Abstract: Canon EOS 30D review

Bob Atkins Photography


Canon EOS 30D - Hands-on Review

Power Reduction

Through better power management the Canon EOS 30D should be about a 10% increase in shooting capacity over the EOS 20D, despite the larger power draw of the 2.5" LCD. It was hard to actually test this but the EOS 20D is pretty frugal in terms of power consumption. Canon's own numbers predict that a fully charged battery should give 1,100 images at 68°F with flash off, or 900 images at 32°F. With 50% flash use these numbers drop to 750 frames at 68°F or 600 frames at 32°F

Histogram Display

The Canon EOS 30D shares the brightness and RGB histogram displays found on the EOS 5D. The RGB histogram is very useful in detecting if you saturate just one of the color channels, which may not be shown with only the brightness histogram. Below is a trivial example, a white card shot under tungsten light using Auto white balance:

Canon EOS 30D Review

The brightness histogram on the left indicates that exposure is OK because the distribution of brightness values isn't hitting the extreme left of the histogram (which indicates clipping). This that no pixel is pure white. However when we look at the individual red, green and blue histograms we can see that the red channel is, in fact, severely clipped. In this case it doesn't really matter much, but if it happens when, for example, shooting an image of a red rose, then with the red channel clipping you will lose texture or tone variation in the brightest areas of red. The more areas of saturated color there are in an image, the more the brightness and RGB histograms will differ.

Note that the brightness histogram usually follows the green channel pretty closely.

Noise Reduction

The eos 30D has an auto noise reduction function which looks at the noise in images with 1-30 second exposure and applies the long exposure noise reduction algorithm only if needed. Since noise reduction needs a second exposure of equal length, this can significantly speed up shooting when the noise reduction is not needed.

The Direct Print Button

Well, I suppose it might be useful, though I'm not sure how many EOS 30D owners will be printing directly from the camera. It would have been nice if the button function could have been changed via a custom function so that it could have done other things such as, for example, optionally select mirror lockup. Most of the direct printing functions can be accessed via the "set" button in the center of the rear command dial anyway, so the usefulness of, and need for, a dedicated "print" button is questionable.


I've been shooting with an EOS 20D since it was introduced in the fall of 2004 and I've been very happy with it. I expected the EOS 30D to be essentially the same and in many ways it is, though I have to admit that it is a nicer camera to use. I really like the larger and more visible LCD, which for me makes the camera quite a lot easier to use without putting my reading glasses on (which is a pain). The addition of the spot meter is a welcome improvement too. I don't use a spot meter very often, but it is nice to have it there for when I do need it. While I don't personally shoot long continuous bursts very often, I can see how the EOS 30D could make life a lot easier for those who do. That would include sports photographers and anyone who does a lot of action work.

Overall I think the EOS 30D is a great camera and I'd have no hesitation at all in recommending it to any serious photographer. Canon are currently (Oct 15th 2006 - Jan 13th 2007) offering a $100 or $200 rebate on the EOS 30D ($100 if you just buy the 30D, $200 if you buy an additional rebate item), which brings the price to around $985. That's over $400 cheaper than it was just 6 months ago, so it's a pretty good deal. See the Canon Rebates page for full details.

The Digital Rebel XTi is available at around $800 and it has a 10MP sensor, but it doesn't have ISO 3200, it doesn't have the rear control dial or second LCD display for data, it doesn't shoot as fast, it lacks a spotmeter and it has a significantly smaller viewfinder. It's a good camera, but the EOS 30D is better built and has more features.

Amazon have the 30D in stock at a price of around $1130, with free shipping and a 30-day return policy.

I've bought several cameras and lenses from them over the last two or three years and I've had no problems at all.

The EOS 30D is also available from:

             - Canon EOS 30D

             - Canon EOS 30D w/18-55 lens

Further Reading

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