Pros Produces excellent shots (quality, color, noise, etc.), Joy to work with (intuitive and instantaneous)
Cons Pop-up flash isn't too powerful, should have a kit lens that really shows off the camera's power, pricey
Summary The Canon EOS 20D certainly breaks a lot of ground when compared to older digital SLRs (especially the EOS 10D). I closely compared this with Nikon's D70(s) and Canon's Digital Rebel XT (350D) and I can say that this is the current 'top gun' of prosumer digital SLRs. The shots I take with the Canon EOS 20D always show excellent color reproduction and the perfect exposure. The EOS 20D also produces very nice photos at very high ISO speeds (ISO 1600 is fantastic, images begin to get grainy at ISO 3200) with very little noise. Unfortunately, it still carries a hefty pricetag at this point (roughly $1450), which makes it difficult to justify the purchase at first. After playing with this camera at a local camera store (swing by a camera store if you can!!), and after comparing it head-to-head with other DSLRs, I chose the EOS 20D because of the following...
* Best body design and best button/control layout (having an LCD on the front can be hard when you are working in the field), felt very snug in my hand, I like the set dial VERY much
* Fastest burst mode, 5fps (very nice if you take pictures of sports games or other fast-moving objects)
* Fastest response time (DIG!C II really shines on this camera)
* 9 focus points, can be crucial if you need AF and shooting macros or other delicate shots
* Extra manual controls (manual white balance, color temperature, custom functions)
* Body looks (and feels) much more professional than the Canon Rebel XT or Nikon D70.
At this point, I’m using the EOS 20D mostly for my own pleasure in nature photography and in experimental shots. I’ve also used it in weddings/prom shots, product modeling and the school yearbook, all of which it performs exceptionally. It is certainly an upgrade from my Powershot S30 and Nikon F2.
Miscellaneous annoyances with the EOS 20D
* The viewfinder shows only 95% of final image, if you are really into framing your shots (and don’t like to edit them) this can throw you off sometimes
* It has a fairly loud shutter
* Can’t take good candid/portrait shots due to its size
* Would have liked a Firewire option, but USB 2.0 works just fine.
The 18-55 EFS kit lens is very nice for the price (extra $100), featuring (roughly) a 2.5x zoom and decent macro capability (.28m/.9ft). To get the true 35mm equivalent, you multiply any lens by 1.6, so the kit lens is roughly a 28.8mm-88mm lens in 35mm terms (note: using old 35mm lenses can get tricky with the 1.6x conversion factor). The 18-55 kit lens doesn’t really show off all the camera has to offer, if possible, go with the 17-85 kit lens. The 17-85 also features Canon’s new image stabilizer feature, which works very well. The image stabilizer sometimes eliminates the need for a tripod.
The pop-up flash on this camera performs very well as a fill-in flash but it isn’t well suited for long-range nighttime shots. For the occasional night portrait, this flash should do the job. If it doesn’t, you can hook up your old flash via a PC terminal or accessory shoe (hotshoe).
If you still can’t decide what DSLR you want…
If you already have Nikon compatible (most AF lenses work) lens, go with the Nikon D70, if you have Canon compatible (most AF lenses), go with the EOS 20D.
If you are a creative professional or extreme hobbyist, the EOS 20D will never cease to please.
If you are in the photography business, something with a little more punch might be nice, you might want to try the Nikon D100 or the Canon EOS-1D Mark II. For wedding shots, assignment photography or journalism, the EOS 20D should be just what you’re looking for.
If you want superior quality images as well as impressive functionality, yet don’t want to drop lots of cash then you would want the Rebel XT.
If you’re still not sure, it can’t hurt to go to your local photo store and try them out. Reading reviews (like this one) can help quite a bit, but it’s probably a wise idea to take some shots with the different cameras and play around.
Image Stabilizer - http://www.canon.com/technology/detail/digi_video/shakecorrect_shift/
EOS 20D Product page - http://consumer.usa.canon.com/ir/controller?act=ModelDetailAct&fcategoryid=139&modelid=10464
Reviews I Used
Pros Robust feel, sturdy construction, easy and fast to manipulate settings, very fast, see full review below.
Cons Not inexpensive, nicer lenses can be pricey if you're accustomed to cheaper cameras, uh... that's about it
Summary I chose to buy the body only and purchase a different lens than was available in the kit. I chose Canon's EF 100mm f/2 lens which is awesome for portrait shots (I can't afford the EF 50mm F/1). But this is a review for the camera, not the lens.
The construction and sturdiness are the first things you'll notice. As soon as you hold it, you understand why it costs $500 more than the Rebel XT (have you ever held a Rebel XT?). This camera fits my hands much better than the Rebel and definitely feels stronger and more robust.
Start-up time (or wake-up time if it's in stand-by mode) is awesome. Rapid fire is so fast you have to remind yourself that this thing is snapping off 8.2-megapixel images! Seattings for things like ISO, drive mode, AF mode, etc. are quickly accessed and changed in mere seconds. This is very handy when you're trying to capture "the moment" and "the moment" doesn't wanna wait for you to browse through menus.
But what's really astounding (and I do mean astounding) are the low-light capabilities. Even at ISO1600 with no flash, images didn't show unsightly grain and small details are clearly visible with virtually no noise at all!!! I'm just blown away by it, really.
My last camera (Canon S40) was a wonderful point-and-shoot which I paid about $400 for three years ago. This time around, I thought twice about spending $2000 (remember, I bought an expensive lens separately) to upgrade to a professional-grade camera. At this point, I'm glad I bit the bullet. The camera is worth the money.
Pros Excellent detail and color.
Cons Pop-up flash is VERY weak!
Summary This is an excellent camera for all shots except those where you rely on the pop-up flash for the primary light source. I cannot belive how under-powered the pop-up flash is. My Digital Rebel's flash is much more powerful. Can't believe Canon made this mistake.
Pros Fairly easy to learn to use. Multiple preprogrammed camera settings with ability to program your own frequently used ones. Fast shutter, fast write to card (w/ high speed CF).
Cons The high cost of good lenses to take full advantage of the camera's capabilities.
Summary I bought this camera in January to mainly use as the "official" photographer for my daughter's high school show choir. Getting good pictures of dancing, singing teenagers from the back of a darkened auditorium required fast shutter speed, quick write time to allow for multiple frames per second, good low light capability for crowd shots and the ability to do wide angle and long distance zoom. I have not regretted the money that I invested in this camera and the two additional lenses, 75-300mm & 28-135mm. To avoid missing any shots, I, also, purchased a second battery and two Lexar Pro CF cards, 1Gb & 2Gb. Despite all I have read about the battery life in other reviews, I have never had to resort to my second battery, even when taking pictures off and on from 6am to midnight. To accomplish this I did turn off the LCD screen, preferring to view the complete set of pictures during upload to my computer. The lenses are easy to change, making the switch from short to long distance a snap. For my long distance pictures in the auditoriums I mounted the camera on a monopod. It maintains the stability needed to eliminate shaking of the camera by my hands during the longer shutter speeds for full zoom, slower shutter in the auditorium, plus the monopod is easier to carry around all day. This summer I have been using it for taking pictures during bass tournaments. It performs like a dream outdoors. Even in the pre-dawn light I am able to get good pictures of the fisherman waiting to climb in their boats and go racing across the lake. The image stabilization of the Canon zoom lenses works so well with this camera, that the pictures of wildlife creatures and other fishermen that I have taken while on the rocking boat come out crisp and clear.
For taking pictures in multiple lighting and motion settings this camera is a must.
I love my Canon 20D!
Pros Speed, Build Quality, Customizability, Image Quality
Cons You pay a premium to have the best in it's class. The shutter is a little loud, but it shoots faster bursts than anything in its class.
Summary Camera Setup:
Canon 20D w/
3- 1gb 80x lexar cards (80+ picture burst at 5fps in jpeg!!)
4gb microdrive, gives me 7gb of total capacity in case I get silly. About 60x write speed with the 20d
17-85mm IS USM lens. Good lens, the IS is very handy and generally nixes the need for a tripod for everyday use. My only complaint is that I have 2 pieces of small visible dust inside the lens that do not affect image quality. I just don't like to see it. This complaint is about the lens, which is otherwise pretty good, not the camera.
70-200f4 L USM lens. The best deal in image quality in the Canon line, MTF chart rivals $5000 lenses just not as fast wide open but much lighter. A great telephoto lens to carry along if you're not rich enough to have someone else haul your stuff around for you.
Canon 420ex flash. The 20d has all the controls you generally need for the flash. I may purchase a 580ex just to have a slave option and a slightly more powerful flash.
This is probably the most satisfied I've ever been with a major purchase. This camera is very fast and has great battery life. I have 3 batteries and I generally change one after a couple of weeks of snapshooting. However if I shoot all day the batteries hold out all day. The image quality is mind blowing and being able to customize controls makes the camera feel like a natural extension of my hand.
Some have criticized the lack of a spotmeter on the 20d, which is a legitimate complaint. However, the Nikon D70s spotmeter has been calculated as a 5 degree spot while the 20d's is 6 degrees. Being that the 20D smokes the D70 in every respect pretty much kills that 1 degree advantage. My friends with the D70 just can't keep up in terms of speed and high ISO image quality. Plus I have 2 million more pixels!
I can shoot beautiful, crisp images and print them at home. I have shots taken at iso 400-800 which I have been jokingly accused of ripping out of national geographic, including shots of a hawk taking off on a very dim and gloomy day. Shooting in a poorly -lit church I've been able to shoot individual and group portaits at ISO 800 and even 1600 when necessary and used the included software to perfect them by controlling any noise and finetunning the developed raw file in the included Photoshop Elements.
Overall, this is a great camera and in every way outperforms any camera out now or rumored to be coming out now including the Fuji 12megapixel DSLR.