Although digital SLRs have been around since the mid-1990s, when Kodak produced digital adaptations of high-end Canon and Nikon 35mm SLRs, it is only since the launch in 2000 of the beautiful but deeply flawed Contax N Digital, that the market for “consumer” digital SLRs has grown. In that short time the market has already stratified into distinct sectors, from the fiercely contested sub-£500 mass-market category, all the way up to the £2000+ professional cameras such as the Canon EOS 1Ds MkII and Nikon D2X.
In between these two extremes you’ll find the mid-range cameras, aimed at keen amateur or semi-professional photographers, and priced between £600 and £1200. Examples include the Nikon D200, Olympus E-330 and the Fujifilm S3 Pro. Canon has also recently launched a new camera into this range, in the shape of the EOS 30D.
The EOS 30D is the replacement for the extremely popular EOS 20D, which was launched in August 2004. It is the latest incarnation of a range of models which started back in 2000 with the EOS D30, which was followed by the D60 in 2002 and the 10D in 2003.
The 20D has, in many ways, defined the mid-level DSLR market for the past two years. With an 8.2MP CMOS sensor, award-winning DIGIC II image processing engine and robust magnesium-alloy body, it was clearly a winning formula. So much so in fact, that Canon has barely changed it at all for the new model. As product upgrades go the new EOS 30D is something of a disappointment.
Admittedly there is a long list of improvements, but they are all somewhat superficial. The 30D gets a larger and sharper 230,000 pixel 2.5in LCD monitor, a larger selection of ISO settings at 1/3-EV intervals, and spot metering, something that was inexplicably omitted from the 20D. Other additions include a slightly larger image buffer, an RGB histogram function, a second lower speed continuous shooting setting (3 fps as well as 5fps), and a new more durable shutter mechanism that is supposedly good for 100,000 shots. Changes to the ISO setting are now shown in the viewfinder, and file sizes are shown in playback mode. I’ll pause here for your pulse to stop racing.