Playing with the 20D

One of the guys at work just bought a Canon 20D, and brought it to the office so I could compare it to my 10D, and so he could play with some big lenses that I have.

I keep hearing that the viewfinder on the 20D makes it a much nicer astrophotography camera over the 10D — allegedly, the image through the viewfinder is brighter. I looked through his the other day, and it definitely is different. The focus screen has a bit of a frosted cast to it, which I like, but I didn’t set ’em side by side to see which was brighter.

One thing that struck me about the 20D was the shooting speed, or more appropriately, the media write speed. There’s a dramatic difference in how many frames could be shot before the camera had to slow down to catch up on writes to the media. With my media (a 32x Lexar — the 80x Ultra II I tested with was waaaaaay faster), I could shoot nine frames before the 10D had to slow down to write. With the 20D, it was forty shots using the same media. Absolutely unbelievable! Obviously a bigger cache, and obviously faster media write speeds. With the 80x media, I could shoot sixty shots with the 20D before it had to slow down for writes.

Given that, the 20D is looking like a very attractive upgrade. I’d originally expected that I would have to look at a 1D Mark II to get frame speeds like that. Now, I’m changing my mind about that, and am thinking the 20D will give me the speed I’m looking for.

The downside? Well, there’s still the 1.6x multiplier effect with the 20D (same as the 10D) versus 1.3x with the 1D Mark II. The 1D Mark II has changable focus screens — most of the time, I prefer a split-circle screen which just isn’t possible with the 10D and 20D. Most of my accessories will work with the 20D, aside from my battery grip.

So what’s the right answer? Well, it depends on what Santa brings me! 🙂