Digital Outback Photo
- Photography using Digital SLRs


Canon EOS 20D/30D Experience Report

A review diary by Uwe Steinmueller @Digital Outback Photo

Also photos by Bettina Steinmueller

This review will be written again in the form of a diary. Most recent findings on top.

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If you work with Photoshop CS our e-books DOP2000 or DOP3002 are the right choice for the Canon 20D/30D.


Note on image processing:

As usual we work only with raw files and use a of Camera Raw 2.3 for Photoshop, Canon DPP or Bibble 4.0. But the raw files can also be converted by Canon's DPP 1.1 or the latest EOS Viewer Utility that come with the camera.

All images are also sharpened using EasyS Sharpening.

Distortion corrected with PTLens.


Canon 30D


We find that the Canon 30D is in terms of image quality the same camera as the 20D so that nearly all our findings are also true for this new camera. We do not plan to have an extra review for the 30D.

12/19/2004 Software and Firmware upadates
There have been recently some updates in terms of firmware and software. Most notably the DPP 1.5. We are ourselves using third party raw converters like ACR, C1 or Bibble and would only report about the new versions if we feel they have improved a lot. DPP is especially delivering pretty good colors but otherwise does not provide a polished workflow compared to the other RCs in our opinion.

10/31/2004 EOS 20D Gallery published

We think we got a pretty nice EOS 20D portfolio here.


10/29/2004 EOS 20D noise better visualized
We now also show the noise sampled brightened up to easier visualize the noise.

10/9/2004 Big Sur and Carmel

We had a trip to Big Sur and Carmel today. Unfortunately we had unforgiving sun. Here are our shots from today (created with Bibble 4.0):

Bixby Bridge

Little Sur

Point Sur

View from Nepenthe


10/7/2004 New Firmware 1.0.5

Canon posted a new version of the 20D firmware. The version 1.0.5 should fix all previous know problems (e.g. camera lockup).

We performed the upgrade ourselves and had not problems. But follow the instructions word by word (e.g. don't forget to remove the lens and charge your battery full).


10/5/2004 Comparing 20D vs. 1D Mark II Images

One often asked question is how the 20D image quality stacks up against the 1D Mark II. Here is a first simple test.

We photographed this scene in Alviso at ISO 100 and ISO 1600 with both cameras and the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS lens. Images were converted with Camera Raw 2.3 and sharpened with EasyS (all same at the same level):

20D/ISO 100 at 100% magnification

1D Mk. II /ISO 100 at 100% magnification

20D/ISO 1600 at 100% magnification

1D Mk II/ISO 1600 at 100% magnification

We find that both cameras are very close.

We provide the original raw files to our readers here. The pictures may only be used for personal use and not be published in any way.


10/5/2004 20D Lockup and Caution with Firmware Update 1.0.4


Today we experienced the known possible lockup with our 20D sample. We switched lenses and mounted the 70-200 IS f/2.8 for a test. The camera shutter was not working and also switching on/off did not help.

Do not panic: We removed the battery and inserted it back. After switching on the camera all worked fine.

Firmware Update 1.0.4

The good news is that Canon issued a firmware update 1.0.4 to fix this. The bad news is that some cameras did not seem to work after upgrading. We caution our readers to not use the update until the situation stabilizes. We keep you updated.


10/3/2004 Heidelberg Schloss with 20D

We had the chance to photograph the Schloss in Heidelberg during our trip to Photokina and prepared a portfolio:

We experienced quite good results from ISO 400/800 pictures. Scheck them out.


9/24/2004 Canon EOS 20D finally in

Finally we received our 20D review sample. This is a very interesting camera. Not so much because of the 2MP more compared to the Canon EOS 10D but because it seems that this camera gets close in terms of low noise to the much more expensive EOS 1D Mark II which we own and like. We will do lot of comparisons between the 20D and the 1D Mark II.

We also take the 20D to Photokina as our only camera and then after Photokina we will focus mainly gaining real world experience. Please be patient.

Before we headed to Photokina we could do our usual Los Gatos tour.


Los Gatos Ristorante

100% magnification

Results are good in color and also detail without any major changes except some white balance correction.

Los Gatos Antique store

100% magnification

Today was more light from the sun on the second floor. Nothing really to complain.

ISO Test


Bear Coffee Shop

The following table shows crops at different ISO levels. We now use a technique to visualize the noise in the right column by brightening the image with the following curve in PS:

Canon EOS 20D
Brightened Image

ISO 100

ISO 100

ISO 200

ISO 200

ISO 400

ISO 400

ISO 800

ISO 800

ISO 1600

ISO 1600



The noise behavior of the 20D is just amazing and matches that of the excellent Canon 1D Mark II. Because we had strong sunlight the window is more in the shadow this time and show more noise.

Our first results were very good.


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