I was rather late in going digital, as it wasn't until 2003 that I found a D-SLR that met both my photo needs and my budget. That camera—a Canon EOS 10D—still serves me well as a hiking companion, or anytime I don't want to risk my "good" camera, an EOS 20D. The 20D represented a quantum leap in performance and image quality over the 10D, so it was with great eagerness that I awaited arrival of the 20D's successor, the EOS 30D.
The 30D uses the same 8.2-megapixel Canon-produced CMOS image sensor, the same excellent nine-point AF system, the same excellent 35-zone metering system and the same excellent DIGIC II Imaging Processor as the 20D, so it's not startling that image quality and AF performance are pretty much the same as those of the 20D: excellent!
But the new camera improves on the 20D in a number of areas, my favorite being the 230,000-pixel, 2.5-inch LCD monitor. My biggest frustration with the 20D was that I couldn't read type on its little 1.8-inch monitor without my reading glasses. The 92% increase in viewing area provided by the 30D's monitor eliminates that problem.
Another handy new feature is 3.5% spot metering to complement the 35-zone evaluative, 9% partial, and center-weighted average metering of the 20D. It's nice to be able to meter a specific part of a subject or scene when desired. The spot metering, coupled with the 30D's ability to set ISOs in 1/3-step increments instead of full steps, lends a new measure of control over image quality. When changing the ISO, it now displays in the viewfinder as well as on the external LCD panel, another handy improvement.
My favorite feature of the 20D was its quick 0.2-second startup/wake-up time (a huge improvement over the 10D's glacial 2.2-second delay). The 30D further improves on that, decreasing the wait to just 0.15 seconds—quicker wake-up than even the high-speed EOS-1D Mark II n pro action camera.
Additional 30D improvements include a shutter rated for 100,000 cycles (up from 50,000 for the 20D), an automatic noise-reduction mode, a continuous-low advance rate of 3 fps (plus the 5 fps rate of the 20D), direct printing and downloading with the press of a button, and a slightly more stylish design than the 20D (although dimensions remain the same).
Carried over from the recently introduced EOS 5D pro D-SLR are six Picture Style settings, which let you choose among Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral, Faithful and Monochrome, or one of three user-defined settings—a quick way to control sharpening, contrast, saturation and color tone. The presets are like choosing a specific film for a specific situation; the user-defined settings let you "design" your own custom film. You can change the Picture Style after-the-fact, too, if you shoot RAW images.
Oh, one more welcome feature is that the EOS 30D sells for $1,399, $100 less than the 20D when it came out. Contact: Canon, (800) OK-CANON, www.usa.canon.com.
Specs Of Note • Shutter Speeds: 30 to 1/8000 sec., and Bulb • Flash Sync: Up to 1/250 sec. • Size: 5.7x4.2x2.9 inches • Weight: 24.7 ounces
1 Amazingly quick 0.15-second startup time 2 Shutter rated up to 100,000 cycles 3 Excellent image quality, even at higher ISOs 4 Versatile Picture Style settings 5 2.5-inch, wide-angle LCD monitor