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Canon unveils successor to the EOS 20D
Tuesday, February 21, 2006 | by Rob Galbraith

Canon today has unveiled the EOS 30D, a refined version of the EOS 20D that shares the same image sensor and numerous other core camera components but adds a 2.5-inch (diagonal) rear LCD, increased burst depth, Picture Styles, a shutter with a higher duty cycle rating and a long list of other camera usability changes.

If you're familiar with how Canon evolved the EOS-1D Mark II into the EOS-1D Mark II N, then you have a pretty good idea of the type and magnitude of tweaks the company made in updating the 20D to 30D status. The 20D has been our favourite second-body camera since its introduction in the fall of 2004, and the 30D appears to be making a good thing better.

Let's start with what's not new: the features in the 20D and 30D that are the same or similar include the 8.19 million image pixel CMOS sensor, 9-point AF system (controlled by a revised autofocus algorithm), 35-zone ambient/flash metering, 5 fps maximum shooting rate (the shutter itself is a reworked version of the one in the 20D), E-TTL II flash exposure control, built-in popup flash, 1/8000 top shutter speed, standard top flash sync of 1/250 and compatibility with 20D accessories such as Battery Grip BG-E2 (it's also compatible with Wireless File Transmitter WFT-E1/E1A and Data Verification Kit DVK-E2). The 30D's body is a close cousin to the 20D too, though changes have been made to accommodate the larger rear LCD, add a dedicated direct print/image transfer button and improve the function of the multicontroller.

canon_30d_front01.jpg
Canon EOS 30D (Photo courtesy Canon)

Where the two diverge is mostly in the details. Changes in the 30D include:

  • A new 2.5-inch, 230,000 pixel rear LCD monitor with wide viewing angle
  • Canon's more flexible Picture Style menu, which replaces the Parameters menu of the 20D
  • Sharpening of in-camera JPEGs can be turned off, which is a first for a Canon entry-level or midrange digital SLR
  • ISO 100-1600 is now selectable in 1/3 stop increments
  • ISO can be set without taking one's eye away from the viewfinder
  • Increased burst depth: 11 frames for RAW CR2 shooting, 30 for Large Fine JPEG and 9 for RAW+JPEG
  • A more-durable shutter that's rated for 100,000 cycles
  • A slightly-shortened mirror blackout time of 110ms; Canon's specification for shutter lag remains the same as the 20D at 65ms
  • Viewfinder information now includes a dedicated Flash Exposure Lock (FEL) indicator
  • Switchable High-Speed Continuous (5 fps) and Low-Speed Continuous (3 fps) frame rate settings are now included
  • An Auto setting in the Long Exposure Noise Reduction Custom Function
  • The ability, like several more-pricey Canon digital SLRs, to simultaneously apply long exposure noise processing to one picture while capturing another
  • The addition of a 3.5% spot metering mode
  • 0.15 second camera startup time
  • A more-precise 4-increment battery charge indicator
  • Reduced energy consumption, for a promised improvement of 10% more frames per charge
  • No more new folders created every 100 photos; in the 30D, a folder can hold 9999 photos
  • A new automatic rotation option that enables verticals to not be rotated on the rear LCD but appear rotated in compatible browser software on the computer
  • The ability to zoom in on a photo in Quick Review mode
  • During playback, the photo+shooting data screen will display file size, either an RGB or Brightness histogram and will optionally display AF markings
  • Improved Jump function
  • Refined multicontroller (both its physical design and its operation have been tweaked) 
  • More-detailed error code information, which now appears on the rear LCD monitor (in addition to the top LCD panel); the camera settings information screen will also display Images Failed to Transfer when the WFT-E1/E1A is in use and a transmit error occurs
  • More ways to wake the camera up from an Auto Power Off snooze
  • Direct image transfer from the camera to a computer using the PTP protocol
  • A revamped software package that includes Digital Photo Professional (DPP) 2.1, EOS Utility 1.0 (a new image transfer, camera settings and camera control application), Image Browser 5.6 (Mac) and ZoomBrowser EX 5.6 (Windows); DPP adds user-settable noise reduction and support for RAW files from the Canon EOS D2000 and D6000
  • New and potentially useful direct printing capabilities (plus a dedicated direct print/image transfer button)
  • Slight body styling differences, beyond the changes necessitated by the larger rear LCD and new direct print/image transfer button

Read on for a more-detailed look at what's new in the Canon EOS 30D.

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