Canon EOS 60D Flash
The Canon 60D's built-in flash has a guide number rating of approximately 43 feet (13 meters) at ISO 100, translating to a range of about 12 feet at ISO 100 with the optional kit lens at wide-angle (at f/3.5) and about 7.5 feet at telephoto (at f/5.6). The Canon 60D gives you a lot of control over flash exposure, allowing you to adjust flash and ambient exposure independently of each other, in one-half or one-third EV increments. This makes it easy to balance flash and ambient lighting for more natural-looking pictures. The Canon 60D also uses E-TTL II control for both the built-in and compatible external flashes, a standard that promises, and seems to deliver, better, more balanced exposures. (TTL refers to "Through The Lens" metering.) A manual flash mode is also available, letting you set the output level from 1/128 to full power.
Another nice touch is the Canon 60D's Flash Exposure Lock button, which fires the flash under manual control before the actual exposure, to determine the proper exposure setting. This struck us as very handy, akin to the more conventional autoexposure lock function for handling difficult ambient lighting conditions. A Flash Exposure Compensation feature controls the flash exposure +/- 3 stops in 1/2 or 1/3-stop increments.
As you'd expect, there is a dedicated flash hot-shoe on the Canon 60D's pentaprism housing, for use with external flash units. Like most non-professional SLRs, the Canon 60D offers no PC-Sync connector for triggering studio strobes, etc. Maximum flash x-sync speed is 1/250-second.
The EOS 7D was the first Canon SLR to support wireless flash control using the built-in flash, and Canon 60D follows suit. That is, the 60D's built-in flash can act as a controller or commander to multiple, remote wireless flashes. You can have the built-in flash contribute to the exposure, or just command the remote flashes. Several other manufacturers have had built-in wireless flash support for a while now, but the 60D is only the second Canon SLR to offer this capability. The Canon 60D's wireless flash capability supports four channels and defines two groups (the 7D defines three groups). Exposure compensation and flash ratio of 1:8 to 8:1 can be set on a per-group bases, allowing a lot of control over how multiples flashes contribute to the final exposure. See the Canon 7D shooter's report for more details on Canon's wireless built-in flash capabilities and operation.
Several other impressive features of the Canon flash system depend on the dedicated 430EX II and 580EX II Speedlites. Among these is true FP (focal plane, referred to as HS) flash sync. FP sync requires a flash unit to provide uniform light output for a relatively long period of time, long enough for the focal plane shutter curtain to fully traverse the sensor plane. Uniform, long-duration flash pulses like this permit use of shutter speeds as high as the 1/8,000-second maximum that the Canon 60D is capable of. This can be invaluable when you want to exclude ambient light from the exposure, or when using fill flash in bright conditions with a large aperture.
Flash Test Results
Coverage and Range
A fairly powerful built-in flash, with somewhat narrow coverage and inconsistent exposure. Average positive exposure compensation required.
|18mm @ f/3.5
|135mm @ f/5.6
Coverage. Canon rates the EOS 60D's internal flash coverage at approximately 17mm, though as you can see in the top left shot, we've found manufacturers' coverage ratings are usually quite optimistic. Coverage is much more even at full telephoto. (Some of the corner-shading seen above is due to the 18-135mm kit lens itself, so we took these shots with Peripheral Illumination Correction set to On to see how much is related to flash coverage.)
Exposure. Indoors, under incandescent background lighting, the Canon 60D's flash performed quite well, requiring an average amount of positive exposure compensation of +0.7 EV for a bright image. The camera's slow-sync flash mode only required +0.3 EV exposure compensation for bright results, though the longer shutter time results in a warmer cast from the ambient background lighting.
ISO 100 Range. The Canon 60D's flash was fairly powerful, though its output was sometimes inconsistent. With the kit lens' maximum 18mm wide-angle setting, the flash range test shots showed slightly dim results at 6 feet and brightness actually started increasing with distance, but there was no appreciable falloff in brightness until about 12 feet. At full telephoto (135mm), flash intensity again started out a little dim, then got brighter at 7 and 8 feet before falling off at about 9 feet.
|Manufacturer-Specified Flash Range|
Manufacturer Specified Flash Test. The Canon 60D's built in flash has a rated Guide Number of 13 meters or 43 feet at ISO 100. That works out to 12.3 feet at f/3.5 and 7.7 feet at f/5.6, the maximum apertures of the 18-135mm kit lens. In the shots above, we can see that the Canon 60D's flash struggles to perform to specification at wide-angle, producing a somewhat dim image that was underexposed by about 1/2 EV. At full telephoto however, result were bright and were actually slightly overexposed, by about 1/3 EV.
Note: Our standard test method for flash range uses a fixed setting of ISO 100, to provide a fair basis of comparison between cameras. We've now also begun shooting two shots using the manufacturer-specified camera settings, at the range the company claims for the camera, to assess the validity of the specific claims.