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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

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon 10D and the Canon 20D is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All size dimensions 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 the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare 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 following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras 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)
Camera
Model
Canon 10D» 5.9 in 4.2 in 3.0 in 30.0 oz 500 n Feb 2003 1,999- i Canon 10D
Canon 20D« 5.7 in 4.2 in 2.8 in 27.2 oz 700 n Aug 2004 1,499- i Canon 20D
Canon 7D II« » 5.9 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 32.1 oz 670 Y Sep 2014 1,799 i i Canon 7D II
Canon 70D« » 5.5 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 26.6 oz 920 Y Jul 2013 1,199- i Canon 70D
Canon T5i« » 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 20.5 oz 440 n Mar 2013 649- i Canon T5i
Canon 7D« » 5.8 in 4.4 in 2.9 in 30.3 oz 800 Y Sep 2009 1,699- i Canon 7D
Canon 40D« » 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.9 in 29.0 oz 750 n Aug 2007 1,299- i Canon 40D
Canon 30D« » 5.7 in 4.2 in 2.9 in 27.7 oz 750 n Feb 2006 1,399- i Canon 30D
Canon XT« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 19.0 oz 400 n Feb 2005 899- i Canon XT
Canon Rebel« » 5.6 in 3.9 in 2.8 in 22.9 oz 400 n Aug 2003 899- i Canon Rebel
Canon D60« » 5.9 in 4.2 in 3.0 in 30.2 oz 620 n Feb 2002 2,999- i Canon D60
Nikon D100« » 5.7 in 4.6 in 3.2 in 27.5 oz 370 n Feb 2002 1,999- i Nikon D100

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. 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 imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to 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.

Technology-wise, the 20D uses a more advanced image processing engine (DIGIC 2) than the 10D (DIGIC), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.

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

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). 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
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Canon 10D» APS-C 6.3 3072 2048-21.110.957157Canon 10D
Canon 20D« APS-C 8.2 3504 2336-21.911.072162Canon 20D
Canon 7D II« » APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.411.8108270Canon 7D II
Canon 70D« » APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p22.511.692668Canon 70D
Canon T5i« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.268161Canon T5i
Canon 7D« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.011.785466Canon 7D
Canon 40D« » APS-C 10.1 3888 2592-22.111.370364Canon 40D
Canon 30D« » APS-C 8.2 3504 2336-21.510.873659Canon 30D
Canon XT« » APS-C 8.0 3456 2304-21.810.863760Canon XT
Canon Rebel« » APS-C 6.3 3072 2048-21.010.854455Canon Rebel
Canon D60« » APS-C 6.3 3072 2048-----Canon D60
Nikon D100« » APS-C 6.0 3008 2000-----Nikon D100
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

Beyond 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon 10D and Canon 20D in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
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
Camera
Model
Canon 10D»optical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Canon 10D
Canon 20D«optical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 8000 5.0 Y n Canon 20D
Canon 7D II« »optical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 8000 10.0 Y n Canon 7D II
Canon 70D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 7.0 Y n Canon 70D
Canon T5i« »optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n Canon T5i
Canon 7D« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 8.0 Y n Canon 7D
Canon 40D« »optical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 8000 6.5 Y n Canon 40D
Canon 30D« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 5.0 Y n Canon 30D
Canon XT« »optical n 1.8 115 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Canon XT
Canon Rebel« »optical n 1.8 118 fixed n 4000 2.5 Y n Canon Rebel
Canon D60« »optical Y 1.8 114 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Canon D60
Nikon D100« »optical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Nikon D100

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? Is the Canon 10D better than the Canon 20D or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Advantages of the Canon EOS 10D:

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


Reasons to prefer 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).
  • Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (DIGIC 2 vs DIGIC).
  • 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 (9 : 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 01:09 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 that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate. This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

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

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 comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

 

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 make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, kindly get in touch, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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