As editorial freelance photographers, and newspaper staffers before that, what we want from an SLR is balance. To us, that means the camera has to be more than a box wrapped around a sensor. While a digital SLR has to have really good image quality, at a range of ISO settings, it can't stop there. We need reliable flash exposures, good autofocus, a responsive shutter, decent ambient metering and quick, accurate image review. In other words, we need a system that is designed to not get in the way of shooting and reviewing pictures whether we're standing still or on the move. A camera that does all of these things reasonably well has the essential balance we need.
We've hammered away at the 10D in this preview article because, in our view, it lacks the aforementioned balance, even for a midrange class of camera. It produces fine-looking photos, no question. But sometimes, the camera makes getting those photos too difficult.
Which makes the 20D all that more pleasant a surprise. Based on our use of the new model this week, some preliminary poking and prodding of its images and what we've learned about the camera's inner workings, the EOS 20D appears to be the real deal, a reasonably-priced pro digital SLR with enough of the good stuff to be a truly useful tool. It doesn't offer all of the performance of the EOS-1D Mark II, and the undersized RAW buffer will be a stumbling block for some. But overall, it seems to have balance. And from us, that's high praise indeed.
The Canon EOS 20D is slated to ship in mid-September 2004 worldwide, at an estimated selling price of US$1499 in the US.