The Bottom Line
Canon has been busy redesigning its range of cameras, now creating four distinct levels. The Rebel T2i is regarded as Canon's current amateur camera, the 7D is aimed at semi-pros, and cameras such as the 5D Mark II and 1DS Mark III are firmly aimed at professionals.
This has left a big gap though for enthusiastic amateurs looking to upgrade from an entry-level camera.
Enter the Canon EOS 60D DSLR to fill the gap. The 60D is even sized to fit firmly in-between the Rebel T2i and the 7D. So, the 60D shouldn't really be seen as a continuation of the 40/50D range, but rather as a "Super Rebel."
- Resolution: 18 megapixel CMOS sensor
- ISO: ISO 100-6400, expandable to 12800, in 0.3 or 1.0 EV increments
- Focusing: 9 AF points
- Movie Mode: HD movie mode
- Flash: Built-in popup flash
- LCD Screen: 3-inch LCD panel, 1,040,000 pixels
- Battery: LiIon LP-E6 rechargeable battery
- Dimensions: 5.71 x 4.17 x 3.11 in. (145 x 106 x 79 mm)
- Weight: 26.63 oz. (755 g) (including battery and memory card)
- Maximum Image Size: 5184 x 3456 pixels (RAW and JPEG)
- 18 megapixels
- Good results at higher ISO settings
- Full HD movie mode
- Flip-out LCD screen
- Some fiddly controls
- Plastic body
- Currently overpriced
Canon EOS 60D Review
Despite its name, the 60D is most definitely the Rebel T2i's big brother, rather than the successor to the 50D. This is a completely different beast.
The most obvious differences are that it's smaller than the 50D and is now made from a plastic shell, instead of a magnesium body. If you placed the Rebel T2i, the 60D, and the 7D side by side, you'd notice that the 60D is exactly halfway between the size of the other two models. The 60D is also Canon's first DSLR camera to feature a flip-out LCD screen, allowing you to view shots from different angles. This is particularly useful in video mode, as it means you no longer have to hold the camera out at arm's length.
It's a bold step by Canon, but has it paid off?
Well, yes and no. This camera will certainly appeal to those wanting to step up from the basic functions of the Rebel range of cameras. But, in my view, it is somewhat overpriced in comparison to the 7D. The price difference isn't wide enough. If I was upgrading from a Rebel series at present, I'd certainly look to try to find the extra $300 for a 7D.
While the 60D retains the comfortable hand grip of the 50D, many of its controls have been vastly revised. Users of the Rebel series cameras will be far more at home here than existing 50D users.
The 60D has benefited from the addition of the "Q" button. This allows users to navigate directly to the Q Menu screen, which lists the key shooting parameters. Unfortunately, the rest of the controls now seem somewhat fiddly. There's no joystick control anymore, just an inner dial within the rear control dial. This is undoubtedly a cost saving measure.
The camera has fewer buttons overall than the 50D, and the camera has fewer functions assigned to the buttons it does have. For instance, all of the buttons on the top row of the camera are now single function. Several of the buttons are customizable though, and the Q button helps to aid quick access to changes needed.
SD Cards and HD Movie Mode
Like its big brother (the 7D), the 60D can shoot in full HD movie mode (1920x1080 pixels), and it has full manual controls. This allows you to set both the aperture and shutter speed, and exert far more control over your movies. There's also an external stereo microphone terminal and the ability to adjust sound recording levels.
The 60D is Canon's first camera to use SD cards, as opposed to CF cards. It accepts a variety of SD cards, including SDXC memory cards, which provide up to 2TB of space. The idea is that this will allow photographers to store both video and still images without needing to change memory cards.
A useful feature of the 60D is that the integrated popup flash is also a dedicated Speedlite transmitter. This means that the camera will wirelessly control off camera flashes, by acting as a trigger light.
The 60D produces good smooth results at higher ISOs, with slightly less noisy images than one gets from the Rebel T2i. Like the 7D, the 60D has a tendency to overexpose in contrasty situations by often exposing for the shadows. This results in the need to shoot RAW in order to get the best results.
As with the Rebel, there is a marked difference from shooting in RAW to shooting in JPEG. But its color reproduction is pretty accurate, and the camera performs well in most lighting situations.
Canon seem to be trying to carve out a new niche with the 60D. It has some clever features, such as a pivoting LCD, in-camera editing and rating facilities, wireless flash control, and full HD movie capture. But getting the best results takes a little more effort than it should, which could be a problem, considering that Canon is now aiming this camera at enthusiastic amateurs.
At least its image quality is really good and, considering that the camera is now made with a plastic shell, it still feels robust and well put together. If Canon would just lower the price by $150 or so, then I'd say this was an ideal upgrade to those users with a Rebel camera.