The Canon x0D series has always been the flagship cropped frame APS-C model in the Canon line up of DSLR before the arrival of the Canon EOS 7D. xoD models before the 60D has always fitted in a gap that Nikon (Canon’s main rival) has no direct model to compete with, above the Nikon D90 and below the Nikon D300. With the introduction of the new EOS 60D, Canon has moved it down to directly compete with the Nikon D90. However, ironically, Nikon has moved the D90 successor, the D7000 to directly compete with the Canon EOS 50D.
In essence, the new EOS 60D although replacing the EOS 50D, is not a true direct successor to the EOS 50D. It is in fact a new line that sits above the EOS 550D, but below the EOS 7D and previous x0D. So although you will find some new features in the 60D, you will also notice that Canon has taken away some of the features previously found on the 50D.
The following is a list of new features or improvement as compared to the EOS 50D:-
- 18 MP APS–C CMOS Sensor
- ISO range 100 – 6,400, is expandable to 12,800
- 1080p HD video recording with manual controls
- Fully articulated 3.0″ LCD screen (3:2) which features 1,040,000 dots resolution
- Up to +/-5 EV exposure compensation
- Wireless Speedlight control
- User-definable Auto ISO upper limit
- In-camera raw development
- In-camera Creative Filters
- Subject modes with “Ambiance Selection”
- New Multi-controller design that replaced the “joystick” style Multi-controller on the 50D
- Reduced body weight
The following is a list of features, changes or omission (as compared with the 50D), that may or may not be considered as a downgrade:-
- Plastic body shell
- Uses SD cards rather CF cards
- No flash sync socket
- No AF micro-adjustment
- Lower burst rate
- Smaller burst buffer
- Only one custom mode
- No “joystick” style Multi-controller
- No white balance (WB) button
- White balance and image recording quality not displayed in the top LCD
Those who have read my previous reviews would know my review style. This will be the same type of review and is not meant to be a comprehensive technical review like those you see in dpreview.com. I will mainly concentrate on the the new or changes in features and improvement as compared to previous EOS x0D. Main main reference will of course be the 50D, but I will also be comparing it to the 7D as the 60D basically shares the same sensor as the 7D, it would be interesting to see how much one would need to give up by getting a 60d instead of 7D.
Previous x0D series has always been made with magnesium outer shell. The 60D is the first x0D series camera made with a plastic outer shell, plastic-over-metal construction. The 60D is also noticeably smaller than the 50D and also significantly lighter at 755g vs 822g for the 50D. One of the most significant change in body design is definitely the inclusion of a fully articulated LCD display, a first for Canon DSLR.
I will first compare the 60D to the 50D. You can click on individual images for a larger view.
Looking at the front of the cameras, you can clearly see that the 60D is significantly smaller than the 50D. As the 60D gains movie mode, you can see the holes for the built in microphone on the top right side above the EOS 60D logo.
Looking at the back of the cameras, you can see some quite significant changes in buttons and control layout. Centre to all the changes in design on the back has to be the new articulated LCD. The on/off switch is now directly behind the mode dial rather than near the bottom of the camera. The “joystick” style Multi-controller on the 50D has been replaced by an 8-way Multi-controller pad inside the Quick Control Dial.
Looking at the top of the cameras, you can see that the prism bulge on the 60D is slimmer than the one on the 50D. The mode dial on the left side is black in colour instead of silver. There is one Custom mode on the 60D rather than 2 on the 50D. The mode dial must be unlocked by pressing the button in the middle before you can turn it, making accidental mode changes much less likely to happen. The top LCD on the 60D is a bit smaller than the one on the 50D. The button in front of the LCD have also changed. One the 50D, as has been Canon’s tradition for a long time, 3 of the buttons control 6 different settings, each buttons can control 2 different settings. On the 60D, there are 4 button controlling 4 settings, each button now only control one setting. The 2 settings which lost direct button access in the 60D are White Balance setting and Flash Exposure Compensation setting.
Looking at the memory card side, the most obvious change is the significantly smaller memory card door in the 60D, because of the change from CF to SD card. The memory card door on the 60D is actually of better quality than on the 50D. The fit is better with very little play and it is also spring loaded. Although SD cards are very common nowadays and come in large capacity as well, the change definitely caters for Rebel/xx0D users upgrading to 60D, much more than previous x0D users, who will find their CF cards no longer usable in the 60D.
The 60D has only one rubberized flap protecting the terminals including 3.5mm stereo mike socket, HDMI socket, a combined A/V output & USB port, and remote release terminal. The 50D has 2 flaps with 5 terminals underneath. The flash sync terminal found om the 50D had been taken away in the 60D.
I will now briefly compare the 60D to the 7D.The 60D resembles the shape and look of the 7D more than the 50D. It almost looks liked a baby 7D.
The layout at the back on the 60D is obviously quite different from the 7D.
You can see the new fully articulated LCD display on the 60D in the photo below.
New BG-E9 Battery Grip
The 60D uses the LP-E6, first introduced for the 5D Mark II, instead of the BP-511A in previous x0D. The new battery necessitated the need for a new battery grip for the 60D. The previous BG-E2N battery grip is no longer usable on the 60D, unlike previous generations of xoD.
Comparing the BG-E9 (left) to the old BG-E2N (right), both grips are made of plastic material, but the choice of plastic seemed to be of a higher quality on the Bg-E9. Although you cannot see it in the photo. The BG-E9 feels more solid and better constructed when you hold it in your hands. The most significant addition must be the inclusion of and AF-ON button in the BG-E9 that is sorely missing on the BG-E2N. It has long been a point of criticism by BG-E2N users.
The BG-E9 resembles the look of the BG-E7 for the 7D much more than the BG-E2N.
The following are photos of the comparing the look of the 60D to 7D with battery grip attached. The 60D again looks very much like a baby 7D.
Top LCD Display
The top LCD display on the 60D is different from that in the 50D and previous x0D. The is no white balance and image recording quality display, unlike on previous x0D. I personally think it is an oversight to take away these 2 settings in the display, especially white balance. For more advance user, it is quite common to change white balance settings other than AWB (auto white balance). It is quite an inconvenience not to be able to see the white balance setting instantly.
Previously, on 50D, there is only +/- 2 stops of exposure compensation. The 60D, like the 7D, offers +/- 5 stops of exposure compensation. However, as can be seen on the image above, the top LCD display only shows +/-3 stops of exposure compensation. To see full +/-5 stops of exposure compensation, you will need to go into the Expo comp./AEB setting menu (image below). It would be more convenient if Canon were to display the full +/- 5 stops on the top LCD. However, it can be argued that most users probably don’t need to set more than +/-3 stops in general usage.
The camera menu laid out is similar to other recent Canon DSLR like the 50D and 7D.
Image Quality Setting
Just like the 50D and 7D, you can set jpeg and RAW quality independently. Like the 7D, Canon changed the small RAW nomenclature as on the 50D, from sRAW1 and sRAW2 to MRAW and SRAW on the 60D.
Flash Control Menu
There is a dedicated menu for both built in and external flash function settings. The 60D offers different flash modes and is also the second EOS camera (after the 7D) to offer control of multiple flashes directly from the camera. Flash modes for in-camera flash include ETTL-II and Manual flash. Flash modes for external flash include ETTL-II, Manual flash, MULTI flash, TTL, Auto external flash and Manual external flash.
On the 50D and 7D, there is a dedicated button to access the Picture Style Menu. This button has been removed on the 60D. You will need to either go use the “Q” Quick Menu Button to get into the Quick Menu or the full menu to access the Picture Style settings.
White Balance Setting
Unlike the 50D, canon has decided to take away direct button access to change white balance setting. You now need to go into the menu to change white balance setting. This may not be a problem for those who uses AWB (Auto white balance) all the time, but for more advance users who may more frequently want to change white balance setting, it is more than a minor nuisance to have to go into the menu to change white balance setting.
The 60D probably has the best implementation of auto ISO in any Canon EOS camera so far. The range of auto ISO setting practically allows the full range of ISO from 100 to 6400. You can also set the limit of maximum ISO to use for auto ISO.
The 60D is the first EOS camera to offer this post shot processing option. There are four filters and can be applied to either RAW or JPEG. The four options are Grainy Black and White, Soft Focus, Toy Camera and Miniature. These filters maybe useful to those who do not do post-processing on a computer.
RAW Conversion Option
The 60D allows you to process RAW into JPEG images in-camera. You can apply various settings or preset during RAW conversion. The options include:- Brightness, White Balance, Picture Style, Auto Lighting Optimizer, High ISO speed noise reduction, Peripheral illumination correction, Distortion correction and Chromatic aberration correction.
Again, these options maybe useful to those who do not perform post-processing on a computer or maybe useful when you do not have easy access to a computer but allows you to perform some basic RAW conversion for output directly in camera.
AF Microadjustment (lack of)
Unlike the 50D, the 60D does NOT have AF microadjustment. It can be argued that most people will probably seldom or never need to use this feature. However, this feature should be all in software only and Canon should already have done all the codes and programming on previous EOS cameras like the 50D and 7D. I think it would add very little to the cost of manufacturing the 60D to keep this feature. I believe Canon took away this feature as a means to artificially further differentiate the 60D from the higher end 7D.
There are a few features that has not changed from the 50D, like Live View, Auto Lighting Optimizer, Peripheral Illumination, Hightone Priority, High ISO Noise Reduction, Camera User Setting and My Menu. All these features work in similar manner as in previous Canon EOS cameras like the 50D and 5D Mark II. I will not go into them in details. You can read my 5D Mark II review and 50D review if you want to know more about these features.
60D is the first camera in the x0D line to have movie mode. Movie mode can be started by turning mode dial to the Movie mode position. Starting and stopping movie recording is accomplished by pressing a dedicated button right of the viewfinder. The movie mode in 60D is very similar to that on the 7D otherwise. Full manual control for shutter speed, aperture and ISO is available if you shoot in M mode. The fully articulated LCD display of course will be very useful in movie mode.
The 60D supports the following resolution:- 1080p30, 1080p25, 1080p24, 720p60, 720p50, 480p60, 480p50.
In addition, the 60D supports a “crop 480p mode”, which basically crop out the centre 640×480 pixels from the 18Mp sensor to obtain the 480p video. It hence gives a roughly 7x focal length multiplication effect. For example, if you are using a 100mm lens to shoot a crop 480p mode, you will get a field of view equivalent to using a 700mm lens on a full frame 35mm camera.
I have shot some short movies in 1080p and I would say the quality is similar to that on the 7D.
The viewfinder in the 60D is similar to the one on the 50D. It will be a nice upgrade for xx0D users, a brighter and larger viewfinder, but for 40D or 50D users, it makes practically no difference.
You can see a full set of info in the viewfinder including shutter speed, aperture value, ISO, +/-EV value, buffer size, battery info and a few other settings info and warning.
Continuous Shooting Performance
Canon officially quoted a continuous shooting rate of 5.3fps, with 58 JPEG and 16 RAW images, compared to 6.3fps, 90 JEPG and 16 RAW for the 50D. The decrease the shooting frame rate and buffer is probably due to the larger file size output from the 18MP sensor and the change to SD card. Even the fastest Class 10 SD cards is not nearly as fast as the fast CF cards.
I tested the continuous shooting performance of the 60D with a 16G Sandisk Extreme SDHC card. I managed to shoot 74 to 75 JPEG before the camera slowed down. With RAW, the 60D managed 16 to 17 shots before it slowed. Although not as good as the 50D, the continuous shooting performance for the 60D is still good.
The 60D uses the same autofocus as the 50D (and the 50D basically used the same autofocus system as the 40). So in effect, Canon has not changed the autofocus in the x0D series since the 40D.
I would say I really don’t have much complaint about the autofocus for the 60D and it is perfectly adequate for this class of camera.
Test Photos – Large/fine JPEG
All the samples posted are Large/Fine JPEG with High ISO speed noise reduction set at 0:Standard.
You can click on the following links for full resolution JPEG samples from ISO 100 to 12800.
Test Photos (RAW)
All RAW files from ISO 100 to 12800 were converted to TIFF with Canon Digital Photo Professional and then converted to JPEG with Photoshop CS5. No further post-processing was done.
Comparison with 50D
The obvious choice for comparison of image quality would be the 50D, the immediate predecessor to 60D.
I have made 2 sets of comparison. The first set with 50D files up-sized to match 60D resolution. The second set with 60D files down-sized to match 50D resolution. A Canon EF 50mm f1.4 USM lens was used on both cameras and set at f8. The cameras were mounted on tripod with mirror lock-up on and shot with self timer.
So let’s start with the first set. The 50D images were up-sized to match 60D resolution. The 60D crops are on the left and 50D crops on the right. Both cameras were focused on the eye of the teddy bear and I used Live View and zoom to maximum to check and make sure focus was right on both cameras before shooting.
For the next set of 100% crops, the 60D images were down-sized to match 50D resolution. The 60D crops are on the left side and 50D crops on the right side.
I cannot see too much difference between the 2 camera at low to moderate ISO levels, but from ISO 3200 onwards, the 60D seems to manage to pull ahead of the 50D, with lower noise level while retaining a bit more detail. The advantage seemed to be more as ISO went up higher. I would say 60D images are quite usable up to ISO 6400. On the 50D, I would be reluctant to use ISO 6400 unless absolutely necessary.
Comparison with 7D
The 60D basically shares the same sensor as the 7D, so let’s find out if the image quality is comparable at different ISO. Again, the 60D crops on the left and 7D crops on the right.
The image quality between the 60D and 7D are really very close as expected. There is not really much to choose between theses 2 cameras as far as image quality alone is concerned.
It is obvious right from the beginning that the 60D is a new class of camera in the Canon line up of DSLR and not really a direct replacement for the 50D. Compared with the 50D, it does offer some new features, but some features previously on the 50D were also taken away at the same time. Purely on image quality alone, it is certainly a step above the 50D, but is also comparable with the much more expensive 7D. But the same can be said with the cheaper and lower end 550D as well. Since the 550D basically shares the same sensor with the 60D and 7D, the 60D offers no advantage over the cheaper 550D.
The 60D offers a set of very nice feature upgrade over the 550D and for x0D users looking to upgrade to a higher end camera, the 60D is a sensible and compelling choice, which is market that Canon is obviously aiming the 60D at.
However, whether the 60D makes a good upgrade for previous x0D users is a more difficult question to answer. For older x0D users like the 20D and 30D, the 60D does offer many feature upgrade with a higher resolution sensor that also offer better image quality at high ISO. If you can live with a smaller, plastic outer shell body (though a very high quality plastic body shell), then I think it is still a good and viable upgrade option. It is also selling at a price that is significantly cheaper than previous x0D and that will certainly ease the pain of upgrade.
For 50D users, it poses the most difficult question. Although the 60D image quality is a bit better than the 50D, especially at high ISO and it also offers movie mode, which the 50D does not have. The 60D also have some significant features missing compared to the 50D. 50D users looking for a real upgrade may look at the 7D instead, but the problem is that the 7D is significantly more expensive than the 50D, and maybe out of the budget of quite a few 50D users. I really have no answer for 50D users. I think their choices and options for upgrade within the Canon DSLR product tree will continue to be rather difficult for the foreseeable future.
I think it is a pity that Canon decided to leave out some features from the 60D like white balance display in the top LCD, direct button access to white balance setting and AF microadjustment just to name a few. I think most of these feature would add very little or no cost manufacturing the 60D and will definitely make the 60D is even nicer camera to use. I believe that the decision to leave out these features is purely an artificial mean to separate the 60D from the higher end 7D.
Overall, I still think the 60D is a very good camera and fits in very well in the new segment of market that Canon is aiming it at. If the budget is right for you, I have no hesitation in recommending the 60D.