Canon EOS 60D
Full Review: 01/29/11
After a longer wait than normal, Canon introduced the EOS 60D to a market keen for its arrival. It arrived into a world where digital SLRs can be seen gracing the neck of everyone who’s ever thought of being a photographer, so it wasn’t surprising that Canon seemed to have rethought its entry-level prosumer digital SLR. The design of the Canon 60D is slightly smaller, and more specifically aimed at the advanced amateur market, better fitting into the niche occupied by the Nikon D90 and now the D7000, while the Canon 7D remains a better match for the Nikon D300S, as both are cameras aimed more toward those making money with their photographs. The redesign still mostly adds and improves features, like the 18-megapixel sensor, Full HD Movie mode, and Vari-angle LCD, but there’s at least one feature deletion that is a little frustrating, which we’ll get to shortly.
We’d begun to wonder whether Canon would introduce another semi-Pro digital SLR in this price range, as it’s been over two years since the 50D debuted. But the 50D was introduced six months early, only one year from the 40D’s announcement, so the 60D marks a return to the original schedule, and we don’t expect an upgrade for another 18 months.
In past reviews, we’ve noted that Nikon had Canon SLRs bracketed, introducing SLRs that didn’t quite compete directly with Canon’s models in price or features, and that was no more true than when the Canon 50D was left to duke it out with both the Nikon D80/D90 and the Nikon D300/D300S. With the 7D now in place to take on the D300S, the Canon 60D is now aimed more directly at the Nikon D90 and D7000, losing a few of its pro features in favor of a more consumer-driven focus and a smaller body.
The upgrade to an 18-megapixel sensor brings the Canon EOS 60D up to date with the Rebel T2i and the 7D, and splits the difference between the two in frame rate, with the T2i shooting 3.7 fps, and the 7D ripping through 8 fps, while the Canon 60D can shoot at 5.3 frames per second. That’s down from the 50D’s 6.3 frames per second, one of the first downgrades on the list.
A major improvement is the addition of a 1.04-million pixel, 3-inch Vari-angle LCD screen on the Canon 60D, opening up more unique composition possibilities to the class of shooter that Canon is seeking with this new design.
Though it’s the sixth EOS SLR to support HD video capture, the Canon 60D is the first of its class to do so. Resolutions include 1,920 x 1,080p, 1280 x 720, and 640 x 480, saved in H.264 compression with linear PCM audio. Frame rates include 30, 25, and 24 fps for Full HD, and 60 fps and 50 fps for HD and VGA. Also included is a feature only recently added to the 5D Mark II’s video mode, the all-important audio-level adjustment; so in this sense, the Canon 60D is a more advanced video capture device than the 7D.
Other basic specs on the Canon 60D include an ISO range from 100 to 6,400, plus a high setting for 12,800; a 63-zone dual-layer metering sensor; a 9-point all-cross-type phase-detect autofocus sensor; 100,000-cycle shutter durability; and shutter speeds from 30 to 1/8,000 second. Electronic leveling first seen in the 7D also makes its way into the Canon 60D, indicating pitch and roll like an airplane’s attitude indicator. Compact flash has been replaced with SDXC compatibility, and the Canon 60D uses the same battery as the 7D.
A great many of the Canon 60D’s controls have been pared down, and most buttons no longer have a dual purpose depending on the mode. Even the four top buttons that used to control two functions via the Main dial and the rear Quick Control dial are now dedicated to just one function per button. In this sense, the Canon 60D is more like a large Rebel with an LCD status display on the top deck than an evolution of the xxD line. Another, more welcome change integrates the 8-way joystick with the Quick Control dial. The major unfortunate omission to our minds is the Lens AF Microadjustment Custom Function, a firmware feature that anyone who cares about sharp images will want in their semi-pro camera. It’s another example of how the Canon 60D is now aimed at the advanced amateur, not the semi-pro market.
Finally, you can use the Canon 60D’s built-in flash to wirelessly remote control other Canon wireless EX flashes.
In another challenge to the Nikon D90 and D7000, the Canon 60D ships with the EF-S 18-135mm IS kit lens instead of the rather long-in-the-tooth and poorly matched EF 28-135mm IS lens that shipped with the 40D and 50D.
The Canon 60D began shipping in September 2010 and comes in a kit with the 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS zoom lens for a list price of US$1,399.00, or body only for US$1,099.00.