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Canon EOS 20D Review

by Bob Atkins, 2004 (updated March 2011)


[The earlier "preview" of the EOS 20D has now moved here]

I've now had time to make a hands on evaluation of the Canon EOS 20D and to compare it with the Canon EOS 10D. Here's my take on it:

Where to Buy

You may be able to find a used Canon EOS 20D in Photo.net's Classified Ads section. Otherwise, check out Canon's newer Digital SLRs from our partners. Their prices are fair and you help to support photo.net.

Size

Perhaps the most obvious characteristic of the Canon 20D is how similar it looks to the 10D. It's very slightly smaller and very slightly lighter, but from a distance you'd be hard pressed to tell them apart! In actual fact the Canon 20D is about 3.6 ounces lighter then the 10D and the width, height and depth are 5.7, 2 and 3.5 mm smaller.

Controls

There are some minor control differences. For example the on/off switch on the 10D has become a three way switch on the 20D which also controls the operation of the rear QCD (quick control dial). It has three positions, off, on with QCD disables and on with QCD enabled. The button on the 10D which changed movement of the image in zoom playback from horizontal to vertical has been replaced by a small 8-way "joystick", which is a little more convenient to use.

Otherwise most of the camera and menu controls are essentially the same as a 10D and a 10D owner will feel quite at home with the 20D.

Timing

Probably the most obvious change to a 10D user will be the time it takes for the camera to "wake up" from standby mode or to "boot up" from the off state. On the 10D there's an obvious lag of around 2 seconds. On the 20D it's instant, or appears to be instant. Canon specs give a 0.2s startup time, but for practical use, it's instant. I don't sense any lag in actual use. This is a very nice change!

The Digic II chip also speeds up writing to the CF card and using the faster cards the 20D can write data about 4x faster then the 10D. While the 10D was somewhat limited by it's own maximum write speed, the 20D does benefit from the use of a fast CF card (such as the Sandisk Ultra II and Extreme series cards) and can speed things up if you do a lot of "machine gun" shooting and full the image buffer. If you tend to shoot single shots or short bursts, the in camera buffer will take care of things and you'll never run into limitations due to CF write speed.

If you use the USB connection to the camera, downloads are much faster with the Canon 20D vs. the 10D since the 20D uses USB 2.0 and the 10D uses USB 1.1.

Viewfinder

Looking through the viewfinder at the camera information display the only real change is that the +/- 2 stops scale is now marked in 1/3 stop increments rather than 1/2 stop increments (as the the top LCD). Both cameras can select 1/3 or 1/2 stop shutter speed and aperture changes though via a custom function.

Viewfinder size is the same but the Canon EOS 20D has a new "Precision Matte" screen which seems to make manual focusing a little easier.

The 20D has 9 focus points arranged in a diamond pattern, while the 10D has 7 points in a cross. The marked area of the individual AF sensors is smaller on the 20D than the 10D. Whether this accurately represents the actual size of the sensors I don't know. The AF zone selected can be set to light up in red on both cameras. My impression is that AF illumination is brighter in the 20D viewfinder than in the 10D viewfinder. The new 8-way joystick control can be used to select the focus point in some modes.

Shutter

The 20D now has a top shutter speed of 1/8000 and a flash sync speed of 1/250 (1/4000 and 1/200 in the 10D). The shutter (or at least the shutter sequence) is louder in the 20D than the 10D. This may be both a consequence of the new shutter (which uses stronger magnets) and the increased maximum shooting rate (5fps on the 20D, 3fps on the 10D). A faster shooting rate means the mirror also has to move faster, and a faster mirror carries more energy so it makes a louder noise when it stops! The difference in shutter noise is quite noticeable to someone used to the 10D. However it's not really any louder than a film camera like the EOS-3 once you take winding noise into account. It sounds loud because it's 6" from your ear of course!

Also, by using a semiconductor switch rather than a mechanical contact, the flash trigger voltage limit has been raised from around 6v on the 10D (and most other consumer EOS bodies) to 250v (as found on most of the EOS pro bodies).

Autofocus

According to Canon the AF system of the 20D is improved over that of the 10D. I don't really have any way to quantitatively measure this, but the AF on the 20D seems fast, accurate and positive. With the 10D and even with the 20D there are reports of people having problems with "back focus" (i.e. the camera focusing behind the subject). I saw no "back focus" problem with my 20D (but I never saw one with my EOS 10D either). Many of these reports turned out to be due to "user error", but actual focus problems have occured in a few cases and often seem to be linked to specific lenses. As I said, I've seen none, but maybe I'm just lucky!

Autofocus on the 20D also operates in one stop lower light than the 10D (-0.5ev vs +0.5ev).

The 20D has a new high-precision cross-type sensor in the center position. It provides full cross-type performance with maximum apertures as small as f/5.6, yet it achieves up to 3 times the standard focusing precision when used with EF lenses featuring maximum apertures larger than or equal to f/2.8. Previous designs either worked as a cross at f5.6 and faster, with normal precision (consumer cameras), or as a high precision cross at f2.8 but a normal precision linear sensor with slower lenses (pro cameras)

Sensor size and resolution

Probably the most obvious change from the point of view of camera specifications is the change from a 6.3 MP sensor in the EOS 10D to an 8.1 MP sensor in the 20D. This means that the maximum image size of 3072 x 2048 of the 10D has increased to 3504 x 2336 pixels in the 20D. What people really want to know is what does this translate to in practice.

Well, it's not a "night and day" difference. Casually viewing an 8x10 print you might not even notice it. However if you make a large print, or if you significantly crop an image (of if you view the image at 100% magnification on a monitor!) the higher resolution is more noticeable.

For the technically inclined, the plot below is of the System Response Function vs. Spatial Frequency. The System Response Function is basically the MTF of the sensor multiplied by the MTF of the lens. Resolution is given by the point at which the SRF drops below a low value, say around 0.15. The higher the SRF at a given spatial frequency, the higher the image contrast and the sharper it will look. As you can see the SRF is higher for the 20D, as would be expected. For the very technically inclined, the Nyquist limit for the 10D is around 65 cycles/mm, and for the 20D is around 75 cycles/mm. The Nyquist limit is the maximum theoretical resolution of the system. Response above the Nyquist limit is spurious data and may be due to aliasing or other artifacts.

Canon EOS 20D Review

For small prints the SRF at low spatial frequencies is the dominant factor in the perceived sharpness of the print. As you can see the SRF is very similar up to about 20 cycles/mm. This would suggest that 4x6 prints would look equally sharp. Only when looking at prints larger than 8x10 (or enlarged cropped images) would the higher SRF of the 20D really become noticeable.

The 10D data was taken with the default sharpness and contrast settings. The 20D data was taken using parameter set #2, which corresponds to the 10D default settings. The data for these plots was obtained using Norman Koren's Imatest software. I make no claims about the absolute accuracy of the data, so if someone else shows similar plots with slightly different numbers, that would not surprise me!

For the less technically inclined, comparison of real images is going to tell you a lot more than plots like the one above, so take a look at the following series of images.

Canon EOS 20D Review

Above are two shots of a lichen on a distant tree, shot with a Canon EF 500/4.5L at f5.6. The 10D image has been upsized by 15% to match the scale of the 20D image. I think you can see that the level of detail is very similar. The 20D image, if you look very closely, does have more detail, but this is a large magnification. The crops are only 214 pixels wide, so they represent sections of an image which is 16x wider.

Canon EOS 20D Review

Above is a shot of a page from a Canon lens brochure, taken with a Canon EF50/1.8 lens at f11. Again the 10D image has been upsized by 15% to match the scale of the 20D image. Again, the difference is small, but the 20D image does show a little more detail.

Noise

Despite the smaller pixels of the 20D, the noise levels have not increased over those of the 10D. In fact at high ISO settings, the 20D displays less noise than the 10D. Below is an extreme example. Noise is maximized at ISO 3200, in the red channel and at lower illumination levels. The 100% crops from the two shots below were taken at ISO 3200, of a red postage stamp and were underexposed by about a stop, then the histogram was stretched to bring up the brightness. This is about as cruel a test as you could devise to represent the most difficult shooting conditions.

Canon EOS
20D Review

As you can see, the 20D image is significantly better than the 10D image. Better resolution, less noise. Of course as I said, this is a very severe test. Below is a 100% crop of a second test shot at ISO 800 of a more neutral toned subject in higher illumination (above) and a crop from a part of the image in the shadows (below).

Canon EOS 20D Review

As you can see, there really isn't a significant difference here. Maybe a lab analysis of noise levels would show a difference, but from any practical viewpoint the noise level is essentially the same. Tests at ISO 400, 200 and 100 show lower and lower noise and very little difference between the 20D and 10D.

White Balance

Like the 10D the 20D has multiple white balance options: Auto, Sunny, Shady, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Flash, Custom and Kelvin Temperature. In general the white balance is pretty good in auto mode outdoors, but like the 10D and 300D, it's not so hot under tungsten light. For some reason all these Canon DSLRs have trouble under tungsten light in auto mode, and even in tungsten mode. Under fluorescent lighting they do much better whether in Auto or fluorescent mode. The samples below illustrate this.

Canon EOS 20D Review

The target was a Kodak gray card and the numbers represent the Red, Green and Blue levels respectively. All the numbers should be the same for a true neutral balance. As you can see, the 20D does OK under fluorescent light, but not under tungsten. Compare this with my previous test on the Canon Rebel XT and you'll see it seems to be a Canon "feature". Maybe the 30D will be better...

The Canon 20D does provide white balance bracketing and white balance fine tuning via menu options, so you do have the ability to change or work around the default settings if they're not working well for you. The other options are to use custom white balance, which does work well (you first shoot a neutral target, then use that as your lighting reference), or you can shoot in RAW mode and adjust white balance "after the fact" during RAW conversion.

Black and White

The 20D has the ability to record images in black and white and to simulate several filters, red, orange, yellow and green. You can also sepia tone the resulting B&W image. This feature would be useful if you wanted to make B&W prints directly from the camera, or, I guess, if you wanted to see what the B&W image looked like on the LCD. However shooting in color and later converting in an image editor gives you far more flexibility to decide which "filter" effect looks best, or even to define your own "filter" settings. Though I do work in B&W, I doubt I'll make much use of the in-camera B&W setting.

Flash

Canon EOS 20D Review

The built in flash on the 20D is about 1" higher than on the 10D so it should (in theory) generate less "red eye" and it should also better avoid getting shadows of the lens in the image when used with large diameter lenses with large diameter lens hoods.

I briefly tested the 20D with a 380EX speedlite and exposure and color balance seemed fine. I can't comment yet on the difference between E-TTL (10D) and E-TTL II (20D), but in the brief tests I did I didn't see any huge difference from the results with the 10D. The illuminator on the 380EX enabled autofocus in total darkness without a problem. The 20D body (like the 10D body) has no dedicted AF illuminator. In conditions where there isn't enough light for AF, the built in flash will strobe to provide illumination. In "green zone" and PIC modes the built in flash will pop up automatically. In the creative modes (M, Tv, Av, P etc.) the flash can be manually activated.

As mentioned earlier in this review, the 20D can support a flash trigger voltage up to 250v (vs. 6v on the 10D and 300D) due to the use of a semiconductor switch rather than depending on a mechanical contact.

Conclusion

The EOS 20D is a better camera than the EOS 10D. I like it a lot. The question is whether or not it's worth the cost for an EOS 10D owner to upgrade. I'd suggest 10D owners in such a position put a dollar value how much each of the following major features is worth to them.

  • Slightly higher image sharpness (8.2MP vs. 6.3MP)
  • Slightly lower noise levels at high ISO settings
  • Slightly better autofocus, more AF zones.
  • 1/8000s shutter and 1/250s sync (vs. 1/4000 and 1/200)
  • Instant start up (vs. 2s)
  • Ability to use EF-S lenses
  • ETTL-II capability
  • 5 fps vs. 3 fps
  • 29 frame JPEG buffer (vs. 9 frame)

If they add up to more than around $600, maybe it's worth upgrading. I'd say that the improvement in image quality alone would not be worth $600 to most users who don't make prints over 11x14". If some or all of the other new features are important, then maybe it is worth upgrading. Or you could wait another 18 months for the EOS 30D (no, that's not a rumor, just a guess!).

Right now I'd say that the Canon EOS 20D represents the "state of the art" in what might be called "prosumer" DSLRs, i.e. those selling in the region of $1500. If it meets your needs I can highly recommend it. If you're already shooting Canon, I think it's definately the "best bang for the buck" in the EOS Digital Line. It's $3000 cheaper than a 8.2MP 1D mark II and has just about the same image quality (maybe slightly lower) and it's $6500 less than the 16.7MP full frame 1Ds mark II. It's maybe $700 more than a Digital Rebel, but it's a much more capable camera. The only real competition would be an EOS 10D at a bargain price!

Where to Buy

You may be able to find a used Canon EOS 20D in Photo.net's Classified Ads section. Otherwise, check out Canon's newer Digital SLRs from our partners. Their prices are fair and you help to support photo.net.

Related Reviews

Canon 30D preview
Canon 20D vs. Canon 5D
Canon 5D review
Canon Rebel XT review
All Canon reviews

All original text and images ©2004 Bob Atkins.

Readers' Comments


Add a comment



David Vatovec , August 20, 2004; 04:40 A.M.

Noise at 1600 ISO equals that of the 10D at 400 ISO? Whoa, that`s interesting! Also the 1/250 s sync is very good. 23 frame buffer for largest Jpeg - that should make it 10 or something for RAW? Looks better then the first previews.

Tomek Gooseberry , August 20, 2004; 06:25 A.M.

Sounds like the DSLR I've been holding my breath for! -- can't wait for users' feedback, just to get some comforting reassurance before I finally take the plunge.

In the Wedding/Portrait Photography section of their press release, Canon quoted 2.7x larger max print format (in terms of area) than Bob has calculated; too bad they didn't specify resolution... Their low noise boast contradicts Bob's well-founded fears, so it remains to be seen how this claim is going to stand up to the scrutiny... Taking into account all the other enhancements, even if half of Canon's marketing spin turns out inflated, remaining genuine improvements would still amount to a sizable increment (re incremental improvement from 10D), e.g., the ability to fire a long burst @ 5 fps.

In any event, this "poor man's EOS-1D Mark II" looks very promising, especially when supplemented with a couple of new lenses; the combo should strike the right balance between quality/performance on one hand and weight/size and cost on the other.

Fergus Hammond , August 20, 2004; 08:04 A.M.

It is disappointing that the 20D's buffer is so small. It's over 20 images when using JPEG but only 6 when using raw. On a camera that takes five frames per second, that's not very good and makes the 20D much less appealing as a backup camera to the EOS-1D Mark II.

fh

Steven Lilly - St. John's, Canada , August 20, 2004; 10:40 A.M.

I was disapointed with the buffer size too. When I heard speculation that the buffer would hold ~25 jpegs I was hopefull. As I never use jpegs, it seems that I would actually have less buffer then on a 10D. I would have expected to at least keep the 9 frames. My guess is they didn't change the buffer size at all from the 10D. DigicII compresses and clears fast enough in jpeg mode to allow the extra shots. In raw the extra pixel count fills the buffer faster. The camera is still a big upgrade from my DRebel so I'll probably buy one. I just would have been more excited about it if the buffer was bigger.

Nick Wood , August 20, 2004; 12:48 P.M.

The other news that I picked up was that the 20D shares the same RAW file output as the 1D mark II and thus is also shipped with the DPP software - presumably this makes it less likely that Canon will make DPP backwardly compatible with the 10D and the D60 etc before it - shame!

Luke Chippindall , August 20, 2004; 02:00 P.M.

The lens additions are far more interesting to me than the new body. In particular the 10-22 mm lens, which really fills the wide angle gap that many switchers to the 300D were facing. I will be very interested to see the price of these new 'stand alone' lenses, particularly the 10-22mm, and to read about the performance of them. It is good to see Canon adding more options for consumer 1.6x digital SLR users. I hope the optics are OK !

gareth harper , August 20, 2004; 02:56 P.M.

Looks good. Shame it doesn't have the D1(2) sensor but that was probably hoping for too much, but means that if I take the digital plunge I have to budget for the 17-40f4L. Don't fancy the EF-S lenses one bit. Hope the sensors are still set fairly wide like my EOS33, please don't tell me they have narrowed them right in. As I'm in the UK I'll probably have to import it from the USA as the UK price will no doubt be silly. Come on Canon stop ripping us off!

Allen Fensome , August 20, 2004; 04:52 P.M.

I would suggest to anyone living in the UK to mail order from the European continent. I'm an English national now living in Germany and the prices here are generally between 30 and 50 percent cheaper than in Britain. Rip off Britain!

Can already see here - www.ac-foto.de - that the EOS20D is advertised for 1595 euros. No import tax from Germany as compared to the USA and almost every shop here will deal in English if you don't speak German.

This could even make an interesting article for the site - prices across Europe/America.

Bob Atkins , August 21, 2004; 01:05 A.M.

The new 10-22mm EF-S is ONLY compatible with the Digital Rebel and the 20D. WHY ??

This is fully explained in this article - http://www.bobatkins.com/photography/tutorials/efs-10d.html

In a nutshell, any lens that fits on a 10D can be fitted on ANY EOS camera, film or digital since they share the common EF mount. If you managed to put the 10-22 lens on a film camera (or a 1D digital), the mirror would hit the back of the lens. Canon just can't sell a lens that could damage 90% of the cameras it could be mounted on, even if it was OK on 10% (the 10D).

If you say "why not make it so the mirror DOESN'T hit the lens", you're missing the whole point of the EF-S lens, which is to get the lens closer to the sensor to improve optical performance for extremely short focal length lenses.

If Canon made a 12-24mm lens with full frame coverage, I'm pretty sure it would cost 2x to 3x as much as the Sigma. Are you sure you want that?

gareth harper , August 21, 2004; 04:03 P.M.

Well I'm very interested in this camera, but one thing is for sure if I purchase it I will not be buying any EF-S lenses. Why would I want to buy a lens I can't use on my film bodies or for that matter future DSLRs. I suspect that given time all DSLR's will have full frame sensors, Digital or EF-S lenses will possibly become and oddity from the past.

As for all Nikon lenses being compatible with all SLRs that isn't quite true. I believe some of the more recent image stabilised lenses will only be fully functional on certain newer bodies.

My biggest gripe about this camera is that the sensor was not made physically bigger. If I get one I will have lenses that will behave differently on depending on whether I stick them on my film or digital body. A move to a 1.3 factor or less would have got me really excited.

Ilkka Nissila , August 22, 2004; 06:47 A.M.

Nikon's DX lenses can be mounted on every F mount 35 mm film or digital body and they won't break the mirrors of any of these. So why the need to change mounts?

Edward Richards , August 22, 2004; 11:00 A.M.

The Nikon 12-22 is much more expensive than the Canon 10-22, with less range. Shortening the back focus distance allows a cheaper/wider lens, and should allow better performance at a given price point. If it does, even those of us that feel burned because the 10D cannot use these lenses will probably agree that it was worthwhile. I continue to be astounded with what the 1.6 sensor can do, limited only by the lack of a wide angle. Canon may have fixed this with the 10-22, removing the pressure for a full size sensor. Since Moore's law on the cost of transistors and computing power does not apply to physical slabs of silicon, it is not so clear that larger sensors are going to get cheaper in the same way that computers have. If they do, there is still no particular reason why 1.6 cannot co-exist - lenses are certainly not getting cheaper and smaller sensors could result in interesting lenses. Of course all of this assumes good auto focus because the view finders are so small and dim most of us over 25 cannot focus anything but telephotos manually on small sensor cameras.:-)

Now all we need are some ultra fast primes for 1.6 so we can use selective DOF.

gareth harper , August 22, 2004; 12:44 P.M.

Having the lens closer to the sensor as stated by Edward will improve it's performance. One of the advantages of rangefinders for example is you can get the lens really close to the film plane. Therefore it follows that the closer the lens is to the sensor the easier it becomes to make radical lenses.

Sensor prices will come down, and possibly quite hard soon(ish). The consumer market is not far away from being saturated. The pro's have good cameras and will mostly upgrade when they burn em out rather when something newer and better comes along. Nor will the consumer be in a hurry to dump his/hers 2004 5mp compact for next years 8mp compact wonder. At the moment the sensor plants can sell everything they produce, that might change. Remember what happened in the PC business a couple of years ago?

Lenses are considerably more complex and often a good bit optically better than they were ten or twenty years ago and much much cheaper.

I hope that viewfinder ain't as bad as you suggest Edward.

Jose Gil , August 22, 2004; 12:55 P.M.

"I suspect that given time all DSLR's will have full frame sensors, Digital or EF-S lenses will possibly become and oddity from the past."

Perhaps not. Chip manufacturing costs go down due to minuturization of the chips. That doesn't apply to a fixed sensor size, so costs probably won't go down much for the sensor. It looks like Canon has committed to the EF-S with APS-C sized sensors.

Previously, the only reason for a full frame sensor was to get the wide angle, but the EF-S pretty much takes care of that.

The images are said to be good to 16x24 prints. Most consumers don't ever print that large. So, why bother going full frame? Only reason I can think of is a negligable decrease in depth of field and less math to do ("so, 50mm in 35mm format divided by 1.6, equals 32mm...")

Randy Palmer , August 22, 2004; 03:27 P.M.

...and still no spot metering...

Patrick (Washington, DC) , August 23, 2004; 03:09 A.M.

seriously, what is the point of speculating over features/functions/perforance on this 'announcement'? why not wait until in-depth reviews with image samples and analysis are done, or better up test-drive the camera yourself?

just a though...

Chong Shi Hou , August 23, 2004; 10:21 A.M.

Glad that it's now 8.2MP \(^_^)/ and perhaps we shall next expect 35.8 x 23.8 mm sensor (like 1Ds) with this price range ? :p Nah, i must be dreaming

20D looks interesting, but perhaps i won't rush into buying one. Keep my cool and look for more reviews ... :p

Paul Harris , August 23, 2004; 01:08 P.M.

I suspect we won't see 'full format' sensors soon, certainly not on consumer cameras. Cameras such as this and the Nikon D70 are showing that it's not necessary for quality image purposes (even though larger sensors give higher quality, we're already well beyond 'good enough' for most people). And we should remember that 'full format' isn't a magical size handed down from above; it was a standard that was settled on, and there's no reason why we shouldn't have a different standard for a different technology.

Ilkka Nissila , August 23, 2004; 06:42 P.M.

Jim, a 10 mm lens on a Canon 20D has the same angle of view as a 12 mm on the Nikon, so one is not wider than the other. As for the quality, how would we know before testing. The Nikon lens is generally thought to be one of their top performers, while the Canon lens is meant for consumers, so it's not surprising if the Nikon is more expensive.

As for the usefulness of full-frame, the wide angle is really a non-issue since 14 mm things have been available for ever and now there are zooms. What is important is that a DSLR with a small sensor is next to impossible to focus due to the tiny viewfinder image. That's enough incentive for full-frames (which will become cheaper by a little every year).

Jon Austin , August 24, 2004; 12:33 P.M.

While it isn't "fair" to compare increases in sensor size / decreases in sensor cost to digital processors, where miniturization is the order of the day, I think it's logical to make the comparison to flat panel displays, where similar physical enlargement is the objective.

Six years ago, a slow, dim 14" flat panel with a narrow angle of view cost ~ $2,000; today, a big, bright, fast 21" display with a 170-degree viewing angle can be had for 1/2 that price. The most significant dimension in which the comparison breaks down is market opportunity, since the market for PC displays is significantly larger than for dSLRs.

I think that as the technology matures and as the market becomes more saturated, the camera makers will find ways to bring full-frame dSLRs down to the sub $2,000 price range, and even lower. After all, we've already seen dramatic reductions in the prices of dSLRs over the same time frame (last 5-6 years). Otherwise, what else do they have to offer? (Other than improved dynamic range.)

Manoj Ramanchira , August 24, 2004; 07:11 P.M.

Hey it deosn't have a spot-metering??Forget it man..I guess this is the equivalent version of elan 7 series..Only cosmetics featues, no real stuffs..

Val Simon , August 25, 2004; 10:07 A.M.

Hi,

When do you think can we expect Canon to put ECF to the digital SLR line? This would be a real improvement yet missing from digital, but now for a long time being in the analog line. It seems to be working for the market as Canon has two analog category levels using it, and not only prosumer (eos50/7) but also the semi-pro/pro eos5/3.

Ian Hobday , August 27, 2004; 04:06 A.M.

To those who think that sensor sizes will not go up with prices coming down:

You're wrong.

It will happen exactly as it has with the TFT industry. Ever see 12" notebook displays anymore? Or how about monochrome notebook displays? What about a massive 14" 800x600 desktop TFT? Didn't think so. TFT Flat Panels are getting larger and larger with higher quality images every year. And the prices just keep coming down.

CCDs in video cameras have been going up in quality but down in price for YEARS. CCD and CMOS sensors in still cameras are going to do the same thing.

Besides the cost of the sensor though, there are two additional problems -- battery use and processing power. More pixels means more processing power required to get decent FPS numbers. Both of these also cut battery life unless power use is reduced or better batteries are used. Neither of these are particularly difficult problems though.

The next generation of the 1D (the 1DM2 replacement) will definitely be full frame. If things continue as they are now, that will be in another couple of years at most. Following that prosumer (20D) and consumer (300D) cameras will move to 1.3 sensors. The following generation of these cameras will be full frame too.

If I had a dollar for every time I have heard someone say, "Such and such tech won't advance past this point" I'd never have to work another day.

(It's impossible to get more than 9600bps over a 2-wire copper phone line! Impossible I tell you! We'll never do it.)

(Hard disk drives will never drop below $1 per MEGABYTE. Impossible that they could be made so cheaply. Storage will never be so cheap.)

Funny how I have several useless 56,000bps modems around now and use 40Mbps ADSL as my primary net connection. And I paid less than $0.50 per GIGABYTE for my latest hard drive.

Folks, there is only one rule in the technology world: Never, never, NEVER say that something won't happen or is impossible.

Chris Carpenter , August 28, 2004; 01:49 A.M.

Period.

Tomas Tokarcik , August 28, 2004; 09:28 A.M.

I would like to know if this new Canon EOS 20D DSLR will ever set lower price for Canon EOS 300D rebel ... :( You know, Canon EOS 300D or even Nikon D70 are really expensive in Slovak republic ... :( Oh my god you guys from western europe or USA or CANADA are lucky guys... Wish I had better camera for snapping better photos in higher quality... :(

CS Chua , August 28, 2004; 10:09 A.M.

Can someone verify Michael Reichmann's of Luminous Landscape rant about the lack of a one button ISO setting. I have a 300D since the launch Sep last year and a 20D with 8mp would be a nice upgrade. I agreed with MR's comment of the convenience of a quick ISO change though, and have use this on the 300D extensively. Setting ISO is almost a reflex action when every I move from outdoors to indoors and vice-versa.

Just how many steps is it and what are the actual hand motions to change ISO on the 20D?

Y. Liu , August 29, 2004; 05:44 A.M.

The EF-S mount might become obsolete but so will DSLRs in general. What benefit will there be of a mirror when, if in a few years, a digicam can provide a great electronic viewfinder? An interchangable lens system the size of a rangefinder kit but with an EVF so you have the benefits of TTL framing would probably make obsolete the DSLR in general.

Ilkka Nissila , August 29, 2004; 07:31 A.M.

Y. Liu, what technology will your EVF be based on? I'm unaware of the existence of any technology which would allow it to be useful for focusing or choosing the exact time of exposure, in any price class. Please elaborate as I'm genuinely curious about your development.

Y. Liu , August 29, 2004; 06:23 P.M.

What I'm simply saying is that the DSLR that is based on 35mm film technology will itself be obsolete in a few years simply because it is a hybrid system done for compatibility reasons. It is probably not the best and most useful design for a digital camera. So why fret over non-full frame sensors and non-backward compatible lenses when lenses designed to work with a 35mm film camera with a mirror between the film plane and lens will themselves be anachronisms? Just use what's available now since there will probably be some major shifts in design going forward.

Maybe LCD based EVFs won't be able to display enough information for some uses, but they will either get good enough for most uses (just as a prosumer digital cannot compare with film on absolute quality, but it's good enough for most uses) or something like the following will be the norm for EVF:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/3647437.stm

Ilkka Nissila , August 30, 2004; 12:16 P.M.

The sensor size can be anything. The larger the sensor (given equal technology), the better the image quality. There is no intrinsic reason why 24x36 mm ins't a valid format in digital. In what way are current DSLRs "based on 35 mm technology?" They're not, most of them use smaller than 35 mm sensors due to economical reasons. There are some models with parts from 35 mm cameras but that is an issue unrelated to the sensor size itself. The EOS 20D has a new AF sensor so I don't think you'll find any parts in it shared with a 35 mm film camera. If you want to buy an overpriced and underperforming system with few lenses and accessories and just one available camera body, which looses dearly in image quality to the cheapest of Nikon's and Canon's offerings, just do it. I'm sure it will benefit someone. It's just curious how Olympus aficionados say cheap things to people who buy "lecagy" systems when in fact those "legacy" cameras and lenses give better image quality than that "advanced" and "original" Olympus.

Philippe Poussier , August 31, 2004; 09:13 A.M.

I must admit that I'm a bit disapointed by what Canon finally releases.

I had heard about a EOS3 body, 1.3x, 8mpix, maybe spot metering that definitely would fill the gap between Amateur and Pros but apart from 8mix nothing is at the rendez vous. I didn't had one in hand yet, but I suppose it will again have a very unconfortable tiny viewfinder and, despite it might be a stupid reason, I won't go for it because of that...

10D really needed to be updated, that's only what the 20D looks to be... not an additionnal digital SLR in the Canon's range.

Brian Tao , August 31, 2004; 04:09 P.M.

Philippe,

The 20D is in fact designed to be a 10D replacement, as evidenced by the shared sensor size, similar body styling and model numbering. So it's not really fair to say that one is disappointed that the 20D is not a digital EOS 3. Once you start hearing rumours about an EOS-3D, then you should start getting excited. ;-)

Kirk Darling , September 03, 2004; 03:19 P.M.

>>To those who think that sensor sizes will not go up with prices coming down:

You're wrong.

It will happen exactly as it has with the TFT industry. Ever see 12" notebook displays anymore? Or how about monochrome notebook displays? What about a massive 14" 800x600 desktop TFT? Didn't think so. TFT Flat Panels are getting larger and larger with higher quality images every year. And the prices just keep coming down. <<

Considering only one division's technology, this could be true, but corporate decisions don't consider only one division's technology.

Remember that within the corporation, all the divisions are competing for the same investors' yen. The question must be: Would driving down the costs of a 24x36mm sensor in cheaper DSLRs give Canon Corporation a bigger return on those investment yen than putting the same amount of money into a smarter business copy machine?

Without having actual sales figures, we really can't argue that Canon well sell enough junior 1Ds cameras to make a profit over the costs of producing it. Nor can we argue that there is a corporate need to do so, as long as they are already selling every small-sensor DSLR they can make (which they are). That's R&D money that the copier division can probably make a better argument for, especially considering that the business copier market is much more competitive than the DSLR market.

Who is Canon competing against in the 8mp-and-up DSLR market? Kodak's FrankenSigma? Please. Canon already owns the high-megapixel DSLR market, and unless Nikon is prepared to put out equivalents to the 20D, the 2D MkII, and the 1Ds all between Photokina and PMA, Canon will continue to dominate that area for a while.

Now, if we consider technology, we do have to consider all of it, not just the part that pleases us personally. Technology may (MAY!) drive down the costs of large sensors, but it's also driving UP the performance of small sensors (and as someone has already said, small sensors are already "good enough" for most people. In fact, a good many professionals have found the 10D sensor "good enough" that its other advantages caused them to abandon medium format).

This makes it considerably less clear that putting money into a cheap 24x36mm DSLR will pay off more than putting money in a copier that talks you through a paper jam and remembers what copy it was on when the jam occurred.

Ian Hobday , September 05, 2004; 02:09 A.M.

Remember that within the corporation, all the divisions are competing for the same investors' yen. The question must be: Would driving down the costs of a 24x36mm sensor in cheaper DSLRs give Canon Corporation a bigger return on those investment yen than putting the same amount of money into a smarter business copy machine?

Canon has already driven down the costs of DSLRs considerably. My D60 was 260,000yen. I can buy a 10D for 140,000yen right now, or a 20D for about 170,000. The 20D will fall in price over its life. Why has this happened? Because Canon has managed to reduce the cost of building the cameras.

The 1D came out at a street price of about US$5400. The 1DM2, a better camera in every way, arrived at a street price of around US$4500. Yes, the sensor is the same 1.3x. At 8mp Canon doesn't really need a larger sensor, and I doubt that the Digic 2 chip would be able to handle 8fps at (for example) 12mp.

Competition in the market will ensure that this march continues. Prices will fall. Quality will climb.

Yes, Canon's profits on DSLRs will decrese too -- but that is market economics. As technologies mature, profits fall. (TFTs, Hard Disks, CDR drives, DVDR drives, VCRs, DVD Players, Microwaves, Laser Printers, Scanners, Notebooks, Portable CD Players...)

Certainly this process will be measured in years from now, not months from now. But there is no doubt that sensor sizes will increase, image quality will increase, and prices will come down.

Ian
--

Scott Eaton , September 05, 2004; 04:44 P.M.

This camera has quirked my interest. My main study being it's ability to use AdobeRGB *and* camera presets at the same time, which was not possible with the 10D. I can now use the full available color space and not have to shoot in dull standard mode at the same time. That alone will save me a lot of post processing since I rarely shoot in RAW. Otherwise, it's an incremental improvement over the 10D.

As for the soap opera over the proprietary new EF-S lenses, I could care less. Canon and Nikon have made exellent strides with the new packaged zooms orientated for the dSLR market, but it doesn't change my preference for fixed primes like a 50mm or 28mm on my 10D that still continue to blow the new zooms out of the water.

Kirk Darling , September 05, 2004; 09:57 P.M.

>>Canon has already driven down the costs of DSLRs considerably. My D60 was 260,000yen. I can buy a 10D for 140,000yen right now, or a 20D for about 170,000. The 20D will fall in price over its life. Why has this happened? Because Canon has managed to reduce the cost of building the cameras.<<

The drive to reduce production costs will be a primary reason new models are produced. The fact that the 20D has 100 fewer parts than the 10D would certainly not have been a minor factor in Canon approving its production.

Vu Nguyen , September 06, 2004; 01:07 A.M.

Before anybody makes another comparison to the LCD analogy, let me please make a note that the TFT technology used to make flatpanel monitors is completely different than that used to make silicon dies for CMOS sensors (and other types of microchips). TFT's are fabricated from polymers, whereas microchips are first fabricated by growing a solid silicon ingot, which is sliced into large circular wafers, which are then cut into individual microchips (after the necessary circuit patterns are etched).

TFT's have gotten cheaper at a more accelerated pace because in addition to sheer volume of sales, the fabrication processes and technologies have improved considerably. In comparison, the silicon ingots used for microchips have been grown in the same manner since the 60's. The ingots are growing larger every few years (I think Intel is up to a 16" wafer now), but that rate of acceleration is much slower that Moore's Law can dictate, or the rate of TFT development.

So I won't say if full-frame D-SLR sensors will become more or less popular in the future, but I just wanted to point out that TFT's reasons for rapid growth may not be the same as that for digital sensor technology.

Jon Austin , September 08, 2004; 10:54 P.M.

As Vu has rightly observed, the technology and processes behind TFT manufacture is indeed quite different than that used for manufacturing digital camera sensors. But I think that's besides the point. We're not waiting for the industry to achieve some as yet unrealized technical breakthrough; we already have high-quality, full-frame sensors in the marketplace today, they're just expensive as hell to produce. No new form factor needs to be accomplished nor no new technology needs to be developed. The industry will -- as industries always have -- find ways to increase yields, reduce manufacturing costs and improve quality. That's one of the great things about the electronics industry.

G P , September 11, 2004; 05:40 P.M.

I'm thinking of switching from Nikon to Canon because the 20D is exactly what I've been waiting for before completely switching to digital. My favourite film camera is the Nikon F100 and the 20D has similar specs. I don't like the Nikon D100 largely because it's outdated and has F80 build quality, which is fine on a 300 to 500 quid camera but not on anything over a grand!

Somebody said earlier that there was no spot metering on the 20D - not true, it's there on the spec sheet.

Nick Wood , September 16, 2004; 06:51 P.M.

Ben - I hate to disappoint you but the term "spot" has been misused in the spec sheet that you have seen. The 20D has a 9% partial metering capability around the centre AF point only. True spot metering (I think) requires a 4% or less to qualify.

Its still a fine camera and I am wavering over whether to upgrade my 10D. I'm hoping to buy the 20D in the US and sell the 10D in the UK for about the same price!

G P , September 17, 2004; 06:29 P.M.

Nick, cheers I think you're probably right. I guess I'd be quite happy to use the 9% for spot metering. I wonder how much difference it really makes? I usually have my n90s set to spot metering and I think that a 9% spot would give me very similar results.

Oasis Bear aka Bart Aldrich , September 23, 2004; 10:47 P.M.

A quote from http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/

"The $999 Nikon D70 is the best digital camera under $3,000. It is superior to every other digital camera I've used under $3,000, and it even has some better features and cleaner images than some fringe $5,000 professional DSLRs I've tried. Sure, I'd rather have a Canon 1D-Mk II, but that's $4,500, has slower flash sync and weighs a ton and has more primitive battery system. Honestly I'd still prefer the D70 for its beter size and weight. Everyone's needs vary, and for me I prefer the D70 to everything else digital, including the bigger and slower syncing $3,200 D2H and $1,500 Canon 20D."

G P , September 24, 2004; 10:50 A.M.

I have used the D70, D100, 300D and 20D. Granted the D70 is a better camera than the 300D but given the variation in price their pretty much on a level. The 20D is far superior to both Nikon models in performance, image quality and build (build is similar to the F100!). I say this reluctantly as up until now I have been a dedicated Nikon user. In mine and many other peoples view, Nikon are one year behind Canon on the digital front - canon just has more digital expertise in house and a better product given a price point. Nikon seem to be on the back foot the whole time. For these reasons and with a long term view in mind I'm switching from Nikon to Canon.

Reading the various threads around the net, there are huge numbers of people coming to the same conclusions as I am! I hope Nikon catches up in time not to loose too many fans. It's a different playing field out there now and they have some serious work to do.

Also, what's with Nikon's ugly product styling of all their recent SLR's including F6, D70 etc?

Oasis Bear aka Bart Aldrich , September 24, 2004; 10:05 P.M.

From the "Digital Photography Review" website:

Overall conclusion

Shortly after Canon announced the EOS 300D (Digital Rebel) and it made its way into reviewers hands it was fairly clear that Canon were offering a formidable package at an excellent price which would be the mark for affordable digital SLR's of the future, with image quality almost identical to the EOS 10D and a sub-$1000 price it caused a significant ripple in the market. Now however it's clear that Nikon were well aware of this and had the D70 up their sleeve, a camera which is a significant step ahead of the EOS 300D in terms of build quality and feature set and a match, and in some instances better from an image quality point of view.

Nikon have achieved three major improvements with the D70 (compared to the competition / the D100): (1) They have improved the performance of the camera, with its instant on availability, very fast shutter release, superb continuous shooting and image processing speed and smart use of its buffer. (2) They have maintained build quality while still delivering a smaller and lighter camera, the D70 doesn't feel much less well built than the D100 but is lighter, it certainly feels much more like $1000 worth of camera than the EOS 300D could. (3) They have improved image sharpness and detail, while we could niggle about moiré ´he compromise between artifacts and sharpness is worth it, in many instances the D70 delivering more detail than our previous benchmark, the EOS 300D / EOS 10D CMOS sensor.

There's not much more for me to add other than I am very pleased to see Nikon stepping up with a quality camera which doesn't compromise on build quality, feature set or image quality and yet offers superb value for money. There's no risk involved in the D70's slightly higher price compared to the EOS 300D (Digital Rebel), it's absolutely worth it.

Highly Recommended

Chin Fan , September 26, 2004; 10:55 P.M.

It is very difficult to clean the image sensor on the 10D, I wonder if Canon has address this issue in the new DSLR?

Carlos Pimenta , September 27, 2004; 08:48 A.M.

hey Oasis Bear, this is a CANON review, NOT Nikon. If you don't want to discuss the camera beeing reviewed, then stop posting useless comments and move on. This is NOT a Canon x Nikon debate.

Carlos Pimenta , September 27, 2004; 08:52 A.M.

By the way, I have the 20d since it was first released by Canon. Had a 10D before. This camera not only tops the 10d in EVERYTHING, but it also brings some new and improved features as well. Feels better, it's faster (focus, buffer, writing times, start up time, etc., etc.) MUCH better image quality at high ISO's (I can shoot now at 400-800-1600 ....MUCH less noise than my 10d). The ISO 400 of the 20d compares to the ISO 100 of the 10d. Is THAT better. The image quality is not THAT noticeable when seeing on a computer monitor, but as soon as you print A3 and bigger prints ... you realize that there's an overall smoothness and sharpness in the 20d prints that the 10d prints lacks. At this sizes, you can see the details better with the 20d prints. It's probably the extra resolution and the better DIGIC II chip and processing. I'm very pleased with this camera and for me was worth the upgrade over the 10d.

Patrick Ryland , October 02, 2004; 02:59 P.M.

Just bought the 20D a couple of weeks ago and have found it to be a huge improvement over the 10D. The noise reduction at faster ISOs is very nice. Just one concern though, has anyone else noticed any focusing problems at long distances with a telephoto lens. I was shooting Bald Eagles in Homer, AK this weekend and had trouble getting sharp images when the subject was a few hundred feet away with my 100-400 mounted on a tripod. I just got the feeling that the focus points couldn't determine the exact distance. Anyways, I still feel that this camera has set the new standard for DSLRS, 8.2mp, 5fps etc...

George Agasandian , October 07, 2004; 03:46 A.M.

Oasis, are you keeping Nikon's shares?

Meryl Arbing , October 07, 2004; 01:56 P.M.

The problematic 1.0.4 patch has been withdrawn and a new 1.0.5 update has been released on the Canon update site.

Robert McGee , October 07, 2004; 04:05 P.M.

I just updated the firmware 1.0.5. Went flawless and I have tried out the camera switching lenses on the fly and it works well. I was on a political shoot a week ago and experienced the lock up and non writing to a card. Had the D60 though as back up which has always been a workhorse.

Meryl Arbing , October 08, 2004; 09:08 A.M.

Reports are surfacing about problems applying the 1.0.4 firmware patch to their 20d. Owners should read the discussion threads from dpReview before proceeding.

problems with 20d firmware update thread at DPreview

Jake Cole , October 09, 2004; 04:54 P.M.

I guess I'm alone but I think the most "important" new feature of the 20D is the new AF system. Even if you just use the center AF sensor you're miles ahead as it is more sensitive and actually uses an alternate configuration for f/2.8 and faster lenses. So you get the best performance with fast lenses and slower ones.

Over all the whole package of the 20D makes it a great camera, but without the new AF it would not be very exciting. All the other improvements make a nice properly balanced system. So the most important aspect of the 20D is that it has an overall good design with properly matched/balanced technology and controls.

The worst thing is the small sensor. It is clear EF-S is here for a while, that sucks for those whom already have a chosen set of EF lens based on a 35mm sensor size. It is not so bad for those with no existing lenses or those willing to buy more. I'm sure many on PN have carefully chosen their lens and focal length was an important element of that choice.

Timothy Peterson , October 13, 2004; 11:18 A.M.

A spot meter is critical for slide film certainly. However, I don't really understand the complaint on a digital camera. In situations where you would carefully spot meter your exposure, you have evaluative metering with instant histogram review to adjust compensation and get it exactly right. Besides, the longer you shoot with a given DSLR, the more you are able to anticipate how the camera's meter is likely to react to a given situation, and often adjust correctly the first time. Of course a spot meter would be very convenient and handy, but in my opinion, the absence of one is not a deal breaker nor particularly frustrating.

Chi Wang , October 13, 2004; 08:00 P.M.

First, a comment about spot metering. While the 20D does lack spot metering, can't one just zoom in to a particular point, meter, then zoom out to take the picture? Granted this takes more work on the part of the photographer, but if it works then not having spot metering isn't that big of a deal.

Second, as for the comments about the EF-S lens. It seems to me that EF-S is merely the next generation of lens from Canon that take advantage of new technology. It's almost impossible to keep new technologies compatible with old technology unless you want to take the hit in performance and the advantages of the new technology. Whereas, I applaud Canon for keeping old technology compatible with new technology. That is to say that older EF lens can still be used with these new cameras that use EF-S lens as well (such as the 20D).

Third, a personal note, I'm greatly in favor of the improved USB 2.0 port. Much better to zip pictures to my laptop instead of taking out the CF card and sticking it into a USB 2.0 or Firewire card reader.

Mantas Kalausis , October 26, 2004; 09:59 A.M.

After reading all of the posts of people talking about the full frame and minimised sensors, i wanted to say what i really think. I think sensor size is just a variable that WILL change over time. I think we will even see larger sensors than 'full frame' with division of 1.2x or so. There is nothing stoping them from doing so.

Josh Chapman , October 27, 2004; 02:09 P.M.

In regards to the above comment about sensors larger than the 35mm frame, while it could be nice it just wouldn't work: the image circle thrown by a 35mm lens won't cover any larger media.

David Seymour , October 28, 2004; 10:55 P.M.

One intriguing aspect of the EF-S lenses is that they employ a shorter focal length to produce the same final photo coverage as an 'equivalent' full-frame lens. Thus, the short end of a 17-85mm zoom produces very nearly the same final photo coverage on a 20D as that in a photo of the same subject from the same position using the short end of a 28-135mm zoom on a full-frame 35mm camera or digital equivalent. However, as depth of field depends on focal length and aperture but not on the physical size of the image circle of the lens, the shot taken on the 20D should show greater depth of field (assuming the same lens aperture was employed in both cases).

Regarding depth of field in landscape photography, a wish-list item for future autofocus digital SLRs is a custom function that automatically sets the hyperfocal distance for whatever focal length and aperture combination the zoom lens is set at. This would take away the uncertainty about whether infinity will be 'in focus' (i.e. within depth of field) in a wide-angle vertical which has distant subjects and near-distance foreground, and remove at least one of the problems caused by the lack of depth of field scales on modern zoom lenses. The 20D has a function which aims to ensure settings so that all of the focus points in the viewfinder will be within depth of field, but these don't cover the full viewfinder and can miss infinity, so it has to be used with care - e.g. use a low viewpoint when setting focus.

Mike Dodd , November 01, 2004; 08:13 A.M.

Have you noticed that with this camera/file format (at least with adobe1998) there is less of an issue with highlights burning out? White areas seem to remain white rather than going too far. Not done a comparative test but if true it would be a big selling point.

On the down side why on earth have they removed the IR remote switch that has been so useful ever since the eos100, clips onto the strap so never loose it and aways there when you need it, small, light, cheap. Of course you can now buy a remote release for the 20d costing 10x as much, is connected by wires, easy to forget to put in your bag, probably wires will twist and wear out but thats progress.

Overall the camera has a nice solid feel and you want to take pictures with it.

David Seymour , November 01, 2004; 05:03 P.M.

A note of caution re. mimicking spot metering by zooming in, locking exposure, then zooming out to take the photo (see Chi Wang, Oct 13 2004). Many modern zoom lenses (including some of Canon's) are variable aperture zooms, and this method won't work with such lenses as you have metered at a different aperture to the one you'll be taking the photo at. The technique will only work if you use a constant-aperture zoom (such as Canon's L series). On the other hand, Canon's partial metering option is quite useable in many cases where selective metering is required, you just have to remember the metering area isn't as narrow as typical spot metering.

Michael Tiemann , November 02, 2004; 06:09 A.M.

Well, I just contributed an answer that in my opinion, my shiny new 20D does not have trustworthy AF (compared with my EOS-1v and EOS-3). I was motivated to do the focus test after finding many more pictures out of focus than I expected. I'm wondering: is my unit likely defective, or does one have to pay the EOS-1D MkII tax in order to get an AF system that works when lenses are wide open?

Robert Ades , November 12, 2004; 01:19 A.M.

The only thing that's holding me back from unloading my Nikon D70 for the 20D is Nikon's fabulous, inexpensive wireless flash. I wasn't much of a flash shooter until I now, but I just love the lighting flexibility that wireless provides.

To get there with Canon, you have buy an accessory. If Nikon can build wireless capability into a $1,000 camera body, why can't Canon do the same on a $1,500 body?

---

Image Attachment: Robert.JPG

Daniel Erwin , November 14, 2004; 01:33 A.M.

I'm surprised there haven't been many comments about the 20D vs. the 1v since they're both at the same price point. I'm presently using a 1v and would love to "go digital" (so I could explore more without having to worry about film/developing plus having total control over the entire photographic process), but I'd miss (1) the huge, bright (by comparison) viewfinder (2) 45 point AF (3) 21 zone evaluative metering (4) superior weather sealing etc. I was on a photo shoot last summer and one of the "pros" I was with had a 10D. Wouldn't ya know, her card became full and locked the camera up and she missed a great shot that I got with my "old fashioned" film camera that was published in a national magazine (I had just seconds to crack off a couple of images and the opportunity was gone). Also, I've taken some great action shots (including one that ran full page in a national magazine recently) thanks to the 45 point AF system that allowed me to concentrate on composition and framing instead of fumbling around trying to manually select an AF point under extreme time pressure. I switched from Nikon last year because Canon has much better weatherpoofing in both pro bodies and lenses, and I saw that Canon had taken the lead in professional digital, but I'm still waiting to go digital..why? From my perspective (p/t time magazine and calendar photographer) I need to wring the maximum quality out of 35mm now. I'll make the switch when I can get the same image quality as my 1v + Velvia 50 + 70-200f/2.8L. At 8mp it's getting closer but I know several pros that didn't switch from that combo until the 1Ds came out (which is still way too expensive for me, and I imagine for most folks who don't have a need to use it f/t to make a living...ya gotta shoot alot of publishable digital images to pay for a 1Ds!). BTW another advantage of a "full frame" sensor is that it allows more pixels of the same size than will fit into an APS size sensor. It would be nice if the 20D had 1/500th flash synch for fill flash on bright days for shooting with the aperature wide open to blur out the background (something the lowely Nikon D70 is capable of). As far as spot metering goes, when I'm shooting off a tripod for calendar images a handheld spotmeter is far easier than any built-in spotmeter anyway, esp. if the area of interest is outside the generous 45 point "AF elipse".

Arthur Yeo , November 26, 2004; 07:15 P.M.

>Ilkka Nissila said:
The Nikon lens is generally thought to be one of their top performers, while the Canon lens is meant for consumers, so it's not surprising if the Nikon is more expensive.


If the Nikon 12-24mm is "top performer", I assume you are saying it is a professional lens. Wouldn't you think that at f/4.0, it is quite slow for a professional lens?

Andrew Robertson , November 26, 2004; 11:54 P.M.

David, that's not true at all. Take your 28-135 IS USM, set to f/5.6 in AV mode, and then meter away! You can zoom in and out all day and the exposure will be accurate.

Jakob Borg , November 27, 2004; 08:32 A.M.

Wouldn't you think that at f/4.0, it is quite slow for a professional lens?

At 12mm, hardly.

Beau Hooker , November 27, 2004; 11:10 A.M.

Just how many steps is it and what are the actual hand motions to chnge ISO on the 20D?

Two steps: 1) Press the Drive/ISO button on top of the camera; 2) Select the desired ISO with the Quick Control Dial. You're now ready to shoot again.

Juha Kivekas , November 29, 2004; 12:32 P.M.

Quite a lot of comments already and I did not read them all. I am sure someone has made the same observation as I. However, this is not very importnat - more like splitting hair.

The comparison shots between 10D and 20D are based on 15 % enlarged shots of 10D. We all knoww interpolation does not improve the outcome. I wonder what had happened if the 20D shot had been downscaled by a corresponding amount. Suddenly the 10D shot would look better. The wording is compare A with B or compare B with A.

However, there is grounds to do the comparison the way it was done because the-bigger-the-better effect. But, should the 15% interpolation be helped by some USM - because in the end only the outcome means. The USM would help the 10D shot more than the 20D on both the leaves shot and text shot.

Personally, I own a 10D and 1D MkII. Although the pixel count difference is not huge, the practical difference between these two is HUGE. Shooting sport the success ratio of 10D is only about 15% where as 1D MkII has a success ratio above 85%. The focus is the weak point of 10D. Double focus is most often needed. I hope the 20D is significantly better. The 1D MkII is simply S U P E R and I would be surprised if the 20D got even near with it in hard use! Anyway, I am sure it is good body.

Bob Cavigli , November 30, 2004; 05:52 P.M.

Wait for Canon 30D instead!! These digital cameras are using CMOS, meaning they are like buying a personal computer, so if you can wait it out, wait for Canon's new Digital SLR with wireless capability and yes, even video (in full JPEG) with a tilting 2" screen. I almost bought a Canon 20D a few days ago, but for an average of $1,600, no wireless capability, full JPEG and a tilting screen, it is just too costly and Canon is playing the same tune as DELL, meaning, shoving out products while holding more features to be released in less than 6 month to make you upgrade... Sounds like Microsoft now!!

Happy Holidays

Bob Atkins , November 30, 2004; 07:52 P.M.

I wonder what had happened if the 20D shot had been downscaled by a corresponding amount. Suddenly the 10D shot would look better.

Err...yes...but....

You could compare a drum scan of an 8x10 negative at 8000 dpi by downsizing it to the same size as a 10D image and they'd look pretty much the same - but what have you shown? You've shown that if you take a superior image and make it smaller, you get an inferior image.

You could take a 1Ds mark II image and downsize it to the size of a D30 image and they'd look pretty similar, but so what? Doesn't mean the image quality of the 1Ds mark II is the same as that of a D30.

henry c , December 01, 2004; 01:53 A.M.

Bob Cavigli, you might wait for the 50D, where a little machine lady will massage your back while you shoot.

20D is a great camera, for a great great price. It's amazing how many things people want in a camera. And when they got it, they complain about what more they wanted. Why do I want a tilt screen for the 20D. Tilt screen digi cams use a totally different system from DSLR and doesn't have a shutter to start with.

It's not costly. For 1,500 I can't think of a better camera. If you can find a better one, buy that other one please.

Nick Wood , December 03, 2004; 06:27 A.M.

On a completely different note, having just upgraded my trusty 10D to the 20D I can confirm that one other welcome enhancement is the near instant playback of images.

The 10D took a few seconds to progressively display large JPG or RAW image files on either on the rear screen or an a TV monitor. The 20D does this instantly. I'm not suggesting this is a major issue for the serious photographers out there as most viewing is done on prints or on the Web, but I for one occasionally show recent images on TV screens to friends and family. It has to be only recent images as the cameras don't seem to like displaying images that you put back on the CF cards whether they are modified or not... Nick

JuanCarlos Torres , December 04, 2004; 08:01 A.M.

The 20D is a great camera for wedding photographers because of its low noise, color fidelity and speed. It is not the Canon 1D Mark II but for the price it is the best out there.

Walter Farrell , December 09, 2004; 05:49 P.M.

When I try to use my SIGMA 28-200 DL Hyperzoom MACRO ASPHERICAL IF LENS with the EOS 20D I get the err99 message after I press the shutter release, and no images record. Does anybody else have this problem, and if so what other lenses are affected, and is there a way to fix it.

I bought my EOS 20D from pixmania.com for 1527euro delivered, which is about 460 to 500euro cheaper than the photo shops in Dublin, Ireland. Delivery takes 2 days from Paris, France and is handeled by DHL who have an online tracking system, so you can follow the progress of your order. Delivery charge is 13euro no matter how many items or the value of the order.

Dennis Ku , December 12, 2004; 01:37 A.M.

Just got my 20D yesterday. Good Lord, it's loud. I was shocked at just how noisy the shutter is. Doesn't take away from the good performance, though.

roumen dimitrov , December 14, 2004; 03:24 P.M.

I have read the preview and all the comments. Amazing! I've really enjoyed it, no doubt. However, I don't care if I would buy this camera or not. Simply, I don't buy it. Why? Well, I have held once 10D, I didn't like the feeling I had, ill-balanced, tired AF, I thought, wow, what a bad camera! But all folk was more than excited of it: the most perfect etc. camera, no critque at all. The 20D shpuld come to reveal all these shortcomings of 10D, now 20D ist the most perfect etc. camera. Why should I believe that? Well, I would maybe if I have read about some disadvantages here, but there are no any, mentioned. Frankly, who needs such reviews? That was the same with D30, D60, 10D, ... Someone has claimed that 20D has even worse finder than 10D (which is most probably true) and than everyone says, yes, but the finder is the least I would need.

Well, be more realistic! I have not seen a camera without disadvntages, and not talking about them is a pity.

Cedric Crouzet , December 15, 2004; 03:39 A.M.

I have done some comparative test with the sigma 15-30 EX on a tripod using the 10 D and 20 D body. My conclusion was : with the sigma lens F8 and F11 where the best apertures The other conclusion was : using PS downsized pictures of the 20 D to the size of the 10 D demonstrated a better resolution of the 20 D. The result was obvious. But (there is always a but) this difference only happen when the lens is good enough. When the optical performances are only average, you canno't see any difference between a 10 D and a 20 D.

Peter Howson , January 16, 2005; 01:04 P.M.

I have recently switched to the 20D from the 10D and thought I would share my perceptions. For the pruposes of this comment you should know that I am a working advertising photographer, I shoot using a mix of natural light and professional strobe (Dynalites if that matters), and I am shooting RAW exclusively:

Good:

Faster or bigger buffer - Whatever, I couldn't care less if the thing is writing faster or has a bigger buffer. With my 10Ds I was constantly having to change bodies while the damned things cleared the buffer. Big pain in the a** especially on a job with a client standing there. The 20D has yet to give me the stupid flashing bUSY thing. That's a big deal. You all can haggle over the technical specs, but I can tell you from a practical point of view it is an quantum leap forward.

Focusing Points - Genius! You can shift focusing points with the little joystick! This is something I didn't even know I wanted and within a month of getting the camera it has become something on which I rely heavily.

Switch on the Battery Grip - Much better. Nothing about the 10D was a more glaring example of laziness and design slacking off than the switch on the battery grip. At least once per shoot I would accidentally cut off the ability to shoot with the vertical button and then my client would watch me as i looked at the camera as though it had betrayed me.

Wake up from sleep - So much better! For all intents and purposes, instant.

Neutral:

Strobe Sync Warning! - The flash syncs at 1/250th only for on camera flash! Studio strobe syncs at 1/125th. This is important and casued some significant problems for me. Professionals take note! This was a real RTFM moment for me.

Mirror Noise - Really loud. I mean I've already gotten used to it but when I read it in the review I sort of thought "Hey! Yeah ...."

Bad: Different battery grip - I was not happy about spending another $160 on a battery grip but that was mitigated by the fixing of the switch noted above.

New RAW Format - Okay there are good parts to this like the integrated thumbnails (1 file per image) and the separate JPEG files but it's kind of rude that they don't provide a new filter for Photoshop. For a few seconds I thought I was going to have to shoot with my 10Ds even though I had just dropped $1700 (battery grip, extra battery and other stuff included in that) on a new camera. I found the pulug in on Adobe's web site but I felt like I should have been warned or something.

Black and White - At first I thought "Oh! Neat! so I tried it out. Problem is that when you pull it into Photoshop it turns out that the CR2 format still retains all of the color information and you end up with a color photograph even though that's not what you shot so you have to go back and convert it to black and white anyway. Of course the new RAW file plug in is still in Beta so they may change this but frankly I think it's hardly worth the trouble.

No Coffee Maker - I am still waiting for an all in one product that will make phone calls, do my taxes, take pictures, carry my equipment, provide me with a chair on set, make the perfect capuccino, weigh less than an ounce, make me look better, ...

Conclusion:

as a working professional, the file size and buffer alone were enough to warrant the upgrade. That being said, I did spend the first week with the camera going "Oh! That's so much better than it was on the 10D!" as I noticed little design upgrades.

Anand N. Vishwamitran , February 04, 2005; 12:02 A.M.

Anybody who buys the 20D (or any DSLR for that matter) should run an immediate test to check focussing issues. The copy that I purchased persistently back-focussed, and I had to return it in less than a week's time.

Build wise, the 20D body compares to the Elan 7.

The vertical grip BG-E2 is a cheap piece of plastic. It is a grip suited to the DRebel. not the 20D. The combination of 20D and BG-E2 makes for a bigger camera, but not necessarily a more solid one. It's shameful that Canon has the knowhow to make more solid grips (like the one with the EOS 3), but deliberately does not do so to squeeze every last penny.

0x 990000 , February 24, 2005; 08:39 P.M.

If you've just purchased a new Canon EOS 20D, you might also want to test for undesirable horizontal noise-patterns in high ISO shots. I ran into a problem with my 20D after about 2000 exposures where I took some shots at ISO 3200 and found striation (that people have perhaps mistakenly referred to as "banding") in the dimly lit areas of the image. more info here: http://990000.com/20D/noise_pattern/

Anand N. Vishwamitran , February 27, 2005; 03:45 P.M.

A couple of people asked me the same question about my focussing comments above.

Here's a great way to test focusing - take a pastic ruler with clearly marked inch graduations. Tilt it at 45 degrees against a wall or a stack of books.

Set up a tripod, and mount a fast lens (atleast f2.0) on your camera. Now focus on a specific inch marking (say 4'), after opening up your lens to the widest possible aperture. Shoot the biggest possible tif or jpg, but if youre really picky, stick with RAW.

Load the jpg into your monitor and peer at the image 100%. If you don't have focusing issues, inch mark 4' should be the one that is clearly in focus, and depth of field should fall away on either side of 4'.

You have focussing issues if the sharpest inch mark is not the one you thought you focussed on.

Jason Earl , March 05, 2005; 10:58 A.M.

Ok, everything for this camera seems well above average. There is no doubt that i will have this camera before the end of the month. But, through all of my searching i have failed to find the answer to one question; How many pictures can you take with that camera on your memory card at the highest resolution?

David Young , March 06, 2005; 01:55 A.M.

The number of images is dependent upon the size of your media and the image quality selected. With a 1.0GB CF card you can shoot the following: Large Fine (LF) = 239, RAW = 105, RAW + LF = 73. In addition, when you make your purchase make sure to purchase a high-speed CF card (e.g SanDisk Ultimate II, Extreme III, or Lexar 80x). They cost a little more but are worth it. You don't want to miss a critical shot becase you are waiting for your camera's buffer to dump.

Jason Earl , March 08, 2005; 11:40 P.M.

Does the 20D come with RAW file opener software? Or can Photoshop 7 open the Raw files? I'd sure hate to have to buy more software.

David Young , March 09, 2005; 02:44 A.M.

The D20 comes with Canon's Digital Photo Professional 1.5 that is a basic *.CR2 editing and conversion tool (*.CR2 is the new Canon RAW file ext). Both Photoshop CS and Jasc Paint Shop Pro 9 have an add-in or upgrade that is available to support *.CR2 files. I am not aware of a *.CR2 conversion tool for older versions of Photoshop. My wife and I have been shooting special events and weddings exclusively in RAW since we upgraded to our D20's and the results are stunning. You will need a lot of computing power and storage to effectively manipulate and manage these large images. If you are serious about digital photography, you should start learning about color management as well. The book that Bob Atkins just reviewed would be a great place to start. We have found that digital is actually more challenging, since you have control over more variables in both pre and post exposure.

Ben Rosengart , March 18, 2005; 07:48 P.M.

The 20D is my first DSLR. So I can't compare it to the 10D, which seems to be everyone's favorite pastime.

It's a fast, responsive machine, even in low available light. The image quality is delicious (especially since I figured out that I had to sharpen the heck out of high-detail images). The difference in responsiveness from an all-in-one smaller-sensor camera at half the price is amazing.

The battery lasts a good long time if you eschew the internal flash.

My only complaint about the 20D is that Canon is still trapped in a film mindset w/r/t ISO. They should make a "composition priority" mode that lets the user set aperture and shutter speed, and have the ISO set automatically for the metered exposure.

Canon's not the only manufacturer with this blind spot, and I'm not bashing them.

Jason Earl , March 21, 2005; 12:08 P.M.

This camera is absolutely amazing. My product shots look great, I don't have to develop my film and I am adopting photography as more of a hobby than just a job related task.

I got the 1GB card in and got an amazing 230 JPEG shots. Just hold down the button and fire away. I actually showed the RAW file prints to a few pro photographers I've worked with and had to keep this camera clear of the drool. Canon really did a number with this baby. 11x17 300dpi prints, all the functionality of the big hitters and the ability to use lenses that the 1D can't and from what I hear not as heavy. The only complaint I have is; Canon put their most uncomfortable and annoying strap on this camera. Maybe they can offer kits with strap options in the future (LOL).

Ben Rosengart , March 21, 2005; 02:43 P.M.

I bought an aftermarket strap as well. Not only is it more comfortable, it also doesn't have Canon Digital emblazoned on it in screaming large letters. A little black tape over the Canon and "EOS-20D" logos, and I'm back to being brand-free, and hopefully a slightly less conspicuous target for muggers.

Jacek Pokrzywa , April 18, 2005; 11:55 A.M.

Costco.com has an outstanding price on 20D (+with EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6): $1,419 - $100 rebate from canon=$1,319 (+S&H)

Robert Hall , June 16, 2005; 08:33 A.M.

Camera raw is absolutely fabulous. This camera has a lot of control, itself. Camera Raw is a must for any serious photographer.

Harry Kancyr , June 16, 2005; 05:04 P.M.

Great camera, frame seems oddly long, maybe thats where the extra pixels come from. Fast, fast, fast. Everyone I let use it is impressed by the speed. Get 2 Gig 80x cards, shoot raw + jpegs, have plenty of hard drive space on your computer, use Raw Shooter and you will notice that nirvana is very close. Battery life is phenomenal, my previous digital cameras (3)where all Coolpix's which were not too good on batteries. I can't imagine ever needing the battery grip. I leave mine on all the time, ready for action at a touch of the release. Oh and don't forget a sensor cleaner, that will get you the rest of the way to nirvana

Jason Earl , August 24, 2005; 09:15 A.M.

--Oh and don't forget a sensor cleaner, that will get you the rest of the way to nirvana.--

This problem almost took me out of business. It took me 5 weeks to get the nerve up to touch my sensor shield with anything. I found that the Visibledust.com product works really well. After 5 cleanings and a chamber clean to prevent static, I havent had any problem with poke-a-dot pictures. Blue skies never looked so good with this camera at its best. Been 2 weeks since cleaning and I still drop my jaw with how clean it is. I dont know if camera cleaning services have a method of de-staticing the camera chamber after cleaning. I've checked with a few people who have sent there cameras off to be cleaned and then find dust only a week later. IMHO, if you don't do something to prevent static build up your going to have this problem more often.


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