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Canon 20D versus Canon 80D

The Canon EOS 20D and the Canon EOS 80D are two enthusiast cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2004 and February 2016. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The 20D has a resolution of 8.2 megapixel, whereas the 80D provides 24 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 20D vs Canon 80D

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon 20D and the Canon 80D is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. 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 20D – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Canon 20D vs Canon 80D
20D versus 80D top view
20D and 80D rear side

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon 80D is somewhat smaller (4 percent) than the Canon 20D. Moreover, the 80D is markedly lighter (5 percent) than the 20D. It is noteworthy in this context that the 80D is splash and dust-proof, while the 20D does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.

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 20D gets 700 shots out of its BP-511A battery, while the 80D can take 960 images on a single charge of its LP-E6N 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 Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(y/n)
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Canon 20D (⇒ rgt) 5.7 in 4.2 in 2.8 in 27.2 oz 700 no 2004 1,499discont. check
Canon 80D (⇒ lft) 5.5 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 25.8 oz 960 YES 2016 1,199 latest check
Canon G3 X (⇒ lft | rgt) 4.8 in 3.0 in 4.1 in 25.9 oz 300 YES 2015 999 latest check
Canon 7D II (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.9 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 32.1 oz 670 YES 2014 1,799 latest check
Canon 70D (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.5 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 26.6 oz 920 YES 2013 1,199discont. check
Canon 60D (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.7 in 4.2 in 3.1 in 26.6 oz 1100 YES 2010 1,399discont. check
Canon 7D (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.8 in 4.4 in 2.9 in 30.3 oz 800 YES 2009 1,699discont. check
Canon 50D (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.9 in 29.0 oz 800 YES 2008 1,299discont. check
Canon 40D (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.9 in 29.0 oz 750 no 2007 1,299discont. check
Canon 30D (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.7 in 4.2 in 2.9 in 27.7 oz 750 no 2006 1,399discont. check
Canon XT (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.0 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 19.0 oz 400 no 2005 899discont. check
Canon 10D (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.9 in 4.2 in 3.0 in 30.0 oz 500 no 2003 1,999discont. check
Canon Rebel (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.6 in 3.9 in 2.8 in 22.9 oz 400 no 2003 899discont. check
Nikon D7200 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.4 in 4.2 in 3.0 in 27.0 oz 1110 YES 2015 1,199discont. check
Nikon D200 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.8 in 4.4 in 2.9 in 32.5 oz 400 YES 2005 1,699discont. check
Sony RX10 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.1 in 3.5 in 4.0 in 28.7 oz 400 YES 2015 1,299discont. check

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 80D was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 20 percent) than the 20D, 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 20D vs Canon 80D

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have 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 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.

Canon 20D and Canon 80D sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the 80D offers a higher resolution of 24 megapixel, compared with 8.2 MP of the 20D. This megapixel advantage translates into a 71 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the 80D has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.75μm versus 6.42μm for the 20D). However, it should be noted that the 80D is much more recent (by 11 years and 6 months) than the 20D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that compensate for the smaller pixel size.

20D versus 80D MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most cameras. 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"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the 80D offers substantially better image quality than the 20D (overall score 17 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.7 bits higher color depth, 2.2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.7 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

Sensor Characteristics
Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Canon 20D (⇒ rgt) APS-C 8.2 3504 2336 no 21.9 11.0 721 62
Canon 80D (⇒ lft) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 23.6 13.2 1135 79
Canon G3 X (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 1080/60p 21.4 12.3 521 63
Canon 7D II (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 20.0 5472 3648 1080/60p 22.4 11.8 1082 70
Canon 70D (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 20.0 5472 3648 1080/30p 22.5 11.6 926 68
Canon 60D (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 17.9 5184 3456 1080/30p 22.2 11.5 813 66
Canon 7D (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 17.9 5184 3456 1080/30p 22.0 11.7 854 66
Canon 50D (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 15.1 4752 3168 no 21.8 11.4 696 63
Canon 40D (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 10.1 3888 2592 no 22.1 11.3 703 64
Canon 30D (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 8.2 3504 2336 no 21.5 10.8 736 59
Canon XT (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 8.0 3456 2304 no 21.8 10.8 637 60
Canon 10D (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 6.3 3072 2048 no 21.1 10.9 571 57
Canon Rebel (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 6.3 3072 2048 no 21.0 10.8 544 55
Nikon D7200 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.5 14.6 1333 87
Nikon D200 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 10.0 3872 2592 no 22.3 11.5 583 64
Sony RX10 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 4K/30p 23.0 12.6 531 70

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The 80D indeed provides for movie recording, while the 20D does not. The highest resolution format that the 80D can use is 1080/60p.

Feature comparison: Canon 20D vs Canon 80D

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 20D and the 80D 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 20D, the Canon 80D, 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
(Y/n)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(Y/n)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(GN)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Canon 20D (⇒ rgt) optical YES 1.8 118 fixed no 8000 5.0 13 no
Canon 80D (⇒ lft) optical YES 3.0 1040 swivel YES 8000 7.0 12 no
Canon G3 X (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.2 1620 tilting YES 2000 5.9 6.8 YES
Canon 7D II (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 1040 fixed no 8000 10.0 11 no
Canon 70D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 1040 swivel YES 8000 7.0 12 no
Canon 60D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 1040 swivel no 8000 5.3 13 no
Canon 7D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 920 fixed no 8000 8.0 12 no
Canon 50D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 920 fixed no 8000 6.3 13 no
Canon 40D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 230 fixed no 8000 6.5 12 no
Canon 30D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 2.5 230 fixed no 8000 5.0 13 no
Canon XT (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 1.8 115 fixed no 4000 3.0 13 no
Canon 10D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 1.8 118 fixed no 4000 3.0 13 no
Canon Rebel (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 1.8 118 fixed no 4000 2.5 13 no
Nikon D7200 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 1229 fixed no 8000 6.0 12 no
Nikon D200 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 2.5 230 fixed no 8000 5.0 12 no
Sony RX10 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 2359 YES 3.0 1229 tilting no 3200 14.0 10.2 YES

The 80D is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the 20D has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the 20D was succeeded by the Canon 30D.

Review summary: Canon 20D vs Canon 80D

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon 20D and the Canon 80D? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 20D:

  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2004).

Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS 80D:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 8.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 71%.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (17 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.7 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2.2 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.7 stops ISO advantage).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60p video.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 1.8") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 118k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (960 versus 700) out of a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (20 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 11 years and 6 months of technical progress since the 20D launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 80D is the clear winner of the contest (15 : 1 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera.

20D 01:15 80D

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 20D or the 80D. 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 hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). You can find the full text of the reviews by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review scores
Camera cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Canon 20D (⇒ rgt) - HiRec - reviewed - 2004 1,499discont. check
Canon 80D (⇒ lft) HiRec 84/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2016 1,199 latest check
Canon G3 X (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec - 4.5/5 3.5/5 4/5 2015 999 latest check
Canon 7D II (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 84/100 Silver 4/5 5/5 4.5/5 2014 1,799 latest check
Canon 70D (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 83/100 Gold 4.5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2013 1,199discont. check
Canon 60D (⇒ lft | rgt) 87/100 Rec 79/100 Silver 4/5 5/5 4.5/5 2010 1,399discont. check
Canon 7D (⇒ lft | rgt) 93/100 HiRec 84/100 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2009 1,699discont. check
Canon 50D (⇒ lft | rgt) 90/100 HiRec HiRec 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2008 1,299discont. check
Canon 40D (⇒ lft | rgt) 90/100 HiRec HiRec 4.5/5 reviewed 4.5/5 2007 1,299discont. check
Canon 30D (⇒ lft | rgt) 87/100 HiRec HiRec reviewed reviewed - 2006 1,399discont. check
Canon XT (⇒ lft | rgt) 80/100 HiRec reviewed reviewed - 2005 899discont. check
Canon 10D (⇒ lft | rgt) - HiRec - reviewed - 2003 1,999discont. check
Canon Rebel (⇒ lft | rgt) - HiRec - reviewed - 2003 899discont. check
Nikon D7200 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 84/100 Silver 4.5/5 4/5 4.5/5 2015 1,199discont. check
Nikon D200 (⇒ lft | rgt) 91/100 HiRec HiRec reviewed 5/5 - 2005 1,699discont. check
Sony RX10 II (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 82/100 Gold 4.5/5 4.5/5 4/5 2015 1,299discont. check

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when refering to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. 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 make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If the camera you are interested in is not available, please contact me, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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