Digital Single-Lens Reflex (DSLR) cameras are becoming more and more accessible to the masses. Granted, DSLR cameras are still far from cheap, but with ever-increasing features thanks to very large scale integration circuitry, the feature-to-price ratio is becoming more and more attractive for amateurs and enthusiasts. Suddenly, dedicated photographers and students of photography can afford a DSLR more easily.
Canon, always a major player in the world of professional and semi-professional photography world, introduced their latest DSLR, the EOS 30D in February, 2006. The EOS 30D is marketed as the successor to the award-winning EOS 20D. In this review, we take a good look at the EOS 30D to see if it lives up to the success of its predecessor the EOS 20D.
The Canon EOS 30D is a sleek black package with physical dimensions of 5.7 x 4.2 x 2.9 inches, measured, of course, without the protruding lens and with the flash tucked away. Without the battery pack and lens attached, the EOS 30D body has a mass of only 700 grams. At the time of this review, these dimensions sit nicely in the middle of the spectrum of the pack of similar (price-wise and feature-wise) DSLRs from Nikon, Konica, Fujifilm, Olympus, and Pentax. Though lighter than other DSLRs, the Canon features a rugged magnesium alloy body frame and sturdy plastic exterior.
The EOS 30D’s LCD is a bright, TFT color display measuring 2.5 inches. It can display approximately 230,000 pixels, which is about 100% coverage with respect to the number of effective pixels.
The EOS 30D works with both EF and EF-S lenses and features an improved shutter (from the earlier EOS 20D). Canon claims the new shutter will last for about 100,000 cycles. The camera features a top-quality 8.2 (effective) megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor for high resolution images with excellent detail and color reproduction. The CMOS sensor integrates noise reduction circuitry for ultra-clean images even at high ISO settings and long exposures. The EOS 30D comes equipped with an RGB primary color filter and a 3-layer optical low pass filter for reducing “false colors” and chromatic aberrations. Finally, the brain of the EOS 30D is the DIGIC II Imaging Processor. This new advanced processor features faster processing performance and vastly improved color reproduction and razor sharp detail. The speedy DIGIC II boasts of a fast 5 frames-per-second continuous shooting speed, and a low speed mode of 3 frames-per-second.
There are six image composition modes available. For each individual mode, sharpness, contrast, color tone, and saturation are fully customizable. Users can tailor image quality settings as much as they want. The six modes are standard, portrait, landscape, neutral, faithful, and monochrome. Users can also save up to three custom profiles. The customizability of the EOS 30D does not stop there; there are also 12 shooting modes that are user-selectable.
Images can be saved in either JPEG or RAW formats with 7 selectable sizes and quality levels for both.
Advanced shooting and playback features of the EOS 30D include: ISO settings from ISO 100 to ISO 1600, expandable to ISO 3200. The camera can perform 1/3-stop ISO adjustment increments. The EOS 30D features single shot AE/AF lock for consecutive shots, eliminating the need to reset AE and AF settings between shots.
The EOS 30D features PictBridge support with enhanced options such as printing of up to 35 thumbnails (similar to sleeve prints for film negatives), index sheets, face brightening, adjustment of printing parameters, and a full range of print effects.
Operating system support includes both Macintosh and Windows systems. It uses a high speed USB 2.0 interface for transfering data to and from a computer and a video-out connector supporting both NTSC and PAL. It comes bundled with Canon EOS Digital Solution software, EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Mk II lens (only in the lens kit package), a rechargeable lithium ion battery pack, battery charger, neck strap, and video cable.
Pros and Cons
The Canon EOS 30D is a feature-filled and top-quality DSLR. Owners of its predecessor, the EOS 20D, may not find much in the way of new features to justify replacing their EOS 20Ds, but those looking to get into DSLRs will do very well to consider the EOS 30D.
The EOS 30D gets every aspect right. The 2.5-inch color LCD is bright and clear and makes reviewing shots a breeze. The controls of the EOS 30D are nicely laid out, and Canon tastefully did not go overboard with too many buttons and controls. The EOS 30D’s body is a solid package: the magnesium alloy core hints at sturdiness that would last long with adequate care, and the hard plastic outer shell feels tough and gives a nice handling feel.
On the performance aspect, the EOS 30D delivers quality and class in spades. A nifty feature is the ability to use EF and EF-S lenses in the EOS 30D without a change in the camera’s 1.6x focal length conversion ratio. The picture settings are extremely customizable and the auto mode is useful for less experienced and beginner-level photographers.
The EOS 30D boasts of excellent color saturation and richness. Pictures are not overly bright or sharpened; in fact, straight after shooting, images tend to be a bit soft, so using the built-in sharpening features of the EOS 30D is a great way to sharpen images. Low light handling is excellent. Very low noise is introduced into images, even at very high ISO settings. Purple fringing, a common problem with digital cameras, is very minimal. We attribute all these good things to the EOS 30D’s DIGIC II processor and APS-C sensor. The DIGIC II also gives way to the very useful continuous high speed shooting ability of the camera.
Expandability of the EOS 30D is what you would expect from top-level DSLRs. The EOS 30D is plenty expandable. We’ve already mentioned the ability to use two types of lenses. Another point of expandability is the ability to use an external flash and two ways to connect it.
The cons? We really can’t think of any.
Summary and Recommendations
When we got our hands on the EOS 30D and performed a few tests on it, we were blown away: Canon can definitely chalk another one up to success. The EOS 30D is a winner in every aspect.