The Canon EOS 20D was a workhorse for me! About 18 months after the EOS 10D had come out, the new 20D became available. In many ways it was similar to the 10D, but the most important change for me was the new 8 megapixel sensor and the “instant on” feature. The “instant on” feature alone was worth the price of the camera, because I no longer had to either keep the camera on all the time by pressing the trigger every 30 seconds or so, or find myself waiting for an excruciating two seconds whenever I forgot to keep the camera on. Two seconds can seem like an eternity when you’re waiting for the camera to warm up as you’re watching a hard-to-capture bird like a Bald Eagle as it pounces on its prey.
The 8 megapixel sensor was also a great boon! It had less noise than the sensor on the EOS 10D, with more pixels! I have no problems blowing up photos into 13×19 prints using images from this camera. And for my sharpest images that were taken at ISO 800 or less in bright lighting conditions, I can blow them up to 24×36 inches.
Generally, I used the EOS 20D for landscape and macro photography. But when I was out doing bird photography with my EOS 1D Mark II and the 600mm lens, I’d put the 20D over my shoulder with the Canon 100-400mm zoom lens or the Canon 400mm f/5.6 lens mounted. I’d do most of my shooting with the 1D and the 600mm lens, but if there was suddenly close by bird activity, or birds flying overhead, I could use quickly grab the 20D and get the shot. I found the 400mm f/5.6 lens was very fast for flight shots, but the single focal length made for lots of lens changing when I wanted to do landscapes too. So I gravitated toward using the 100-400mm zoom most of the time. An additional advantage to the 100-400 lens was it had Image Stabilization (IS), while the 400mm f/5.6 did not.
When I traveled by plane, I used to take the EOS 20D and the 100-400mm lens for bird photography, and a smaller zoom like the 24-70mm f/2.8 for landscapes and scenery. Because the 20D has a small sensor, it has a multiplication factor of 1.6x, which makes the 100-400mm lens equivalent to having a 160-640mm lens on a body with a full-size sensor. Add a 1.4X teleconverter, and it becomes equivalent to a 224-896mm f/8 lens. Unfortunately, autofocus doesn’t work with the teleconverter on this body and lens combination.
The 20D and the 100-400mm lens served me well in Maui, where I had more fun photographing birds than I did windsurfing or snorkeling. I was able to get some great shots, like this one of a ‘Auku’u (Black-Crowned Night Heron) at the Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge. This is also the camera and lens I would use to dayhike with, and I was able to get this great shot of a Cactus Wren on a Cholla Cactus at Sabino Canyon near Tucson with it.