About a year ago, Canon gave us their mid-range 20D DSLR that was targeted at amateur photographers, and while it was and still is a good camera on all accounts, there were still some niggling issues about the 20D that somehow prevented the camera from living up to its claimed potentials and the many expectations that were a result of prolonged hype. Thankfully, Canon had been paying attention to user feedbacks and the result soon emerged in the form of the Canon 30D. On paper, both the 20D and 30D are almost identical and some of the similarities you can expect include an 8.2-megapixel image sensor, DIGIC II image processor, 5FPS continuous shooting speed and more, but after some meddling however, we soon realized that the improvements on the 30D were more than just marginal. In fact, the 30D is quickly living up to what the 20D was originally hyped up to be and here are some reasons why.
More Power In the Same House
The Canon 30D retains a similar chassis as the 20D but because of additional features such as a larger 2.5-inch LCD monitor, the 30D is notably heavier. The body itself is fabricated from tough yet lightweight magnesium alloy material, giving it a superlative feel where build quality is concerned. Interestingly, the control layout of the new 30D resembles closely to that of the higher tiered 5D DSLR and even the menu system is virtually identical to both the 5D and the outgoing 20D.
Speed Is Its Middle Name
Being a serious professional imaging device, the 30D is expected to boast fast processing speed and quick response time, and it sure didn't fail to deliver.
Apart from an impressively rapid shot-to-shot speed that users can rely on for instant candid shots (thanks to its quick 0.15-second startup time, swift 65-milisecond shutter release lag and fast processing speed), the 30D is also tuned to include a fast 5FPS continuous shooting speed that budding sports photographers will quickly appreciate. Furthermore, due to a large and efficient memory buffer, the 30D can accommodate (store) a sustained burst of either 30 JPEG (Large/Fine) or 11 RAW images before it automatically steps down to a slower continuous shooting speed of between 3 and 5FPS. Finally, the onboard AI Servo AF (auto focusing system) works to ensure spot-on focusing of moving subjects.
The Canon 30D did showed prominent improvements over the 20D with the inclusion of spot metering (finally), the ability to make 1/3-stop ISO adjustments, and an additional slower but more sustainable 3FPS burst mode. However, considering that the imaging pipeline is not an overhaul of the 20D, perhaps dubbing the latest Canon entry into the EOS bloodline EOS 20D Mark II would have been more fitting instead.
As for image quality, test shots were mostly up to expectations and while not entirely noise-free, the 30D was able to suppress noise while maintaining good details even at ISO 1600. Strangely, in our night test shot, lighting turns out more natural with landscape mode rather than night mode. All in all, if you are looking for a mid-range DSLR in the market today, the new and improved 30D is certainly not lacking in any department, but for existing owners of 20D or equivalent models, the 30D will not offer much in the way of performance to price ratio. The Canon EOS 30D is currently available with a RRP of US$1,676 (S$2,669) with EF-S 18-55mm, f/3.5-5.6mm kit lens.