Canon 60D Live View

Like many SLRs these days, the Canon 60D features a Live View mode for its rear-panel LCD monitor. The Live View mode lets you use the LCD monitor as a large viewfinder, and offers an exposure simulation option which displays the expected outcome of your chosen exposure settings. A dedicated Movie / Live View button is used to activate or disable Live View mode on the EOS 60D, and the function is available in all still image shooting modes. (In Movie mode, the live view feed cannot be disabled, and the same button instead acts to start or stop movie recording.)

The Canon 60D's Live View mode feature set is comprehensive, and the display offers a lot of information such as current settings, exposure, and composition aids (see illustration below, courtesy of Canon USA). The Canon 60D groups settings related to Live View shooting in Record Menu 4, as does the EOS 7D. It's a much more logical location that that used by the EOS-1D Mark IV, 5D Mark II, and recent Rebel-series models, all of which hide these options in a separate Live View / Movie menu accessed through Setup Menu 2. Several options are duplicates of those in the Movie menus, and so if they're changed in one menu, the equivalent variable will be changed on return to the other menu.

A nice feature of Canon's Live View mode is that it doesn't immediately stop the live view feed when you entre the camera's menu system, or switch between operating modes. Some rival cameras will immediately terminate the live view stream and drop the camera's mirror in either instance, causing unnecessary wear and tear on the mirror and shutter mechanisms if you were intending to immediately continue live view shooting. The Live View mode also includes a greatly abbreviated equivalent of the Quick Control menu screen that's available when shooting using the viewfinder, accessed using the rear-panel Quick Control button. Instead of filling the screen, it is shown as a single column of icons at the left of the LCD display, and allows adjustment of AF mode, Drive mode, White Balance, Picture Style, Auto Lighting Optimizer, Image Quality / Size, and Flash Exposure Compensation, as well as selection of the active AF point if using Quick mode autofocus.

The 60D's Live View mode offers three autofocus modes, selected through the Live View function settings screen or Quick Control menu: "Quick mode," which employs the camera's dedicated phase-detection sensor, as it would when using the optical viewfinder, plus two contrast-detection autofocus types -- "Live mode" and "Face Detection Live mode" -- which both operate on data streamed from the image sensor itself. Face Detection Live mode can detect multiple faces in the frame, but only selects (and indicates) one face on which the camera will set focus and exposure. The selected face can be changed by pressing the left and right arrow keys to jump through the detected faces in either direction. The contrast detection modes are slower than phase-detection focusing, but don't require the mirror briefly drop to redirect light to the phase-detection AF sensor, which interrupts the live view display in Quick mode. The contrast detection modes can also be more accurate, and allow the AF point to be positioned anywhere within the image frame (except for the extreme edges), rather than being limited to the 60D's nine fixed AF points. On the flip side, Quick mode AF can be noticeably faster, even when taking account of the time to cycle the mirror, especially when shooting in low-light or with low-contrast subjects. Quick mode is also better suited to moving subjects, which can make it challenging to achieve a focus lock using contrast detection AF.

If you want to be doubly sure of the precise point on which the camera focused using Quick mode AF (since the live view feed ceases during focusing), you can bring your eye to the viewfinder during the AF operation. Even though you're framing images using the LCD display, the viewfinder becomes visible with the mirror dropped for focusing, and the active AF point(s) are still indicated for the brief time that the optical view is available.

Manual focus is also supported in live view mode, and includes either 5x or 10x image magnification to assist. In Live View mode, evaluative metering is always used to determine correct exposure, though exposure compensation is available. The optional Exposure Simulation function will attempt to recreate the exposure level that would be obtained with your current settings on the LCD display. This may raise noise levels of the live view feed beyond what could be expected in the final image, since it must operate with a fast enough shutter speed to achieve its required refresh rate. The aperture also remains open by default, and so the exposure simulation doesn't indicate the areas in focus until you press the Depth-of-Field Preview button adjacent to the lens mount. Exposure Simulation will attempt to continue even with depth of field preview active, though this may raise the live view noise levels even further. If you pass outside the range where the live view feed can simulate your exposure, the "Exp. Sim" icon near the bottom right of the LCD will blink, as a warning. You can also disable exposure simulation, if you merely want a clear live view feed with which to judge focus and framing, without being shown the effect of your exposure variable choices.

Three Silent Shooting mode choices are offered, which attempt to reduce the noise produced by the EOS 60D during live view exposure capture. (Of course, if you want to use phase detection autofocusing with live view, the mirror-slap noise this entails can't be avoided.) Silent Mode 1 is the default, and uses an electronic shutter to initiate the exposure, thereby removing the noise of cocking and operating the first shutter curtain, with only the second shutter curtain being physically operated to complete the exposure. Silent Mode 2 does the same, but also delays reopening of the second curtain, and the process of recocking that shutter curtain. Of course, it also delays resumption of the live view feed until the shutter button is released. This physically separation of the shutter curtain operation noises does definitely reduce perceived noise even further, but prevents use of continuous shooting altogether. Finally, the Disable mode is used for shooting with an extension tube, or for vertical shift images with a TS-E lens. Here, both physical shutter curtains are used, preventing incorrect or irregular exposures, but yielding the most operation noise, since both shutter curtains must be cocked and fired, along with the mirror being raised before the exposure starts, and dropped again to resume the live view feed.

You can enable one of two different overlays, which divides the screen with either a 2x2 grid, or a 5x3 grid, useful for precise image framing. You can also specify how long the camera's metering system should remain active without user interaction, within a six-step range from four seconds to thirty minutes. It's overruled by the Auto Power Off function, so whichever timer is shorter will apply. You can also select from one of four different aspect ratios for live view shooting, and the EOS 60D indicates the area of the live view feed that will be cropped from the final image by applying heavy blue lines across the LCD at the relevant points. For JPEG images, only the area within these lines is capture. If shooting with raw images, these will still contain the entirity of the sensor data, but will be tagged with the aspect ratio. The actual cropping is then performed when the raw images are processed, enabling you to revert the cropping after the fact, should you change your mind. Finally, Live View shooting can be disabled altogether if you don't use it, preventing the mode being accidentally triggered by bumping the Movie / Live View button.

The EOS Utility software (included with the camera) allows you to shoot remotely via USB connection while viewing the Live View image on your computer. You can also display the Live View image on a TV via the provided A/V cable or on an HDTV with an optional HDMI cable. The Canon 60D comes equipped with a temperature sensor, and if the internal temperature exceeds an undisclosed threshold, Live View will be disabled to protect internal circuitry from overheating. A high temperature icon is displayed on the LCD monitor to warn the user that image degradation may be occurring, and that the camera may disable Live View until normal operating temperature is restored.

Like a larger version of the optical viewfinder display, the Live View display reports the exposure information along the bottom of the screen, with additional settings and information overlaid to the left and right, as well as the selected focus area(s). The amount of information displayed can be varied by pressing the INFO button, toggling through five display modes -- image only, image plus basic exposure information, image plus detailed exposure information, image plus detailed exposure information and either an RGB or luminance histogram, and finally image plus basic information and a single axis (roll) electronic level gauge. This last is similar to that which is available on the rear panel LCD when shooting with the optical viewfinder, but takes up a much smaller area of the screen, so as to detract less from framing your image.


Canon 60D Live View options
The Canon 60D offers a comprehensive set of options for Live View mode, enough to warrant its own page in the Record menu.
Varying amounts of information can be displayed in Live View mode. Pressing the INFO button adds information in stages, starting with no information, a display with minimal information across the bottom, another with more info overlaid on the left and right sides, and yet another with an added RGB or luminance histogram, depending on which is selected in Playback Menu 2. Finally, there's a display with basic information and a single-axis electronic level. (Unfortunately neither the histogram or level are movable, and so they unfortunately obscures a good portion of the display.)
A 2x2 grid can be overlaid to aid composition or alignment.
An alternate 5x3 grid overlay option (Grid 2) is also available.
The 60D's Live View mode offers an abbreviated equivalent of the Quick Control menu, accessed using the same Quick Control button as when shooting with the optical viewfinder. The vertical arrow keys select which option to adjust, while either dial or the horizontal keys makes the adjustment. The set key will call up a menu showing all available selections for one specific option.
Here, the effect of changing exposure by adjusting the shutter speed is simulated. (Note that this particular animation comes from our Rebel T2i review, but the function operates similarly on both cameras.)
A white box at the center of the live view feed. indicates the area that can be enlarged to aid in manual focusing or confirmation of precise autofocus, and can be moved around the image frame (except to extreme edges). Pressing the zoom button magnifies what's in the magnifying frame by 5x. Pressing the zoom button again zooms in to 10x, great for checking critical focus, or for manually focusing. Once zoomed in, you can move the magnified area around in the box, using the legend at bottom right as a guide. If "Face Detection Live AF" mode is enabled, magnifying the image is not possible, though you can always check critical focus by magnifying the captured image, or temporarily switching to Manual focus mode.
The Canon 60D offers four aspect ratio choices in live view shooting: the native 3:2 aspect ratio of the image sensor, plus 4:3, 16:9, and 1:1 aspect ratios. The extent of these latter three modes are indicated by blue bars across the live view feed, and in JPEG images, only the area between the blue bars is saved. For raw images, the entire frame is saved and the header tagged with the aspect ratio. The cropping is then performed when the raw file is processed, allowing you to change your mind if your framing isn't perfect.


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