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Canon EOS 30D

Canon_30D
Review Date: Aug 18, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,399.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: 2.5 in screen, spot metering, 1/3 stop increments, build quality, ease of handling, intuitive, EF series lenses, good fit in my hands,
Cons:
its not a 1 series

This is an excellent camera, and I only gave it 9's because it is not a 1 series body. I have shot with them, and they are a dramatic step up, but compared with everything else available, and the price comparison, this is a definite BUY.

I upgraded from a 20 D, and will not look back! The improvements seem minor, but they are huge. Being able to select ISO in the viewfinder, and by 1/3 stop increments is a tremendous step up. Even more helpful is the three color histogram and addition of a true spot metering function. Although I have not read anything official, I believe that the focussing algorithm was also improved. Coming from a 20 D, the handling and image quality is almost identical. In an ideal world, the 5D would be at this price point and I could afford both a 1 D II N and 1 DsII. But since that is not the case, I am enamored by the 30 D.

It is not perfect, but it is defintitely a step up from the 20 D. Canon has once again produced a reliable and efficient camera that makes pro features available to the masses. Paired with L glass, the camera produces excellent images. That being said, why bother with a share button? Allow this to be programmed by the photographer. (or at least make it useful to a photographer, like MLU)

I have also had issues with the popup flash. Note to Canon: I like having it! But somehow, it needs to be sealed better. Dirt / sand gets in too easily that prevents the flash from popping up. Be careful when using in sandy / dirty environs.


 
Canon EOS 20D

20d
Review Date: Mar 29, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Build quality, flexibility, ease of use, fast fps rate, very low noise, great picture quality,
Cons:
loud shutter, viewfinder, ISO selection not in viewfinder, small screen, no RGB histogram, Custom Functions

I have now been shooting with the 20D for a 15 months, and have put on close to 30k shots. Prior to that, it had been a few years since I had used my old A1, and I refused to pick up earlier digitals. Literally from the moment I picked up the 20D, I was amazed at the capabilities of this camera, and would highly recommend it, especially as the price has now come down. I give the price/value rating a 10+, all others a 9 only because i know of the 1 series. This is an outstanding amateur camera.

This camera has seen action in many environments, most recently on the beach, but has also been through mountains, Niagara Falls, snow, heat, football, basketball, theater, concerts, and pretty much any "normal" use condition you can think of. It blows away my brother's D70 in terms of speed (AF, ISO, and FPS). It is far more usable in any situation.

At first, I did not realize its capabilities, but as my proficiency grew (I have rarely used any of the programmed modes: only M, Av, Tv to better learn exposure skills) so did the capabilities of this camera. Smile

The other major factor that increases the camera's usability is the quality of glass one selects. I almost immediately made the jump to mid level glass and saw a significant increase in the quality of my shots -- moving to "L" glass was only a hard choice because of the cost, but adding high quality lenses DOES make a significant difference. I now have about an 80% "keeper" rate. The 28-135 is an excellent all around starter lens with this camera, but L glass does make a visible difference both in terms of performance and picture.

So what do I most like and appreciate about this camera?
+ OUTSTANDING high ISO performance. Initially, I shied away from any ISO over 400 for fear of noise. Now, I regularly find myself using ISO 3200 when conditions warrant. 1600 is very good, and 3200 can be acceptable.
+ VERY GOOD predictive AF, especially at this price point, but AF is not perfect.
+ FAST burst mode.
+ IMAGE QUALITY / resolution is excellent. I recently made a very acceptable print at 20x30. Unless there was operator error, picture quality is always outstanding at 8x12.
+ Build quality - the camera feels solid and works as advertised 99% of the time. Despite an occasional error code that is easily solved by taking the battery out for a few seconds.
+ Ease of use. I have put it in the hands of my 12 yo nephew, and he took some very good shots. Can easily be tethered to a computer. I shoot in Manual mode 90% of the time, and it is very easy to make needed adjustments.
+/- 1.6 crop factor. I love it for long shots (especially sports), but wish it wasn't there for sweeping landscapes of tall buildings.
+ excellent battery life. (and generic replacements are cheap too!) Get a spare battery for those long days. I usually get about 250 - 300 pictures from a single charge, but this varies with AF, IS, and image reviewing.

What could be improved? (nothing to hate)
-- viewfinder. very small and dark, and only covers about 95% of image.
-- ISO not in viewfinder, though it is easy enough to change.
-- No spot meter. 9% is not close enough for critical work.
--LCD screen is small and never indicative of the actual image captured.
-- menus. I would like to see some functions more easily accesible (ie: image quality, flash sync, and mirror lockup). Here's a suggestion: make the settings and buttons programmable by computer -- or at least in camera -- and have one button access to scroll through the various user-defined selections including button assignment and shooting modes. Tethered programming would also allow a better help system for learning the features of the camera and its capabilities as well as how different possibilities interact.
-- Software bundling. While the products themselves are very good, upgrading must be done individually, rather than as a package.

Overall, I would highly recommend this camera to anyone who thinks they like taking pictures with any degree of manual control. Shoot RAW and never be disappointed.


 
Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM

ef_28-135_35_1_
Review Date: Nov 26, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $350.00 | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: IS, zoom range, value, light weight
Cons:
soft focus, slow

Overall, this is a good lens, and a great value for the price tag. It is an excellent walk-around lens for the non-professional, and will give very good pictures if you do not attempt to enlarge very much or shoot in bright light and can stop down a little.

It is not pro quality in any respect, but for this price, it is about the best consumer grade lens you will find, and is full-featured with IS. Although not fast focus, it is adequate for shooting youth sports, and because of its zoom range is quite flexible.

I'll keep this one around until I can afford the 24 - 105 L


 
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM

ef70_200_28_1_
Review Date: Nov 26, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $800.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: tack sharp ++++ lightning fast AF, beautiful bokeh
Cons:
heavy

This lens is outstanding. It is my preferred lens for both sports and landscape, producing excellent images. It was my first "L" glass, and has convinced me of the enormous difference between consumer and pro level glass.

Using the 2x extender downgrades the image quality considerably (not recomended).


 
Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM

ef17-40_4l_1_
Review Date: Nov 26, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $650.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: excellent image quality, good contrast, sharp, reasonable price for L glass, nice range
Cons:
slight vignette with filter at wide angle, not 2.8

I have been shooting with this lens for six months now, and have come to appreicate its ability to get the shot in most light. It works well for WA landscapes, interior building shots, and up close candids. Barrel distortion is acceptable for my needs, but is easily correctable in PS.