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Testing / Performance
*This Canon digital camera is loaded with several different color sets, which Canon calls Picture Styles. Canon likens these settings to choosing a type of film. For our color testing we used the Faithful picture style to snap shots of the GretagMacbeth color chart. The chart is composed of 24 tiles that depict ideal colors and is accepted by much of the imaging industry. We uploaded the Canon EOS 30D’s images of the chart into Imatest Imaging Software, which analyzes the accuracy of the colors.
Below is the GretagMacbeth color chart, which has been modified in Imatest to show the 30D’s depicted colors in the outer square of each tile, and the ideal color in the vertical rectangle. The inner square shows the ideal color as corrected by Imatest for luminance.
The next graphic shows the same information but in a more linear manner. The squares represent the ideal colors from the GretagMacbeth chart and the circles represent the colors produced by the Canon EOS 30D. The lines connecting the two shapes represent the degree of error.
As seen in the chart above, there is no single color that stands out as a misfit in the set. Colors are almost perfectly saturated at 97.3 percent, and the accuracy shows with only a 5.53 mean color error. Overall, the Canon EOS 30D performed extremely well during color testing. It earned an overall color score of 8.99, just a touch under the Canon EOS 5D’s score of 9.0.
**Still Life Scene **
We always post an image of our winsome, evocative still-life scene. The 30D's rendition is below.
Click on the image above to view the full resolution version.](https://www.reviewed.com/cameras/viewer.php?picture=30D-StillLifeLG.jpg)
*Equipped with its 8.2-megapixel CMOS sensor, the Canon EOS 30D should perform on par with the EOS 20D it replaces. We tested its resolution and sharpness by shooting several frames of an industry standard resolution chart and uploading them into Imatest software. We took pictures in two Picture Style modes because of their differences in sharpening. The Faithful mode does not utilize any in-camera sharpening, while the Standard mode sharpens pictures noticeably within the camera. For the tests, we used a Canon 24-105L USM lens.
*Click on the thumbnails above to view the full resolution files *
The sharpest shot in the Faithful mode came from an exposure that used a 47mm focal length and an aperture of f/9. Its colors may have been accurate, but its resolution isn’t stunning. The Faithful mode returned 897.5 line widths per picture height (lw/ph) vertically. Line widths per picture height is the theoretical measurement of how many alternating black and white lines could fit across the 30D’s frame. The camera under-sharpened by 16.2 percent vertically and 17.8 percent horizontally. Across the horizontal dimension, the Faithful mode resolved 872.7 lw/ph. While these numbers are low, the setting is included for those who like to manually process their files after capture. For these users, there will be a good deal of detail remaining to uncover.
The Standard mode used similar exposure settings of 50mm and f/8. Imatest determined that there were 1818 lw/ph vertically and 4.18 percent over-sharpening in that axis. Horizontally, the software detected 1867 lw/ph and 3.14 percent over-sharpening.
Overall, the Canon EOS 30D earned a respectable score of 5.23 for its results and offers enough control for users to tailor the camera to their desired workflow.
Noise – Auto ISO* (4.63)
*Photographers using the Canon EOS 30D are more likely to manually adjust the ISO sensitivity, but there is an automatic counterpart. The 30D returned an overall auto ISO noise score of 4.63. The camera produced about as much noise as was found at the manual ISO 400 setting. While this is okay, there was much less noise visible when the sensitivity was manually adjusted.
Noise – Manual ISO* (11.64)
*We tested the noise levels at each of the camera’s ISO settings and plugged them into the chart shown below. It shows the ISO setting on the horizontal axis and the noise level on the vertical axis.
The incline is steady with no major blips in performance. The Nikon D200 has less noise in the ISO sensitivities below 800. However, the Canon EOS 30D’s incline plateaus a bit where the Nikon D200’s takes off. The Canon 30D performs much better at the ISO settings above 800. Overall, the 30D performs very well and thus earns itself an 11.64 overall manual ISO noise score.
The 30D's overall noise performance resembles that of the full-frame, $3300 Canon EOS 5D – a camera which did very well in this area. As with the 5D, we tested the 30D in Faithful and Standard picture style. On the 30D, Faithful did better at higher ISOs up to 1250, while Standard took the honors at ISOs under 250, and at 1600. The results were similar on the 5D.
Low Light Performance* (7.75)
*While the previous tests show the camera’s performance in optimal lighting conditions, this next test challenges the 30D with low light. We tested it in four decreasing light levels to roughly determine the limits of the image sensor. The first test was done at 60 lux, which is about the light emitted from a reading lamp. The second test was performed under 30 lux of lighting, which is approximately the light that comes from an old bulb in the basement. For the third test, we used 15 lux which is about 5 candles. The last test was done under 5 lux, equivalent to 1 or 2 candles. Because of the 30D’s high ISO sensitivities, it can shoot under these dim conditions without the aid of the flash.
In all digital cameras, the noise levels increase as the shutter remains open. The Canon EOS 30D performed very well though, producing just slightly more noise than the EOS 5D, and far less noise than the Nikon D200 in timed exposures. The 30D's strong low light performance (long exposures and high ISO), stands as a testament to Canon's nearly two years old technology and still holds a slight edge over the largely superior D200.
Dynamic Range* (8.0)
*The 30D scored very well in our dynamic range test, essentially matching the performance of the Canon EOS 5D. We test dynamic range by photographing a calibrated test target, whose lightest area is more than 13 stops brighter than its darkest and analyzing the image with Imatest software. Imatest measures how many stops the image shows distinctly at various quality levels. We report the High Quality level, which includes only steps that the camera shows with less than 1/10 of a stop of noise, and Low Quality, which includes steps with up to a whole stop. Though the test reports the number of stops detected, it's important to note that the testing setup is designed to show the maximum range possible for a given camera and the results are meant to compare one camera or ISO setting with another. It is very unlikely that an image shot of a typical, natural scene would achieve these levels of dynamic range.
Most cameras we have tested show a significant decline in dynamic range as ISO increases: the better the camera, the smaller the decline. The 30D has unusually steady performance into high ISO ranges. At Low Quality, its range at ISO 1000 is only one stop less than its range at ISO 100. At High Quality, it loses less than 1 1/2 stops over the same range. It's only at 1600 and 3200 that big drops in range occur.
Canon EOS 30D Dynamic Range - ISO 100
Canon EOS 30D Dynamic Range - ISO 400*
Canon EOS 30D Dynamic Range - ISO 1600*
**Speed / Timing
***Start-up to First Shot (9.69)
*The 30D went from turned off to getting off a shot in 0.31 of a second, which is a long time for a DSLR. We attribute most of the problem to the stiff power switch rather than the internal electronics. In use, it would be hard to get a shot even this quickly, because the user would have to move their right hand from the bottom of the camera’s backup to the hand grip. Oddly, turning on the 30D is a two-handed operation.
*Shot to Shot Time (9.81)
*One could almost set a clock by the 30D’s bursts. Their speed closely matches Canon’s promise of 5 frames a second; the 30D turned in 25 shots in 5.02 seconds.
*Shutter to Shot Time (9.01)
*Little time elapses from pressure on the 30Ds shuttle release to an actual exposure.
With the L Series 24-120 zoom, the 30D focused and shot in as little as 0.05 seconds. When we prefocused, the delay was simply too brief for our testing methods to measure.
*The Canon EOS 30D looks more like the EOS 5D and even the top-of-the-line EOS 1Ds Mark II than the 20D did. However, the change is a matter of smoothed contours alone – not a single control has moved between the 20D and 30D. The yawning EOS lens mount still dominates the front of the 30D, and the flash popup button, lens bayonet release, and depth-of-field preview remain on the right of the mount. While the bayonet release is a very large button, which makes it easy to swap lenses in a hurry, the two other buttons are small.
*The 2.5-inch LCD dominates the back of the 30D. It's on the left side of the back, under the optical viewfinder. The viewfinder has a wide rubber eye cup and a small diopter dial at its upper right. A row of buttons wrap around the left side of the LCD: the print/download button, the menu button, the information button, the jump button, the playback button and, set away a little, the trash button.
Left Side* (8.0)
*A rubber flap on the 30D’s left side covers the USB 2.0 port, A/V port, and PC sync terminal. The neck strap lug is wide and at the top of the camera. It balances well with smaller lenses.
Right Side* (8.0)
*The door covering the Compact Flash card slot takes up most of the right side of the 30D. When it's closed, it rests flush against the side of the camera and doesn't affect the comfort of the grip. The door will open after it is slid back about a quarter inch, but it does not have a positive latch as the top-of-the-line Canons do. In general, latches are more durable and less likely to open accidentally, but the 30D's sliding arrangement seems pretty robust.
On top of the 30D are a mode dial at the far right, a hot shoe on the viewfinder hump, and, as on the 20D, a pop-up flash. The 30D's mode dial includes scene modes to help beginners shoot portraits, landscapes, sports, and so on. A button to the right of the hump lights the monochrome LCD screen. Nearby, other control reside to enable users to adjust autofocus and white balance, drive mode and ISO, and metering pattern and flash exposure compensation.
*The bottom of the 30D has the battery compartment cover under the handgrip and the tripod socket under the lens axis. A small latch locks the battery cover closed.
*Although the 30D’s optical system is otherwise identical to the 20D’s, Canon upgraded to the Precision Matte focusing screen it uses in the 5D. Precision Matte is supposed to make manual focus easier by making the image "snap" more positively in and out of focus. Although the screen is pretty bright, we found it easy to focus the 24-105, f/4 L series lens we were provided for testing. The viewfinder displays ISO information when the rating is being changed, information that was missing from the 20D's viewfinder.
The 30D's viewfinder is much less accurate than the 5D's. It does provide a good view of the screen - it’s not hard to see the corners of the frame, although they look a little dimmer than the center - and Canon says it covers 95 percent of the image. We don't have a means of measuring how accurate that number is, but we do know that the image isn't centered in the 30D we tested. Our camera cropped more off the left and top than off the right and bottom, as illustrated by our test shot. All the white around the image is the cropped area; we added the thick black border for clarity.
LCD Screen* (8.0)
*At 2.5 inches and 230,000 pixels, twice the area of the 1.8-inch unit on the 20D, the LCD screen is one of the 30D’s most obvious improvements. Like the LCD on the 5D, however, it's not bright enough for outdoor use. It's easy enough to say that no LCD looks great in sunlight, but this and other Canon displays are particularly dark. It's hard to make any use of them in bright light.
The 30D also has a monochrome LCD on its upper deck. That display shows shooting information, including exposure settings, white balance, metering pattern, ISO, battery status, frames shot and frames available, burst mode, autofocus mode, self-timer, exposure compensation, file format and quality, red-eye reduction, flash compensation, white balance correction, custom function, and whether the camera will beep. The display is large and well laid out, helping convey essential shooting information without feeling overly crowded.
*The 30D has a pop-up flash and a dedicated hot shoe. According to Canon, the pop-up flash is wide enough for 17mm lenses and has a guide number of 43 in feet at ISO 100. We could not test with a 17mm lens, but with the 24mm, the exposure is even, corner to corner. The flash delivered proper exposure at f/4 1/3 at 10 feet – the result the guide number calls for.
While the 30D offers a range of flash sync options, they are scattered through the camera's menus. Red-eye reduction is in the shooting menu. Rear-curtain sync is a custom function. Another custom function allows slow-shutter sync. We'd much prefer having all the flash sync options together and easier to access.
Lens Mount* (9.0)
*Canon's unsurpassed assortment of EF lenses, which are designed for Canon's film cameras as well as their digital EOS line, work on this camera. The 30D also works with the lower-priced EF-S series, which mount on the Rebel XT and 20D, but not the high-end cameras.
The 18 to 55 mm f/ 3.5-5.6 zoom is a standard kit lens with the 30D and adds $100 to the list price. In previous reviews, we found that the lens was sharp, though we noticed color fringing. The lens is not very tough, and a maximum aperture of f/ 5.6 is pretty dim. Better lenses will show the 30D's potential much more clearly, but for the more frugal consumer, the kit lens will suffice.
Design / Layout
Model Design / Appearance* (8.0)
*Users who love the 20D's looks will at least like the 30D very much. With both cameras in hand, from the front, it requires a second glance to tell them apart. The 30D has smoother contours than the 20D, though, and is generally more aesthetically akin to the 5D and 1D series. Its pop-up flash adds a bulge that the higher-end cameras don't have, however, the flash assembly on the 30D and 20D overhangs the lens mount, while the viewfinder humps on the 5D and 1D series are more or less flush.
Size / Portability* (7.25)
*The 30D is much smaller than the 1D series. At 5.7 x 4.2 x 2.9 inches, the same size as the 20D, it's a bit larger than Canon's entry-level Rebel XT and that class. However, for DSLRs, the smaller size generally forces designers to sacrifice a vertical grip, reduce control spacing and compromise durability.
Handling Ability* (8.0)
*Canon users will benefit from 30D's close similarity to the 20D, the 5D, and Canon DSLRs in general – they won't really need to look at the manual to use it. More generally, the 30D is a comfortable camera to hold and operate. The hand grip is large, but its smooth curves lend themselves to both large and small hands.
The 30D does not have a vertical grip or shutter release, which typically add more than an inch to the height of a camera as well as considerable weight. Like the 20D before it, the 30D should be popular among photographers who need to cart a couple of cameras around for many hours at a time.
Control Button / Dial Positioning / Size* (8.0)
*The 30D has Canon's distinctive large Quick Control Dial set flat on the back of the camera. True to its name, the dial allows users to make quick adjustments and scroll through menu items or images in playback. Users new to Canon cameras will get used to it quickly and appreciate it. The 30D also has a small four-way controller, a more common control for DSLRs and one that is sadly absent from the 1D series cameras.
All buttons and dials work smoothly and have a nice feel – it's easy to tell when they're activated, and they provide just the right resistance when in use. We found that the Quick control dial on the 30D we tested has a bit more resistance than those on other Canon cameras, but the difference did not affect the control's usefulness.
Like the 20D and Rebel XT, the 30D has scene modes accessible from its mode dial. Scene modes were apparently a little too down-market for the $3200, full-frame 5D, but the 30D otherwise resembles it greatly, even incorporating its direct print/download button.
On the downside, the 30D buries certain controls in menus when we would rather access them directly. The options for flash sync are in a couple of separate menus, for instance, and the mirror lockup is buried in the custom features submenu.
Menu*(8.0)*Canon relies heavily on its menu system for camera controls, limiting the number of dedicated buttons on the camera in favor of menu entries. The 30D is characteristic this way, offering a long, scrolling list of color-coded entries instead of a tabbed menu interface Both the Quick control dial and the "Jump" button speed up navigation, the latter by skipping through the list.
Custom Functions allow the user to access modify options that most people will set once and leave alone. One exception is the mirror lockup control, which is inconveniently buried here.
Ease of Use* (7.0)
*The 30D is comfortable to handle and has straightforward controls. We wish that a few controls were easier to access – flash sync, mirror lockup and setting a custom white balance, for instance. Still, we like the way the 30D feels and the mechanical quality of the controls. The 30D is a solid, substantial camera, but it's not so big that most users would get worn out shooting all day with it. Also, its inclusion of various scene modes and dedicated mode dial, allow the camera to be immediately familiar to those graduating from an entry-level DSLR or compact model.
Auto Mode* (8.0)
*A Full Auto mode in the 30D sets all the major controls on the camera: aperture, shutter speed, ISO, autofocus mode, and metering pattern. In Full Auto, the controls for all these functions are locked out, so it's not possible to accidentally change a setting. The 30D also has a Program mode, which controls both aperture and shutter speed, but allows control of other settings.
Full Auto mode worked well in typical shooting situations, as long as the lighting didn't get too contrasty or tricky. The 30D's exposure system prioritizes the shutter speed to avoid camera shake. In general, it keeps the aperture wide open until the shutter speed is the reciprocal of the lens's focal length – with a 50mm lens, it keeps the lens wide open up to a shutter speed of 1/45, and with an 80mm lens, it keeps it wide open up to a shutter speed of about 1/90. That's a good rule to follow. In general, the 30D sets shooting parameters about the way an experienced photographer would.
We found that the 30D handles difficult lighting no better than other digital cameras – in short, it takes a middle-of-the-road approach with backlighting, trying to retain detail everywhere in the frame, even when that's not possible. The result is that backlit subjects are a bit darker than they should be and their backgrounds retain a bit of detail, and very light, small subjects on dark backgrounds are too light, while their backgrounds retain detail as well. In both cases, the 30D does better in automatic with evaluative metering than it would with straight averaging metering, which would expose for the background. Still, setting the correct exposure for a contrasty scene depends on the photographer's intent, and manually controlling the camera will achieve the best results.
Custom Image Presets*(7.0)*The 30D has a set of custom image presets, or "Basic Zone Modes," which bias the camera for specific types of subject matter and ways of shooting. These modes are meant for casual shooting, but they set the camera about the way experienced photographers do in those situations, and new shooters might find them useful. We found that they behave as advertised.
Drive / Burst Mode* (8.0)
*The 30D maintains the 20D's 5-frames-per-second performance, with a maximum burst of about 30 high-quality, full-resolution JPEGs. When the 20D came out, this level of performance was ground-breaking, but others have caught up by now. The Nikon D200 shoots 10.2 megapixel images at 5 frames per second, with a maximum burst of 30 images, and is in the same price category as the 30D. Higher-end cameras do better: the Nikon D2X hits 5 fps with 12 megapixel images, and the real high-speed cameras, the Canon EOS 1D Mark II n and the Nikon D2Hs, hit 8.5 fps and 8 fps respectively.
Still, 5 fps is solid performance for weddings, most photojournalism and sports, and it's a big advantage over 3fps, the common speed for entry-level DSLRs. The 30D has a low-speed burst mode, which shoots at a fixed 3 fps rate and is not customizable, like Nikon’s implementation on the D200.
Playback Mode* (7.5)
*The 30D plays back images in a few ways. Its default display shows the last image shot full-screen, with the file number and the total number of images in memory, shutter and aperture. Pressing the Info button brings up more comprehensive data, including date and time, white balance, file format, exposure compensation data, ISO, file size, shooting mode, color space, metering pattern and white balance compensation, along with a thumbnail of the image. Pressing it again gets rid of all of the text and shows the image full frame.
In addition, the 30D offers a 9-image index display, for searching the card for a particular image, and a magnified view, which enlarges the image up to 10x. We found 10x sufficient for evaluating focus, and were pleased to have the four-way controller for navigating around the enlarged view. Users can skip 10 or 100 images, or find a specific shooting date, with the 30D’s Jump button, which speeds up the searching process considerably.
Everyone loves slide shows, and the 30D doesn't skip this important feature. Unfortunately, its implementation is pretty bare-bones – it shows all the images on the memory card, has a fixed interval of 3 seconds, and doesn't offer transitions or sound effects.
Direct printing functions are also activated through the playback menu.
Movie Mode* (0.0)
*Conventional DSLRs like the 30D can't offer movie modes, because their image sensors are covered by the camera shutter except when taking still exposures. The new, live-preview Four-Thirds DSLRs could theoretically offer movie modes, but so far, they don't.
**Manual Control Options
**The 30D offers a full range of manual controls. Aperture and shutter speed can be set in either 1/3 or 1/2-EV increments. In an upgrade from the 20D, ISO can be set in 1/3-EV increments as well. The 30D also includes Canon's unusually flexible 2-dimensional white balance tuning system.
***Auto Focus (7.5)
*Perhaps the most disappointing thing about the 30D is that it includes the same 9-point autofocus module that the 20D had. Though this system looks better on paper than the 5-point systems on the Nikon D70 and D50, we find it about the same – a bit slow, uncertain in low light and low contrast scenes, less spread out than the D70 and D50 systems, and a bit clunky to control.
Rather than selecting an individual AF sensor by pushing the 4-way control, which is intuitive and quick, the 30D user uses a dial, which sequentially lights up each sensor like a game of duck, duck goose. The 5D got an upgraded autofocus system, and the 30D should have inherited it. It's not quite as good as the Nikon D200's, but it's better than this.
The system offers one-shot focus, which does not refocus after it gets something sharp, and servo, which constantly focuses and can dynamically switch autofocus sensors to track moving subjects. One addition in the 30D is AI Focus, which switches automatically from one-shot to servo.
*Manual Focus (8.0)
*As promised in Canon’s marketing materials, the Precision Matte focusing screen is bright and sharp, and really does snap into focus.. The 30D's autofocus system also confirms manual focus with a convenient status light in the viewfinder.
We have been testing the 30D with an L-series lens, which is much better than the EF-S lens that comes in the 30D kit. The L-series lens is easier to focus because it is brighter, and probably sharper, but also because it is mechanically superior. Its large, heavy focusing ring allows the user to set it precisely, and is much easier to handle than the plastic mount on the kit lens.
*The 30D offers full manual, aperture-priority, shutter-priority, program, and depth-of-field exposure modes. The program mode can be set for higher or lower shutter speeds without changing the exposure value, which can itself be biased up to 2 stops up or down in 1/3-stop increments. Depth-of-field priority mode works in combination with the autofocus mechanism: in this mode, all the autofocus sites on subjects that will be in focus light up.
*Like the 5D, the 30D has spot metering, one of a few features that 20D owners complain is missing from their camera; the 3.5 percent spot measures the center of the frame. Otherwise, the 30D retains the 20D's patterns: the Partial setting, a 9 percent spot, center-weighted averaging, which is essentially a common holdover from film cameras, and Canon's evaluative system. This system takes several readings across the frame, then settles on a proper exposure based on a digital evaluation that can recognize backlighting and other problematic lighting conditions. Evaluative mode is the default setting in full automatic and preset modes, and Canons, including the 20D, have typically performed well in it.
White Balance* (9.25)
*The 30D has Canon's excellent white balance system from the 20D and 5D, offering presets for Daylight, Shade, Cloudy/Twilight/Sunset, Tungsten, Fluorescent, and Flash, as well as options for manual white balance control, it can create custom white balances from saved images with a large patch of white in the center of the frame.
Canon's unusual white balance adjustment allows the user to adjust the balance simultaneously on two axis: blue-amber and green-magenta. The interface is set up as a two-dimensional chart, with blue-amber as the horizontal axis and green-magenta as the vertical. Control can move in nine steps on each axis, so each position on the chart produces a unique variation in color balance.
The chart is also the interface for white balance bracketing, which is not quite as flexible as it could be. Bracketing is possible on either the blue-amber or green-magenta axis, but not on both, and the system will only take three shots in a bracket. It'll bracket one, two or three increments, however, and will start from any spot on the chart so long as the most extreme shift is still within the adjustment range. (The maximum adjustment for any color is plus or minus 4. For instance, the bracketing system won't produce a plus 5, even if the starting point is plus 3.)
*Sensitivity ranges from ISO 100 to 1600 in the 30D’s normal mode, and goes up to 3200 in expanded mode. It can be set in 1/3-EV steps, a big improvement on the full-EV increments on the 20D. In its scene modes, the 30D sets ISO from 100 to 400, though, which will be pretty limiting in its "Flash off" mode for low-light shooting.
Shutter Speed* (9.0)
*Speeds from 1/8000 to 30 seconds in 1/2 or 1/3-EV increments will cover just about anything, but the 30D also has a bulb setting. Its monochrome display shows elapsed time up to 999 seconds when making timed exposures.
The 30D's maximum flash sync speed is 1/250, which allows full flash in daylight with moderately powerful external flashes. Canon says the 30D's shutter is a new model that is more durable than the one in the 20D and is rated for 100,000 exposures.
*The 30D uses Canon EF and EF-S lenses, and controls their apertures electronically in . steps of either 1/2 or 1/3-stops, a standard level of control for DSLRs.
Picture Quality / Size Options* (9.0)
*The 30D records RAW files and JPEGs at two quality levels. JEPGs can be shot at Large, Medium and Small sizes. The sizes are: Large/Fine, about 3.6 MB (3,504 x 2,336 pixels); Large/Normal, about 1.8 MB (3,504 x 2,336 pixels); Medium/Fine, about 2.2 MB (2,544 x 1,696 pixels); Medium/Normal, about 1.1 MB (2,544 x 1,696 pixels); Small/Fine, about 1.2 MB (1,728 x 1,152 pixels); and Small/Normal, about 0.6 MB (1,728 x 1,152 pixels). The 30D's RAW files are about 8.7 MB (3,504 x 2,336 pixels). These options are the same as those on the 20D.
Picture Effects Mode* (9.0)
*Canon's Picture Styles system is a clear, simple, and flexible system for managing sharpening, saturation, contrast, and color tone. Users of the 5D and the current 1D series cameras will be familiar with it. Picture Styles includes 5 presets called Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral, and Faithful. Each can be adjusted, the user can save two custom presets, and more presets are downloadable.
We have found that the Standard preset sharpens more than it should, enough that post-processing Standard images can produce increased artifacting. For users who do not post-process, Standard yields sharp-looking, bold images, but we prefer Neutral, which creates images that stand up to post-processing much better.
Photographers who use more than one EOS camera will find the Picture Styles system particularly attractive, as it effectively matches the output of Canon's various camera models. Standard images from the 30D, for example, match Standard images from the 5D.
Connectivity / Extras
The 30D can download images to a computer directly and use its DPOF printing interface to selectively export them.
Digital Photo Professional and CameraWindow ship with the 30D. Digital Photo Professional is an organizing and editing package with extensive controls for color adjustment and a clean, full-featured RAW conversion capability. CameraWindow allows tethered control of the 30D.
*Jacks, Ports, Plugs (7.5)
*The 30D has USB 2.0 connectivity for both printers and links to computers. It accepts a hardwired remote control, outputs an analog video signal for PAL or NTSC televisions, and provides flash sync via a PC terminal or its hot shoe. An optional external power supply connects through the battery compartment.
*Direct Print Options (8.0)
*Users can print the 30D’s images directly to a PictBridge printer, or download a print order via DPOF. The 30D implements a wide range of print options, including borderless printing, printing multiple copies of an image on a single sheet, overprinting the date, cropping, and setting the paper size. The 30D also offers index printing.
*The 30D ships with a BP-511A, a 7.4-volt, 1390 mAh lithium-ion cell. It is also compatible with several Canon batteries: owners of the 20D or 5D will be able to swap batteries between the cameras. Like the 20D, the 30D offers good battery life.
*The 30D accepts Compact Flash and Microdrive cards, the most common memory format for DSLRs. Compact Flash cards are available in a very large range of capacities, from 128 MB to several GB, and are typically less expensive than other formats.
Other Features* (6.5)
RAW + JPEG Recording Mode -* The 30D can record an image in RAW and JPEG format simultaneously, offering the convenience of JPEGs with a RAW backup if post processing is necessary.
*LCD Light - *When shooting in dark conditions, users can illuminate the monochrome LCD panel.
*Sensor Clean Mode - *A sensor cleaning mode opens the 30D’s shutter to allow cleaning dust off the filter covering the CMOS.
Setting Battery - The 30D has a separate, replaceable battery to hold camera settings while the camera is powered off. It's accessible in the main battery compartment.
***Canon EOS 20D -* Like most people, we were very impressed with the Canon EOS 20D when it was introduced nearly two years ago. It was an enormous advance over the 10D, and with 8.2 megapixels of resolution and a 5 frames per second burst speed, it was significantly more capable than competing cameras. The 30D is a little more capable-- in minor ways. Its large LCD will make it easier to evaluate images during shooting, but the images themselves will be the same. Adding 1/3 steps to the ISO setting is good, but it's a detail. Spot metering is great, but we can't imagine that anyone passed up the 20D over its lack. In short, the 30D shows several improvements over the 20D, but it's basically the same camera: the 20D was a breakthrough, while the 30D is an update.
Nikon D70s - The Nikon D70 was originally a competitor to the Canon 10D, and it matched up closely – a 6 megapixel, 3 frame-per-second DSLR for between $1000 and $1500. We like the D70's interface better – the two control dials on the D70 and its direct access to more parameters are faster and more intuitive. When the faster, higher-res 20D came out, however, the D70 looked less like a pro's backup camera, and more like an entry-level DSLR. Even for $900, including a kit lens, the updated D70 is not as good a deal as the 30D.
- Nikon D200 -* A 10-megapixel camera with a 5-frame-per-second burst rate, the D200 looks better than the 30D where prominent specs are concerned. Deeper down, the D200 has a range of shooting controls and customization options that many pros will appreciate, and that the 30D is missing. The D200 is also much faster to operate and has better autofocus. At low ISOs, the D200 image quality looks better, but noise does the Nikon in at the high sensitivities. The Nikon D200 sells for $1700, about $300 more than the 30D.
*****Olympus EVOLT E330 -* Olympus positions the E330 as a high-end entry level DSLR, available with an 18-180mm zoom online for $1425. The 7.5-megapixel E330 has a live LCD view, providing veterans of compact digital cameras the interface they find familiar. As interesting as a DSLR with a live view LCD might be from an engineering standpoint, the E330 is limited compared with the 30D. Its burst rate is only 3 fps and delivers only 15 shots, which is slow compared to the 30D's 5 fps for 25 shots. The E330 has only 3 autofocus points, which means that, for many shots, the user has to focus, recompose, and then shoot; the 30D's 9 AF points are much more convenient.
*Today, we don't think there is a more capable DSLR for $1400 than the 30D. It's clear that many users get very good results from the 20D; the 30D has the same sensor, image processor, autofocus and optical system, as well as a few improvements.
The problem is that, in two years, 30D owners will have 4-year-old technology on their hands. At the rate camera technology advances, that will leave them far behind. For users who expect to get value out of their camera in the course of a year or two, the 30D is appealing. Those who would find the need to upgrade soon disappointing, on the other hand, might want to look elsewhere.
**Who It’s For **
Point-and-Shooters - The 30D has custom shooting modes and a real full-auto mode, so even casual users can get their shots with it. Still, the 30D is overkill for casual photographers. This market is looking for something smaller, cheaper, and more convenient.
Budget Consumers - There are cheaper DSLRs, but the 30D is a budget pro DSLR. We can well imagine consumers wanting something sturdier and faster than a Canon Rebel XT or a Nikon D70s, but for as little money as possible. The 30D is an economical choice, given its capabilities.
Gadget Freaks -* The gadget freak will be disappointed by the 30D. The camera isn't cutting-edge in any significant respect – no new technology was introduced on it.
Manual Control Freaks - The 30D's manual controls are complete. We wish a few of them were easier to access in a hurry. Setting a new custom white balance should be possible without a trip to the main menu, for instance, and all the options for flash sync ought to live in one place.
Pros/Serious Amateurs - The pros who are wearing out their 20Ds might as well buy 30Ds – they will do the same job. As a bonus, the 30D shutter is supposed to last longer, and it has a nice, big LCD. The 30D's picture styles are even set up to match the color reproduction of the 5D and 1D series cameras, making it convenient to shoot the cameras side-by-side without worrying too much about color matching.
Mini Head-to-Head With Nikon D200
**Mini Head-to-Head section with Nikon D200 **
We recently compared the Canon EOS 5D with the Nikon D200. As these are two new mid-range cameras from the leading DSLR manufacturers, comparing them says a lot about the state of digital cameras and their future. Still, the D200 and the 30D are much closer in price: for someone entering the DSLR market with $1500 or $2000, comparing these two cameras is more relevant to a buying decision.
**Low light / high ISO noise performance
**We noted significant deterioration in low light and high ISO with the D200, while the 30D performs much better. Starting at about ISO 500, the 30D looks significantly better than the D200, and by 1250, the difference is enough to say that the 30D can take some useful available-light images that the D200 simply can't.
**Color performance (low ISOs)
**We tested the 30D in its Faithful mode, which aims for accuracy, rather than the camera's default Standard mode, which boosts saturation significantly. We tested the D200 in its Normal mode, which is the camera's default mode and also its most accurate. The D200 and 30D had identical scores for color accuracy in our lab tests – both scored a very good 5.53. The difference came in their saturation scores. The 30D slightly under-saturated, with a percentage score of 97.3, while the D200 oversaturated with a percentage score of 104.9.
**When set to their respective default settings, the 30D resolved 1818 lw/ph vertically and 1867 lw/ph horizontally in its Standard parameter, while the D200 turned out 1918 lw/ph horizontally and 2050 lw/ph vertically in its Normal mode. The difference in performance shouldn’t be surprising since the D200’s imaging chip does provide an additional 2 million pixels; however, the D200’s Normal mode imposes much less in-camera sharpening than Canon’s Standard parameter, so the D200’s advantage is actually much more pronounced than the numbers might indicate. When all sharpening is reserved for post processing, files produced by the D200 contain much more detail.
**The 30D is a standout in dynamic range performance, maintaining very good scores at ISO 1000. The D200 is clearly inferior throughout its ISO range: in High Quality, it manages only 6.8 stops of dynamic range at ISO 100, while the 30D manages 7.57. At ISO 1600, the D200 is down to 3.83 while the 30D hits 5.6 stops.
**Nikon made a new autofocus module for the D200: the CAM1000, a significant upgrade over the CAM900 module in the D100 and D70, though nowhere near as good as the CAM2000 module in the pro-level D2X and D2Hs. We have found the D200 autofocus quick and sure in low light and low contrast settings. It's disappointing that Canon did not upgrade the autofocus when it moved from the 20D to the 30D – particularly in light of the fact that it developed a new AF module for the 5D, which purports to offer better focus tracking and low-light ability. The 30D's autofocus is solidly inferior to the D200's.
**Speed / Timing
***Start-up to First Shot
*The D200 is faster to start up, and because the power switch is on a ring around the shutter release, it's easier to start the D200 quickly. Starting the 30D takes two hands – one to hold the camera and one to flip the switch on its back. It isn't possible to switch it on with one's hands in normal shooting position, and that slows down the process far more than any difference in the cameras' electronics.
*Shot to Shot
*Both the 30D and the D200 can shoot bursts as fast as 5 frames per second. The 30D manages to shoot 25 in a row, while the D200 can shoot 30 – and the D200's images are 20 percent larger. It's not too likely, however, that the difference in burst length will make the difference between getting a shot and missing it. The dismissive term for shooting long bursts is "spray and pray," and skilled action shooters are more likely to shoot many short bursts of four or five images at a time.
*Shutter to Shot
*The D200 and the 30D impose almost no delay between shutter and the actual shot. We measured 0.03 seconds of delay with the D200 and 0.05 seconds with the 30D, and both cameras focused before shooting. When they were prefocused, we couldn't measure a delay with either one.
**Viewfinder / LCD **
Viewfinders on the D200 and 30D are both smaller and less accurate than Canon's and Nikon's best cameras, but they are pretty easy to use. Both cameras' viewfinders crop the image by about 5 or 6 percent, and both crop a bit off-center. Coincidentally, both crop more from the left side than the right. Canon says that the 30D's viewfinder magnifies the view by about 0.9x with a 50mm lens, and Nikon reports that the D200 magnifies 0.94x. The difference between the two isn't enormous, but we found the D200 brighter and a bit easier to focus. More data shows through the Nikon’s viewfinder – ISO is always visible, and the metering pattern shows up as well—but Canon's exposure scale is larger. Eyeglass wearers will find it easier to see the D200's display.
Both cameras have 2.5-inch, 230,000-pixel LCDs. The 30D's display looks good from a wider range of angles, while the Nikon remains visible from side to side, but dims significantly as the angle changes. However, it’s possible to use the Nikon’s menus in pretty bright daylight, something we wouldn't say about the 30D's display. With both LCDs, it's best to examine images away from bright sunlight.
The Canon EOS 30D has several important refinements over its predecessor, the Canon EOS 20D, and it maintains that camera's many strengths. Its solid build, excellent image quality, and respectable speed (5 fps at 8.2 megapixels) make it a very attractive camera for a range of users. Weddings, portraits, photojournalism, family pictures, and even landscapes are perfectly within the Canon EOS 30D's scope, as many thousands of 20D users have proven. Photographers who own other Canon SLRs have a very good option in the 30D: it can be either a step up from the Rebel or Rebel XT or a moderate-cost backup to the 5D or 1D series. The 30D feels very substantial and professional compared to the Rebels, and its interface and build quality look just fine in comparison to Canon's more expensive cameras.
It's a little tougher to weigh the 30D against competing cameras. Nikon's D200 has a few big advantages over the 30D: 20 percent more resolution and a much better interface and controls. The D200's image quality is better at ISOs under 320, though worse at the high end. We're convinced that the D200 is a better deal at $1700 than the 30D is at $1400, but not by such a margin that we'd tell Canon owners to sell an inventory of lenses.
Finally, we remain puzzled by the 30D's lack of innovation. Look at Canon's history of cutting-edge cameras and lenses and you'll find more ground-breaking equipment than most companies can point to. The Canon EOS 30D simply doesn't match the advances Canon usually makes.
Specs / Ratings
**Specs Table **
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