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Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Why I chose Canon EOS 20D

OKay, time to finish of what I had started. Here is the second part. You might want to read first part from the link below.

Part I : Why I upgraded to a digital SLR

Part II : Why I chose Canon EOS 20D

In spite of the limitations I was facing with G5, I was overall happy with my decision to go with a Canon product. I knew that it was not a limitation of canon's technology but rather the class of camera I had chosen. So when I decided to upgrade to a dSLR, I simply started looking for what Canon had to offer.

300D or 20D ? A $600 question.
At the time of buying G5, it was first time for me so I was a bit skeptical spending a lot of money. But when it was time to upgrade, I knew that whatever I'll get I'll make good use of it. And therefore I was willing to spend little more if I liked the product. When I started looking, there were mainly two models that were within my reach. Canon EOS 300D (Digital Rebel) and Canon EOS 20D . 20D is the next incarnation of Canon EOS 10D. 10D was still available in the market but discontinued by Canon after 20D became available. On simple side by side comparison, it was quite clear that 20D was an entirely different class compared to 300D. See for yourself at dpreview.com. 300D was the first dSLR under $1000 and has had a revolutionary impact on the advanced amateur class of consumers. But by all means, 20D was a significant step forward in so many respect, for $600 more.

  • It was lot more robust compared to 300D. (Magnesium Alloy Body vs. Plastic Body )
  • Lot faster startup times. (0.2 seconds vs 2+seconds )
  • twice as fast continuous shooting (5 frames per second vs 2.5 frames per second)
  • Better, smarter, faster auto focus (9 point AF in 20D vs 7 point in 300D )
  • Faster Download speed for pics (USB 2.0 vs USB 1.0)
  • Bigger and better images (8.2 MP, better noise performance vs 6.3 MP)

300D is definitely smaller and lighter. But again, I was not shopping for a point and shoot here. I was shopping for serious photography, so I had size and weight at bottom of my priority list anyway. So it came down to, "can I justify spending $600 more?" Looking at the difference above, and thinking long term... Absolutely! I had learned my lessons well on G5 and knew what I wanted - a fast camera with great low light performance, that will last long. And definitely 20D was better at that then 300D. Still, I decided to put it off for a couple of more months to see if the prices go down further for 20D.

Canon Digital Rebel XT : 350D
Earlier this year, right around when I was closing in on placing my order, canon announced the next incarnation of 300D, the Canon Digital Rebel XT - 350D. And this caused a lot of dilemma! 350D or 20D ?(many folks are going through this right now... May be you too... Hmm let me get inside your head).

By all means, 350D was more like 20D's guts and brains cramped into the 300D's body and then shrunk even further. Moreover, 350D was to be sold at $500 less then 20D. So why in the world myself or anybody else would buy a 20D instead of this 350D. Well this is a completely debatable topic that can compete with Canon vs Nikon argument. There are strong reasons to buy either of these cameras. It's upto you to find out what is more appealing to you. Below is a list of what I thought about these differences.

Image size
20D : 8.2MP
350D : 8 MP
This was negligible.

Image Quality
They have different sensor, but both camera produce almost equal quality pics in identical conditions. A pro may nitpick little bit here and there. But hey, if you and me can not see the difference even at closer inspection, the difference is not there.

Build Quality
20D: Very robust, Magnesium Alloy Body with Rubber Grip.
350D: Plastic Body, no rubber grip.
First time, when I held my friend's Olympus C5060 camera in my hand, I could feel the difference between his camera and my plastic body Canon G5. C5060 felt much more robust because of it's magnesium alloy body. So I was definitely biased towards 20D with Magnesium Alloy body. Also, for someone, just wandering into dSLR world for "higher megapixel" or "better image quality" or "smarter auto modes", preferences would be still like "I still want something light and small". I was coming in from a different angle. I wanted to build a good lineup of lenses over the coming years. So whatever I get had to last few years, and had to be able to hold heavier lenses. Naturally I would go with 20D.

20D : No doubt this guy is heavy, 27.2 oz
350D : And this one is even lighter then 300D, Only 19.0 oz.
Now that is a BIG difference of weight. But again, that's what it will be if you want it robust and well built. You cannot be an 8 seater, off road vehicle and be feather weight at the same time.

20D is 0.7 inch longer, 0.5 inch taller and 0.3 inch thicker then 350D. 350D is actually even smaller then 300D. For me, a person with relatively large hands, 350D felt too small for a better grip, while 20D would just fill my hands for a perfect stable grip.

Another temptation was, why not get 350D + a nice Canon lens with Image stabilization, in the same amount for which I'll get 20D with the entry level kit lens? Well, I thought, lens I can always add later on. Why compromise on camera body right now?

So I ended up choosing 20D over 350D as well. Even though the image quality differences were minimal, I selected 20D for better ergonomics and robust build quality.

Why not Nikon D70 ?
In the week I was about to place an order for 20D, I had a couple of friends over for dinner. When the topic came up, I was asked if I considered Nikon D70. And I had to admit, I had not looked at D70 closely. Eventhough I was so close to ordering 20D, I thought I should at least take a close look at 20D vs D70 comparison. And few things jumped out to me.

  • D70 was Nikon's answer to Canon 300D and was lot more like 20D or 350D then like 300D.
  • It was NOT magnesium alloy body.
  • Noise performance was not as good as 20D.
  • It's a 6.0 MP camera compared to 8.2 in 20D
  • The price difference was in the range of $200 to $300

Canon or Nikon
While looking at the comparison, what I realized was, this was not a simple Camera Model choice. This was a whole product line and brand choice for future investments as well. Once I choose Canon I'll be buying Canon's EF or EF-s Lenses. Once I choose Nikon, I'll be buying Nikkor lenses etc. Obviously with no experience of Nikon product, I'd feel better selecting something from my safety zone only, and that's what I did. Also, both of my friends who suggested the Nikon product, were themselves Nikon owners and had not tried Canon products yet. We all have our own safety zones! So 20D was it for me. My Canon vs Nikon decision was not completely objective so instead of going into details of 20D vs D70, I thought it would be best to document the main reason, my safety zone!

Update #1

If you are looking for side by side comparison of 300D, 350D, 20D and D70 then the right place to look at is the side by side feature comparison at dpreview.com. Use this as a starting point and then read full reviews for each of these cameras.

Update #2

  • dpreview.com has detailed comparison of 350D with 300D, 20D and D70 as part of 350D review.
  • bobatkins.com has nicely summarized Rebel XT vs 20D.
  • kenrockwell.com has detailed comparison of 20D vs D70.

Why not wait for the next model ?
Finally, why buy now? Canon has been announcing new dSLRs on annual basis. Why not wait for the next model that is very likely to show up this fall? Of course patience has its pay offs. But for me that pay off was the reduction in prices over the past few months that I had been petiently waiting. Also, getting a camera in fall means wasting a whole summer. And of course my baby daughter is growing fast! I wanted to take lots of pics of her in this first year. I just didn't see any point in waiting for next dSLR from Canon.

And frankly, after doing enough research, you reach a point where you just want to commit and move on to the real stuff... Taking a lot of pictures that is. That's what Photography is all about!

As this blog is about "sharing experiences" related to digital photography, I thought documenting my product decisions was an important part of it. I hope all my blabber above would help someone trying to enter the dSLR world in making the right choice for themselves. If you are a Nikon lover, wait for 1 month as they will announce a new dSLR by this month end. If you are a Canon lover, go get a 350D or 20D. Don't waste a summer!



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm from Sweden and I've just read you comparison of 20D vs 350D. Im just feeling the same that you're describing. Which one! And you have almost convinced me to buy a 20D. But the budget is poor. I can afford to a 20D with Kit lens but not much more or a 350D with a expensive lins. As you wrote about just buy a good cam-house and after a while buy good lenses might be feasible. But we're waiting for a good summer full of posibilities to shot :(

5/08/2005 04:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I am an American living in the UK. Up until this weekend, I had the 300d witht the hacked firmware and I loved it. It broke though and everyone wanted half of the price of the 350d to fix it. I looked at the 20d that a friend has, but decided that I liked the lighter weight of the 350d and nearly identical image quality. The 350d is a great camera, a little small for my hand, but I will be getting the battery grip for it soon. For anyone upgrading from the 300d to the 350d, remember they have different batteries. If you already have alot of batteries, the 20d might be a better option for you. Check out my gallery at www.pbase.com/bluman95 Thanks, and I hope this helped.

5/30/2005 03:01:00 PM  
Blogger mlsdvsger said...

Hi, regards from Germany. Short time ago I 've sold my EOS 300D. I still think that the EOS 300D is a good camera, of course with the right lenses. Now it was time to buy a new SLR. Since I use Canon for years Nikon was not an option (this definitely does not mean that Nikon is a bad choice). I have tested the 350D and 20D, and as you mentioned, the picture quality is the same, at least I could not see any difference. The amount of functions for the every day use can also be considered the same. Due to the reasons you also mentioned, I have decided for the 20D. It simply fills more stable in the hands and I also need the higher speed of the 20D.
However if speed is not that ipmortant and the budget is a criteria, then the 350D is an excellent choice. In this case invest the extra money in good lenses. I have found that the lenses Canon delivers in it's kits are not that good. A pro for the 350D would also be, that his camera is very handy, so more suitable for travelling. For me, however, this was not that important, since for travels I use my "good, old" A2 (Konica-Minolta). Independent whether 20D or the more handy 350D, I made the experience, that when travelling, I needed to carry always at least two lenses with me. This somehow compesates the advantage of the smaller sized 350D.

A good review for the 350D:

For the 20D:

6/05/2005 03:04:00 AM  
Blogger saanga said...

Thanks for all the comments folks.

Regarding 350D vs 20D:
As I use my family travels as opportunities to learn new photography techniques also, I have to have 20D with me no matter what. So ruggedness is important to me. And ofcourse, I'd not mind recommending a 350D over 20D to anyone limited by budget!

Regarding batterries:
My G5 batterries work with 20D so I already have a spare battery now!

Regarding 350D + expensive lense vs 20D:
well after blowing all the budget on 20D, I had no choice but to delay buying an expensive lens, which is actually a good thing. Why ? because I have not reached a level yet where I can make reasonable complaints about the kit lens(like I could about Canon G5 to justify a move to 20D). So I'll cross the bridge when I get there. So far things look OK.

6/06/2005 01:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One correction. The 300D and 350D, both, have a metal chassis and plastic skin.

11/04/2005 02:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

firstly thanks for this post, very helpful. I had a 350d for over a year and was very, very impressed with the camera and the image quality. It took me months to decide nikon or canon, but after alot of research the 350d was definately the right choice. I had to sell my trusty 350d due to financial difficulties. Now I have the funds for a new camera and the 30d and 400d is now out which means the 20d are great prices. I think i will be getting the 20d, for its larger size and robust body. The dial and buttons seem to be in better places also. 350d is a great entry level camera though, but 20d wins for me

7/17/2007 12:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Canon EOS 20D review at digital camera blog

5/07/2008 08:52:00 PM  

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