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Canon's logo. Click here to visit the Canon website! Brief Q&A on Canon 30D
(Wednesday, February 22, 2006 - 13:35 EST)

Tuesday's launch of the Canon EOS 30D was well-received by most readers, but there are a few who were surprised that the replacement to the 20D didn't include a higher resolution sensor.

Though we've pointed out many times that the difference between a 9 or 10 megapixel sensor and an 8 megapixel sensor is negligible, it did almost seem necessary to raise the resolution from a marketing standpoint. We're all scrambling to get ready for PMA 2006, as are the folks at Canon, but I managed to get hold of Chuck Westfall, Canon USA's Director of Media and Customer Relationship, to ask him a few questions on the subject.

IR: Congratulations on the launch of the EOS 30D. I wanted to try to answer a few questions that we're hearing about the 30D's decidedly evolutionary changes. While most features are welcome, some potential customers have expressed surprise and disappointment that the sensor resolution hasn't changed.

Is Canon concerned about how the 8.2 megapixel 30D will be received in the traditionally megapixel-driven, "more is better" market?

Westfall: We realize that the EOS 30D may not be everyone's idea of a next-generation digital SLR, but we are confident that it adds value to our line-up. After all, it is based on the hugely successful EOS 20D, which has established a solid reputation for high performance at its price point. By improving the feature set and reducing the price, we feel that the EOS 30D is a compelling product that will satisfy the needs of a wide variety of photographers.

IR: The 20D stands as one of the cleanest performing sensors on the market for the money, especially at high ISO. How much of this decision to stick
with the same sensor is related to Canon's tendency to want to keep pixel pitch at an optimum size?

Westfall: Our top priority with every EOS Digital SLR is maximum image quality according to product category. The image qualities of the EOS 30D, 20D and even the EOS Digital Rebel XT remain unsurpassed at their price points. We are always working to advance image quality, but at current technology levels, any reduction in pixel pitch lower than 6.4 microns would result in lower image quality at high ISO speed settings compared to our current design.

IR: Has there been any tuning to how the sensor and processor handle images, or should we expect to see the same quality as the 20D?

Westfall: In terms of raw images, the quality of the EOS 30D is identical to the EOS 20D. However, the EOS 30D features our unique Picture Style settings, which provide more flexibility in terms of processing parameters for in-camera JPEGs. As the third EOS model to incorporate Picture Styles after the EOS-1D Mark II N and the EOS 5D, the EOS 30D makes it easier for EOS owners to synchronize the look of their images even if they are using several camera models on the same job.

IR: Are there six additional AF points at the center, as in the 5D?

Westfall: No. The EOS 30D has the same AF sensor as the 20D, so there are only 9 focusing points rather than 15, as found on the EOS 5D.

IR: How much more resolution does Canon think is necessary or desirable to match the resolution potential of its high quality lenses?

Westfall: We don't look at the issue of image quality in quite that way. In fact, we are more concerned at present with raising the image quality of our lenses to take maximum advantage of the performance characteristics of our current and future CMOS image sensors. As the EOS system evolves, overall image quality will continue to improve, not only in terms of lenses, but also in terms of image sensors and image processors.

Thank you, Mr. Westfall, we'll see you at the show.

Those answers certainly fit with my impression of the Canon's semi-pro line, where changes and additions are made when the technology allows. The EOS 20D was a practical design, devoid of gimmick. The 30D continues that ethic. We'll have more on, and from, the new Canon EOS 30D shortly.

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