Canon’s EOS-20D is an 8.2Mp D-SLR (digital single lens reflex), which at £1,269 for the body alone (or £1,349 with a 3x zoom) is aimed at keen amateurs and professionals. It’s the successor to the EOS-10D SLR, and includes a number of improvements.

Most obviously, Canon has increased the resolution from 6.3Mp to 8.2Mp, delivering images with 3,504x2,336 pixels and sufficient detail to make great-looking A3 inkjet prints. Crucially for professionals, there are now enough pixels for 10x8in reproduction at 300dpi (dots per inch).

Images are stored on CompactFlash cards, although, as with other D-SLRs, you’ll need to buy your own. Files can be recorded in Jpeg or RAW formats, and in a neat improvement over the 10D, you can record RAW files with matching Jpegs at any quality setting. Top-quality Jpegs measure about 3MB each.

The 20D can take any Canon EF lens and, unlike its predecessor, is compatible with the growing range of Canon EF-S lenses. Like all D-SLRs in this price range, the sensor is physically smaller than a frame of 35mm film, resulting in the effective focal length of all lenses being multiplied by 1.6. So the new 17–85mm EF-S lens acts like a 27–136mm one.

The improvements in this new model are apparent from the moment you begin. Its startup time is a fraction of a second compared with more than two seconds on the 10D. The new nine-point autofocus system is faster than its predecessor and continuous shooting has accelerated from 3.3 to 5fps (frames per second) with a 23-frame buffer, compared with the 10D’s nine frames.

In terms of exposure, there is a choice of Program, Auto, Manual, Shutter and Aperture Priority modes, along with five scene presets. Shutter speeds range from 1/8,000 to
30 seconds plus bulb, and sensitivity runs between 100 and 3,200 ISO.

The 20D is responsive and feels tough enough to handle anything; it’s more like a pro body costing two or three times the price. Picture quality is superb; the two extra megapixels provide considerably greater detail than 6Mp D-SLRs without any compromise in electronic noise levels.

Resolution and noise levels are virtually identical to Canon’s professional 1D Mark II, which costs £3,499. Sure, the Mark II has a larger sensor with 1.3 lens multiplication and supremely quick 8.5fps burst-shooting, but the 20D comes surprisingly close in many respects.

This is much more than an improved version of the 10D. It’s a far superior camera in almost every respect and one of the best D-SLRs at this price. Enthusiasts will be happy to trade up and many professionals will be more than satisfied by its performance. A raft of new SLRs may be on their way from rival manufacturers, but they’ll have to work hard to beat the 20D.

  • Canon:
  • £1,269 inc VAT body only, £1,349 with 18–55mm EF-S lens

  • Build quality: 9/10
  • Features: 8/10
  • Value for money: 8/10