CANON EOS 3000D

THE IN-CAM­ERA PRO­CESS­ING OP­TIONS FOR JPEGS ARE PRETTY MUCH AS YOU’LL FIND A FAIR WAY UP THE EOS D-SLR FOOD CHAIN.

Camera - - CONTENTS -

Shop around and you can pick up Canon’s new en­try-level D-SLR for a re­mark­able $500. But what do you get for your money, and is it worth spend­ing an ex­tra $100 or so for the next-in-line EOS 1500D?

A brand new ‘APS-C’ D-SLR for un­der $500? How does Canon do it? Ah, well, suf­fice to say it will still make a profit on every one it sells.

Here’s an in­ter­est­ing time line. Back in 1995 Canon in­tro­duced the EOSDCS 1, its sec­ond D-SLR based on the 35mm EOS1N, but us­ing Ko­dak dig­i­tal cap­ture tech­nol­ogy. It cost $55,000 and, we were told much later, just one was sold in Aus­tralia. In 1998 Canon launched the EOS D2000 – an­other col­lab­o­ra­tion with Ko­dak – which was a 2.0 megapix­els D-SLR cost­ing $32,000. Then, in 2000, came the EOS D30 which was Canon’s first ‘home grown’ D-SLR, but more sig­nif­i­cantly, it was more com­pact than any­thing that had been seen be­fore and was priced at a more ‘af­ford­able’ $6000 for the body only. That money bought you 3.25 megapix­els of res­o­lu­tion, con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing at up to 3.0 fps and a mas­sive 32 MB of buf­fer mem­ory. Lux­ury!

At the time of the D30’s launch, we ob­served “… this cam­era is proof pos­i­tive that the truly af­ford­able D-SLR – and one ca­pa­ble of match­ing film’s pic­ture qual­ity – will be­come a re­al­ity… the writ­ing is on the wall”. It would be an­other three years be­fore this did ac­tu­ally be­come a re­al­ity, in the shape of the EOS D300 which was the first D-SLR specif­i­cally tar­geted at am­a­teurs and very sim­i­lar in size and weight to a com­pa­ra­ble 35mm body. It was priced at $1999 with an 18-55mm zoom lens and of­fered 6.5 megapix­els of res­o­lu­tion, con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing at up to 2.5 fps and all the key fea­tures that are stan­dard on D-SLRs to­day.

So here we are in mid-2018 with the EOS 3000D, the first D-SLR that you can buy brand new for un­der $500. Well, the rec­om­mended re­tail price is nom­i­nally $549, but shop around and you’ll find it selling for $499 with, in­ci­den­tally, the mark III ver­sion of that orig­i­nal EF-S 1855mm ‘kit’ zoom.

In­ter­est­ingly, at the time of the D300’s launch, we also her­alded the ar­rival of the EOS 3000V, Canon’s first aut­o­fo­cus 35mm SLR to sell for a snip un­der $500. Mak­ing a com­par­i­son with the D300, we noted, “It’s go­ing to be some time be­fore you’ll be able to buy a D-SLR for this sort of money…” Well, nearly 15 years to be pre­cise.

So, what do you get for your $500 be­sides one dol­lar in change? For starters, Canon wants us to know that en­try-level D-SLRs are do­ing very well, thanks for ask­ing. Along with the Nikon D3400, the out­go­ing EOS 1300D notched up an im­pres­sive 35,000 sales in Aus­tralia dur­ing 2017. We don’t know the split, but re­gard­less that’s a lot of cam­eras for a mar­ket of this size.

SAV­INGS PLAN

Now the long-serv­ing 1300D is re­placed by the EOS 1500D (see left for an over­view) and there’s the en­try-level en­try-level 3000D (4000D in some mar­kets) so, not­with­stand­ing the gath­er­ing mo­men­tum of its mir­ror­less cam­era pro­gram, Canon clearly thinks there’s life in the old D-SLR dog yet.

And jeez, at $499, you’d have one just be­cause you can, wouldn’t you? After all, there’s an 18.7 megapix­els ‘APS-C’ sen­sor in there along with OK AF and AE sys­tems, a built-in flash with a half-de­cent power output, a swag of Canon EOS dig­i­tal smarts, Full HD video record­ing, a sur­pris­ingly long list of frills, WiFi and com­pat­i­bil­ity with the big­gest in­ter­change­able lens sys­tem on the planet. Pack­aged in any other con­fig­u­ra­tion (es­pe­cially mi­nus a mir­ror box and op­ti­cal viewfinder), all this would al­most cer­tainly cost at least twice as much.

OK, Canon still has a bot­tom line to look after, so what’s the catch? Well, there’s def­i­nitely a bit of a built-to-a-price feel about it, al­though the bodyshell is GRP just like any of Canon’s en­try- or mi­dlevel D-SLRs so maybe it’s just a per­cep­tion. There’s cer­tainly noth­ing wrong with the build qual­ity – it’s def­i­nitely just as good as the 1500D – but a few of the little cos­metic touches that fi­nesse the over­all fin­ish are miss­ing.

Canon is al­most apolo­getic about the main mode dial in­cor­po­rat­ing an ‘Off’ po­si­tion, but we ac­tu­ally think it’s quite a good idea. Do we re­ally need a sep­a­rate power switch? Nope. The built-in flash has to be man­u­ally hoicked into the up po­si­tion, but again this is no big deal… at least there is a built-in flash and, what’s more, it’s got a healthy met­ric GN of 9.2 at ISO 100. It’s ac­tu­ally use­able in other words.

A lot of fuss is be­ing made about the poly­car­bon­ate lens mount (as op­posed to stain­less steel on the 1500D), but both Canon and Nikon have done this be­fore on en­try-level cam­eras in­clud­ing, co­in­ci­den­tally, on the 35mm EOS 3000V. Nah, the real ‘poverty pack’ fea­ture is the 3000D’s mon­i­tor screen… it’s just 6.8 cm in size which feels re­ally small when 8.0 cm or even a big big­ger is be­com­ing the norm and, worse, the res­o­lu­tion is only 230,000 dots. Eech! This is al­most join-the-dots stuff now, but at this screen size images ac­tu­ally look fine and there’s an ad­just­ment for bright­ness. For­tu­nately, of course, there’s the op­ti­cal viewfinder to do all the heavy lift­ing, al­though to be hon­est, the live view ex­pe­ri­ence isn’t a par­tic­u­larly bad one.

LONG SER­VICE

The 18.7 MP CMOS sen­sor is a Canon vet­eran, hav­ing done ser­vice in a range of mod­els over the years, in­clud­ing the 7D, 60D, 550D and 600D which means it dates back to circa 2010. The ‘DiG!C 4+’ pro­ces­sor is in the same queue to col­lect its aged pen­sion, but never be­fore have you been able to have this combo at such a low price. It’s worth not­ing that the EOS 7D started life at $2699 for the cam­era body alone.

The ef­fec­tive pixel count of 18.0 MP de­liv­ers a max­i­mum im­age size of 5184x3456 pix­els at the 3:2 as­pect ra­tio, but for JPEG cap­ture, there’s the choice of three other as­pects – 4:3, 16:9 and 1:1 – with five im­age sizes avail­able in all of them, plus two com­pres­sion lev­els. RAW files are cap­tured with 14-bit RGB colour and at the max­i­mum im­age size of 5184x3456 pix­els. Yup, 14-bit colour in a 500-buck cam­era… and there’s the choice of sRGB or Adobe RGB colour spa­ces too. The sen­si­tiv­ity range is equiv­a­lent to ISO 100 to 6400 with a on­estop push to ISO 12,800… so un­changed from when this sen­sor made its de­but in the 7D.

The in-cam­era pro­cess­ing op­tions for JPEGs are pretty much as you’ll find a fair way up the EOS D-SLR food chain – ‘Cre­ative Style’ pre­sets. ‘Cre­ative Fil­ters’ ef­fects (only five, but all the key ones), ‘Auto Light­ing Op­ti­miser’ and ‘High­light Tone Pri­or­ity’ for dealing with con­trast, ‘Pe­riph­eral Il­lu­mi­na­tion Cor­rec­tion’ (vi­gnetting cor­rec­tion spe­cific to 20 lenses), and noise re­duc­tion for both long ex­po­sures and high ISOs.

Both the aut­o­fo­cus­ing and ex­po­sure con­trol sys­tems are Canon EOS stal­warts, with the 63-zone dual-layer me­ter­ing sen­sor ini­tially do­ing ser­vice in the pro­level D-SLRs of the day. Nine AF mea­sur­ing points may seem a bit rudi­men­tary by to­day’s stan­dards – and it is – but it wasn’t all that long ago that this was con­sid­ered pretty snappy.

The points are ar­ranged in a di­a­mond pat­tern to op­ti­mise cov­er­age and the cen­tral point is a cross-type ar­ray so we’re not en­tirely back in the Dark Ages, but you may have to re-learn how to use the fo­cus lock again. In live view, though, it is back to the bad old days with hor­ren­dously slow con­trast-de­tec­tion (how quickly we’ve be­come used to the de­lights of Canon’s ‘Dual Pixel CMOS AF’).

On the plus side, if you de­cide to fo­cus man­u­ally – which is ac­tu­ally quicker most of the time – there’s a mag­ni­fied im­age at ei­ther 5x or 10x to as­sist you.

The stan­dard set of ‘PASM’ ex­po­sure con­trol modes is sup­ple­mented by six sub­ject programs, but the EOS 3000D also has the more con­tem­po­rary ‘Scene In­tel­li­gent Auto’ mode which, as the name sug­gests, per­forms au­to­matic sub­ject mode se­lec­tion. It also has the ‘Cre­ative Auto’ mode which is es­sen­tially also fully au­to­matic, but also al­lows ac­cess to some ba­sic con­trols pri­mar­ily to ad­just the depth-offield or the am­bi­ence. The lat­ter’s ad­just­ments com­prise Vivid, Soft, Warm, In­tense, Cool, Brighter, Darker and Mono­chrome, each with three set­tings lev­els ex­cept for Mono­chrome which can set to neu­tral, sepia or blue in­stead. Yes, this is all the ‘Cre­ative Styles’ pre­sets dis­tilled into a sin­gle, more-sim­pli­fied menu.

Also avail­able for ex­po­sure con­trol is an AE lock, up to +/-5.0 EV of com­pen­sa­tion and auto brack­et­ing over three frames (at up to +/-2.0 EV of vari­a­tion per frame). And the brack­et­ing can be com­bined with the ex­po­sure com­pen­sa­tion so you can pick any­where across the lat­ter’s range as the mid-point.

Auto brack­et­ing is also avail­able for white balance con­trol, as is the op­tion of Am­bi­ence Pri­or­ity or White Pri­or­ity for the auto cor­rec­tion, and man­ual colour tem­per­a­ture setting over a range of 200 to 10,000 de­grees Kelvin… none of which you would have pre­vi­ously seen on an en­try-level D-SLR. Nor, in live view, would you have had the choice of bright­ness or RGB his­tograms… or grid guides for that mat­ter.

SLOW START

Oper­a­tionally, the first thing you no­tice about the 3000D is how slow it is to get go­ing after switch-on or wake-up. We’ve be­come ac­cus­tomed to near in­stan­ta­neous star­tups, but the 3000D faffs around for at least a sec­ond or so be­fore get­ting its act to­gether and pre­sent­ing for duty. After this though, it’s all pretty stan­dard Canon EOS D-SLR fare… well-or­gan­ised and easy-tonav­i­gate menus, a handy ‘Quick Con­trol’ screen (also avail­able in live view) and an ex­ter­nal con­trol lay­out based around the afore­men­tioned main mode dial (with its ‘Off’ setting), a front in­put wheel and a five-key clus­ter for nav­i­ga­tion and di­rect ac­cess to the key cap­ture func­tions.

For rea­sons best known only to Canon (but pre­sum­ably costre­lated), most of the keys have their func­tion indi­ca­tors lo­cated along­side rather than ac­tu­ally on the con­trol it­self so, if you’re in the habit of sim­ply jab­bing at the mark­ings, you’re go­ing to won­der why noth­ing is hap­pen­ing. It took a little while to re­set the brain, es­pe­cially as th­ese flush-fit­ting keys are all the same colour as the body and so can be quite hard to see in low light­ing con­di­tions.

The re­play op­tions in­clude a thumb­nail with a set of RGB his­tograms and ba­sic cap­ture info or, in­stead of the lat­ter, a bright­ness his­togram (or, if you pre­fer, the other way around). There’s the choice of pages of ei­ther four or nine thumb­nails or, go­ing in the op­po­site direc­tion, zoom­ing up to 10x. The slide show func­tion has ad­justable dis­play times, fade in/out ef­fects and back­ground mu­sic. You can also ro­tate, re­size, or­gan­ise for a pho­to­book or ap­ply the ‘Cre­ative Fil­ter’ ef­fects. In fact, post-cap­ture is the only way you can use the spe­cial ef­fects, but this is no bad thing given that you end up with both the orig­i­nal file and the edited ver­sion. You can also give images a star rat­ing which sub­se­quently be­comes a search cri­te­ria.

SPEED AND PER­FOR­MANCE

With a quoted top shoot­ing speed of 3.0 fps, putting the 3000D through a time trial is pretty much an aca­demic ex­er­cise and it cer­tainly can’t make full use of our high-speed ref­er­ence mem­ory card, a Lexar 128 GB Pro­fes­sional SDXC UHS-II/U3 (Speed Class 3) ‘2000x’ de­vice. But, for the record, we shot a se­quence of 65 JPEG/large/fine frames in 21.582 sec­onds which rep­re­sents a shoot­ing speed of… guess what? Pre­cisely 3.01 fps… which, of course, is bang on the quoted spec. The buf­fer emp­tied very quickly and the average file size was in the or­der of 7.1 MB.

The nine-point aut­o­fo­cus­ing sys­tem may be dated, but it still works well enough – al­beit with more lim­i­ta­tions than we’re used to th­ese days, par­tic­u­larly when shoot­ing smaller sub­jects or in low light sit­u­a­tions. As we noted ear­lier, the fo­cus lock is prob­a­bly go­ing to get more use than is now gen­er­ally the case. The AF speed is best de­scribed as ad­e­quate and, in fact, the 3000D re­ally isn’t in a hurry to do any­thing… prob­a­bly be­cause the ‘DiG!C 4+’ pro­ces­sor is off hav­ing its af­ter­noon nap.

The 18.7 MP ‘APS-C’ sen­sor has served Canon well for many years and while we have moved on in many ways, it still does a pretty good job here. For starters, there are still quite a few mir­ror­less cam­eras with res­o­lu­tions in the re­gion of 16 to 18 MP even if this is now at the bot­tom end of to­day’s pix­els count. For­get the num­bers and just look at the images which, as JPEG/large/fine files, look more than ac­cept­able in terms of def­i­ni­tion and de­tail­ing, colour re­pro­duc­tion and over­all tonal­ity.

As al­ways, the ‘Cre­ative Style’ pre­sets pro­vide plenty of scope for tweak­ing the sat­u­ra­tion, sharp­ness and con­trast to suit per­sonal tastes, but Land­scape still seems to most ef­fec­tively balance a pleas­ing sat­u­ra­tion with re­al­ism. The ten­dency to slightly over­sat­u­rate the reds which we re­mem­ber from ear­lier D-SLRs which used this sen­sor ap­pears to have gone and so, in par­tic­u­lar, paler skin tones now look nicely neu­tral. Where this sen­sor/pro­ces­sor combo does be­tray its age, how­ever, is in the high ISO per­for­mance which is ex­cel­lent up to ISO 1600, but starts to fall off no­tice­ably from ISO 3200 and beyond, par­tic­u­larly in terms of chroma noise.

Most lat­est-gen ‘APS-C’ sen­sors are now hold­ing ev­ery­thing to­gether very well up to ISO 6400 or even ISO 12,800 thanks to ad­vances in noise re­duc­tion pro­cess­ing. Over­all, though, the im­age qual­ity still meets con­tem­po­rary ex­pec­ta­tions which mostly shows you how ahead of the game Canon has been in the past. You cer­tainly don’t get the im­pres­sion that you’re mak­ing too many ma­jor sac­ri­fices here in or­der to save money.

THE VER­DICT

Right now, the EOS 3000D is the cheap­est in­ter­change­able lens cam­era on the mar­ket, re­flex or mir­ror­less, but it’s not so pared­down that the price is the only good thing about it. The ba­sic fea­ture set is ac­tu­ally pretty gen­er­ous be­cause pre­sum­ably any­thing pro­ces­sor-based re­ally isn’t that ex­pen­sive to in­clude, but you start to feel the pinch with some of the phys­i­cal el­e­ments, most no­tably the small mon­i­tor screen with its low res­o­lu­tion.

The big­ger and bet­ter screen on the 1500D is pos­si­bly the most con­vinc­ing ar­gu­ment for shelling out an ex­tra 100 bucks, es­pe­cially if you’re go­ing to be us­ing live view on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

It’s al­ways a bal­anc­ing act be­tween cut­ting costs – es­pe­cially this ag­gres­sively – and risk­ing com­pro­mis­ing any ap­peal or, worse, frus­trat­ing users so much they end up go­ing else­where.

In this re­gard, Canon treads a very fine line in­deed with 3000D, but given the firmware ul­ti­mately outscores the hard­ware, it is a cam­era you can live with, ei­ther to learn the ba­sics or en­joy D-SLR pho­tog­ra­phy on a very tight bud­get.

Whether it will suc­ceed in mak­ing D-SLR con­verts out of smart­phone users – or, in­deed, com­pact cam­era users – is an­other mat­ter, but the af­ford­abil­ity has to have some at­trac­tion, but read our com­ments about the 1500D be­fore mak­ing any de­ci­sion.

So… rec­om­mended, but with some reser­va­tions.

PAUL BUR­ROWS RE­PORT BY

Canon’s new en­try-level D-SLR shares the same ba­sic con­trol sys­tems and es­sen­tially the same GRP bodyshell, but the 3000D (right) is stripped down to achieve a very keen selling price.

While the 1500D’s flash will pop-up au­to­mat­i­cally (in the fully auto con­trol modes) or is raised via a push-but­ton, it’s man­ual all the way on the 3000D.

The 3000D’s mon­i­tor screen (left) is its least at­trac­tive fea­ture and is back to the Dark Ages with its 6.8 cm size and measly 230,000 dots res­o­lu­tion. 1500D has a more con­tem­po­rary 7.5 cm panel with 920,600 dots res­o­lu­tion.

EOS 3000D has a poly­car­bon­ate lens mount (left) while the 1500D’s is stain­less steel. Plas­tic mounts aren’t new and shouldn’t be prob­lem­atic un­der nor­mal us­age.

The 3000D’s main mode dial also serves as the cam­era’s power switch. The 1500D has a con­ven­tional on/off lever.

Menu de­sign is stan­dard Canon D-SLR fare, but clearly looks a lot bet­ter on the 1500D’s higher-res mon­i­tors (above). Both cam­eras have a user-as­sign­a­ble ‘My Menu’.

Re­play thumb­nail screen can be con­fig­ured with ei­ther cap­ture data or a full set of his­tograms (and you can switch the bright­ness and RGB graphs around).

‘Quick Con­trol’ screen pro­vides di­rect ac­cess to range of cap­tur­ere­lated func­tions as well as serv­ing as a sta­tus dis­play.

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