If it ain't broke, don't fix it -- that seems to be Canon's approach to its EOS 30D, the follow-up to its perennial favourite, the EOS 20D. Aside from a few performance tweaks, the Canon EOS 30D is the same camera as its predecessor. (For complete details of the 20D and the 30D, read our extensive EOS 20D review. In this piece, we mainly address the enhancements that differentiate the 30D.)
It has the same well-balanced, magnesium-alloy body with its intelligently laid-out controls, an almost identical set of pro-level, extremely customisable features, and roughly the same, excellent performance. Also, thanks to the identical 8-megapixel CMOS sensor and image-processing system, it yields the same superb photos, especially at high-ISO sensitivity settings.
Among the few key enhancements to the 30D, Canon has upped the number of sequential frames that you can capture in continuous-shooting mode to 30 JPEG or 11 raw shots, from 23 or 6 respectively. The 5fps rate remains, however. In practice, it typically delivered 14 raw shots until the buffer slowed it down, as well as essentially an unlimited number of highest-quality JPEG shots, albeit at a clip of 3.5fps. Generally, unless you're shooting very fast action such as motor racing, that kind of burst-shooting performance should suffice.
Additionally, the 30D now has a real spot meter, though the 3.5 per cent metering circle isn't quite as tight as other models' 2 per cent. Though that might sound like a quibble, it means you won't see as much of a difference between the 30D's 9 per cent partial metering mode and the spot meter as you would between other cameras' metering modes. Canon has also added the ability to set ISO sensitivity in 1/3-stop increments -- ironically, that would be more valuable if the 30D's high-ISO performance were worse. It does help, though, when you need more exposure latitude for very fine control over your depth of field.
The larger, 64mm (2.5-inch) LCD has a wider viewing angle than that of the 46mm model on the 20D, which always comes in handy for reviewing your shots with onlookers. And Canon's Picture Styles are a good way of organising the myriad custom settings -- sharpness, tone, saturation and contrast -- that the camera has always allowed you to control. Finally, Canon rates the shutter durability on this model for as much as 100,000 cycles. We didn't test this claim, for obvious reasons.
There are a few aspects of the 30D that Canon hasn't changed from the 20D, but that could have used an update. The battery didn't last for the length of one of our shooting sessions, or about 250 photos. The lens still casts a shadow when using the onboard flash at wide-angle focal lengths with some lenses. And the viewfinder still shows only 95 per cent of the scene. Nonetheless, it remains the top-notch model that the 20D was.
If you don't need the better continuous-shooting performance, spot metering, or the larger LCD, you might as well save about £200 and buy a 20D while you still can.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
||Raw shot-to-shot time||
||Typical shot-to-shot time||
||Shutter lag (dim light)||
||Time to first shot||
||Shutter lag (typical)|
||Typical continuous-shooting speed|
Additional editing by Nick Hide