Digital info for serious shooters: specializing in Nikon & Canon

Canon's 10D D-SLR:
The new Leader of the Pack

In the see-saw race for leadership in the entry-level D-SLR segment, Canon's new EOS 10D is definitely the new leader of the pack. Combining an intelligent set of design upgrades to the D60 combined with a blistering new low street price under $1500, the 10D will be hard to beat for awhile. I get asked a lot whether it is a "D100-killer". That would be over-stating the case, since most purchasers have some system loyalty to either Nikon or Canon and are unlikely to switch brands for the relatively small differences between the two individual cameras or the $200 difference in current street price.

The 10D is certainly a killer choice for scenics,
with 6MP noise-reduced images and a $1500 price tag

EOS 10D: A sensible upgrade

The 10D is primarily a sensible upgrade from the D60. Canon has addressed many of the issues with the D60, including:

  • Adding a new Shade White Balance preset, for more flexibility in differing lighting conditions
  • Dial-in White Balance for those who want to specify directly in equivalent "degrees Kelvin"
  • Adding Vertical focus sensors to assist in composition options
  • Greatly reducing shutter lag and viewfinder blackout times
  • Lower noise. Added 1600 and 3200 as ISO options
  • Magnesium Body
  • Orientation sensor with auto-rotation of portrait mode images
  • Quieter during image capture
  • Support for FAT32 to allow larger capacity cards
  • various other small improvements

Finally: Automatic Image Rotation

A simple but aggravating part of everyone's digital workflow is rotating the portrait mode images. Finally Canon has included a simple sensor which helps the camera record its orientation with each image. When used with software that supports this tag the images are automatically rotated correctly.

We were so excited that this feature finally found its way into a D-SLR that we held up the final release of DigitalPro2 to add support for it. As of Release Candidate 2 (posted 4/4/03), DigitalPro2 fully supports the Automatic Rotation feature of the Canon 10D. Images will be correctly rotated (clockwise or counter-clockwise as needed) when displayed in DigitalPro2 and when you use DigitalPro2 to launch Photoshop 7 to edit your images.

Under the Hood

Under the hood Canon is using its new proprietary DIGIC image processor. It was difficult to tell if this new chip actually made images better, but I suspect it helped contribute to the faster operating performance (according to the specs the lag & blackout times have been greatly reduced) and the lower price of the 10D--and in any case the images are stunning. It is certainly the beginning of a attempt by Canon to use its larger size and R&D budget to build structural advantages versus its traditional camera competitors such as Nikon.

Shooting with the 10D

The addition of the Shade White Balance setting and the new focus points make the 10D much more enjoyable to photograph with than its predecessor the D60. In shooting speed it benchmarks at 3fps, side by side with the D60 and the Nikon D1X. The AF speed was good for a low-end D-SLR although it didn't seem noticeably better than the D60.

Many of the camera settings require using both a knob and a button on the upper right of the camera. This arrangement makes it difficult to set both at once while still holding the camera in shooting position. I would have preferred that the buttons be set with a different hand than the dial. However, you can press the button and then set the dial, all with the same hand, to achieve the same effect.

Image Quality

The 10D delivers stunning color, 
right out of the camera
JPEG Fine, 10D set to sRGB
EOS 10D images have lower noise than D60 images, especially as higher ISOs, but we didn't find any other major differences between them.

Both cameras produce stunning 6MP native images which are suitable for essentially any use. I didn't get a chance to do any real assignment shooting with the 10D, so I don't have a lot of images to post in the review, but color and sharpness in all the test images I took were excellent.


With the 10D Canon has continued its tradition of providing all the software needed to work with the camera, including software for processing Raw files. Canon has also added a very nice touch by bundling Photoshop Elements 2.0 with the 10D. The combination of bundled Raw processing & Photoshop Elements could easily save the purchaser another $200 in software licenses. High end pros will already have Photoshop, but may other new buyers will find Photoshop Elements plenty for their image processing needs.

Overall, I really enjoyed using the 10D, and that Canon had addressed essentially all of the shortcomings of the D60 while lowering the price by nearly $500. The combination of lower price and excellent image quality will help bring many more film shooters over to digital.



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