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First Look: Canon EOS 60D

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First Look: Canon EOS 60D

4:01 /

The Canon EOS 60D is in many ways a great camera: fast, feature-packed, and with excellent photo and video quality. Some annoying aspects of its control layout dim its shine a little, however, so try before you buy.

-Hi, I'm Lori Grunin, Senior Editor with CNET, and this is the Canon EOS 60D. As it seems with every other generation of Canon DSLRs, the EOS 50D was a solid, if somewhat, uninspired follow-up to the extremely well-received 40D. Now, it's the 60D's turn to be the interesting model. It combines some of the best elements of the T2i and 7D in an updated, but occasionally frustrating, redesigned body. The body is still very nice. It's solid with a big grip, but, it's not quite as rugged or weather shield as competitors. The viewfinder's nice. It's not quite 100% coverage the way the D7000's is, but it's still big and bright and very usable. The photo quality of the 60D, as it turn out, is very nice. JPEGs are clean through about ISO 800. By the time you hit ISO 3200, hot pixels start to appear as part of the 60D's noise and they become a serious issue by ISO 6400. And one way in which the D7000 seem to be routinely better was for white balance. And in one mixed lighting case where I had no issues with the D7000, I actually had to resort to manual light balance with the 60D. The most notable enhance over the 50D is, of course, video capture. All motion looks smooth and I couldn't even force it to exhibit any rolling shutter artifacts. I did see some moire however, which I tend to see a lot. Though the built-in microphone is mono, it still sounds surprisingly good, and they've a wind filter along with the same sound controls that you find in the 5D Mark II at 64 levels, and it's really nice to have the 3-inch articulated LCD when you're shooting video. It's a very nice LCD but I often had trouble viewing it in direct sunlight. Like the D7000, the 60D is fast. Oddly, it's slower than its predecessor in some aspects though. Of course, at 5 frames-per-second, I can't really call the camera's burst performance disappointing but it is a full frame slower than the 50D and a bit more sluggish than the D7000. Though the camera still supports a 3-shot bracket, the range has been expanded to 3 stops in 1/3-stop increments. Canon's version of an easy mode, they call Creative Auto, now operates via what it calls Ambience Selection--things like standard, vivid, soft, intense--and you can set 1 to 3 levels for each of these. I'm still not a big fan of Creative Auto especially in this class of camera. The scene modes also now utilize this Ambience Selection option, which makes them a little more flexible. But once again, really, are you using them in this model? My biggest gripe is with the design. It's as if Canon purposely tried to make it different from the extremely functional 7D layout. For example, the mode dial has a locking button in order to prevent accidental turning, and that's good. But the buttons in the middle of the dial and pressing it down while turning is really awkward. Even worse, rather than offering a dedicated live view video switch like on the 7D, the 60D has a specific video mode on the dial. And when you're doing a lot of jumping back and forth between still and video, having to constantly rotate that dial back and forth almost completely around, gets extremely frustrating. And the custom settings still don't support most video options. Canon's also replaced the wheel and joystick controls with a wheel and a multiway rocker switch. I found the switch too flat with little tactile feedback. The 60D is, in many ways, a great camera. It's fast with a great feature set especially for video and it produces excellent photos and videos. It's just not as quite as fast as the D7000 for burst shooting and I really wish Canon would stop randomly futzing with its interfaces. But if shooting video is your primary goal, it does edge out the D7000 in that respect. I'm Lori Grunin and this is the Canon EOS 60D.

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