Canon 60D Review

 
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Basic Specifications
Full model name: Canon EOS 60D
Resolution: 18.00 Megapixels
Sensor size: APS-C
Kit Lens: 7.50x zoom
18-135mm
(29-216mm eq.)
Viewfinder: Optical / LCD
ISO: 100-12800
Shutter: 30-1/8000
Max Aperture: 3.5
Dimensions: 5.7 x 4.2 x 3.1 in.
(145 x 106 x 79 mm)
Weight: 43.5 oz (1,234 g)
includes batteries, kit lens
MSRP: $1,399
Availability: 09/2010
Manufacturer: Canon
Manufacturer's page: Canon EOS 60D
Full specs: Canon 60D specifications
18.00
Megapixels
Canon EF/EF-S APS-C
size sensor
image of Canon EOS 60D
Front side of Canon EOS 60D digital camera Back side of Canon EOS 60D digital camera Top side of Canon EOS 60D digital camera Left side of Canon EOS 60D digital camera Right side of Canon EOS 60D digital camera

60D Summary

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.

Pros

Excellent 18-megapixel sensor with superb detail; Very good high ISO performance, especially for 18-megapixel subframe sensor; 3.0-inch, 1,040K-dot Vari-angle LCD is very useful for video and Live View; Sharp 18-135 kit lens with above average zoom range and I.S.; Full HD (1920x1080) movies at 30/25/24p, 60/50p at 1280x720.

Cons

Body not as rugged as mag-alloy 50D; AF assist only works when flash is up, though flash can be forced off; Auto-exposure not reliable in very low light; No continuous autofocus in Movie mode.

Price and availability

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, or body only for US$1,099.

Imaging Resource rating

5.0 out of 5.0

Canon 60D Review

by Shawn Barnett, , Mike Tomkins Zigand Zig Weidelich
Hands-on Preview: 08/26/10
Test Results: 11/12/10
Full Review:

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.

Canon EOS 60D Review

by Shawn Barnett and Mike Tomkins

The long-awaited Canon EOS 60D comes with some incremental upgrades, a few unexpected losses, and some nice surprises; what was not a surprise was its easy and straightforward operation for one already familiar with cameras in this prosumer line, and excellent image quality across the ISO range.

As mentioned in the overview, the Canon 60D has a few more consumer-friendly features to go along with its consumer-friendly design. In addition to the Scene modes that have always accompanied this level of SLR, Canon now includes many image and video editing features right in the camera. Much of what was introduced in the 7D, including the color-detecting metering system and leveling features, made it into the Canon 60D, but along with those changes came a simplification of controls and a downsizing of the camera body. The one feature unique to the EOS 60D among Canon's SLRs is the Vari-angle LCD, brought over from the PowerShot line.

Look and feel. Anyone who thought the 50D was a little too bulky will appreciate the Canon 60D's smaller size and reduced weight. Body-only weight including battery and card has decreased by 1.5 ounces (43g) to 27.5 ounces (1.72 pounds, 779g), despite the swivel screen. The body is made of a mixture of ABS resin, polycarbonate resin, and polycarbonate resin with a special conductive fiber, presumably for EMI (electromagnetic interference) shielding. The frame is aluminum and polycarbonate enhanced with glass fiber. Dimensions are 5.7 x 4.2 x 3.1 inches (145 x 106 x 79mm), a little bit shorter and less wide than the 50D, and just a bit thicker overall from the lens mount to the LCD thanks largely to the swiveling LCD.

Canon did not detail just how many environmental seals that the EOS 60D has, but they did say that it is a "robust, densely packed compact body with dust and water resistance." As you can see in the two diagrams at right, the EOS 60D's sealing is fairly extensive.

The Canon 60D's grip is smaller, with a nice indentation just inside the grip to help improve your hold, something we've long appreciated in Nikon SLR designs. It's less noticeable from the front, but there's still an indentation for the middle finger to quickly align your hold.

Also in that indentation you'll find the infrared remote control window, something that's long been absent on the 60D's predecessors, yet included on the digital Rebels. Indeed, the omission dates all the way back to the original Canon consumer digital SLR, the D30, introduced in 2000.

Upper right of the lens mount are four holes for the new mono microphone. A stereo microphone jack is also built into the Canon EOS 60D for better quality movie recording.

From the top you see the nice EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens, equivalent to a 28.8-216mm lens on a full-frame 35mm camera. Note that the lens is not USM (ultrasonic motor) drive, so it makes a little noise while focusing, unlike the 28-135mm lens that was bundled with the 50D. The Mode dial on the left shoulder is a little different. First it omits the longstanding A-DEP setting that most people probably didn't use (it allows you to set your desired depth of field using AF points), and second, there's a button in the middle that you use to unlock the Mode dial. This is not new to EOS, but it is new to their digital SLRs (my old EOS Elan had a locking Mode dial). Many will love it, many will hate it. It's easy enough to learn once you're used to your camera, and prevents you from accidentally changing the exposure mode.

Differences on the right side start with the tapered LCD screen. Users of the 7D may also notice that the four buttons across the top of the LCD have only one function, not two. In fact, it gets even more straightforward: the settings that each button adjusts appears beneath it on the LCD. No more looking all over the LCD to find the setting you want to change, and no more guessing which dial to use to change it; both will work. That is new, and makes good sense.

When using the Canon EX580EX II flash, the new rubber gasket mates with the plastic around the EOS 60D's hot shoe, further sealing the body in wet environments. The power switch is moved from the bottom right to the upper left, as it now appears on the 7D. Beneath that is the trashcan button. Canon is still having trouble deciding on a consistent format for buttons on their SLRs, as this is completely different from the 7D, the 50D, and the T2i, as are nearly all of these buttons. The Live View/Record button is at least in the same place on all three cameras, though this one operates more like the T2i than the 7D. That's mostly because both the T2i and 60D have a setting on the Mode Dial that activates Movie mode, while the 7D has a dedicated switch that surrounds the button. Thankfully they retained the AF-ON button, a useful device. Since they moved the power switch from the bottom right, there was no switch handy to deactivate the Quick control dial, so they added an UNLOCK button beneath it. It's a bit confusing, because by default, the Quick control dial is unlocked, and this button does nothing; but if you enable the Lock [Quick control dial] in the menu, the Unlock button finally has a purpose: allowing you to decide when you want the QC dial to adjust EV in Program, Aperture, and Shutter priority modes. If you lock it, though, know that the QC dial will have to be unlocked in Manual mode before it will adjust aperture, so it remains an imperfect solution.

Further economizing on space, Canon has integrated the 8-way joystick of previous models with a smaller Quick Control dial. The end result is an 8-way control disk, useful for selecting among the nine AF points in the viewfinder and navigating in the menus and around zoomed playback images, surrounded by the usual Quick Control dial.

Near the SDXC card door is a write indicator lamp, which is better placed than most lamps. This position gives ample warning that a card write is in progress and opening the door and removing the card might destroy photos, and even the card itself.

Of course we can't forget one of the more exciting additions to the Canon 60D: the Vari-angle LCD screen. There's an ample thumb relief to get a good grip on the edge of the screen and swing it out. Some find this kind of mechanism cumbersome to use, because you have to swing it out and then flip it to use it in most cases, but it offers more versatility than any other design on the market. Once you get used to it, it's really handy. This is one of the better swivel mechanisms Canon's produced, with smooth movement, but with resistance stiff enough to stay put. It feels very solid and the 1,040,000-dot display looks great.

Comparison: Canon 60D vs 50D

The Canon 60D is reduced in nearly all dimensions, except for the overall thickness. Width and height are smaller by one and two millimeters respectively, and the shoulders slope a bit more. An infrared sensor appears on the 60D grip, while it's long been absent from the 50D and its predecessors. Bravo.
The Canon 60D's left-mounted LCD hinge seems to be a clear reason that the overall control set has been reduced from the 50D, as there's no longer room for the buttons across the bottom of the LCD, nor is there room on the left.
The LCD is most changed from the 50D, as it's now tapered instead of rectangular. Front-to-back thickness is increased by five millimeters, while the pentaprism/flash size is noticeably smaller. Finally it's obvious from this angle how much smaller the grip is; that'll be good for some, not for others depending on your hand size.


Comparison: Canon 60D versus Nikon D7000

The Canon 60D is slightly larger than the Nikon D7000, mostly in width, but the Canon xxD line has shrunk somewhat to take on the D90 and D7000. The 60D even includes an infrared receiver, located on the grip, while the Nikon D7000's IR port appears on the upper right of the lens mount. A key advantage remains in the D7000, though, which is the AF-assist lamp. The two lenses address similar needs, with the Canon covering 28.8-216mm, and the Nikkor covering a slightly wider and shorter 27-157.5mm; both are f/3.5-5.6 and image-stabilized. The Canon 60D is also missing the equivalent of AF Fine-tuning, something the D7000 retains (an important feature if you have a lens that front or back-focuses).
The top view shows the smaller packing size of the Nikon D7000. Note the use of D-rings on the Nikon, which, while nostalgic, have the unfortunate tendency to rattle, noise that can be heard in videos made using the internal microphone. The Canon design mates metal with cloth, with no metal-to-metal contact that can rattle. The Canon 60D still leaves a few more controls on the top deck, while the Nikon D7000 has the power switch in a position where it's very easy to activate with your finger at the ready. The Canon 60D also has a locking mode dial.
The back of the Canon 60D shows what might be behind the wider body: it has an articulating LCD with a hinge, and the aspect ratio of the LCD is wider than the Nikon's. Which you prefer is quite individual. I find the D7000 grip small but extremely efficient, offering good room and bite for the fingertips and the thumb and heel of my hand to get excellent control very quickly. The Canon 60D's grip is a little more tacky with excellent texture, but though there is a slight ridge to help the fingertips grip better, it's not quite as sure a hold as the D7000's. There's still more room to spread your thumb over the 60D's back, though. That's an assessment for my hands, but your experiences will differ. Most of the 60D's controls are grouped on the right side of the camera, thanks to the hinge on the left of the LCD that enables it to swing out and help you capture images from a wide variety of angles. Both designs offer reasonably quick access to Movie mode. The 60D's hot shoe can be sealed from water when used with a 580EX II flash. Otherwise, both control arrangements are pretty good, if completely different.

Canon 60D Technical details

Sensor. The Canon 60D's 18.0-megapixel, APS-C sized CMOS image sensor raises the resolution slightly from the Canon 50D's 15.1 megapixels, accompanied by a decrease in photodiode pitch from 4.7µm to 4.3µm. With dimensions of 22.3 x 14.9mm, the overall sensor size is unchanged, yielding the same 1.6x focal length crop. The new sensor also retains a four-channel readout design, like that of its predecessor.

The maximum image dimensions for both JPEG and Raw still image shooting are 5,184 x 3,456 pixels. For Raw shooting, two reduced resolution options are available -- mRaw (3,888 x 2,592 pixels), and sRaw (2,592 x 1,728 pixels). JPEG shooters have four reduced resolution options -- 3,456 x 2,304 pixels, 2,592 x 1,728 pixels, 1,920 x 1,280 pixels, and 720 x 480 pixels.

Processor. Canon has retained their DIGIC 4 image processor in the EOS 60D. With increased resolution, but the same image processor and sensor readout design, something had to give. The Canon 60D's burst shooting speed hence falls to 5.3 frames per second, down from 6.3 frames per second in the 50D. Maximum burst depth is essentially unchanged, however, at 16 Raw images, or 58 large / fine JPEG images.

Sensitivity. Despite the increased resolution, and the corresponding decrease in photosite size, the Canon EOS 60D has an ISO sensitivity range of ISO 100 to 6,400 equivalents in 1/3 EV increments, with the ability to extend to ISO 12,800 equivalent. While the expanded range is unchanged from that of the Canon EOS 50D, the ISO 6,400 position has been moved inside the standard range, rather than being provided as an expanded setting. This is an indication of Canon's confidence in the 60D's noise performance. The Canon 60D also offers an Auto ISO function, which operates within the standard ISO 100 to 6,400 range. Basic Zone operating modes limit sensitivity to ISO 3,200 equivalent.

Autofocus and metering. The Canon 60D's nine autofocus point locations are shown in the viewfinder diagram above as a diamond-shaped array of small squares. The larger nine by seven grid shows the location of the 63 metering zones. Note that the metering zones aren't actually shown in the Canon 60D's viewfinder, which includes only the AF point locations and spot metering circle from above.

Autofocus. The Canon 60D's AF sensor is unchanged from the 50D, and features a 9-point diamond array, with nine cross-type f/5.6 autofocus points, meaning that they're all sensitive to vertical or horizontal lines. Nestled in the center is an additional precision AF sensor that is arrayed diagonally and used when you mount a lens of f/2.8 or faster. It has the advantage of detecting horizontal, vertical, and diagonal lines. All nine AF points can be selected automatically or manually, and the autofocus sensor has a working range of -0.5 to 18 EV (at 23°C / ISO 100). The Canon 60D includes the ability to detect the light source (including the color temperature and whether or not the light is pulsing), and then take these into account and microscopically shift the focus as necessary. Autofocus modes include One-shot, Predictive AI Servo AF, and AI Focus AF, which automatically selects between the One-shot and AI Servo modes.

Unlike the 50D and 7D, the Canon 60D lacks the Lens AF Microadjustment custom function, which allows you to tune the camera's autofocus to compensate for lenses that back or front-focus. Not all lenses are tuned just right, but this tool can help make a slightly soft lens a whole lot better. It's a shame of an omission.

Exposure. The Canon 60D provides a full complement of exposure modes, split into two distinct groups -- the Basic and Creative zones. The Basic zone comprises Full Auto, Flash Off, Creative Auto, Portrait, Landscape, Close-up (Macro), Sports, and Night Portrait modes. The Creative zone includes Program, Shutter-priority, Aperture-priority, Manual, and Bulb. There are also a Camera User setting, for registering settings for quick recall, and a Movie mode.

Metering. The Canon 60D inherits Canon's latest metering system, previously seen in the EOS 7D and Rebel T2i. Where the 50D used a 35-zone metering sensor, the Canon 60D now includes a 63-zone iFCL sensor, which stands for Intelligent Focus, Color, and Luminance metering. The name hints at how the sensor works: the iFCL chip has a dual-layer design with each layer sensitive to different wavelengths of light, allowing subject color to be taken into account when determining exposure. Information on focusing points is also taken into account in metering calculations. In this area, the Canon 60D's iFCL chip differs from that of the EOS 7D, taking account of the 60D's nine-point AF, as distinct from the 19-point system in the 7D.

The Canon 60D's exposure metering options include 63-zone Evaluative, Center-weighted Average, Partial (6.5% of image frame at center), and Spot (2.8% of image frame) options. Metering sensitivity range is specified at 0 to 20 EV (at 23°C/73°F, with EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens, ISO 100). One notable change is that the Canon 60D now offers a wider exposure compensation range of +/- 5 stops, versus the +/- 3 stop range of the 50D. Granularity can still be adjusted, with a choice of either 1/3 or 1/2 EV steps. The Canon 60D also offers automatic exposure bracketing, within a range of +/- 2 stops, with the same step size choices.

Shutter. Like the 50D, the Canon 60D offers shutter speeds ranging from 1/8,000 to 30 seconds, plus a bulb position. Maximum flash x-sync is at 1/250 second. The Canon 60D's electronically controlled, vertical-travel, mechanical focal-plane shutter still has a rated life of 100,000 cycles.

White balance. The Canon 60D offers a full range of White Balance settings, including six presets, an Auto setting (3,000 to 7,000K), a Custom setting, and the ability to directly select a Kelvin color temperature. The six presets include Daylight (5,200K), Shade (7,000K), Cloudy (6,000K), Tungsten (3,200K), White fluorescent (4,000K), and Flash. The Custom setting (2,000 to 10,000K) bases color balance on a previous exposure, meaning you can snap an image of a white card and then base the color temperature on that image. The Kelvin setting allows direct entry of a color temperature between 2,500 and 10,000K in 100K increments.

A White Balance bracketing option snaps only one image, then writes three successive files from that single image. Bracketing steps are from -/+ 3 stops in whole-step increments. (Each stop corresponds to five mireds of a color conversion filter, for a total range of +/- 15 mireds. This corresponds to about a +/- 500K shift at a normal daylight color temperature of 5,500K.) There's also a White Balance Shift function, which lets you bias the color balance on green / magenta and blue / amber axes, within a +/-9 stop range in full-stop increments.

The EOS 60D also retains Canon's Picture Style function, which lets you select from Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral, Faithful, Monochrome, or three User Defined settings. In each of the preset modes, the contrast, saturation, sharpness, and tone are set for specific conditions. The three User Defined options let you manually adjust each variable, then save it as a custom parameter. Finally, you can set the camera's color space to sRGB or Adobe RGB.

Flash. The Canon 60D includes a built-in popup flash, and a hot shoe for external flash strobes, but lacks the PC Sync terminal offered by the 50D and its predecessors. Maximum flash X-sync is 1/250 second. The Canon 60D's popup flash has a guide number rating of 43 feet (13 meters) at ISO 100, translating to a range of about 15 feet at ISO 100 with an f/2.8 lens. (Reasonably powerful, but not dramatically so.) The Canon 60D gives you a great deal of control over flash exposure, allowing you to adjust flash and ambient exposure independently of each other. Flash exposure compensation is possible within a +/- 3 EV range, in one-half or one-third EV increments. This makes it very easy to balance flash and ambient lighting for more natural-looking pictures.

When attached via the hot shoe, three specific Canon external flash strobes -- the Speedlite 270EX, 430EX II, and 580EX II -- can be configured directly from the 60D's own rear LCD display. In addition to its hot shoe, the Canon 60D's flash can also serve as a built-in Speedlite transmitter, allowing it to control one or more compatible Canon strobes wirelessly. The Canon 60D uses E-TTL II flash metering for both the built-in and compatible external flashes, which include the more recent Canon EX-series strobes.

Viewfinder design. The Canon EOS 60D's viewfinder design is shown above. The coverage has been improved ever so slightly, to 96%. Magnification and eyepoint are unchanged from the previous design, and the 60D's viewfinder accepts the same focusing screens as that from the 50D.

Viewfinder. The Canon 60D features an eye-level pentaprism viewfinder similar to that of the 50D, but with slightly improved 96% coverage (our tests show it to be a little better than 96%). By way of comparison, the Canon 7D has 100% coverage, and the 50D has 95% coverage. The viewfinder magnification is unchanged from the 50D, at 0.95x (-1m-1 with 50mm lens at infinity), equating to a 27 degree field of view. Also unchanged is the eyepoint: 22mm from the center of the eyepiece lens.

Just like the 50D, the Canon 60D provides a diopter adjustment range of -3.0 to +1.0m-1. It also retains the its predecessor's ability to exchange focusing screens, and comes bundled with the same Ef-A Precision-matte focusing screen by default.

LCD. Probably the most notable change on the exterior of the Canon 60D is its Vari-Angle LCD display, appearing for the first time in an EOS-series camera. The tilt mechanism allows the LCD to be folded out 90 degrees to the left of the 60D's body, while the 270-degree swivel mechanism allows the screen to be turned 180 degrees to face upward or forward, or 90 degrees in the opposite direction to face directly downward. This also allows the LCD to be stowed facing inward, offering a modicum of protection against light bumps, scratches, and fingerprints.

The Canon 60D's screen comprises a three-inch Clear View TFT LCD panel -- the same diagonal size as the 50D's display, but with a wider 3:2 aspect ratio that matches that of the imager, rather than the 4:3 aspect ratio panel of the 50D. The change of aspect ratio also brings an increase in dot count from 920k to 1,040k dots, which roughly equates to a 720 x 480 pixel array. The Canon 60D's panel has 100% coverage, and includes a scratch-resistant fluorine coating. Display brightness is adjustable in seven steps.

Live View. The Canon 60D retains the Live View functionality from the 50D largely unchanged. The live view stream can be displayed either on the camera's 3.0-inch LCD panel, or on a tethered Windows or Macintosh computer using Canon's EOS Utility software. Three focus modes are offered in Live View mode, each providing advantages and disadvantages. In Quick mode, the Canon 60D drops the mirror back down to use the phase-detect autofocus sensors for focusing, potentially offering faster autofocusing operation, but with an interruption to the live view feed, and more noise from the mirror mechanism. In Live mode, the Canon 60D instead uses contrast-detect autofocus on data from the image sensor. The autofocus operation itself is slower, but there's no delay to lower and raise the mirror, nor any noise from mirror operation, and the Live View mode remains uninterrupted. Since the AF operation is performed using sensor data, contrast detection can provide more accurate focusing if there's sufficient contrast in the subject, and the focus point can be moved anywhere within the image frame, except for the extreme edges. Finally, Live Face Detection mode operates identically to Live mode, except that it adds the ability to detect faces in the image frame, and automatically sets focus on the dominant (or user selected) face.

The Canon 60D Live View mode also allows manual focusing, and provides a focus-assist zoom function that allows a portion of the scene to be viewed at either 5x or 10x magnification, making it much easier to perform fine manual focusing adjustments. The live view stream has a 30 frames-per-second refresh rate, and it is possible to overlay grids on the display to help with precise framing. Two silent shooting modes are available that reduce noise from the camera's shutter mechanism. In Silent Shooting mode 1, the 60D uses an electronic first curtain shutter, removing the need to close and reopen the mechanical shutter between Live View terminating, and the image exposure starting. It also reduces noise further by slowing recocking of the mechanical shutter's second curtain after exposure. Silent Shooting mode 2 does the same, but also delays the slowed recocking of the second curtain until the shutter button is released, allowing the photographer to select an appropriate moment when the noise will cause least disturbance.

Movie. Brand new to the Canon 60D is its movie recording capability, fast becoming a common function even among entry-level DSLRs, and at this point an absolute must-have feature for an enthusiast camera. The Canon 60D's video functionality is largely similar to that of the consumer-grade Rebel T2i model, but with the addition of the audio levels control functionality that's available in the 5D Mark II v2.0.4 update, and the wind cut filter function from the 7D.

Canon has provided three choices for movie resolution, all recorded as progressive scan video using H.264 compression. For High Definition fans, there's a 1,920 x 1,080 pixel mode -- commonly known as Full HD or 1080p -- saved at either 30, 25, or 24 frames per second. There's also a 1,280 x 720 pixel (720p) mode recorded at either 60 or 50 frames per second. Finally, there's a standard-definition 640 x 480 pixel (VGA) mode which is also recorded at either 60 or 50 frames per second.

The Canon 60D also offers the company's VGA crop function, as seen in the Rebel T2i, which works by simply cropping and recording the centermost 640 x 480 pixels from the sensor. This yields an effective 7x fixed zoom without interpolating the video. Of course, simply cropping the center of the image means that everything (including image noise) will be recorded at 1:1, so video has noticeably higher quality with the crop disabled. Still, for consumers who may well not be able to afford expensive telephoto lenses and only need standard-def output, it's an interesting feature.

For sound capture, the Canon 60D includes both an internal, monaural microphone, and an external 3.5mm stereo microphone jack, and movie audio is captured as 16-bit, 48KHz linear PCM. The audio levels function mentioned previously provides 64-step control of audio gain, although the 60D can also be set to control levels automatically if desired. The wind-cut filter function acts similarly to that from the EOS 7D, but can optionally be disabled. When active, it reduces recording levels below 100 hertz.

Movie recording is started and stopped with sequential presses of the Live View / Movie button, adjacent to the optical viewfinder on the Canon 60D's rear panel. Movie recording is only possible when the 60D's Mode dial is set to the Movie position, and in other operating modes the same button is used to initiate or terminate Live View display. Movie-related settings are located in their own Movie tabs of the Menu system, which are only accessible when Movie mode is active. It's possible to capture a still image during movie recording by pressing the Shutter button, but this does briefly interrupt the video stream. Captured still images will be recorded as if the camera were in Program mode, with the current still image quality settings. It's also possible to control movie capture remotely, using the RC-1, RC-5, or RC-6 remote controls. The RC-1's immediate release control allows still image capture remotely during movie recording, and both the RC-1 and RC-5's two-second delay controls start or stop movie recording immediately.

In Movie mode, the Canon 60D provides both Program auto and Manual exposure control, but not Aperture- or Shutter-priority. When using Manual exposure, 60D videographers can set the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO sensitivity (optionally -- Auto ISO is available) before recording starts, but these variables can't be changed during video capture. Canon's Highlight Tone Priority function is available when using Manual exposure. For Program exposure, metering is locked to Center-weighted unless Face Detection is enabled, in which case Evaluative metering is used. In either case, +/-3.0 EV of exposure compensation is available in 1/3 or 1/2 EV steps, and it's also possible to use the autoexposure lock function to prevent the exposure level changing during recording. Available shutter speeds for movie recording range from 1/4,000 to 1/30 second, if recording at 30, 25, or 24 frames per second, and from 1/4,000 to 1/60 second if recording at 50 or 60 frames per second. Movie sensitivities range from ISO 100 to 6,400 equivalents. The same White Balance and Picture Style settings as in still image recording are also applicable for video capture.

The Canon 60D inherits the Rebel T2i's unusual ability to use autofocus during movie recording. Continuous autofocus isn't available, so you have to manually trigger single AF operations as needed with a half-press of the shutter button. The feature is something of a tradeoff, because the AF operation is clearly visible in the video, even if Canon's contrast detection AF implementation doesn't hunt around the point of focus as much as some we've seen. AF noise is also very clearly captured on the movie's audio track, at least when using the internal microphone, although using quieter USM lenses can mitigate this somewhat, and AF noise can be avoided altogether by using a good directional mic on a shock mount. Pros will certainly want to stick with focusing manually (and can choose to disable AF during movie capture to prevent accidental operation), but some enthusiast photographers may appreciate being given the choice as to whether they feel the convenience of AF is worth putting up with the drawbacks. If focusing manually, 5x or 10x focus assist is possible before recording starts, but not during movie capture, since this would preclude the ability to monitor subject framing. Of course, before movie capture begins, either phase-detection or contrast-detection autofocus is possible, with the same provisos as in regular Live View shooting.

In Playback mode, the Canon 60D can play captured movies at full speed, or in slow motion with user control over the playback speed. It's also possible to jump to the first or last frame, and to step through the movie clip one frame at a time in either direction. You can also edit movies in-camera, by chopping off either the beginning or end of the clip, but only in one-second increments. The result can be saved as a new file, or overwrite the existing file.

The level gauge can also be shown in the viewfinder and top-panel info LCDs. It works more like a bubble level, moving left when the camera tilts right, and vise versa.

Electronic level. The Canon 60D provides a dual-axis electronic level function, reminiscent of that previously seen in the EOS 7D. The 60D's electronic level is shown on the rear-panel LCD display when in the correct display mode, both for live view and regular shooting. The level gauge can also be shown both on the top-panel status LCD display, and the small info display in the optical viewfinder, by pressing the Set button, if configured to do so. The electronic level display functions in one-degree increments.

Copyright info. As first seen in the Canon 7D, you can input copyright information right on the Canon 60D, as well as delete it at will. Captured images are tagged with the copyright information in the EXIF header, and is accessible in many Windows and Macintosh image editors, although it's easy to change or remove after the fact. The copyright information function is now available in models spanning all levels of Canon's digital SLR lineup, from entry level to professional.

Vignetting correction. The Canon 60D retains the Lens Peripheral Illumination Correction function that debuted in the 50D. Also known as vignetting correction, this function automatically reduces the severity of lens vignetting, which is visible as shading in the corners of an image. The function can be disabled, and works by default with a subset of Canon's most common EF-mount lenses. Data for additional lenses can be uploaded to the camera via the EOS Utility software, as needed. The Lens Peripheral Illumination correction function will work for any focal length, f-stop, or focus distance.

Auto Lighting Optimizer. The Auto Lighting Optimizer function from the 50D has been retained unchanged for the Canon 60D. It allows the photographer to expose for the highlights, and then the camera adjusts the image to open up the shadows during image capture. On the Canon 60D, ALO has four settings, including Off, Low, Medium, or Strong.

Highlight Tone Priority. The Canon 60D also retains the 50D's Highlight Tone Priority function, which biases the dynamic range to retain more detail in the highlight areas -- important for wedding photographs, where white dresses typically have blown detail.

Noise Reduction. The Canon 60D offers two types of adjustable noise reduction. Long Exposure noise reduction can be performed for exposures one second or longer, and works by taking a second "dark frame" of equal duration with the shutter closed, and then subtracting it from the first frame. This reduces or eliminates most noise generated by the sensor during long exposures at low ISOs, but can make noise worse at higher ISOs (at ISO 1,600 and above). Available settings are Off, Auto and On. The 60D also offers the user four levels of high ISO sensitivity noise reduction. Options are Disable, Low, Standard, and Strong.

Creative effects. New for the Canon 60D are a series of Creative Filter functions, similar to those seen previously in the company's PowerShot compact camera models, and fairly common in digital SLRs from rival manufacturers. The Canon 60D's creative filters include Soft Focus, Grainy Black & White, Toy Camera effect (which has strong vignetting and some color shift), and Miniature Effect (which simulates shallow depth of field by applying a graduated blur near opposite edges of the image.) The strength of each effect is adjustable, as is the angle of the miniature effect. The Canon 60D also offers a selection of aspect ratio settings in-camera, allowing photographers to shoot their images with a specific print format in mind, avoiding the need to manually crop images in post-processing.

Geek-free printing. The Canon 60D complies with both the PictBridge and DPOF v1.1 (Digital Print Order Format) standards, both aimed at simplifying the task of obtaining prints for the computer-averse, or the photographer looking for hard-copy output with the minimum of fuss. PictBridge allows the Canon 60D to be connected directly to compatible printers via its USB cable, and prints made of both Raw and JPEG images. Available controls include paper size, paper type, layout, printing effects, date and time imprinting, cropping, and tilt correction (+/- 10 degrees in 0.5 degree increments). The Canon 60D includes Canon's Direct Print button, which allows the image currently being viewed in Playback mode to be queued to the attached PictBridge printer.

DPOF allows a print order to be created and written alongside the images on the flash card, specifying which images are to be printed, how many copies are needed of each image, etc. The flash card can then be inserted in a DPOF-compatible device, or given to a photo retailer for the appropriate prints to be made.

Sensor assembly. The Canon 60D's sensor assembly includes a fluorine coating on the low pass filter to prevent dust adhesion, and a piezoelectric element that vibrates the low pass filter to shake off any stubborn particles.

Dust reduction. The Canon 60D includes Canon's EOS Integrated Cleaning System, first introduced on the EOS Rebel XTi camera. The camera's Self-Cleaning Sensor Unit uses a piezoelectric element to shake dust particles off of the low-pass filter in front of the sensor. The dust is then trapped by an adhesive strip along the base, preventing it from causing further nuisance. Cleaning is engaged each time the camera is powered up or shut down, or manually through the "clean now" function. The second part of the cleaning system involves post processing with a compatible personal computer and the supplied Digital Photo Professional software. Via a menu option, the camera maps any stubborn dust spots that remain on the sensor after cleaning, saving their locations as Dust Delete Data that can subsequently be used to subtract the spots during post-processing. A third option includes a manual sensor cleaning function which raises the mirror and allows users to clean dust that may have stuck to the low-pass filter.

Connectivity. For transferring data to a computer or PictBridge-compatible printer, the Canon 60D includes a standard USB 2.0 High Speed connection. The Canon 60D can also be connected to high-definition displays via its mini HDMI output, which features Consumer Electronics Control (HDMI-CEC) compatibility, allowing certain playback functions to be controlled from the attached display's remote control. For photographers still using standard-definition equipment, the Canon 60D also includes a composite audio / video output connection, which is NTSC / PAL switchable. The standard-definition video cable is included in the product bundle, but the HDMI cable is not.

Other connectivity includes a 3.5mm external stereo microphone input, and a remote control port compatible with the optional wired Canon RS-60E3 Remote Switch. The Canon 60D is also compatible with the wireless RC-1, RC-5, and RC-6 infrared remote controllers.

Storage. The Canon 60D stores images on Secure Digital cards, including both Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC), and the latest generation Secure Digital eXtended Capacity (SDXC) types. The Canon 60D is also compatible with Eye-Fi's WiFi-capable SD cards, and includes support for checking Eye-Fi card status on the 60D's LCD display.

Power. The Canon 60D uses the same LP-E6 battery pack that's used in the EOS 7D, but is incompatible with the battery packs previously used by the EOS 20D, 30D, 40D, and 50D. Canon says that the EOS 60D is capable of capturing up to 1,100 shots with flash usage, or 1,600 shots without flash. The Canon 60D also includes a built-in secondary battery, used to maintain the correct date and time when the main battery pack is removed or discharged. The secondary battery charges automatically when the removable battery is inserted, and when fully charged, can maintain the camera's clock for around three months. For long-term power, such as in studio shooting, the Canon 60D is compatible with the company's ACK-E6 AC Adapter Kit.

Accessories. The Canon 60D is compatible with the newly designed battery grip, which also provides duplicate controls for portrait shooting. Canon has also introduced a new E2 hand strap with the Canon 60D, addressing some users' concerns that neck straps can be restrictive, or simply get in the way, especially when you're using the Vari-angle LCD screen.

Canon 60D Image Quality

For us, the real work of a modern image sensor and processor is done in low light. So we like to show some benchmark images from a camera, starting at ISO 1,600 and moving up, as well as a selection of Gallery images shot out in daylight. Since we didn't have the Canon 60D at our lab near Atlanta for our initial preview, we went out shooting on Long Island, NY at Old Westbury Gardens.

High-ISO Comparison Shots

Here's a sample of the shot from which we're cropping below, the dining room of the Westbury House. Though it looks well-illuminated here, it was quite a bit darker than this.

The staff at the Westbury House kindly gave us special permission to photograph inside the house itself, as photographs are normally prohibited. The period decor and particularly the relatively dark lighting in the dining room offered a good test of the Canon 60D's high-ISO ability. We compared its images with those from a Rebel T2i, that being the most recent model using a similar 18-megpixel sensor, and hence was the one that would likely be the most competitive with the 60D's image quality. Shots with both cameras were captured with the same copy of Canon's excellent 24-70mm f/2.8L lens, at 24mm and an aperture of f/7.1. Exposure levels between the two cameras are very slightly different, as minor variation in outside light between the two sets of shots and/or slight differences in the cameras' sensitivity meant we had to adjust shutter times slightly to arrive at the same brightness. (The light variation was probably just over a third of an f-stop; that was the smallest adjustment we could make in shutter speed, and the T2i shots ended up slightly brighter, despite their having exposure times about 1/3 EV shorter.) The lens was focused on the vase at the back of the room, just to the left of center, using magnified live view for best accuracy, and the camera was mounted on a massive Manfrotto studio tripod to avoid any vibration.

As you'll see below, the engineers have managed to eke out just a bit more crispness and detail in the Canon 60D than in its already-excellent predecessor. Check our Canon 60D Gallery page and Canon T2i Gallery page for links to both JPEG and RAW versions of these images, as well as another set from a more brightly-lit room. Remember, this is comparing one excellent camera against another at 100 percent onscreen, and unless you print a massive image, you won't see the difference in a print.

Canon 60D versus Canon T2i at ISO 1,600

Canon 60D at ISO 1,600

Canon T2i at ISO 1,600

At ISO 1,600 it's hard to see much difference between the two cameras. The 60D's image on the left looks a little more contrasty, and detail is better defined, but much of that could be due to a slightly lighter exposure.


Canon 60D versus Canon T2i at ISO 3,200

Canon 60D at ISO 3,200

Canon T2i at ISO 3,200

At ISO 3,200 the Canon 60D's black shades are a little better, and reds retain more saturation. Detail in the roses of the vase seems a little better defined.


Canon 60D versus Canon T2i at ISO 6,400

Canon 60D at ISO 6,400

Canon T2i at ISO 6,400

Slightly more noise is introduced into the image in the brown field behind the gentleman in the portrait, but more contrast and detail are maintained as well, and the gentleman's eyes are more distinct. Some of the T2i's detail in the vase is starting to fade.


Canon 60D versus Canon T2i at ISO 12,800

Canon 60D at ISO 12,800

Canon T2i at ISO 12,800

At ISO 12,800 there's a little more definition in many aspects of the Canon 60D's image, but the continued difference in brightness makes it hard to pick a favorite. The gentleman's eyes are still more distinct in the 60D shot, but I might prefer the T2i's softer rendering at this ISO level. It's a pretty close call. Both cameras handle the scene quite well.


Movin'. Shot at f/6.3 and 1/250 second, this guy was moving fast from flower to flower. It's not tack sharp, but I'm glad I caught the motion of its wings.

Just two years ago, ISO 12,800 was a throwaway setting at best, with the 50D turning out nasty images fraught with overt banding, visible even in a thumbnail. Today I look at ISO 12,800 from the Canon 60D and T2i and have a hard time finding much to comment on. It's impressive. Feel free to shoot in near-darkness.

Shooting with the Canon 60D

by Shawn Barnett

I left Dave to take pictures inside the hot, non-air conditioned Westbury House, instead wandering out into the Old Westbury Gardens on a very hot day. The good news was that plants love hot days, and the gardens were replete with interesting flowers, birds, and butterflies. Since I knew that I'd only be able to make one pass, I shot primarily with the Canon 60D's kit lens, the EF-S 18-135mm. It's a versatile optic that's well-suited for a walk in the park.

Lush. This was such a varied and photogenic garden.

Despite a large number of changes to the Canon 60D's user interface, it was still largely familiar. I have to admit that though I'm disappointed that some functions no longer have a button, I found the control layout very efficient. Pulling up the Quick menu is how you get most things done, using the rear status display. I still habitually changed ISO and Drive modes on the top deck most of the time, but it was a lot easier than it is on my 20D, thanks to the simpler one-button, one-function philosophy.

I also appreciated the smaller size of the Canon 60D. It's not dramatically smaller, but is better for a walk than the 50D was. I don't think it's as small as my now ancient 20D, but the grip is smaller, and will be more comfortable for a wider array of users.

Zoom range. Just a quick demonstration of the 18-135mm's range. That's a sun dial on the top of that tower, by the way.

As on the Pentax K-7, the Canon 60D's Mode dial has a lock in the middle. It doesn't bother me at all, and as I mentioned earlier I had it on my old EOS Elan, and it worked great. But it bugs Dave to no end. We both use a lot of cameras, so it's just a matter of taste. Since no recent Canon SLR has had a locking Mode dial, I predict so many people will stumble over it that Canon won't do it again for a while. We'll see. (Shortly after publication, Canon announced an upgrade program whereby existing Canon 7D and 5D Mark II camera owners could upgrade the cameras with a locking mode dial for $100. Might this move been made based on popular demand?)

Narrow DOF. Thoroughly enjoyed shooting the freakishly large and bright EF 85mm f/1.2 optic indoors.

As usual, I took a very large number of pictures. In a place like the Old Westbury Gardens, there's plenty to catch a photographer's eye. Most of them were reasonably sharp, especially considering the extremely high resolution of this sensor and the relatively low retail price of this vacation lens (around $500). There's some softness in the macro shots, which are handheld snapshots grabbed on the fly; it wouldn't be my first choice for such photography, but I wanted to demonstrate what the Canon 60D kit can do, and I thought it did pretty well. (We have since posted a review of the 18-135mm lens on SLRgear.com. Click here for the review, complete with interactive blur charts.)

Later I went inside the Westbury House and took some shots indoors with the extremely fast (and heavy) EF 85mm f/1.2 lens. The lens was so bright that I chose to dial the EV back by -1.3 to keep the dark look to the rooms, while still maintaining the ridiculously smooth bokeh. At that point I was having more fun with the lens than the camera, but that's testament to how quickly the Canon 60D got out of my way and just let me take pictures, which is what it's all about.

Waddle. I enjoyed watching this family walk away from the rest of the crowd. A photo is good, but I was happy when I remembered I could take a video of them. (Click on the image to download a 52MB file. Note that you'll need a fast processor--something like a dual core--and a high-res screen to view this Full HD video)

Shooting video was also easy, once I remembered to use the Mode dial to select the Movie mode before pressing the Record Start button (I've grown accustomed to the Canon 7D's switch/button arrangement). I got some humorous videos of geese pecking at and walking along on the grass. I don't think I had the wind filter activated, so there's some wind noise in the shot. Not that wind filters ever fully remove wind noise.

One major item disappointed me about the Canon 60D. I own two lenses that front and back focus by a touch, and I've been waiting for the 60D to come so that I could correct for those problems with the Lens AF Microfocus Adjustment feature that was on the 50D, 7D, and other Canon pro SLRs, but not on the Rebels. Deletion of this feature is a strange choice that I just don't get from Canon's perspective. Yes, it forces more advanced photographers like me to buy a 7D, but not all can afford such a camera. Besides, who doesn't want a way to make their lenses sharper? Wouldn't Canon benefit if people could have their photographer friends show them how to tune their lenses to be even better? It seems like a no-brainer to me, and it should be a pretty easy firmware fix. To omit it from a high-end camera whose predecessors have the feature just doesn't make sense. Perhaps they don't want to field the support calls when curious newbies find and adjust the feature and suddenly all their pictures are blurry. It's possible.

Aside from that issue, I really enjoyed shooting with the Canon 60D. I like its reduced size, simplified controls, including the new integrated 8-way controller and Quick Control dial. The big 8-way disk allowed me to easily change AF points with a quick press, just like the joystick used to do. I forgot to use the Vari-angle display until I started doing contortions to get the right angle while shooting indoors. It's very nice to have on an SLR. The 18-135mm kit lens is a near ideal lens for Canon's new target market, with reasonable sharpness and a handy 7.5x zoom range, not to mention a pretty solid image stabilization system. Given the high resolution of the Canon 60D, I recommend hobbyists consider some sharper optics for more serious work, and a medium prime lens or two.

Ultimately, the Canon 60D is built for a different market. Canon has long since lured many serious 50D shooters to the 7D and 5D Mark II; now it appears their goal is to lure the Rebel shooters to the Canon 60D and more directly compete with the Nikon D90 and D7000. That's probably just the right strategy. Most of the important features from the 7D and T2i are included in the Canon 60D, as well as the audio level control from the 5D Mark II and the swivel screen from the Canon G12. It seems like every Canon line has contributed a little something to Canon's entry-level prosumer digital SLR, and the results are quite good.

 

Canon 60D Image Quality Comparison

Most digital SLRs will produce a reasonable ISO 100 shot, so I like to push them and see what they can do at ISO 1,600. Recent advances in sensor technology have made ISO 1,600 look a lot more like ISO 100, but there are still cameras whose quality starts to fall apart at this setting. I also choose 1,600 because I like to be able to shoot at this level when indoors and at night.

Canon 60D versus Canon 50D at ISO 1,600

Canon 60D at ISO 1,600

Canon 50D at ISO 1,600

One of the better illustrations of why to upgrade from the 50D to the 60D is right here. Though the resolution went from 15 megapixels to 18 megapixels, noise suppression appears less necessary, and images come out crisper with better contrast than the 50D. The red leaf swatch is about as bad, but the greater resolution still pays off with more detail.

Canon 60D versus Nikon D7000 at ISO 1,600

Canon 60D at ISO 1,600
Nikon D7000 at ISO 1,600

The major rivalry in the broader market is between the Canon 60D and Nikon D7000. The Canon 60D has more apparent resolution, with its 18-megapixel sensor versus Nikon's 16-megapixel res. Noise suppression removes more of the chroma noise in the shadows, but interestingly it also removes the real colors between the mosaic tiles, a hint of which the Nikon retains. (We discovered that these colors were real with our Pentax 645D test shots, and confirmed them with a closer look with real eyeballs.) Still, the Canon produces a very clean image. That is until you look at the red leaf swatch, which the 60D renders quite fuzzy and the Nikon does better at retaining some truth of the image (to see what it really looks like, look to the 645D crops).


Canon 60D versus Panasonic GH2 at ISO 1,600

Canon 60D at ISO 1,600
Panasonic GH2 at ISO 1,600

Image quality of the GH2 is difficult to judge next to the Canon 60D mostly because of the different color balance and tone curve, which makes the GH2's image look darker. In general, Panasonic's cameras have a tougher time with yellows in particular in their JPEGs, rendering the mosaic background greenish instead of more neutral tan. Resolution appears similar, though the sensors are two megapixels off; the GH2's sensor is 4:3, while the 60D is 3:2.


Canon 60D versus Pentax K-5 at ISO 1,600

Canon 60D at ISO 1,600
Pentax K-5 at ISO 1,600

Another rival in the market, as it's believed to use a similar 16-megapixel sensor to the one in the Nikon D7000, is the Pentax K-5. Indeed, performance is quite good, eliminating more chroma noise than the D7000. However, it also has trouble with the red swatch, further mischaracterizing it in a different way than the 60D. The pink swatch beneath the red swatch is also rendered more purple, as we also saw in the 645D. Still, a pretty good performance from both cameras.


Canon 60D versus Sony A580 at ISO 1,600

Canon 60D at ISO 1,600
Sony A580 at ISO 1,600

That 16-megapixel Sony sensor naturally also makes an appearance in the Sony A580, but it's clear that Sony remains the most aggressive of the three companies when it comes to noise suppression. While the back wall of the Still Life display appears to have some texture (it does have texture), it appears much softer in the Sony image. Gaps between the tiles also appear a little softer in the A580 images. Still, I'm happier with the rendering of the red leaf swatch from the Sony than from the 60D, soft though it be.



Today's ISO 3,200 is yesterday's ISO 1,600 (well, almost), so below are the same crops at ISO 3,200.

Canon 60D versus Canon 50D at ISO 3,200

Canon 60D at ISO 3,200

Canon E50D at ISO 3,200

The 60D still holds a clear advantage at ISO 3,200 in the first two shots, but appears even softer in the red leaf swatch.

Canon 60D versus Nikon D7000 at ISO 3,200

Canon 60D at ISO 3,200
Nikon D7000 at ISO 3,200

The Canon 60D still handles the chroma noise better than the D7000, but Nikon's more balanced approach leaves more of the red leaf swatch looking better.


Canon 60D versus Panasonic GH2 at ISO 3,200

Canon 60D at ISO 3,200
Panasonic GH2 at ISO 3,200

At ISO 3,200, the GH2 in JPEG mode really doesn't compete well, turning out softer images overall. It is a smaller sensor, though, so one wouldn't expect it to outdo the 60D.


Canon 60D versus Pentax K-5 at ISO 3,200

Canon 60D at ISO 3,200
Pentax K-5 at ISO 3,200

The Canon 60D and Pentax K-5 are still slugging it out rather evenly at ISO 3,200. I'd take either one, save for that red swatch. Lower the ISO when shooting the family in their Christmas garb (those who don't celebrate Christmas, be sure to lower the ISO when depicting yourself next to your new red Ferrari).


Canon 60D versus Sony A580 at ISO 3,200

Canon 60D at ISO 3,200
Sony A580 at ISO 3,200

Both cameras perform about equally at ISO 3,200, with the Sony still having an edge on the red leaf swatch.



Detail: Canon 60D vs Canon 50D, Nikon D7000, Panasonic GH2, Pentax K-5 and Sony A580

Canon
60D
ISO 100
ISO 3,200
ISO 6,400
Canon
50D
ISO 100
ISO 3,200
ISO 6,400
Nikon
D7000
ISO 100
ISO 3,200
ISO 6,400
Panasonic
GH2
ISO 160
ISO 3,200
ISO 6,400
Pentax
K-5
ISO 100
ISO 3,200
ISO 6,400
Sony
A580
ISO 100
ISO 3,200
ISO 6,400
Detail comparison. Digital cameras have an easier time making higher-contrast images look sharp, so we give that a look too at ISO 100, 3,200, and 6,400. The Canon 60D and Sony A580 seem to produce the most crisp images across the ISO ranges, with the Pentax K-5 coming in a close third. Surprisingly the Nikon D7000 seems to dither the lines inside the letters more than the others, creating an uneven look. It's important to note, though, that the Canon, Sony, and Nikon images exhibit the greatest amounts of sharpening halo, especially around the black letters. Of the six, the older Canon 50D is the only one that looks a little disadvantaged by comparison, which is not a surprise.

All but the GH2 were shot with the same brand and make of lens, the Sigma 70mm f/2.8, while the GH2 used the very sharp Olympus 50mm f/2 Four Thirds lens.

 

Canon 60D Print Quality

ISO 100 images print quite well, with sharp detail at 24 x 36 inches, with good color and no discernible noise. This is true up to ISO 400, where slight chroma noise starts to show up in the shadows at this size. It's only slight and you have to squint to see it. Detail, however, is still very good, even in reds, with 20 x 30 being quite good here.

ISO 800 images still look good at 16 x 20 inches. At 20 x 30 we begin to see slight chroma noise in the shadows, and some softening in the reds and other finely detailed areas.

ISO 1,600 shots look quite good at 13 x 19 inches, with only minor noise apparent in some shadowy areas.

ISO 3,200 prints look good and crisp at 11 x 14, again with only minor noise in some flatter areas.

ISO 6,400 images are usable at 8 x 10 inches, though the red swatch is now a foggy blur, while the rest of the image is reasonably sharp. The shadows have slight luminance and chrominance noise. All of this, except for the red swatch, becomes negligible at 5 x 7 inches.

ISO 12,800 make a very usable 5 x 7 inch print, but with noisy shadows. Reducing the image size to 4 x 6 produces a very nice print, however.

Overall, the Canon EOS 60D produces some amazing prints at all ISO ratings, with good color and great detail, and this is only at JPEG with standard noise suppression active. RAW images should deliver considerably more resolution and higher quality when processed with good software.

See below for our conclusion; be sure to check the other tabs for details and test results.

 

In the Box

The EOS 60D lens kit retail package contains the following items:

  • Canon EOS 60D digital camera
  • 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS zoom lens
  • Body cap
  • Front lens cap
  • Rear lens cap
  • Wide strap EW-EOS60D
  • Battery charger LC-E6
  • Battery pack LP-E6
  • Interface cable
  • Stereo AV cable
  • Software CD-ROM
  • Warranty card and manuals

 

Recommended Accessories

  • Extra battery pack for extended outings
  • Lens hood EW-73B (this hood was originally made for the 17-85mm lens; the hood is not included in the kit nor with the lens if purchased separately)
  • Large capacity SD/SDHC memory card. These days, 8GB Class 4 is a good tradeoff between cost and capacity, but if you plan to capture many movie clips, look for larger cards with Class 6 or faster ratings.
  • Camera case

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Canon 60D Conclusion

Pro: Con:
  • Excellent 18-megapixel sensor with superb detail
  • Very good high ISO performance, especially for 18-megapixel subframe sensor
  • 3.0-inch, 1,040K-dot Vari-angle LCD is very useful for video and Live View
  • Quick Menu system
  • The usual Canon enhancements: HTP, ALO, Lens Peripheral Illumination
  • Sharp 18-135 kit lens with above average zoom range and I. S.
  • Live View mode works very well
  • Live View mode offers a choice between phase-detect, contrast-detect modes, plus Face detect mode
  • Improved Live View focusing speeds
  • Very good color and saturation
  • Saturation and contrast settings work well
  • Fast shutter lag
  • Wireless flash support built-into pop-up flash
  • Fast flash recycling (2.6 seconds)
  • Full HD (1920x1080) movies at 30/25/24p, 60/50p at 1280x720 and 640x480
  • HDMI output for direct playback on HDTVs
  • Dust removal technology largely eliminates sensor cleaning chores
  • Integrated status display conveys a lot of information
  • Fast image transfer eliminates the need for a card reader
  • Picture Styles makes choosing and customizing color modes fast and easy
  • Compatible with over 50 lenses and accessories
  • Horizontal electronic level
  • Good software bundle
  • 14-bit RAW files
  • RAW files serve up incredible detail
  • Reduced-size RAW options
  • In-camera RAW conversion
  • Supports both wired and wireless remotes
  • Excellent battery life with optical viewfinder
  • Optional battery grip
  • External stereo microphone jack
  • Print quality is excellent, making sharp 24x36-inch prints
  • Body probably not as rugged as mag-alloy 50D
  • AF assist only works when flash is up, though flash can be forced off
  • Auto-exposure not reliable in very low light
  • No in-camera image stabilization (lens based)
  • 18-135mm kit lens has noticeable chromatic aberration and geometric distortion; also doesn't focus very closely
  • In-camera distortion and chromatic aberration correction only available in post-capture RAW processing
  • Flash exposures sometimes inconsistent
  • No PC Sync connector for external strobes
  • No continuous autofocus in Movie mode
  • Auto and Incandescent white balance leaves tungsten lighting too warm
  • Default high ISO noise suppression has trouble with low-contrast areas, especially in the red channel
  • Single-area full AF lag and burst mode slower than 50D
  • Imatest high quality dynamic range score not as good as some competitors
  • No AF Microadjustment
  • Need to use Mode dial to switch to Movie mode
  • Sluggish buffer clearing times

Canon's latest enthusiast digital SLR draws from many different cameras in Canon's lineup, from the Canon G12, with its swivel screen, to the 5D Mark II, with its fairly advanced video functionality. Though the controls have changed a bit, I still found the Canon 60D very familiar. The simplified controls tend to reduce the fiddle-factor, which results in a camera that gets out of the way and lets you concentrate on shooting. Autofocus is fast and pretty reliable, and the camera feels great in the hand. The Canon 60D's 18-135mm kit lens offers an extremely useful focal range for all kinds of photography, and it's nice to have Full HD video built-in for those few moments when only video will do.

Canon has learned a lot from the competition these last few years, making changes that matter to avid photographers. Even the shutter sound is more tame, without a lot of winding and buzzing, making me feel more like a photographer than a show-off. I like the location of the Live View button, but miss the 7D's ability to switch more quickly to Movie mode. Having to go to the Mode dial makes it more of a hassle.

The lack of Micro-focus adjustment and a PC Sync terminal is a clear sign that the Canon 60D wasn't strictly intended for the serious photographer; that's who the 7D was built to serve. At least in the latter case, the built-in flash can serve to fire several off-camera EX-series strobes, but those with studio lights will have to employ a hot shoe adapter, instead of just using the standard PC Sync cord with their existing equipment.

Most shooters can ignore those two points, though. The 60D has a broad set of advanced features, including the electronic level, an external mic jack, advanced autofocus, sophisticated metering, and a whole lot more. The Canon 60D's swivel screen means you can really get creative shooting from odd angles, and its high speed capture is good for sporting events and shots of the kids at play. The Canon 60D is a great upgrade for Rebel owners, too, offering a little more speed, a bigger viewfinder, and remote flash capability.

There's no question that the Canon 60D takes great pictures and videos, works like a charm, and does incredibly well in low light. The ability to print 20x30-inch prints from ISO 400 and 16x20 from ISO 800 images is valuable, and quite impressive. Even ISO 12,800 shots produce a good 4x6-inch print. The Canon 60D is very fun to shoot with, takes great shots in low light, and makes earning a Dave's Pick look easy. It should come as no surprise that we also gave it 5out of 5 points.

 

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