Review: Canon EOS-D30
Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Thursday, November 2, 2000
Last Updated: Thursday, November 2, 2000
Canon EOS-D30 review is kind of a departure for the DCRP. We've
always kept to covering consumer cameras (below $2000), and will
occasionally do special reviews such as the one you're about to
read. But consumer cameras will always be our focus!
when I was finishing up with Canon's excellent PowerShot G1, the
folks at Canon asked if I wanted to try their new Pro SLR digital
camera, the EOS-D30. Yes, yes, yes, I answered... and for the last
two weeks, I've been enjoying the D30 tremendously. I've always
liked cameras with manual controls, and the D30 takes it to the
next level. Of course, this all comes at a price -- $3,500 for the
body alone. The entire bag of goodies Canon sent out lists for over
kind of a rare breed, since I actually become really interested
in photography through digital cameras, rather than moving up through
35mm cameras. Look for some comments from a Canon 35mm SLR user
to be added to this review in the next few days, as well. Now, let's
in the Box?
EOS-D30 has a very complete bundle, as you'd expect given the price.
Inside the box, you'll find:
3.25 Mpixel EOS-D30 camera body
BP-511 Lithium-ion battery (rechargeable)
adapter / dual battery charger
featuring Canon Digital Camera Solution Disk v.2.0, and Adobe
page camera manual, plus 92 page software manual
addition to those standard features, Canon also sent the following
for my review:
Gadget bag, additional BP-511 battery, battery grip, and 340MB
IBM Microdrive (valued at $780)
380EX flash ($400)
EF 28-105mm lens ($840)
you can see, this is quite the setup. I'm not going to comment much
on the extra features that Canon sent (though you're probably going
to want many of them for your D30), instead focusing on those items
included with the camera itself.
is a shot of the camera without a lens (you can see the mirror there).
You can use any Canon EF lens with the D30. I tried both Canon's
50mm and 75-300mm lenses and they worked just fine, as you'd expect.
The focal length of the D30 is 1.6 times the focal length marked
on the lens (e.g. a 50mm lens is about the same as an 80mm lens
on a 35mm camera).
should mention at this point that the D30 doesn't have a CCD, like
most digital cameras. Instead, it uses a CMOS (complementary metal
oxide semiconductor) sensor, which contains 3.25 million pixels.
The CMOS sensor is quite a bit larger than a typical CCD - it's
about the size of APS film (22.7 x 15.1mm). CMOS sensors haven't
been used in most digital cameras due to issues with noise and pixel
variations, but Canon has come up with noise reduction technologies
to make it produce images as good, or better than a traditional
includes a skimpy 16MB CompactFlash card with the D30. You'll want
to buy a much larger card right away -- the 340MB Microdrive Canon
included with my camera held hundreds of images, and would probably
be a good choice.
battery charger included with the D30 can hold two batteries at
once, though I think it only charges one at a time. The BP-511 batteries
are the same as those found on the PowerShot G1. Canon claims that
a single battery can last from anywhere from 400-680 shots, depending
on flash usage. One nice thing about not being able to preview shots
on the LCD is that it saves a lot of battery power!
D30 also includes a DC coupler, which is essentially a battery with
a cord that plugs into the wall (with a few stops along the way),
a nice feature as well.
software is even better than it was when I covered in back in the
S10 review. I'm not going to go into details about it now, other
than saying that I'm more than happy with the way it works. Canon
also includes the Remote Capture software, which lets you control
your D30 from your Mac or PC.
I mentioned, Canon sent me the 380EX flash, and a battery grip too.
The flash (obviously) does a much better job than the built-in flash,
plus you can bounce the light off the ceiling to virtually eliminate
redeye. Not having ever played with an integrated SLR system before,
I was very impressed at how the camera, lens, and flash all communicated
with each other.
battery grip holds two of the BP-511 batteries, and it plugs into
the camera's battery slot. Now you've got double the battery life,
and a really sold place to hold onto as well.
last optional accessory I should mention is the RS-80N3 Remote Switch
-- for taking photos with your hands off the camera.
D30 looks pretty much like every SLR camera, with the LCD display
being the only thing that makes it stand out. While the body's shell
is plastic, the frame is made of stainless steel. The camera feels
very solid as a result, though it's a bit heavier than the cameras
I'm used to. Canon claims that the D30 is the lightest SLR digital
camera (with interchangeable lenses) out there. The dimensions of
the body are 5.89 x 4.19 x 3.0 inches, and it weighs 1.72 pounds
D30 is definitely a two handed camera. The rubberized grip is good
for the right hand (though I'd prefer a bit larger grip), and your
left hand will probably end up supporting the lens.
begin our D30 tour with the back of the camera.
optical viewfinder is through-the-lens (as with all SLR cameras),
and it covers 95% of the field. Diopter correction is available
for those of us with glasses. While I can't show you, when you look
into the viewfinder, you'll find a line of information just below
the image you're looking at. Here you'll find things like shutter
speed, aperture, focus area, exposure compensation, and more. I
wonder why this feature hasn't trickled down onto consumer digital
cameras - I love it.
1.8" LCD display is bright and easy to read in all but the
brightest sunlight. Do keep in mind that you cannot see the
photo on the LCD before it is taken -- only after.
buttons to the left of the LCD are, top to bottom:
(for playback mode)
(also for playback mode)
discuss some of those features later in the review. The button right
below the LCD will delete photos, either during review (after the
photo is taken), or in playback mode. The knob to the right of the
LCD is for moving through menus and options on the LCD info display,
and you can turn it on or off with the switch just above (though
I'm not sure why). The SET button in the middle of the wheel is
the "OK" button in menus.
two buttons at the top right of the above picture are for:
a view of the top of the camera - I'll have close-ups of the important
the far left, you'll find the mode wheel, which is chock full of
options. They are:
depth-of-field priority AE (A-DEP)
you can see, there's a ton of choices in the mode wheel. One thing
missing is a choice for Playback mode, which is a button on the
back of the camera instead. A few notes about some of these modes:
shutter priority mode, you can choose from speeds ranging from 1/4000
sec to 30 seconds! I took a few shots at 20-30 seconds and they
aperture priority mode, your choices range from f1.0 to f91 (!),
depending on your lens. For the 28-105mm lens that I had, I could
choose from f3.5 - f22, and many places in between.
to the big picture now - the D30 has has a hot shoe, as you probably
already figured out from the first section of this review. There's
also a built-in flash around it, which pops up automatically in
Full Auto mode, of if you hit the button below it.
the right of the hot shoe are three buttons, which are controlled
with either the dial (seen above the LCD info display), or the wheel
on the back of the camera. From top to bottom, these buttons control:
(Evaluative, Partial, Center-weighted averaging) and Flash Strength
(-2.0EV to +2.0EV)
(Single-frame, continuous shooting, self-timer)
Focus (One Shot AF [still subjects], AI Servo AF [for moving subjects])
and white balance (auto, sunlight, cloudy, incandescent, fluorescent,
you'd expect from a camera like the D30, there's a manual white
balance mode. You just take a picture of whatever you want to be
white, load that data into the camera (using the menus, explained
in next section), and then select this mode.
a close-up of those three buttons, as well as the action packed
LCD info display. I'm not going to tell you everything it can show
(isn't that what the manual is for?), but let's just say that its
pretty much everything you can think of, and then some.
last and most important piece on the top of the camera is the shutter
release button. I found the tactile feedback to be right on with
this button, and all the others on this camera. They just seem to
the left side of the camera (sorry for the neck strap in there).
Just right of the lens are (from top to bottom) buttons for flash
open, lens release, and a button to close down the aperture (so
you check the focus). Further to the right, under a rubber cover
(hard to see here) you'll find the USB and video out plugs. Just
below those, you'll find a PC sync terminal (for another external
flash) as well as a port for the remote shutter release.
the other side of the camera, you'll find the CompactFlash Type
II slot. Now this is the kind of door I like to see on memory
card slots. This thing is reinforced with metal and is very sturdy.
There's a little red light that shows when the card is being accessed
as well (which I didn't notice for a week).
finally, the bottom of the camera. On the left is the main battery
slot, and in the middle is the door for the backup battery. Directly
under the lens, you'll find a nice metal tripod mount. And this
ends our tour of this very complex camera... now, what's it like
to actually use?
going to discuss record and playback mode in detail in this section.
D30 is one of the fastest cameras I've ever tested. It starts up
in about four seconds, due in part to the lack of a motorized lens
to extend. Auto focus speed varies depending on the subject, but
it's never slow. Sometimes, it's almost instantaneous. The camera
has an AF illuminator to help focus in low light situations. When
you depress the shutter release fully, the photo is taken instantly.
Less than 2 seconds later, the D30 was ready to take another picture.
the camera in continuous shooting mode, and gets even faster - it
can shoot three 3.25 Mpixel images in one second!
nice thing about a camera of this type is the ability to manually
zoom and focus. There's no slow motorized zoom -- you just use your
hands to get it exactly where you want it. I also found manually
focusing to be more accurate than the AF system sometimes.
soon as a photo is shot, it appears on the LCD for a set number
of seconds. You can hit the delete button at this point to dump
it if you want.
D30's menu system is very simple to use, yet it contains a ton of
options at the same time. Here they are:
(Large/Fine, Large/Normal, Small/Fine, Small/Normal, RAW) - more
(manual) white balance
Order (playback only)
Fn (more below)
the way Canon's quality system works:
the PowerShot G1, the D30 has a RAW mode. This is an uncompressed
file with all the original data straight from the CMOS sensor. You
can only open this file using Canon's software, from which you can
save it into many other formats. The big advantage of RAW over TIFF
is the savings in disk space - an equivalent TIFF would take up
three times as much space!
didn't get a chance to take any RAW shots, but check out some of
the links at the bottom of the review to find some.
that C. Fn choice in the menu is a whole other menu of Custom Functions
that let you change even more settings. And they are:
exposure noise reduction (see example below)
button / AE lock button (defines what these buttons do)
lockup (useful for preventing the effects of camera vibration
caused by mirror action in close-up and ultra-telephoto shots)
Av, and exposure level (1/2 or 1/3-stop increments)
speed in Av mode with flash (auto, or fixed at 1/200 sec)
sequence / auto cancellation (lets you tweak the auto bracketing
curtain sync(1st or 2nd-curtain sync)
AF stop button switch (not entirely clear on this one)
reduction of fill flash (on/off)
button return position (where you start in the menus)
button function when shooting (that's the button the middle of
the wheel on the back of the camera)
cleaning (for cleaning the CMOS sensor)
that brings us to some photo samples. First, a demonstration of
that long exposure noise reduction. While it takes a bit longer
for the camera to process these photos, it's well worth your time,
as you can see below and in the gallery.
of the photos below were shot in shutter priority mode, with a 20
second exposure time.
as you might imagine, night shots were the best I've seen from a
in shutter priority mode, 8 seconds, f4.5
photos were equally impressive. The shot below doesn't have perfect
auto white balance (as few cameras do), but this could be solved
by using manual mode.
a whole, the photo quality was truly superb, as you'd expect from
a professional digital camera. The manual controls and super fast
speeds of the D30 really motivated me to take better pictures --
and I think I did.
last thing about record mode - in case the LCD info display wasn't
enough, you can hit the Info button to see the screen above, which
summarizes your current settings.
EOS-D30 has a complete, non-gimmicky playback mode. The basics are
all covered with features like slideshows, DPOF print marking, zoom
and scroll, and protection.
nice additional feature is the ability to rotate photos within the
D30 has a photo info menu that tells you all kinds of details about
a shot, complete with histogram.
handy jump button lets you move forward or reverse 10 photos at
only complaint I have about playback mode is the zoom and scroll
feature. To get there, you have to go into thumbnail mode first,
press the button again, and then you're zoomed in. Once zoomed,
you use the wheel on the back of the camera to move through the
and like with most cameras, I'd like the ability to delete a group
of photos at once, but it was not to be.
Does it Compare?
don't feel that I can answer the above question, since this is the
first Pro SLR digital camera I've used. Is the D30 a great camera?
Yes, absolutely -- it continually amazed me every time I used it.
If you've got a collection of Canon lenses and want to go digital
in a big way, the D30 is for you. Even if you don't, and can afford
the D30, it's definitely something to consider. Most of our readers
will just daydream about the D30, but if it's in your price range,
you should definitely check it out!
my deadline loomed, I got pretty depressed about having to send
it back! C'est la vie, I guess!
Canon SLR body - solid, functional
speed and responsiveness
manual focus and zoom
shooting option imaginable
Type II support
mode - uncompressed & smaller than TIFF
all kinds of accessories from Canon
I didn't care for:
- body alone costs $3,500
for the novice photographer
to send it back to Canon (second week in a row I've said that)
we don't cover these Pro cameras, I will suggest checking out the
Fuji FinePix S1 Pro, and the more expensive Nikon D1 as competitors
to the D30.