Canon 20D vs 30D
The Canon EOS 20D and the Canon EOS 30D are two enthusiast cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in August 2004 and February 2006. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 8.2 megapixels.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 20D and the Canon EOS 30D? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon 20D and the Canon 30D is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
In this particular case, the Canon 20D and the Canon 30D have exactly the same width and height, and, thus, have identically-sized bodies. However, the 30D is slightly heavier (2 percent) than the 20D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 20D nor the 30D 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 compare the optics available in the Canon EF Lens Catalog.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Canon 20D||144 mm||106 mm||72 mm||770 g||700||n||Aug 2004||1,499|
|2.||Canon 30D||144 mm||106 mm||74 mm||785 g||750||n||Feb 2006||1,399|
|3.||Canon 7D II||149 mm||112 mm||78 mm||910 g||670||Y||Sep 2014||1,799|
|4.||Canon 70D||139 mm||104 mm||79 mm||755 g||920||Y||Jul 2013||1,199|
|5.||Canon 60D||145 mm||106 mm||79 mm||755 g||1100||Y||Aug 2010||1,399|
|6.||Canon 7D||148 mm||111 mm||74 mm||860 g||800||Y||Sep 2009||1,699|
|7.||Canon 50D||146 mm||108 mm||74 mm||822 g||800||Y||Aug 2008||1,299|
|8.||Canon 40D||146 mm||108 mm||74 mm||822 g||750||n||Aug 2007||1,299|
|9.||Canon 350D||127 mm||94 mm||64 mm||540 g||400||n||Feb 2005||899|
|10.||Canon 10D||150 mm||107 mm||75 mm||850 g||500||n||Feb 2003||1,999|
|11.||Canon 300D||142 mm||99 mm||72 mm||649 g||400||n||Aug 2003||899|
|12.||Nikon D200||147 mm||113 mm||74 mm||920 g||400||Y||Nov 2005||1,699|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. 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 30D was somewhat cheaper (by 7 percent) than the 20D at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. 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.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.6. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
The two cameras under review do not only share the same sensor size, but also offer an identical resolution of 8.2 megapixels. This similarity in sensor specs implies that both the 20D and the 30D have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the 30D is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 6 months) than the 20D, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time.
The Canon EOS 20D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 100-3200. The Canon EOS 30D offers exactly the same ISO settings.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|3.||Canon 7D II||APS-C||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.4||11.8||1082||70|
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 20D and the 30D 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 viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (95%), as well as the same magnification (0.56x). The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 20D, the Canon 30D, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Canon 20D||optical||Y||1.8 / 118||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||Y||n|
|2.||Canon 30D||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||Y||n|
|3.||Canon 7D II||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0||Y||n|
|4.||Canon 70D||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/8000s||7.0||Y||n|
|5.||Canon 60D||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||n||1/8000s||5.3||Y||n|
|6.||Canon 7D||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.0||Y||n|
|7.||Canon 50D||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.3||Y||n|
|8.||Canon 40D||optical||Y||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.5||Y||n|
|9.||Canon 350D||optical||n||1.8 / 115||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|10.||Canon 10D||optical||Y||1.8 / 118||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|11.||Canon 300D||optical||n||1.8 / 118||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5||Y||n|
|12.||Nikon D200||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||Y||n|
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the 20D and the 30D write their files to Compact Flash cards.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS 20D and Canon EOS 30D and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon 20D||Y||- / -||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-|
|2.||Canon 30D||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon 7D II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|4.||Canon 70D||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|5.||Canon 60D||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Canon 7D||Y||mono / -||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Canon 50D||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Canon 40D||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Canon 350D||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Canon 10D||Y||- / -||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-|
|11.||Canon 300D||Y||- / -||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-|
|12.||Nikon D200||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.
Both the 20D and the 30D have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 20D was replaced by the Canon 30D, while the 30D was followed by the Canon 40D. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon website.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon 20D and the Canon 30D? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS 20D:
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in August 2004).
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 30D:
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.5" vs 1.8") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (230k vs 118k dots).
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (2.0 vs 1.1).
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 6 months) more recently.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the 30D emerges as the winner of the match-up (4 : 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. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 20D and the Canon 30D place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the 20D and the 30D in practical situations. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.
This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Canon 20D||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Aug 2004||1,499|
|2.||Canon 30D||..||+ +||..||+ +||o||..||Feb 2006||1,399|
|3.||Canon 7D II||4.5/5||+||3.5/5||84/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||1,799|
|4.||Canon 70D||5/5||+ +||..||83/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2013||1,199|
|5.||Canon 60D||5/5||+||..||79/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||1,399|
|6.||Canon 7D||5/5||+ +||..||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2009||1,699|
|7.||Canon 50D||..||+ +||..||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2008||1,299|
|8.||Canon 40D||..||+ +||..||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,299|
|9.||Canon 350D||..||80/100||..||+ +||o||..||Feb 2005||899|
|10.||Canon 10D||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Feb 2003||1,999|
|11.||Canon 300D||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Aug 2003||899|
|12.||Nikon D200||..||+ +||..||+ +||o||..||Nov 2005||1,699|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
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. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
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. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
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- Canon 20D vs Canon T5i
- Canon 20D vs Panasonic G5
- Canon 20D vs Sony RX100 VII
- Canon 30D vs Canon 4000D
- Canon 30D vs Fujifilm X-E1
- Canon 30D vs Olympus E-M1X
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- Canon 30D vs Panasonic ZS100
Specifications: Canon 20D vs Canon 30D
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Canon 20D||Canon 30D|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Canon EF mount lenses|
|Launch Date||August 2004||February 2006|
|Launch Price||USD 1,499||USD 1,399|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 20D||Canon 30D|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.5 x 15.0 mm||22.5 x 15.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||337.5 mm2||337.5 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||27 mm||27 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||8.2 Megapixels||8.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3504 x 2336 pixels||3504 x 2336 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.42 μm||6.42 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.43 MP/cm2||2.43 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 1,600 ISO||100 - 1,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 3,200 ISO||100 - 3,200 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 2||DIGIC 2|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||62||59|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.9||21.5|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.0||10.8|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||721||736|
|Screen Specs||Canon 20D||Canon 30D|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||95%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|Rear LCD Size||1.8inch||2.5inch|
|LCD Resolution||118k dots||230k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 20D||Canon 30D|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||5 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||50 000 actuations||100 000 actuations|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||CF cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 20D||Canon 30D|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 1.1||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||no HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon 20D||Canon 30D|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||700 shots per charge||750 shots per charge|
144 x 106 x 72 mm
(5.7 x 4.2 x 2.8 in)
144 x 106 x 74 mm
(5.7 x 4.2 x 2.9 in)
|Camera Weight||770 g (27.2 oz)||785 g (27.7 oz)|
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