Nikon D60 Review

 
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Nikon D60 Operation

As we noted in the D40x review, Nikon seems to have really taken pains with their more recent consumer DSLR models to make its user interface as clean, uncluttered, and approachable as possible. To achieve this, they eliminated two buttons on the back panel that were present on the D50, and consolidated the top-panel data readout functions into a very attractive and logically laid-out display on the large, rear-panel LCD screen. They also put the mode dial closer at hand when you're holding the grip, and added a new scene mode for available-light (non-flash) photography. Experienced shooters may miss the terse convenience of a top-panel data readout, but we think most D60 users will appreciate the size and clarity of the new shooting display on the main LCD screen.

Since we're talking about the rear-panel Shooting display, let's take a look at it:

Nikon D60 Shooting Mode Display
The "Graphic" display is visually appealing, and shows you roughly what the lens aperture is doing The "Classic" format is a bit less artistic, but uses larger fonts for better readability.

There are two main display modes, the new Graphic display that helps the user visualize what's happening with shutter speed and lens aperture, and the more conventional looking Classic format, which displays the same basic settings information, but uses larger fonts and icons. I personally liked the Graphic format a lot, but can see a time coming when my eyes will prefer the larger type of the Classic display. Interestingly, you can choose different display formats for different camera operating modes: An option on the Setup menu lets you choose different formats for the Digital Vari-Program (Scene) modes than for the PASM (programmed, aperture-priority, shutter-priority, or manual) exposure modes. Potentially a nice feature, by which you could set the camera up with the Graphic display option for a novice user, but have it automatically operate in Classic mode when the more advanced user was shooting using one of the PASM modes. You can also change the color of the displays, with choices of white, black or orange for the Graphic display (white shown above), and blue, black, or orange for the Classic mode (blue shown).

There's a third Shooting Mode display option that had me scratching my head a bit. A Wallpaper option lets you pick an image from the memory card, and use it as a "wallpaper" design behind the shooting menu elements. Playing with a few different images, I found that most made the displayed information almost impossible to read, as seen at right. If you took some time with it, I suppose you might be able to find an image that was attractive, yet didn't detract too much from readability. (For instance, put a small subject toward the upper left-hand corner, and leave most of the rest of the frame blank.)

 

The rear-panel display carries quite a bit of information about current camera settings, more than we're accustomed to seeing on a DSLR. New for the D60 is automatic rotation of the status screen, similar to Sony's models. (A welcome addition to the D60.) Here's a look at the information that's presented:

1
Shooting Mode
15
AF-area Mode
2
Shutter Speed
16
Focus Mode
3
Aperture Value (f-number)
17
Release Mode
4
Shutter Speed Display
18
ISO Sensitivity
5
Aperture Display
11
Exposure Mode
6
Electronic Analog Exposure Scale
19
White Balance Mode
Exposure Compensation Scale
20
Image Size
7
Flash Compensation Value
21
Image Quality
8
Flash Sync Mode
22
Focus Point Display
9
Exposure Compensation Value
AF-area Mode
10
Help Indicator
23
Battery Status
11
Active D-Lighting Indicator
24
"Beep" Indicator
12
Number of Exposures Remaining
25
Optimize Image Indicator
Preset WB Recording Indicator
26
ISO Auto Indicator
Capture Mode Indicator
27
Manual Flash Control Indicator
13
"K" appears when memory remains for over 1000 shots
Flash Compensation for External Speedlight
14
Metering Mode
28
Date Imprint Indicator

There's a lot of information shown there, but a logical layout and large/sharp LCD screen makes it easy to tell what you're looking at. The column of data down the right-hand side of the landscape screen (bottom of the portrait screen) and the row across the bottom of the landscape screen (middle of the portrait screen) represents settings you can adjust directly from this screen.

Changing Shooting Mode Options
The right-hand column of the Shooting display acts as an option menu for various camera settings. The "image assisted" menus on the D60 are designed to make it easier to know when to use different options.

As shown above, pressing the i button on the back of the camera activates the right-hand option column, letting you scroll through them with the Multi-selector keys. The shot on the left above shows the White Balance option selected, and the shot on the right shows one of the screens that appear when you're changing the White Balance setting. As part of the D60's designed-in user-friendliness, most options on the shooting menu include "assist" images, to help you understand the types of shots or conditions that each setting is most appropriate for.

For those interested in seeing all the nitty gritty details, we've prepared a page showing all the options on the D60 Shooting Menu. (Note, there's a ton of screen shots on it, so the page could take a while to download if you're on a dialup connection.)

 

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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.

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