Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of owning far too many cameras. A few shelves of photo albums will tell you that I like things that go click in the night (and daytime). Starting from a Pentax Spotmatic circa 1970s, to the latest, near perfect digital camera from Canon, I’ve had my share.
The digital revolution didn’t stop me from trying the latest and greatest, albeit with mounting disatisfaction. I bought an Apple QuickTake (ahead of its time, but not worthy), a 3 megapixel Epson (very good, pricey), a couple of Nikon 5000 series (love that wide angle lens; controls only a Vulcan would love; picture quality wanting).
I’ve tried everything I could get my hands on. Fuji. Sony. Epson. Nikon. Olympus. I couldn’t get no satisfaction, Mick.
A friend bought a Canon 10D a year or so ago. The photos were remarkable, controls acceptable, but lens not wide enough, and operation was a bit slow. So I waited. I’m glad I waited.
Canon has introduced the perfect digital camera and it works great with Mac OS X. It works so great in every respect that you’d swear that Apple and Canon got together. Unfortunately, the new Canon EOS 20D digital is not silver aluminum to match the new G5s. It’s black. And it’s made by Canon, not Apple.
That’s too bad; but not to worry. This is a great camera.
The Canon EOS 20D has a new 8.2 MP CMOS sensor, the second generation DIGIC II image processor, a quick startup time, and it feels like a PowerMac G5, or a PowerBook, or the new iMac G5. Everything is just right, including the software for the Mac (amazing, huh?)
This camera can shoot 5 frames per second (up to 23 consecutive frames). There’s a built-in flash, flash sync, and a top shutter speed of 1/8000 sec. The 20D is also compatible with Canon’s new EF-S lenses, and the full line of EOS lenses and flashes.
I have a Canon Elan II with a 28mm to 300mm Tamron zoom lens that I bought a number of years ago. Both have been collecting dust as I’ve migrated from film to digital. Even that lens works fine in the new 20D.
For Mac users, Canon provides a couple of software applications to make managing photos easier. There’s also a Mac version of Adobe’s Photoshop Elements 2.0 for photo touch ups. Canon kindly includes a Photostitch application which allows you to “stictch” photos together to make a wide panorama photograph.
There’s also a Mac version of the EOS Viewer Utility. Pretty much everything you need to move photos from the 20D to the Mac, sort and save images, and modify images is included.
Canon includes EOS Capture to bring photos from the 20D into the Mac, although I found iPhoto to work just fine—it just took a day to figure out how. The default “communication” setting won’t allow the Canon 20D to communicate properly with Mac OS X Panther, so it was impossible to move photos stored on the camera’s flash card into iPhoto.
Reading instructions is always a good thing.
There’s also a “PTP” setting which bridges communication between the camera and the Mac. Once that setting was changed in the camera, everything worked fine and iPhoto sucked images off the camera OK.
That was about the only glitch I could find (caused by not reading the manual first; just like a Mac user).
The Canon EOS 20D is the very first digital camera with controls Mac users can fully understand. No flames, please. I’ve always liked a little needle that went down when there wasn’t enough light, and went up when there was too much light. That GUI is hard to beat.
Digital cameras these days are not so kind. Canon figured that out and created a unique control knob on the left side of the camera body (top). All the controls facing the camera user are basic; portrait, close-up, action (multiple frames), flash, and so on. On the other side of the knob are the creative settings; aperture control, shutter control, full manual.
Right in the middle are the full auto or program controls. Honestly, you’d think a Mac interface engineer worked for Canon.
You know how the iPod feels so great in your hand? Controls are simple, easy to get the hang of, plenty of extras when you need them but they’re not in the way? The same guy who invented and designed all that must have worked on the Canon 20D.
The back of the camera, right below the eyepiece, is the LCD screen. It’s razor sharp. When Apple decides to move onward to a video “vPod” they’ll use a larger version of this screen. Crisp, clear, clean, with a built-in zoom, too.
One thing that surprised me was the the LCD screen isn’t used to frame and shoot photos. That’s reserved for the traditional SLR eyepiece. The screen is only used for viewing photos and changing settings.
Images can be saved in various JPEG sizes and Canon’s version of RAW. Start shopping for the multi-gigabyte compact flash cards. Even a 1 gigabyte compact flash card only gives 239 images at the highest JPEG setting. Typically, I use a Lexar firewire compact flash card reader to move photos from the camera to the Mac.
The camera is auto-focus with 9 points. The 20D is availble as just a body, or body and lens. I bought the 18mm/55mm zoom lens, which equates to about 28mm to 85mm zoom.
As with most good digital cameras, you turn it on, point, press the shutter release half way to focus, then click. The photos are stunning.
How stunning? Click Here for a look at a few more photos on Page 2…
Continued from Page 1…
I have a few photos from outside and inside so you’ll get an idea of how easy it is to use this camera.
Yesterday, we ran a brief article on Apple’s iSight camera mounting kit (the one with the magnetic adapter which holds the camera to the top of the Apple Cinema Display). Check the photo to the left.
Point and click. That was it. Focus and exposure were both automatic.
What’s truly impressive about this Canon camera is how well it integrates into the “Mac scheme of things.” Yes, Windows users will find the 20D to be a great camera. Then again, they’d find the PowerMac G5 or the new iMac G5 to be a great computer.
The difference is that many Windows users don’t appreciate what Apple puts into Mac hardware and software engineering. Mac users appreciate that diligence because it makes for an “experience” using the Mac as a tool where, the Mac as a computer is just out of the way. The “tool” then does the job.
So it is with the Canon EOS 20D.
Autofocus has always been a bit tricky, especially in the previously mentioned Nikon 5000 series (I have two; get ready eBay) and a Sony CyberShot. No tricks with the 20D. Aim, compose, click shutter button half way, check focus. Click.
I’ve had fewer crummy shots with this camera than any since the original Spotmatic (TOTALLY manual).
If you’re into printing your images before bringing them into your Mac (does anyone really do this? Really?), Canon provides the necessary tools to print direct from the camera to an appropriate Canon printer.
This brings up another issue and may explain why I like a wide wide angle lens in the new digital cameras. In years past (film era) it was necessary to compose the camera before the shot. I don’t compose squat these days. I aim, focus, shoot. And sometimes leave out the middle step (it’s automatic).
Composing is saved for an imaging and printing application like Portraits and Prints. There’s more touch up capability than iPhoto, it’s not as cumbersome or convoluted as Photoshop Elements, and printing options are perfect for family and friends.
You’ve probably heard how automobile manufacturers put plenty of engineering into the sound of a car’s door shutting. It has to shut just right, make that solid “thunk” sound so were aurally convinced that the car is solid.
I think Canon put that kind of attention into the 20D. Mac users will appreciate that. There’s something about the “feel” that’s important to me.
The EOS 20D feels solid and rugged in your hands ensuring stable, easy handling. Its rigid chassis combines engineering plastic with stainless steel and is covered by strong, lightweight magnesium alloy panels on the top, front and rear. Controls are ergonomically shaped and positioned to sustain the EOS tradition of ergonomic excellence and sure-fire operation.
The newly designed grip, shutter button and rubber skin contribute to this excellent holding comfort, and the camera’s high-profile built-in flash is compact and hides itself neatly into the top of the body. A newly refined finish adds to the elegance of the camera body.
Since Canon makes printers you’d expect images from a Canon camera to print well on a Canon printer. They do, at least in my tests. Canon’s propaganda…
As Canon says, “The EOS 20D lets you print beautiful photos with minimum time and effort – directly from the camera. Simply connect the camera with any PictBridge compatible printer via the high-speed USB 2.0 port to print images stored in the CF card.”
“You can even set the EOS 20D to trim the image, add a surrounding “frame,” superimpose a date, or print a number of copies.”
“The EOS 20D’s direct printing feature complies with Exif v2.2 (Exif Print) and DPOF v1.1. With a host of portable and home printers available from Canon including the new PIXMA iP4000 and PIXMA iP3000 Photo Printers, getting tangible results from the camera has never been faster or easier.”
There’s more to say, but that’s sufficient for now. Drop by a local camera store and check out this camera. Tell me what you think. Is it as good as I describe? I’ve used mine for about 10 days and couldn’t be much more pleased.
Amazon has the 20D listed for $1,599 with the EF-S 18-55mm f3.5 lens. RoyalCamera.com has the body only for $1,199 (no lens). The camera came with a strap, battery, charger, software, manuals, and nothing else. If you’ve used only non-SLR digital cameras before, prepare to be impressed.
Here’s a few nits. The battery is a Canon BP511a. The little “a” appears to be important. A BP511 lithium ion battery can be purchased at most camera shops, Circuit City, Best Buy, et al, but that battery won’t re-charge on the included Canon battery charger. Save your money and get an extra battery (the BP511a) from Amazon.
The visual shutter and aperature settings in the viewfinder need to be brighter (I’m far sighted). I like orange on black. Those are minor. Your mileage may vary.
If Apple made a digital camera, it would be the Canon EOS 20D. I just needs to be G5 aluminum instead of black magnesium. And have an Apple logo.