Canon EOS 30D

The successor of the 20D is out, all revved up.

Changes in the 30D include:

# A new 2.5-inch, 230,000 pixel rear LCD monitor with wide viewing angle
# Canon’s more flexible Picture Style menu, which replaces the Parameters menu of the 20D
# Sharpening of in-camera JPEGs can be turned off, which is a first for a Canon entry-level or midrange digital SLR
# ISO 100-1600 is now selectable in 1/3 stop increments
# ISO can be set without taking one’s eye away from the viewfinder
# Increased burst depth: 11 frames for RAW CR2 shooting, 30 for Large Fine JPEG and 9 for RAW+JPEG
# A more-durable shutter that’s rated for 100,000 cycles
# A slightly-shortened mirror blackout time of 110ms; Canon’s specification for shutter lag remains the same as the 20D at 65ms
# Viewfinder information now includes a dedicated Flash Exposure Lock (FEL) indicator
# Switchable High-Speed Continuous (5 fps) and Low-Speed Continuous (3 fps) frame rate settings are now included
# An Auto setting in the Long Exposure Noise Reduction Custom Function
# The ability, like several more-pricey Canon digital SLRs, to simultaneously apply long exposure noise processing to one picture while capturing another
# The addition of a 3.5% spot metering mode
# 0.15 second camera startup time
# A more-precise 4-increment battery charge indicator
# Reduced energy consumption, for a promised improvement of 10% more frames per charge
# No more new folders created every 100 photos; in the 30D, a folder can hold 9999 photos
# A new automatic rotation option that enables verticals to not be rotated on the rear LCD but appear rotated in compatible browser software on the computer
# The ability to zoom in on a photo in Quick Review mode
# During playback, the photo+shooting data screen will display file size, either an RGB or Brightness histogram and will optionally display AF markings
# Improved Jump function
# Refined multicontroller (both its physical design and its operation have been tweaked)
# More-detailed error code information, which now appears on the rear LCD monitor (in addition to the top LCD panel); the camera settings information screen will also display Images Failed to Transfer when the WFT-E1/E1A is in use and a transmit error occurs
# More ways to wake the camera up from an Auto Power Off snooze
# Direct image transfer from the camera to a computer using the PTP protocol
# A revamped software package that includes Digital Photo Professional (DPP) 2.1, EOS Utility 1.0 (a new image transfer, camera settings and camera control application), Image Browser 5.6 (Mac) and ZoomBrowser EX 5.6 (Windows); DPP adds user-settable noise reduction and support for RAW files from the Canon EOS D2000 and D6000
# New and potentially useful direct printing capabilities (plus a dedicated direct print/image transfer button)
# Slight body styling differences, beyond the changes necessitated by the larger rear LCD and new direct print/image transfer button

ISO can be set in the viewfinder

The first time we shot a concert in available light with a digital camera we appreciated how necessary it is to be able to change ISO quickly as light levels shift from bright to non-existent. The 20D requires that you pull your eye away from the viewfinder to change the ISO; in the 30D, when holding down the ISO button, the ISO displays in the information beneath the viewfinder and updates as the Quick Control Dial is turned. This will make the changing of ISO on the fly a much-quicker operation.

ISO is incremented in 1/3 stops

From ISO 100-1600, intervals are now in 1/3 stops. ISO 3200 is also selectable (when C.Fn-8-1 is set), but it’s a full stop jump from ISO 1600, there are no increments in-between. Of all the Canon and Nikon digital SLRs we’ve ever used, the 20D produces the cleanest, most printable RAW and JPEG files at the upper ISO settings. Being able to choose settings such as ISO 1000 or 1250 when shooting at certain indoor venues only sweetens the deal, though ISO 2000 and 2500 would have been equally useful.

Automatic long exposure noise reduction

With the new Auto option selected in C.Fn-4, the 30D will analyse the level of noise in exposures between 1 and 30 seconds and apply long exposure noise reduction only if it deems it would be beneficial to the picture. And unlike the 20D, the 30D doesn’t force the photographer to wait an amount of time equal to the exposure time while it applies long exposure noise reduction. This is a great feature of 1-series Canon’s, the 5D and now the 30D when shooting time exposures of events that unfold continuously, such as fireworks.

9999 photos per folder

Another longstanding quirk of Canon’s entry-level and midrange digital SLRs falls by the wayside in the 30D. Now, instead of the camera automatically creating a new folder every 100 frames, each folder can contain up to 9999 frames, the same as 1-series digital SLR models and the 5D. Choosing the manual reset option in the 30D creates a new folder, with file numbering starting at 0001 in that folder. User-customizable file names, an option in the EOS-1D Mark II N, as well as the manual folder selection function of several other Canon models, didn’t make their way into the 30D.

More frames per charge

Improved power management has increased the official frames-per-charge specification by 10% compared to the 20D, despite the fact the 30D’s larger rear LCD is more power-hungry. The battery indicator is now the same as the 5D, which means it’s stepped in four increments from fully-charged to depleted.

Spot metering

The 20D has three ambient metering modes: Evaluative, Center-Weighted and 9% Partial. The 30D incorporates these three and adds one more: 3.5% Spot. The metering circle marking in the viewfinder has been shrunk, relative to the 20D, to properly represent the measurement area of the 30D’s spot meter.

Refined multicontroller

The 9-way multicontroller Canon introduced to its digital SLR lineup with the 20D is an interesting approach to the modern problem of providing a fast, easy way to manually change the active AF point when the autofocus system has more than about 5 points. We mostly like the multicontroller on the 20D, because its size and feel does make changing to an AF point that’s up, down, left or right of centre a quick operation, even when wearing light gloves. But selecting an AF point on the diagonal is too hard, and it’s also sometimes difficult to press the centre of the multicontroller to return the selected AF point to the middle. The 30D’s multicontroller has been slightly reshaped, and the firmware that controls it has been altered, to address these operational concerns.

More info at the Canon EOS 30D site.

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