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Canon 30D Review

by Bob Atkins, 2006 (updated March 2011)

The Canon 30D is an upgrade of the Canon 20D. The two cameras have the same sensor (1.6x APS-C format, 8.2 MP) but the EOS 30D adds a number of new features. Noteworthy are a 2.5" LCD screen, spot metering, RGB histograms and an increased buffer size.

Here are the main features of the new Canon EOS 30D:

  • 8.2MP (*)
  • APS-C format (1.6x multiplier, 22.5 x 15mm) (*)
  • 2.5", 230,000 pixel LCD display
  • Buffer for 30 JPEGs or 11 RAW images
  • Selectable 3 or 5 frames/sec
  • 3.5% spot meter
  • Camera "wake up" time 0.15s
  • Shutter lag time 65ms (*)
  • Flash Sync at 1/250s (*)
  • ISO settings in 1/3 stops from 100-1600 and visible in viewfinder when changing
  • ISO 3200 selectable via CF (*)
  • Luminance and RGB Histograms
  • Option to disable image sharpening in JPEG mode
  • Picture Style modes like the EOS 5D
  • Tweaked AF algorithms, but does not have the extra 6 "invisible" AF zones of the EOS 5D
  • Direct Print button
  • WiFi connectivity when coupled with the Wireless File Transmitter WFT-E1A (*)
  • 9999 images per folder (vs. 100 on the 20D)
  • Compatible with BG-E2 vertical grip (*)
  • Street price $1399.99 ($1499.99 in kit with EF-S 18-55/3.5-5.6 lens)

(*) indicates that this feature is common to both the 30D and 20D

Where to Buy

You may be able to find a used Canon EOS 30D 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.

Externally the EOS 30D is almost identical to the EOS 20D, the only exterior difference being a dedicated "print" button and a larger LCD.

Canon 30D
Canon EOS 30D

What's in the Box

  • EOS 30D Body
  • Eyecup Eb
  • Neck Strap EW-100-DGR
  • Video Cable VC-100
  • USB Interface Cable IFC-400PCU
  • Battery Pack BP-511A
  • Battery Charger CG-580
  • EOS Digital Solution Disk
  • Printed Instruction Manual
  • EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens (included in kit version only, $1499.99)

Note that no memory card is supplied with the Canon 30D. It takes Compact Flash (CF) cards and I'd suggest that you get at least a 512MB card which should record about 130 images in large/fine JPEG mode or about 50 RAW images. A 1GB CF card would be better. The EOS 30D is pretty fast and can take advantage of faster cards, so I'd recommend a card with an 80x (or higher) speed rating to take full advantage of the camera's speed.


The full specifications of the 30D can be found on the Canon 30D Specifications page


The EOS 30D uses the same 9-point AF system that's used in the EOS 20D. I couldn't really detect any difference between the AF of the EOS 30D and EOS 20D in normal operation. Canon have said that "...with regard to AF precision, further fine tuning has been incorporated compared with the EOS 20D..", but it's not something that's obvious and my brief testing didn't reveal any significant difference.

Shutter and Flash Durability

The shutter of the EOS 30D is rated by Canon for 100,000 cycles. I think this is also the rating on the EOS 20D shutter, though it's hard to find that number in print. Canon also say they have taken steps to match the durability of the built in flash to the life of the shutter, which suggests that perhaps the flash lifetime may have been increased over that of the EOS 20D. Shutter lag time is specified at 65ms, the same as that of the EOS 20D.

Power Reduction

Through better power management Canon says there should be about a 10% increase in shooting capacity over the EOS 20D. Canon's own numbers predict that a fully charged battery should give 1,100 images at 68F with flash off, or 900 images at 32F. With 50% flash use these numbers are 750 frames at 68F or 600 frames at 32F.

Noise Reduction

The Canon 30D has an auto noise reduction function. It looks at the noise in images with 1-30 second exposure andonly applies the long exposure noise reduction algorithm if the camera thinks it's needed. Since noise reduction needs a second exposure of equal length, skipping this step can significantly speed up shooting when the noise reduction isn't needed.

The Direct Print Button

Though it might be useful for some, I'm not sure how many 30D owners will be printing directly from the camera. I don't think this is a feature that most EOS 20D owners were asking Canon to add! It would have been better if the button function could have been changed via a custom function, for example perhaps optionally selecting mirror lockup. Most direct printing functions can be accessed via the "set" button in the center of the rear command dial, so the real need for a dedicated "print" button seems questionable.

LCD Display

eos 30D

The LCD is now 2.5" (diagonal), the same size as the LCD of the EOS 5D. The larger LCD makes reading the menu items much easier and it's to see finer detail when reviewing images. It's also readable over a vertical and horizontal angle of about 170 degrees, a significantly wider viewing angle than that of the LCD on the EOS 20D. All in all it's very worthwhile improvement over the 1.8" LCD of the EOS 20D.

Image Samples

You can download Canon 30D full size image samples from the Canon website

NEXT - Part II - Timing, Image Noise and White Balance

Where to Buy

You may be able to find a used Canon EOS 30D 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.

All original text and images ?2006 Bob Atkins (www.bobatkins.com)

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