Canon 30D vs Nikon D500
The Canon EOS 30D and the Nikon D500 are two enthusiast cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2006 and January 2016. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 8.2 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 20.7 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Canon 30D||Nikon D500|
|Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Canon EF mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|8.2 MP, APS-C Sensor||20.7 MP, APS-C Sensor|
|no Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO 100-1,600 (100 - 3,200)||ISO 100-51,200 (50 - 1,640,000)|
|Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|2.5 LCD, 230k dots||3.2 LCD, 2359k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Tilting touchscreen|
|5 shutter flaps per second||10 shutter flaps per second|
|not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|750 shots per battery charge||1240 shots per battery charge|
|144 x 106 x 74 mm, 785 g||147 x 115 x 81 mm, 860 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 30D and the Nikon D500? 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.
The physical size and weight of the Canon 30D and the Nikon D500 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D500 is notably larger (11 percent) than the Canon 30D. Moreover, the D500 is markedly heavier (10 percent) than the 30D. It is noteworthy in this context that the D500 is splash and dust-proof, while the 30D 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. Yet, since both cameras are based around an APS-C sensor, their respective lenses will tend to have similar dimensions and heft. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (30D) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D500).
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, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.
|Canon 30D||144 mm||106 mm||74 mm||785 g||750||n||Feb 2006||1,399|
|Nikon D500||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||860 g||1240||Y||Jan 2016||1,999|
|Canon 70D||139 mm||104 mm||79 mm||755 g||920||Y||Jul 2013||1,199|
|Canon 60D||145 mm||106 mm||79 mm||755 g||1100||Y||Aug 2010||1,399|
|Canon 7D||148 mm||111 mm||74 mm||860 g||800||Y||Sep 2009||1,699|
|Canon 50D||146 mm||108 mm||74 mm||822 g||800||Y||Aug 2008||1,299|
|Canon 40D||146 mm||108 mm||74 mm||822 g||750||n||Aug 2007||1,299|
|Canon 400D||127 mm||84 mm||65 mm||556 g||370||n||Aug 2006||799|
|Canon 350D||127 mm||94 mm||64 mm||540 g||400||n||Feb 2005||899|
|Canon 20D||144 mm||106 mm||72 mm||770 g||700||n||Aug 2004||1,499|
|Nikon D7500||136 mm||104 mm||73 mm||720 g||950||Y||Apr 2017||1,299|
|Nikon D7200||136 mm||107 mm||76 mm||765 g||1110||Y||Mar 2015||1,199|
|Nikon D7100||136 mm||107 mm||76 mm||765 g||950||Y||Feb 2013||1,199|
|Nikon D610||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Oct 2013||1,999|
|Nikon D300S||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||938 g||950||Y||Jul 2009||1,799|
|Nikon D80||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||668 g||600||n||Aug 2006||999|
|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.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.
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 launched at a markedly lower price (by 30 percent) than the D500, which puts it into a different market segment. 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.
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. 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 D500 is 9 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have format factors, respectively, of 1.6 (30D) and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 20.7MP, the D500 offers a higher resolution than the 30D (8.2MP), but the D500 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.22μm versus 6.42μm for the 30D). Yet, the D500 is a much more recent model (by 9 years and 10 months) than the 30D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the D500 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon D500 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D500 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 27.8 x 18.6 inches or 70.7 x 47.1 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 22.3 x 14.8 inches or 56.6 x 37.7 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 18.6 x 12.4 inches or 47.1 x 31.4 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon 30D are 17.5 x 11.7 inches or 44.5 x 29.7 cm for good quality, 14 x 9.3 inches or 35.6 x 23.7 cm for very good quality, and 11.7 x 7.8 inches or 29.7 x 19.8 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS 30D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 100-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D500 are ISO 100 to ISO 51200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-1640000.
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"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the D500 offers substantially better image quality than the 30D (overall score 24 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.5 bits higher color depth, 3.2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.8 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|Nikon D610||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.4||2925||94|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The D500 indeed provides for movie recording, while the 30D does not. The highest resolution format that the D500 can use is 4K/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 30D and the D500 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 viewfinder in the D500 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the 30D (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the D500 has a higher magnification (0.67x vs 0.56x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon 30D and Nikon D500 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The 30D has one, while the D500 does not. While the built-in flash of the 30D is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The Nikon D500 has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The 30D writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the D500 uses SDHC or XQD cards. The D500 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the 30D only has one slot.
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 30D and Nikon D500 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
It is notable that the D500 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the 30D does not provide wifi capability.
Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.
The D500 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Nikon. In contrast, the 30D has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the 30D was succeeded 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 and Nikon websites.
So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 30D or the Nikon D500 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Advantages of the Canon EOS 30D:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (30 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2006).
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D500:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (20.7 vs 8.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 59%.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (24 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2.5 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (3.2 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.8 stops ISO advantage).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 4K/30p video.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 95%).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.67x vs 0.56x).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (2359k vs 230k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (1240 versus 750) out of a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.0 vs 2.0).
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More modern: Reflects 9 years and 10 months of technical progress since the 30D launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D500 is the clear winner of the contest (23 : 4 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. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape 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 30D and the Nikon D500 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 comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the 30D or the D500 perform in practice. 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 where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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.
|Canon 30D||+ +||+ +||o||o||..||Feb 2006||1,399|
|Nikon D500||+ +||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,999|
|Canon 70D||+ +||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2013||1,199|
|Canon 60D||+||79/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||1,399|
|Canon 7D||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2009||1,699|
|Canon 50D||+ +||+ +||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2008||1,299|
|Canon 40D||+ +||+ +||4.5/5||o||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,299|
|Canon 400D||+ +||+ +||o||4.5/5||4/5||Aug 2006||799|
|Canon 350D||80/100||+ +||o||o||..||Feb 2005||899|
|Canon 20D||..||+ +||..||o||..||Aug 2004||1,499|
|Nikon D7500||+ +||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2017||1,299|
|Nikon D7200||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2015||1,199|
|Nikon D7100||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||1,199|
|Nikon D610||+ +||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,999|
|Nikon D300S||+ +||82/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||1,799|
|Nikon D80||+||+ +||o||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2006||999|
|Nikon D200||+ +||+ +||o||5/5||..||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 are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon 100D vs Nikon D500
- Canon 30D vs Canon G5 X
- Canon 30D vs Leica D-LUX 6
- Canon 30D vs Nikon D780
- Canon 30D vs Olympus E-500
- Canon 30D vs Sigma fp
- Nikon D500 vs Nikon D7000
- Nikon D500 vs Olympus E-510
- Nikon D500 vs Olympus E-M5 III
- Nikon D500 vs Olympus E-PL6
- Nikon D500 vs Panasonic LX100
- Nikon D500 vs Pentax MX-1
Specifications: Canon 30D vs Nikon D500
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 30D||Nikon D500|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2006||January 2016|
|Launch Price||USD 1,399||USD 1,999|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 30D||Nikon D500|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.5 x 15.0 mm||23.5 x 15.7 mm|
|Sensor Area||337.5 mm2||368.95 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||27 mm||28.3 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||8.2 Megapixels||20.7 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3504 x 2336 pixels||5568 x 3712 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.42 μm||4.22 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.43 MP/cm2||5.60 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 1,600 ISO||100 - 51,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 3,200 ISO||50 - 1,640,000 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 2||EXPEED 5|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||59||83|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.5||24.0|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.8||14.0|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||736||1324|
|Screen Specs||Canon 30D||Nikon D500|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.5inch||3.2inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||2359k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 30D||Nikon D500|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations||200 000 actuations|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||SDXC or XQD cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 30D||Nikon D500|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 3.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon 30D||Nikon D500|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||750 shots per charge||1240 shots per charge|
144 x 106 x 74 mm
(5.7 x 4.2 x 2.9 in)
147 x 115 x 81 mm
(5.8 x 4.5 x 3.2 in)
|Camera Weight||785 g (27.7 oz)||860 g (30.3 oz)|
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