media Slots CompactFlash (1)
Size (wxhxd) 5.7 inches x 4.2 inches x 2.9 inches
Weight 2.2 lbs

Macworld’s buying advice

The Canon EOS 30D is a welcome upgrade to an already great camera. The larger LCD screen and new features will directly affect everyday shooting, while the lower price tag will give you an extra $100 to spend on lenses.

[ Ben Long is the author of Complete Digital Photography, 3rd Edition (Charles River Books, 2004). ]

Canon EOS 30D Digital SLR

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