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Canon 10D versus Canon 20D

The Canon EOS 10D and the Canon EOS 20D are two enthusiast cameras that were announced, respectively, in February 2003 and August 2004. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The 10D has a resolution of 6.3 megapixel, whereas the 20D provides 8.2 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Canon 10D vs Canon 20D

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 10D and the Canon 20D. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also use the toggle button to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the 10D – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Canon 10D vs Canon 20D
Compare 10D versus 20D top
Compare 10D and 20D rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon 20D is notably smaller (5 percent) than the Canon 10D. Moreover, the 20D is markedly lighter (9 percent) than the 10D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 10D nor the 20D are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can find an overview of suitable optics in the Canon EF Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the 10D gets 500 shots out of its BP-511 battery, while the 20D can take 700 images on a single charge of its BP-511A power pack.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Canon 10D» 5.9 in 4.2 in 3.0 in 30.0 oz 500 n Feb 2003 1,999- i
Canon 20D« 5.7 in 4.2 in 2.8 in 27.2 oz 700 n Aug 2004 1,499- i
Canon 7D II« » 5.9 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 32.1 oz 670 Y Sep 2014 1,799 i i
Canon T5i« » 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 20.5 oz 440 n Mar 2013 649- i
Canon 70D« » 5.5 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 26.6 oz 920 Y Jul 2013 1,199- i
Canon 7D« » 5.8 in 4.4 in 2.9 in 30.3 oz 800 Y Sep 2009 1,699- i
Canon 40D« » 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.9 in 29.0 oz 750 n Aug 2007 1,299- i
Canon 30D« » 5.7 in 4.2 in 2.9 in 27.7 oz 750 n Feb 2006 1,399- i
Canon XT« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 19.0 oz 400 n Feb 2005 899- i
Canon Rebel« » 5.6 in 3.9 in 2.8 in 22.9 oz 400 n Aug 2003 899- i
Canon D60« » 5.9 in 4.2 in 3.0 in 30.2 oz 620 n Feb 2002 2,999- i
Nikon D100« » 5.7 in 4.6 in 3.2 in 27.5 oz 370 n Feb 2002 1,999- i

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The 20D was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 25 percent) than the 10D, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

 

Sensor comparison: Canon 10D vs Canon 20D

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the 20D is 1 percent smaller. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.6. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Canon 10D and Canon 20D sensor measures

Despite having a slightly smaller sensor, the 20D offers a higher resolution of 8.2 megapixel, compared with 6.3 MP of the 10D. This megapixel advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 6.42μm versus 7.38μm for the 10D). However, it should be noted that the 20D is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 5 months) than the 10D, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that partly offset its pixel-size disadvantage.

10D versus 20D MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under consideration, the 20D has a markedly higher DXO score than the 10D (overall score 5 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.8 bits higher color depth, 0.1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.3 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Canon 10D» APS-C 6.3 3072 2048-21.110.957157
Canon 20D« APS-C 8.2 3504 2336-21.911.072162
Canon 7D II« » APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.411.8108270
Canon T5i« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.268161
Canon 70D« » APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p22.511.692668
Canon 7D« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.011.785466
Canon 40D« » APS-C 10.1 3888 2592-22.111.370364
Canon 30D« » APS-C 8.2 3504 2336-21.510.873659
Canon XT« » APS-C 8.0 3456 2304-21.810.863760
Canon Rebel« » APS-C 6.3 3072 2048-21.010.854455
Canon D60« » APS-C 6.3 3072 2048-----
Nikon D100« » APS-C 6.0 3008 2000-----
Neither the 10D nor the 20D offer Live View, so that they cannot project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen. Moreover, both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.
 

Feature comparison: Canon 10D vs Canon 20D

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 10D and the 20D are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 10D, the Canon 20D, and comparable cameras. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
  Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Canon 10D»optical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n
Canon 20D«optical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 8000 5.0 Y n
Canon 7D II« »optical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 8000 10.0 Y n
Canon T5i« »optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n
Canon 70D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 7.0 Y n
Canon 7D« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 8.0 Y n
Canon 40D« »optical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 8000 6.5 Y n
Canon 30D« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 5.0 Y n
Canon XT« »optical n 1.8 115 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n
Canon Rebel« »optical n 1.8 118 fixed n 4000 2.5 Y n
Canon D60« »optical Y 1.8 114 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n
Nikon D100« »optical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n

Both the 10D and the 20D have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 10D was replaced by the Canon 20D, while the 20D was followed by the Canon 30D.

Review summary: Canon 10D vs Canon 20D

So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 10D or the Canon 20D – has the upper hand? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS 10D:

  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in February 2003).


Advantages of the Canon EOS 20D:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (8.2 vs 6.3MP), which boosts linear resolution by 14%.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (5 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.3 stops ISO advantage).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (700 versus 500) out of a single battery charge.
  • More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (25 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 5 months) more recently.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the 20D is the clear winner of the contest (8 : 1 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision.

10D 01:08 20D

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 10D or the 20D. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased. This is why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The detailed reviews can be accessed by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review scores
  Camera cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Canon 10D»-HiRec-rev- Feb 2003 1,999- i
Canon 20D«-HiRec-rev- Aug 2004 1,499- i
Canon 7D II« »Rec84/1004/55/54.5/5 Sep 2014 1,799 i i
Canon T5i« »-76/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Mar 2013 649- i
Canon 70D« »HiRec83/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Jul 2013 1,199- i
Canon 7D« »HiRec84/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2009 1,699- i
Canon 40D« »HiRecHiRec4.5/5rev4.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299- i
Canon 30D« »HiRecHiRecrevrev- Feb 2006 1,399- i
Canon XT« »80/100HiRecrevrev- Feb 2005 899- i
Canon Rebel« »-HiRec-rev- Aug 2003 899- i
Canon D60« »-HiRecrev-- Feb 2002 2,999- i
Nikon D100« »-HiRecrevrev- Feb 2002 1,999- i

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

 

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, please contact me, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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