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Canon EOS 20D

By: Shawn Barnett and Dave Etchells

Slightly smaller and lighter upgrade brings greater speed and ease of use along with higher res and lower image noise.

(Next): Comparison with the EOS-10D>>

Page 1:Intro and Highlights

Review First Posted: 08/19/2004, Update: 11/19/2004

Canon EOS 20D SLR designed from the ground-up to be digital
8.2-megapixel CMOS sensor, 3,504 x 2,336 pixel images
ISO of 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200
Five frames per second, photo-centric design – touch shutter button in Play mode and camera returns to Record mode.
* Compatible with all Canon EOS system lenses as well as new EF-S with a focal length multiplier of 1.6
Multiple improvements and enhancements throughout the camera.


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Manufacturer Overview

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The Canon EOS 20D is the latest in what's become one of the longest and largest lines of digital SLRs. With strong roots in the film world, Canon cameras are a staple at any event where you're likely to see a group of professional photographers clicking away, their signature white lenses and red rings dominating the sidelines at sporting events worldwide. If you ask experienced photographers what the Canon name means to them, many would say that they associate 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.

The Canon 20D is the latest in Canon's broad line of digital SLR models, sporting increased resolution and improved electronics relative to previous models. While it has a similar look, the EOS 20D has upgrades and improvements in so many areas that it's difficult to decide which to mention first. It is the culmination of all Canon has learned over the past year from consumer and professional photographers regarding the cameras currently in the market, from the EOS Digital Rebel to the EOS 10D, all the way up to the 1Ds and 1D Mark II. Naturally, Canon has also kept improving the technology of their sensors and processors over the years, which they characteristically fold into the latest model. The result for this year is the EOS 20D: a camera that is smaller, lighter, and faster with a higher resolution imager, while retaining most of what users loved about the 10D.

Built around an 8 megapixel CMOS sensor and incorporating a number of enhancements aimed at improving image quality, the Canon EOS 20D is a significant upgrade from the 10D model. Despite the 10D's well-deserved reputation for low image noise, the new Canon 20D offers dramatically improved noise performance at high ISOs, with the result that its images at ISO 1600 are remarkably clean-looking, and its shots at ISO 3200 are eminently usable. Simultaneous with the increase in resolution, the Canon EOS 20D also brings improved shooting speed, with a 5 frame/second continuous mode and unusually deep buffer memory. For all its technical sophistication though, the camera avoids any sense of needless technology for technology's sake: The Canon EOS 20D is clearly focused on a single purpose: Helping photographers capture excellent images. Read on, there's a lot of ground to cover...



  • 8.2-megapixel, 22.5 x 15.0mm, 12-bit RGB CMOS sensor delivering 3,504 x 2,336-pixel images.
  • Single-lens reflex digital camera with interchangeable lenses (supports all Canon EOS series lenses, plus new EF-S, short back focus lenses). Focal length multiplier of 1.6x as compared to a 35mm camera.
  • Variable ISO (100, 200, 400, 800, 1,600, and 3,200 settings).
  • TTL optical viewfinder with detailed information display, diopter adjustment, and depth-of-field preview.
  • 1.8-inch, low-temperature TFT LCD with 118,000 pixels.
  • Automatic, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, Depth-of-Field AE, Programmed AE (Landscape, Macro, Night Portrait, Portrait, Sports, and Flash Off), and Manual exposure modes.
  • Operates in "shooting priority mode," meaning the 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 as many as 23 images as fast as five frames per second with shutter at 1/250 second or faster.
  • Variable white balance with Auto, six manual presets, Custom (reads from a neutral gray or white card), a color temperature setting, and a new White Balance Correction and Auto Bracketing mode. 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 nine focusing points, manually or automatically selectable. One shot AF, AI Servo AF with focus prediction, AI Focus AF, and manual focus with AF assist beam.
  • Built-in E-TTL II type retractable-type flash with red-eye reduction. Guide Number is 13/43 at ISO 100, m/ft, flash angle covers the field of an 17mm lens. Topside hot shoe for external flash connection of EX Speedlight flashes, E-TTL II, as well as a PC flash sync socket.
  • Flash exposure compensation of +/- 2 stops in one-half or one-third stop increments. Flash exposure lock function. First and second curtain sync function. External shoe supports E-TTL, E-TTL II, FEL, and FP (high speed sync) flash metering.
  • Red-eye Reduction by built-in illuminator.
  • 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.
  • White balance bracketing.
  • Shutter speeds from 1/8,000 to 30 seconds, and a Bulb setting for longer exposures.
  • Electronic self-timer with a fixed duration of 10 seconds.
  • Optional external hand grip/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 2.0 connectivity. NTSC/PAL selectable video out connectivity. N3 remote control socket.
  • 24-bit JPEG and 36-bit RAW data file formats. Available resolution settings are: 3,504 x 2,336; 2,544 x 1,696; and 1,728 x 1,152.
  • Backlit LCD data readout, for easier operation in the dark.
  • Magnesium-alloy body panels, stainless steel chassis.
  • DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) and DCF (Design Rule for Camera File System) and PictBridge compliant.


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