CompactFlash Card Type I • CompactFlash Card Type II • IBM Microdrive
Fine • Normal • Uncompressed
JPEG • Raw Image
File Size (High Res.)
8.7 MB (15 images on 128MB card)
File Size (Low Res.)
0.6 MB (about 213 images on 128MB card)
Auto • 100 • 200 • 400 • 800 • 1600 • 3200
Built-In & External
Auto Flash • Red-eye Reduction Flash
With LCD Panel
LCD Panel Size
LCD Screen Resolution
LCD Protected Position
Without LCD Protected Position
6 x AA Batteries • Proprietary Lithium
Mp3 Built In
With Tripod Mount
Software • USB Cable • Video Cable • Lithium Battery • Battery Charger • Strap
Designed for advanced amateurs, photojournalists, wedding photographers and professionals, the EOS 20D combines speed, image quality, ease-of-use, and ruggedness with compact size and light weight to deliver the highest performance in its class.
DIGIC II Image Processor
Lens compatibility: Canon EF and EF-S lenses
9 AF points
Focusing modes: One-Shot AF, Predictive Al Servo AF, AI Focus AF, Manual
Digital SLR enthusiasts have been waiting a long time for a digital SLR body
that functions comparably to the 35mm SLR bodies of five years ago. The EOS 20D
delivers in key areas: consistent focus, exposure, white balance, color
rendition, high image quality, and speed of handling. come together in a worthy
The Canon EOS 20D is an 8.2 megapixel digital SLR body that sits between
Canon's high-end, professional SLRs and their hot-selling, consumer-focused
Digital Rebel (The most recent version of the Rebel XT has just been released
in April 2005). For photographers interested in developing their skills or
looking for a less expensive alternative to the EOS 1D Series, the 20D is a
most capable tool.
At about 66% more than the cost of the Canon's new entry-level Digital Rebel
XT, what makes the 20D worth the extra $600? It's all in the details...
Canon EOS 20D Pros and Cons
For a change, let's start with the "cons." Why? Because this camera does most
things well, it's the limitations that will give you a better understanding of
how the EOS 20D measures up against the competition. So, knowing the
limitations, you can pretty much assume the 20D will do everything else well
enough for most users, including the majority of professional photographers.
Bear in mind that not all of these points may apply to you and your style of
Automatic white balance under
tungsten light produces images with too much yellow, particularly in skin tones
1.8" LCD monitor is too small - especially compared to the competition
with wide angle lenses may be inconsistent (camera may not focus closely
Image appearance controls for color and contrast (parameters)
limited to five steps
Bounce flash with the Canon 580EX improved but still not consistent enough for
those who absolutely need accurate and consistent bounce flash performance
obtrusive shutter release (the mirror slapping up and back) sound disturbs
wildlife, wedding and other candid photography
Image sensor smaller than
35mm frame results in the "lens focal-length multiplier" effect of 1.6x (which
some consider an advantage)
Flash-sync limited to 1/250th (but with Canon's
HSS feature you can go faster)
More consistent auto focus accuracy than predecessor
start-up time and buffer/card write speed
Low shutter lag time
Larger sensor maintains low noise with higher resolution and
high ISO (800-3200) settings
5 frames per second capture speed, up to 23
frames at JPEG quality
High image review magnification (zooming) for
checking focus, etc.
Improved flash metering with 580EX Speedlites
overall color balance, light skin tones fairly accurate, dark/black skin a
little less accurate
PC terminal for use with studio lighting equipment
Introduction This review is written from a working professional's perspective and thus
reflects my own bias toward usability, functionality, and speed as they serve a
single purpose: getting the shot in the "real world." In my opinion, a camera
characteristic either helps or hinders the photographer from making the kinds
of pictures you want to make. Bear in mind this varies from photographer to
photographer as well as from subject to subject. However, almost all
photography will benefit from better camera design. So real-world camera
usability and functionality are good foundations for judging a camera.
Canon EOS 20D Key Features
Rapid start-up and shot-to-shot speed, 5 fps capture-rate
Hot shoe and PC terminal for off-camera lighting
Ability to set separate buttons for auto focus activation and shutter release
via custom functions
Compatible with new EF-S lenses for wide angle images
The benefit of an SLR body over a point-and-shoot camera, besides the
interchangeable lens and accessory selection, is the fact that your hand will
likely fit the camera more "like a glove". So as a tool, the SLR will generally
be more responsive to your physical photographic needs than a non-SLR camera.
You lose some convenience and inconspicuousness in the bargain however.
The 20D builds on Canon's long history of ergonomic design and functionality
and users with medium to large hands may find Canon a natural fit. People with
smaller hands may find the camera a bit large. If you have smaller hands, take
a look at the Canon EOS Rebel XT . It sacrifices some functionality but is
smaller and will deliver comparable image quality. Compared to the other models
in Canon's catalog, the 20D strikes a solid balance between size, heft (weight)
and build-quality. Yes, it would be nice to have more metal, but then you'd
have more weight to carry around. Yes, it would be nice to make it smaller, but
then you wouldn't have the same ergonomics.
Top view of the buttons and controls on the EOS 20D. Command dial
with exposure modes in on the left, shutter release, and main control dial are
at the right, on top of the grip. The three buttons above the LCD display
control auto focus, white balance, drive, ISO, metering mode, and flash
exposure compensation. There's also a button that turns on a light for the LCD.
The integration of features and design make the 20D fun to use because you
don't have to think as much about what you're doing or what button to push. The
rapid start-up time and shooting speed means the camera will respond to
fast-moving, fast-changing situations like sports, kids, or wildlife. The
hotshoe and PC terminal make using studio strobes easy, as does the camera's
compatibility with Canon's own wireless system for their ETTL and ETTL-II
enabled EX speedlites (550 EX and 580EX). Having the focus separate (custom
function?) from the shutter release is odd at first but quickly allows you to
compose and meter for a given scene while focusing away from the focus points
such as at the edge of the frame (you focus first with the thumb button and
then recompose and meter/capture the image). And finally the new EF-S lenses
are high quality glass, purpose-built for digital SLRs. While not quite up to
up to "L" lens standards, the new EF-S lenses come at much more affordable
Detail of Canon EOS 20D menu display.
Reviewing an image with basic information displayed
Reviewing an image with histogram display
Camera Experience As a former Canon EOS 10D user, I think the 20D offers significant improvement
in usability. Two areas stand out as reasons to upgrade: focus and speed. The
camera has faster, more accurate and more consistent focusing, especially in
marginal lighting conditions. And it's much, much faster on start-up and
buffer-to-card writing speed (to keep pace with the new five frames-per-second
In practical terms, this means that pictures will more likely be in focus (this
should be a given, but often isn't) and you can review photos sooner after
capture. The EOS 20D's predecessor, the 10D, was notoriously deficient in both
these key areas. The 10D focused (and exposed exposure problems?) so
unreliably, you had to constantly check focus on the LCD to confirm that you
got the shot. And the slow write speed meant you might be standing around
waiting 10 or 20 seconds (no kidding!) if you shot a sequence of frames,.
Thankfully, Canon's developers have done away with these serious shortcomings,
in the EOS 20D.
One area where the 20D has taken a step back, is the loud shutter-release
(mirror-slap) sound. If you photograph wildlife, weddings, or musical
performances, you know how distracting this seemingly unimportant
characteristic can be. It might not bother you, the photographer., But it may
be very distracting to your subject(s)! One click of the shutter release and
that grizzly bear is looking at you like you're lunch. A few frames and the
priest or officiate is glaring at you like you're a terrorist. The 10D's
shutter was soft, subtle, and unobtrusive - almost as quiet as a Leica! The
20D... well, you get the picture (or worse - you don't get the picture).
Unfortunately, the 1D-Series mirrors aren't any quieter so professional Canon
users will have to put up with it for the time being. (I recently used the
Rebel XT and its higher-pitched shutter sound seemed notably softer and quieter
than the 20D.)
I have a couple more quibbles. The viewfinder information display is somewhat
dim and hard to see in bright lighting. I had trouble with it while
photographing snowboarders. And an inconsistency in one of the menu controls
annoyed me. When setting the image recording quality you must remember to press
the "SET" button after selecting the quality level, otherwise the change is not
set. All other controls, such as the ISO setting, merely require returning to
shooting mode, which happens automatically after a moment, or after pressing
the shutter/focus button. Not huge problems but issues to keep in mind,
The new, scrolling joystick handily located just above the big
control dial on the back of the camera. The joystick is used to navigate while
reviewing images on the EOS 20D.
A new feature that's been a pleasure to use is the joystick-like scrolling
button just above the rear quick-control dial. This device makes inspecting
focus easy and straight-forward. Another nice little touch is the new three
position on/off switch which allows you to turn the rear quick-control dial off
so it doesn't unintentionally change your exposure setting. Overall, Canon has
designed the 20D well - all the buttons you normally need are within easy reach
and it's easy to tell which is which by feel alone. Finally, the built-in flash
pops up a wee bit higher than before so it can clear Canon's wide-angle
Other reviewers and Web sites have noted the 20D's excellent high ISO
performance and noise-reduction capabilities so I won't reiterate those points.
As I said, this camera does most things competently (as you'd expect it to).
With the EOS 20D, Canon has delivered a solid performer at a reasonable price,
for a professional camera.
Point-and-shoot vs. 20D vs. Canon EOS 1D Series
Once you've used an SLR for the majority of your photography, going back to a
point-and-shoot is an experience in frustration. A limited range of f-stops, no
manual focus, shutter-lag... The list of compromises goes on and on. While
there are some very capable point-and-shoot digital cameras out there (and they
also make great mini-video cameras), serious photographers generally go with
As I mentioned in my introduction, speed and functionality are the key elements
SLRs bring to the table. and The EOS 20D is allows the photographer to take
full control of their photographic results. Aside from factors such as
weather-proofing and full-sized sensors, you get a good 90% of what the 1D and
1Ds series camera do for a quarter of the price or less. Yes there are things
the 1D cameras do better and the sum of their advantages add up to more than
they might appear on paper, but for the price the 20D rules the roost. If you
can afford a 1D camera and its replacement in two and half years, I say go for
it. If you'd rather spend the extra money on Canon's wide variety of lenses and
speedlites and other accessories however, the 20D is the answer.
Image quality is excellent, as you would expect from the camera's specs and
from comparing sample images
and across the Internet. But let's take a closer look at the EOS 20D sample
images . Yes, the image quality of the 1Ds Mark II with its 16MP sensor is
higher than the 20D's 8.2MP sensor. But it's important to consider the law of
diminishing returns. I know one pro photographer who thinks nothing else
measures up to the Canon EOS 1Ds. I know another who says it's just more
pixels, period. Both are sticklers for detail and have long histories with film
and black and white printing. Go figure.
So what do you really need? To properly answer this question it's important to
consider what you intend to do with your images. If you plan to regularly make
11x16 inch prints and frame them (and the key here is "regularly") for display
then consider more pixels. If you like to crop your pictures a lot then
consider more pixels. Otherwise, you can successfully upsample the 20D's files
as much as 300% or more and get respectable prints. (OK, again I know people
who think this is heresy but guess what, they're in the minority and would only
be satisfied with large format cameras anyway.) For most people and purposes
the 20D's 8.2MP sensor is more than adequate, thank you. Proper image
processing and preparation are often more important than resolution.
One of the more subjective elements of image quality is color palette, or color
balance. Canon's engineers have to make decisions about just how green to make
the grass or how blue to make the sky and how all elements of an image will
look when rendered next to one another. Most people seem to feel Canon's color
palette is one of the best, with accurate skin tones , good neutrals, and
pleasingly balanced reds, greens, and blues.. And that, my friends, really is
the end of the story - there is no "correct" color since everyone's brain
interprets color differently. Yes, it's possible to measure wavelengths of
reflected light and we should all be using calibrated computer monitors. But
there are no pure colors in the natural world., In the end, only the scientists
care. Humans generally feel that all is well with the world if skintones are
pleasing and the sky is a nice bright blue.
Frankly, I feel Canon's skintones are pretty good but I dislike the overall
look of their color palette compared to transparency film . Someday, someone
will offer a digital plug-in that that replicates Fujifilm's Provia or Velvia
slide film color, when I want it, and across all lighting conditions and white
balances. (And hey - while you're at it, can you scare up some Kodak E100VS and
E100GX plug-ins too? I will pay millionz for these.)
The bottom line: The Canon EOS 20D delivers great image quality, even at high
ISO settings. But don't just take my word for it. Trust your own eyes and
judgement. Check the shadow areas in the studio samples for noise, the
highlights for detail, and look for fine lines at the center and the edges of
the image to evaluate resolution as well as consistency.
Conclusion The main competition for the 20D is most likely its younger sibling, the new
(April 2005) Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT - There are two areas of distinction
besides build quality (XT is fine, 20D sturdier) and image quality (very
similar). The first, and possibly the most important area, is the functionality
of the control buttons, menu navigation, and viewfinder magnification. From
reading this review you know I put a high priority on ease of use. For a
comparable evaluation of the Digital Rebel XT, see
luminous-landscape.com for Michael Reichmann's "on assignment" report about
using the Rebel XT in rapidly changing, uncontrolled conditions.
The other distinction between the two cameras relates to each camera's image
processing defaults. My local Canon rep told me that the Rebel has more
aggressive sharpening and he showed me a few 11x16" prints to demonstrate the
difference. He said that even when tuned down in the image parameters, the
Rebel's sharpening is still relatively strong because consumers who buy digital
cameras at this price point like to see sharp images. Advanced photographers
want to "tweak-their-own" so Canon takes a less aggressive sharpening approach
with the 20D.
So is it worth the extra money for the 20D? My take is absolutely "yes" if you
want control. Possibly "no" if you're on a budget and/or want a lighter,
smaller, quieter camera to tote along for the ride, and you're willing to
compromise for less efficient design and ergonomics.
The 20D offers responsive, direct control for photographers who need to quickly
access key features used for fast and creative photography. If you want a tool
that responds to your photographic reflexes, the 20D is very close to a
transparent tool that becomes a natural part of your body and "disappears" when
you're photographing. And, it does so at a fraction of the cost of Canon's big
guns, the 1D and 1Ds Mark II series. No, it's not a perfect camera. But for
digital, it has come a long way and should easily meet the needs of most users,
including aspiring sports photographers.
The main limitation to the ultimate flexibility of the EOS 20D (and most
digital SLRs) is the APS-sized image sensor and its 1.6x crop factor. The crop
means that all those great Canon lenses that were designed for 35mm film will
be 1.6x longer when used on the EOS 20D* While Canon's new EF-S lenses
partially address the issue, it's still a sticking point for those seeking to
make full use of Canon's wide arsenal of lenses.
While many pros would only
consider the 1D-series camera bodies for serious work, I suggest most working
photographers could easily perform 90% of the jobs they're called to do with
this EOS 20D. There are few exceptions, such as the practical need for a
full-sized sensor to complement specialized Canon lenses like the 14mm f/2.8L USM or the
Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L. Also, some photographers will benefit from having
the ultimate in SLR resolution, the 16 megapixel Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II. But all
in all the 20D is a formidable package. Especially if you haven't won eight
large from your poker buddies lately...
*This is a simplified explanation of the digital crop factor or
"digital conversion." It's too complicated to explain completely in this
Who Should Buy The Canon EOS 20D The Canon EOS 20D is a good choice for any serious photographer ready to step
up from a high-end compact digital, 35mm SLR owners who want to make the switch
to digital, and it will even serve most professional photographers well.
Strengths: FAST autofocus. GREAT value - price is dropping all the time - get a decent second hand one and ENJOY! Superb image - and don't forget that's what using a camera SHOULD be all about
Great high ISO pictures (FAR better than Nikon D70)
Weaknesses: Poor screen (but good for its day) Loud shutter and not as smooth as the Nikon D70 which means I can't hand hold as well at low speeds as I can when using a Nikon D70. Complex controls (not as easy as Nikon D70)
Used my Canon 20D for the past 12 months and love (almost) all of it. I have used a wide range of both Canon & Nikon SLRs so feel that I can speak with some confidence (and I will not play the Canon bashing Nikon or Nikon bashing Canon game) but feel free to disagree with me! . Its worth investing in some decent glass (such as L Lenses) as the 20D is still earning its keep with loads of pro photographers -its that good.
I love the images you can obtain from its 8m sensor - clean and clear even at high ISO settings. The camera reacts FAST and the autofocus is vastly better than say the Nikon D70 (which I have also used LOTS). Things I don't like are the rear screen which is too small and not that sharp so checking the screen is of limited value, the shutter goes off like a machine gun and sounds like it at 5FPS (Nikon D70 is much nicer but slower) compared to my Canon 50E (I have two -I like them that much - best shutter action ever? ) the 20D shutter is a bag of nails - but does its job well and I never feel that it will let me down
Excellent camera to go with when upgrading from a film camera. I have used Canon equipment for over ten years and haven't looked back. Even though Canon has discontinued the 20D it's predecessor's, 30D and 40D will be an excellent replacement. I have the Canon BG-E2 vertical grip on my 20D and it really make vertical shots a lot easier, especially with long lenses. The extra battery power is great and you don't have to recharge near as much if you just had one battery. I use the 18-55mm kit lens, Sigma 70-300 DL Macro lens and a Canon 100mm 2.8 Macro lens with this camera. They all work really well and if I need to ever upgrade my beloved 20D, I know my lenses will go with me.
Strengths: Solidly built
5 frames per second
Huge collection of EF and EFS lenses to choose from
Ease of use
Weaknesses: Obsolete quickly especially after Rebel XTi is out in the market.
A lot more expensive than Rebel
USB does not work properly with my old SONY VAIO PC
CMOS sensor seemingly more sensitive to noise when in comparison with CCD of Nikon D70
Shutter doesn 't sound as nice as Nikon
For a while, I had been debating among 20D, Digital Rebel XT, and Nikon D70. I finally picked 20D not only because of its fast frame capture rate and pixel resolution but also because of its sturdy magnesium alloy body. One of my friend has a Rebel and the body feels cheap. Some of the labels imprinted on the plastic actually started to fade.
I bought the 20D at the time when the 30D almost came out. Boy I made the right choice of not going for 30d but taking the rebate on the 20D. When pair up a good lens, the 20D is a very good performer. I extremely like the 5fps feature allowing me to pick the best shot by taking successive shots rapidly.
The built-in flash is adequate for casual shootings. It even comes with ISO3200 which I never use.
Start up time is fast which is important for me to shoot any unexpected event.
Similar Products Used: Minolta and Olympus digitals and several Canon film cameras as well as Bronica medium format equipment.
Type of photography: Outdoor
Date Reviewed: March 21, 2007
After reading the reviews posted, I believe I must have purchased a bad specimen because my experience with the Canon 20D has been nowhere near the five star rating that the other reviewers have noted. Like others , I upgraded from the 300D which I thoroughly enjoyed. Unfortunately, I didn't get to take many pictures with it until over a year after I bought it. I took about 175 pictures last Christmas, mostly inside with flash, and none of the flash pictures were exposed correctly and many of the outside pictures were also underexposed. I wrote it off as being an amateur and set out taking more pictures. The next set was 75 pictures, mostly outdoors without flash. Again, almost every picture was underexposed with the exposure histograms shifted 25% to the left. When I got home and saw this I set out testing the camera with various setting and lenses and found out that the camera's exposure was off a full step. I emailed Canon and they recommended sending it to one of their service centers. "Electrical adjustments were carried out on the AE assembly." , which cost $180 plus shipping and the camera still underexposes by at least 2/3s of a step. I cannot imagine being a professional photographer and taking 500 or 1000 pictures and then having to use software on every picture to get a good shot. Of couse a professional would have figured this out the first time he/she touched this camera and dialed in a full step of exposure compensation immediately. This is what I am planning to do, but it essentially means that I cannot use any of the basic modes anymore. Why do I bother to write this? If you are considering this camera be aware of this underexposure issue. Test a model out if you can before you purchase it, or buy it from a reputable dealer who will let you exchange it if you don't like it's performance. While correcting underexposure with software is easy and better than having a camera that leans more towards overexposure, it is still a disappointment to see every picture underexposed. This was not my experience with the Canon 300D.
Grandson, who lives in Croatia, gave us a used EOS 20D that came in a box with a memory card and battery. that's it. We have a 50mm lens.
After we took some pics we noticed the CF card will not fit in our computer slot.
Do we need some sort of card reader device?
Do we need a data transf ... Read More »
I wonder if I could ask for a little assistance?
I have an EOS 20D ans on my Ultrasonic 17 - 85mm Lens I started to get the Err 99, I borrowed a friends lens and it didn't give me the error 99, I gave it back and still got the error on my owm lens, so I bought the standard cheap lens that ... Read More »
I recently dropped my camera (during a snowball fight) and it bounced along the pavement.
Everything seemed ok until I took some shots in the low light with some bright spots from streetlights and I noticed a large amount of 'star burst' (almost like rain) always on the same (right han ... Read More »
I'm new to this site and digital slrs and would appreciate any feedback you all might have. I'm a novice photographer looking to get an SLR that I can use to learn more about photography as well as grow into. I was pretty much set on buying the Canon Rebel XT, but a few friends have to ... Read More »
I am a begging surf photogapher and looking for a step up in my equipment. I am having a really hard time with the decision to go digital or flim. I know that canon is the choice for me, and it is between the 35mm eos 1v or digital eos 20d. Seeing how I need something good for sunny conditions, grea ... Read More »