Bearing all that in mind, the EOS 30D is nonetheless a great camera, arguably the best mid-range DSLR on the market. The body is heavy enough to provide stability while shooting without being tiring to use for long periods, and the large handgrip is both comfortable and secure. The control system, with one adjustment wheel on the top of the handgrip and a large rotating thumbwheel for menu selections, is quick, efficient and comfortable to use. The wide range of external controls means that you hardly ever have to go into the menu system.
Canon’s 8.2MP CMOS sensor produces more detail, greater dynamic range and less image noise than any comparable CCD sensor, and the DIGIC II processor deserves every accolade it has won. Shooting in a range of weather conditions from dull and overcast to bright sunshine, I found that even shooting only in program mode with default colour settings the camera turned in nothing but superb shots time after time. Using the ‘Faithful’ picture style setting, colours were natural-looking, with a good level of detail and contrast. Exposure was near-perfect even in tricky conditions. I didn’t even have to use the spot metering.
Examined closely, the images did show a slight softness, but responded extremely well to a light application of Photoshop’s Unsharp Mask. This may sound like a fault, but most serious photographers prefer to work this way, shooting in RAW mode and then processing images later at home. It’s a lot easier to add sharpening after shooting than it is to remove excessive sharpening applied by the camera. However if you prefer, the 30D has seven levels of adjustable sharpening.
The AI autofocus system is astonishingly fast, possibly the fastest of any SLR I’ve used, and the selective focus point, adjusted using a small joystick device on the back of the camera, is also very adaptable and easy to use.
A bit of a disappointment for anyone hoping for a major upgrade, the EOS 30D is unlikely to attract anyone who already owns a 20D. However newcomers to the mid-level DSLR market will find a superbly specified camera with the usual Canon hallmarks of reliability, design and outstanding image quality. For the serious amateur or semi-pro it is the ideal camera.