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Canon drops the first shoe with the Canon EOS 10D. This is the successor to the Canon D60.

Do not buy a used Canon D60 or D30 until you read all of this article!

Here is the short list of features:

  • Same size CMOS sensor as the D60
  • 6.3 Megapixel image
  • Improved image quality
  • ISO speeds from 100 to 1600
  • Improved autofocus
  • Improved noise levels at high ISOs
  • Improved magnesium alloy body similar to the Canon 1Ds
  • sRGB and Adobe RGB color space
  • Expected street price of around $1500 USD

Let's look at these in a little more detail.


The CMOS sensor is the same size as in the Canon D60.  For all of us who wanted a full frame CMOS sensor in an inexpensive (relatively speaking)  camera, this is a huge disappointment.  The 22.7 x 15.1 mm sensor at 3072 x 2048 pixels yields a 1.6x field of view crop.  It is the equivalent of making the focal length of all of your lenses 60% longer.

A 100 mm lens on a Canon 10D produces an image with the same field of view as a 160 mm lens on a 35 mm film camera. A 400 mm telephoto lens on the 10D gives the same magnification as a 640 mm lens on a 35 mm film camera. This is great for wildlife photographers!

This is NOT good for people like me who do a lot of wide angle lens work. My beloved 24 mm tilt/shift lens on the 10D is like a 38 mm lens on a 35 mm film camera. Not good.  Even my 20-35 mm zoom lens will give me an image no wider than 32 mm in 35 mm film terms. Since I do a lot of work in the 20 to 24 mm range, the Canon 10D will not at all meet my needs in the wide angle department.

The good news is that this is an improved sensor, quality wise. The moiré patterns that sometimes show up on D60 images are essentially gone in the 10D, at least according to the early reviews. Resolution is also improved. The minimal diagonal jaggies in the D60 (in large prints) are minimized even more in the 10D. This CMOS sensor gives improved images. This is not a huge leap forward from the D60, but it is a small step forward. Good image quality has become even better.


The Canon 10D brings back the ISO 1600 speed setting that the D30 had but the D60 doesn't, and then tops that by adding ISO 3200 via a special function. This is great news for people who shoot in low light with no flash. You can now select anywhere from ISO 100 to 1600. More good news is coupled with that  . . .


Digital noise in digital cameras is the equivalent of grain in film cameras. Slow speed films have less grain than high speed films. Low ISOs in digital cameras produce less noise than high ISO settings. Except for special effects, photographers like to minimize grain/noise in their images.  The Canon D60 was already a good camera in terms of noise levels, the Canon 10D tops it by a significant margin. In fact, the 10D has less noise at ISO 1600 than the D60 has at ISO 800. This is great news for low light shooters.


The Canon D30 and D60 are disappointments in the autofocus speed department. This matters little for landscape, close-up and other types of photography, but it is a concern for sports and wildlife photographers. The 10D has improved on the autofocus. It is not up there with the Canon 1D or 1Ds, or the recent model Canon film cameras, but it is getting better. This is a good step forward.


A better, more robust, and rugged body than the Canon D60.


This is sort of good news. The Canon 10D gives you the sRGB color space with adjustable parameters, like the D60, and adds the Adobe RGB color space which the D60 does not have. The Adobe RGB color space has a wider color gamut which many photographers prefer. You can take advantage of this if you use imaging software (like Adobe Photoshop) that lets you use the Adobe RGB color space. That is good news. The bad news is that you can not adjust the imaging parameters in Adobe RGB. You can only do that with sRGB. This is a shame.


The 10D now gives you two sets of parameter adjustments (contrast, sharpness, saturation and color tone). This means you effectively have a wider range of settings for these parameters. You can only set these parameters in the sRGB color space.


This might be the best news. Two years ago the D30 was announced and had a street price of around $3300.  One year ago the D60 was announced and had a street price around $2200. Once the 10D becomes available and the dust settles, the estimated street price is  around $1500. Since this camera is in almost every way superior to the Canon D60, it makes no sense to buy a new or used D60 at their current prices.

My local dealer had a new Canon D60 last week for $2200, and he will have a used D60 in a couple of weeks for $1900. Why buy a used D60 now for $1900 when you can have a new and improved 10D for $1500? Used D60 prices would have to drop by a huge margin to make them attractive. There is little reason to buy a D60 unless the price is incredible and/or you desperately need a Canon digital SLR right NOW.

It was hard to get a D60 in the early months after its release. Canon is supposed to do a better job this time around with the 10D. We will see. I think the 10D will be hugely popular unless Canon drops the other (full sensor) shoe soon.

More features and things to think about.


The 10D will allow you to save images as either raw or jpeg files, just like the D60. You also have a range of jpeg files sizes to choose from, just like the D60. The 10D can capture the images simultaneously as both raw and jpeg files, just like the D60. The difference is the 10D will allow you to capture any one of the six jpeg file sizes (from the largest to the smallest) along with your raw file. The D60 would only let you capture a midsize jpeg file along with the raw file. This is very good news. Want the raw file and the biggest jpeg? You can have it. Want the raw file along with smallest jpeg to use as a thumbnail? You can have that too.

The somewhat bad news is that the jpeg is embedded in the raw file so you still have to use software to extract it. It would have been better if you could capture your images as combined raw and jpeg files, and then download the jpegs to the computer without the annoyance of special software. Canon should work on this.

If you choose jpeg files (without the raw files) then you can download them to a computer and have instant access to your photos without special software.

Raw files on the 10D are about 6 MB, jpeg large fine files are about 2.4 MB and you have a range of smaller jpeg files sizes.


The 10D can capture images at a maximum speed of 3 frames per second, just like the D60. You can shoot at this speed for a 9 frame burst (8 in the D60) and then the camera needs time to write the files from the buffer to the memory card (compact flash or microdrive).


Three pieces of good news. The LCD screen is brighter (easier to see in the daylight) and has 5 level settings.  The LCD comes with a backlight button for low light and night time use. Perhaps best of all, in the playback mode, you can view the image at up to 10x magnification (to check for image sharpness and details) and you can pan across the entire height and width of the image in the high magnification mode. This is very good news.

You have a variety of playback features available and you can check the histogram with each image, as you can with many other digital cameras.


You have the standard group of white balance settings, including a custom setting. You also have two great additions. You can set the white balance in degrees Kelvin (K).  You also have white balance bracketing. If you have done exposure bracketing in the past, white balance bracketing works in a similar fashion. This is a big asset when critical color balance is needed.


This is a step up from the D60.


The Canon 10D has a  PTP (Picture Transfer Protocol) compliant, USB 1.1 port.  For many computers, you just plug the camera into the USB port on your computer and download jpeg files without any special software or driver needed. This is great news if you have a relatively recent, plug and play computer.  The only downside is that it is USB 1.1 instead of the much faster USB 2.0.


You can bracket at +/- 2.0 EV in 0.3 EV increments.


This is such a valuable feature that so many SLR cameras do not have. You set mirror lock up via a custom function. One push on the shutter raises the mirror. Another push fires the shutter. When mirror lock up is on, the self timer resets to three seconds.


I do not know!

If you were going to get a D60 and couldn't because they became unavailable, then the answer is probably yes.

If you want a DSLR with a full frame image sensor, the answer is no.

If you want a full frame sensor, but you think you can live with the 1.6 field of view crop for a while until the full frame sensor DLSR comes out, then the answer is maybe.

If you want a digital SLR with excellent picture quality (equal to or better than 35 mm film in prints up to 11x16 inches), and if you already own a set of Canon EOS lenses,  and if the 1.6 field of view crop does not matter to you, and if you have been waiting for a camera under $2000, this may very well be just what you have been waiting for!

If you shoot wildlife in more or less static situations and do a lot of long lens work, this may be ideal in a sub-$2000 camera. For fast moving wildlife, sports, and auto-racing, the autofocus on this camera will not keep up.  50 mph is about the limit of its predictive focus tracking ability.

If you do lots of wide angle photography, this is not the camera for you. You can use it for other stuff, but you will need your film camera for wide angle work.  Or you can shell out $8,000 for the Canon 1Ds which already has a full frame sensor. As I have said before about this price - YIKES!

Or you can wait for the other shoe to drop. Canon knows (as do other manufacturers) that lots of folks are looking for a reasonably priced, digital SLR with a full frame sensor. Whoever releases the first quality model with a pre-established group of users with compatible lenses will make a killing in the market. I am sure engineers are working on it right now and struggling with price and quality issues.

When will the other shoe drop? I have no idea. Maybe next week (at the big PMA show), maybe in a few months, maybe in a year or more, but it will happen.

My hands-on look in Canon 10D Part 2.

February 27, 2003
Updated Apr. 13, 2003

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