Design and features
The 60D marks the biggest shift in design from the previous xxD models in Canon's prosumer SLR range, sharing more in common with the 7D than any other model. It's there in the textured plastic that flanks the outside of the body, the more streamlined back panel that eschews the flat surface favoured on the , and the repositioning of the power switch.
The mode dial too has been tweaked so it now has a button that needs to be pressed in order to make the dial rotate — a feature that Canon assures us was a result of user feedback about the mode dial slipping too freely. In use though, we feel it is a bit counter-intuitive, either requiring two hands to coordinate the unlocking motion or moving the camera down to see which menu option to choose.
New features from the 50D include high-definition video recording (of course), at 1080p with selectable frame rates. There's also an articulating, flip-out LCD screen that can be positioned facing in to the camera body for optical viewfinder-only shooting, or out facing the photographer for conventional LCD screen use. In use, it's the best LCD screen on a digital SLR we've seen yet; at 1.04 million dots, everything is bright and sharp. The APS-C-sized sensor now has 18 megapixels and the native ISO range sits at 100-6400, with the option to extend it to 12,800.
One thing the 60D does lose from previous versions is its magnesium alloy body. Instead, that's reserved for the higher-end 7D, whereas the 60D has to make do with a plastic construction, more like an upscale 550D. There's also now SD card support as opposed to the larger Compact Flash cards used on the 50D.
The 60D also inherits the same exposure value compensation as the 550D before it, +/-5EV, but loses the control joystick found on the 50D and 5D Mark II. Instead, the control wheel is flanked by the standard dial and an inlaid directional pad to shift between menu options.
Creative filters, first popularised by, appear on the 60D in four styles: toy camera, miniature effect, soft focus and grainy black-and-white. They can only be applied in post-processing on the camera, rather than being displayed in real time using Live View.
The original image (left), toy camera (middle) and grainy black-and-white (right).(Credit: CBSi)
The 60D's closest direct competitor is Nikon's D7000. While we haven't tested that camera yet, here is how the two stack up in terms of specifications.
|Canon 60D||Nikon D7000|
|18-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor (22x14mm)||16.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor (23x15mm)|
|3-inch, 1.04 million-dot articulating LCD screen||3-inch, 921,000-dot fixed LCD screen|
|Full HD video (1080p, 30/25/24fps)||Full HD video (1080p, 25/24fps)|
|AU$1699 body only||TBA|
In terms of other cameras in the Canon range, many will be tossing up between the 60D and the 550D, or the 60D and the 7D. If price is a big consideration and you need the cheapest kit possible, the 550D is the option to go for. It's also lighter and offers most of the features of the 60D, apart from the flip-out screen and fast shooting speed. Bear in mind the 550D doesn't have selectable RAW sizes (the 60D does).
The 7D, given its magnesium alloy body, is a lot more resistant to the elements, delivers faster performance than the 60D, an improved AF system (19-point rather than 9-point) and a different shooting experience for Live View users given the screen is fixed at the rear of the camera.
General shooting metrics (in seconds)
- Time to first shot
- JPEG shot-to-shot time
- RAW shot-to-shot time
- Shutter lag
- Canon 60D0.30.40.40.1
- Canon 550D0.30.60.60.2
Continuous shooting speed (longer bars indicate better performance)
- Canon 60D5.3
- Canon 550D3.4
The 60D wasn't the most spectacular camera we've used in terms of quick autofocus during Live View or video mode; though this is as much to do with the specific lens as the body itself. Canon has indicated it is working towards video-friendly lenses, and we can't wait.
As with most other Canon SLRs we've tested, the 60D produces good JPEGs straight out of the box. Colours are accurate, without any real tendency to oversaturate, though tweakers are catered for with the accompanying picture styles and creative filters.
The Digic 4 processor did an excellent job of keeping noise to a minimum at high ISO levels (the 60D can hit 12,800 through the Hi settings, or 6400 native). Automatic white balance was generally on the money, and again given the similarities between this camera and both the 550D/7D, there were no real surprises here.