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Canon EOS D30 Digital SLR

Canon's first digital SLR packs 3 megapixels of CMOS sensor into a speedy, compact body! (Smallest/lightest digital SLR as of August, 2000)

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Page 1:Intro and Highlights

Review First Posted: 8/27/2000

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Canon EOS SLR designed ground-up to be digital
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3.25 megapixel CMOS sensor, 2226 x 1460 pixel images
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ISO of 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600
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3 frames per second, photo-centric design – touch shutter button in Play mode and camera returns to Record mode!
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Compatible with all Canon EF lenses, focal length multiplier of 1.6

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Manufacturer Overview
Ask a photographer, be they professional or amateur, to name the first couple of camera manufacturers that they can think of, and chances are that one of those would be Canon. Ask the same photographer what the Canon name means to them, and many would suggest that they associated the name with innovation, the company having brought such technological advances as Eye-Controlled Focusing (Canon EOS 5, 1992) and the USM ultrasonic motors used in the more recent Canon EF lenses, which are extremely quiet and very fast.

Canon film cameras cover the full range from models such as those targeted at professionals (the EOS 1 and 1N for example, and more recently the EOS 1V announced at PMA last February) to those targeted at the consumer (such as the tiny ELPH series or the EOS Rebel cameras). Up until the Photo Marketing Association Show in Las Vegas, February 2000, however, Canon was conspicuously absent from the higher end of the digital camera market, electing instead to provide camera bodies to Kodak, who similarly to their arrangement with Nikon, reworked the bodies and fitted the necessary digital internals for use by professionals. Instead, Canon focused on the consumer market, with numerous consumer-level models, mainly following the design aesthetic of their ELPH cameras, in small, rugged metal cases.

Like many others in our field, and doubtless along with many practicing photographers, we continued to speculate that Canon's entry to the higher end of the digital camera marketplace with a true interchangeable-lens SLR body based on an EOS camera could not be far away. With cameras such as Nikon's D1 and Fuji's FinePix S1 Pro already shipping, or well on their way, and Kodak creating a name for themselves with their very expensive, but extremely capable Pro cameras, Canon simply had to make an entry to the market or risk arriving too late for the party. At PMA 2000, our speculation proved correct when we brought readers the very first news and photos of Canon's upcoming Digital EOS camera, provoking great interest and much speculation as to the new camera's capabilities. The company showed a camera body under glass, noting that the final production versions would feature a resolution of more than 3 megapixels, and that the camera would use Canon EF lenses - little more information was to be forthcoming until May 2000, when Canon officially announced the EOS D30.

When the official announcement finally arrived, it brought a number of surprises along with it. First and foremost was Canon's choice of a CMOS image sensor: Until the EOS D30, CMOS sensors had been seen as unsuitable for a high-end digital camera because of problems with image quality and manufacturing as compared to CCD sensors - even though CMOS has been touted by many as the holy grail of image sensors due to potential cost savings. Canon announced that they had developed their own CMOS sensor, and that their scientists had managed to find ways to solve CMOS' image quality deficiencies - but there was understandably still a great desire from photographers to see the proof of this, in the form of sample photos. Along with the CMOS sensor issue, Canon's EOS D30 offered the same maximum "normal" ISO rating (1600) as Nikon's D1, but went one step further at the other end of the scale down to ISO 100. Canon also chose to give the D30 a 32MB buffer memory offering a speedy burst-mode of some 3 frames per second for 8 frames, and a resurrection of the CCD-RAW (only in this case, CMOS-RAW) format which made an appearance on the PowerShot Pro 70.

With its high specifications compared to consumer digicams, it is inevitable that people will want to compare the EOS D30 to Nikon's D1, albeit with a much lower price tag - but Canon has been quite adamant from the get-go that the D30 was not a rival to the D1, something that we'd agree with. For one thing, the D1 features a build which we've described before as somewhat akin to a tank - it is heavy, and very dust/water resistant. The D30 by contrast makes no attempt at the seals and strengthening required of a camera that must - in some cases literally - be taken to the battlefields and back. Not that the D30 lacks chassis strength, by any means, but it is not on the same level as the D1, or Canon's own remarkable EOS 1V film camera. The EOS D30 also doesn't offer as high a shutter speed as the D1, nor as high a flash sync, and so on - all these features are good by comparison to consumer SLR levels, but not quite at a "Pro" level.

As we understand it, Canon does have plans for a Nikon D1 rival, but the EOS D30 is not intended to be that camera - what we've heard from some sources (and not Canon or Kodak, we must note) is that an agreement with Kodak specifically forbids the company to manufacture a professional-level digital SLR before the end of this year. Even if this is not the case, Canon certainly has set a precedent in the past for first creating a mid-level camera, before filling out its product lines with the high-end and low-end models, and we'd expect much the same process to occur with Canon's digital EOS cameras. All that said, the D30's specifications and performance will certainly give the Nikon D1 a (hard) run for the money. While the environmental seals and ultimate shooting speed may not quite be there, this is clearly a camera designed with the sensibilities of professional photographers in mind.

One thing we can be certain of: There is a huge pent-up demand in the market for an interchangeable lens digital SLR that accepts Canon EF lenses. Large numbers of photographers have cases full of Canon EF glass, looking for a digital SLR costing less than $10,000 to use them on. With the D30 list-priced at $3,500, and selling on the street for close to $3,000, it definitely addresses the cost issue. Of course, cost is only part of the equation: Image quality and functionality are equally important. Does the D30 make the grade? We'd emphatically say yes, as we'll share with you below.


Highlights

  • 3.25 megapixel, 22.7 x 15.1 mm, 12 bit RGB CCD delivering 2226 x 1460 pixel images. Effective count of 3.11 megapixels. 2:3 aspect ratio.
  • Single-lens reflex digital camera with interchangeable lenses (Supports all Canon EF mount lenses). Focal length multiplier of 1.6x as compared to a 35mm camera.
  • Variable ISO (100, 200, 400, 800 and 1600).
  • TTL optical viewfinder with detailed information display, diopter adjustment and depth-of-field preview.
  • 1.8 inch, low temperature TFT LCD with 114,000 pixels.
  • Full Auto, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, Auto Depth-of-Field, Programmed AE (Landscape, Macro, Night Scene, Portrait and Sports) and Manual exposure modes.
  • Operates in "shooting priority mode" - camera does not need to be set in "play" mode to view pictures - pictures can be viewed in between shots, and even if camera is showing a picture or in a menu, pressing the shutter button halfway prepares camera to take a photo immediately.
  • Continuous Shooting mode capturing up to 8 large/fine or 17 large/normal images at up to 3 frames per second with shutter at 1/250 second or faster.
  • Variable white balance with Auto, 5 manual presets, and Custom (measure white point from a saved image). White balance can be changed on capture for RAW-format files, using either presets or manually selecting a neutral target in the image from which to reference white point
  • TTL autofocus with 3 focusing points, manually or automatically selectable (only 1 point selectable at a time). One shot AF, AI Servo AF with focus prediction, AI Focus AF, and manual focus. Working range of EV 2 to 18 at ISO 100.
  • Built-in E-TTL type retractable-type flash with red-eye reduction. Guide Number is 12/39 at ISO 100, m/ft, flash angle covers the field of an 18mm lens. Topside hot shoe for external flash connection of EX Speedlite flashes as well as a PC flash sync socket.
  • Flash exposure compensation of +/- 2 stops in 1/2 stop increments. Flash exposure lock function. 1st and 2nd curtain sync function. External shoe supports E-TTL, FEL and FP (high speed sync) flash metering.
  • Redeye Reduction by built-in illuminator, Front-Curtain Sync, Rear-Curtain Sync flash sync modes.
  • TTL maximum aperture metering with a 35-zone silicon photocell. 35-zone Evaluative metering linked to all focusing points, Centerweighted average metering, or 9.5% central-area spot metering. Metering range of EV 2 to 20 (at normal temperatures, EF 50mm f/1.4 USM, ISO 100).
  • Adjustable exposure compensation from -2 to +2 EV(!) in 1/2 EV or 1/3 EV increments in all exposure modes.
  • Auto exposure bracketing (AEB) from -2 to +2 EV(!) in 1/2 EV or 1/3 EV increments in all autoexposure modes.
  • Shutter speeds from 30 to 1/4,000 seconds, and a Bulb setting for longer exposures.
  • Electronic self-timer with a fixed duration of 10 seconds.
  • Optional external battery pack adds secondary shutter release and control wheel, as well as AE lock and focus point buttons for vertical-format shooting.
  • Image storage on CompactFlash Type I or II, compatible with IBM MicroDrives
  • USB connectivity with TWAIN driver for PC and Adobe PhotoShop plugin for Macintosh. NTSC/PAL switchable video out connectivity. N3 remote control socket.
  • 24-bit JPEG and 36-bit RAW data file formats. Available resolution/compression settings are: Large/Fine (2160 X 1440), Large/Normal (2160 X 1440), Small/Fine (1440 X 960), Small/Normal (1440 X 960) or Lossless compression (2160 X 1440)
  • DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) and DCF (Design Rule for Camera File System) compliant.

 

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