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Canon EOS 60D DSLR Review
Saturday, December 31, 2011  


















When I tested the Canon T2i a few months ago I thought that camera had everything any amateur photographer would every want in a Digital SLR. I was wrong. The Canon EOS 60D is Canon's newest mid-range DSLR with an 18 Megapixels sensor and full HD video. Perhaps my favorite feature, however, is the fully-articulated screen. The 60D is Canon's replacement for the discontinued EOS 50D. The EOS 60D sits in-between the new upper entry-level EOS 600D / T3i and the semi-pro 7D.

Potential buyers will have to decide if the 60D is worth the extra heft and cost over the new T3i which shares many of the same features and capabilities. The 60D is noticeable step-up from the T2i we tested, however. If for no other reason, the articulated screen makes this a much more capable unit for videographers and movie makers.

The EOS 60D inherits the same 18 Megapixel resolution as the EOS 7D and EOS 550D / T2i and T3i. Even though the resolution is the same as the 7D, the 7D's sensor features double the data channels, which, when combined with dual DIGIC 4 processors, delivers faster continuous shooting. So, if you are into action photography, this might be an important consideration.

The EOS 60D can shoot Full HD 1080p video at 24, 25 or 30fps, along with 720p HD or VGA video at 50 or 60fps. A Movie Crop option, also found on the T2i/T3i records the centered 640x480 area of the sensor. As a result, you get standard definition video with roughly seven times the magnification.

The 60D featured a 3-inch 720x480 pixel screen. Essentially, it is the same screen found on the T2i. The EOS 60D images in Live View or playback fill the screen and exploit the full display resolution thanks to it's 3:2 aspect ratio.

The biggest new feature of the EOS 60D is that the screen becomes the first one from Canon to be fully-articulated. This screen has now been added to the new T3i as well, Canon's high-end consumer DSLR model. The screen can be turned in virtually any direction, a huge benefit when shooting video in Live View at odd angles. For example, say you need to have the camera on the ground shooting up. Simply flip out the screen and position it so you can remain crouched or standing and still frame the shot, no more laying flat on the ground!

The EOS 60D features built-in stereo microphones and a 3.5mm external microphone input. Through the menu system, you can even manually control audio levels, something even the 7D cannot do! An electronic wind filter is also available.



Previous overs of xxD Canon models may be disappointed to learn that the 60D has made the switch from Compact Flash memory to SD cards. The battery has changed as well, so if you have an investment in those accessories, you will not be able to migrate them to the 60D. Even though the overall look and design of the 60D is similar to Canon's semi-pro models, Canon has cut some corners by implementing a plastic shell over a metal frame, much closer to the materials used in the consumer Rebel cameras. The benefit is an 8% weight savings over the magnesium-alloy body cameras and, of course, a lower price point. True professional photographers may want to consider the EOS 7D. However, the mass market of consumers and semi-pro photographers will see the 60D as the holy grail.

MENUS AND SHOOTING MODES

In addition to the basic and creative zones previously discussed, the 60D also has a movie shooting mode. As you switch from one mode to another (via the round mode dial located on the top left of the camera), the related menu palette will change as well. In the basic mode, for example, there are 2 pages of menus for shooting, 2 pages of menus for playback settings and 3 pages of menus for setup. Creative zone modes offer 4 pages of menus for shooting.

Displaying the menu palette is as simple as pressing the MENU button in the center of the jog dial on the back of the 60D. Selecting different menu pages is accomplished by scrolling using the main dial or the multi-controller. You can scroll through the various menu items using the up/down directional buttons on the controller. Pressing the SET button will access a menu item.

The 60D offers 15 distinct shooting modes:


  • Full Auto: Fully automatic mode with camera handling all settings.
  • Flash Off: Fully automatic mode with flash disabled.
  • Creative Auto: Fully automatic mode which allows user to set depth of field, drive mode and flash firing.
  • Portrait: Automatic scene mode with camera optimized settings to blur background and soften skin tones.
  • Landscape: Automatic scene mode with wide depth of field and enhanced green and blue tones.
  • Close Up: Automatic mode for shooting flowers or other small subjects up close.
  • Sports: Automatic mode for shooting moving subjects.
  • Night Portrait: Automatic mode utilizing flash for the portrait exposure and longer shutter speed to expose ambient light in background.
  • Program AE: Automatic exposure mode with camera setting shutter and aperture but user has numerous inputs and may change aperture/shutter settings via program shift feature.
  • Shutter Priority (Tv): User sets shutter speed, camera sets aperture and user has range of other settings available.
  • Aperture Priority (Av): User sets aperture, camera sets shutter and user has range of other settings available.
  • Manual: User sets shutter and aperture, has range of other settings available.
  • Bulb: User sets aperture and shutter stays open as long as shutter button is fully depressed.
  • Custom: Program AE shooting mode that allows user to set up various camera settings that are recalled by switching to this mode.
  • Movie: Capture NTSC MPEG video

SHOOTING PHOTOS

Novices and casual shooters will love the full auto "green box" mode. When the 60D is set to this mode, it functions almost as easily as any pocket digital camera, albeit with a much better lens, sensor and flash. One annoyance that often "pops-up" (no pun intended) when using full auto mode is that when the camera decides it needs more light on the subject, the pop-up flash unit will automatically deploy. There are times when you absolutely do not want a flash to fire, even if it means compromising the shot (museums, theaters, places where flash is prohibited, etc.). Thankfully, Canon has included a Flash Off mode to give you full auto capabilities sans flash.

In anything other than bright sunlight, we noticed the camera seemed to hesitate in acquiring focus, especially using the face detect feature. When shooting indoors under low to medium lighting conditions, focusing became quite tedious. This is something we did not notice when testing the T2i. Perhaps we had something set up incorrectly, or perhaps it was a function of the 28-135mm lens with which we were supplied. In any case, the AF was the only hitch we experienced. Once focused, however, the shots were extremely clear and sharp with excellent color.

Creative Auto mode is the next logical step for someone who wants to dip their toe into the world of shooting manual photography. Instead of "cryptic" aperture settings which can send a novice running back to Full Auto mode like a schoolgirl, Canon's uses a clever help screen through the Live View LCD to let the user shoot with degrees of background blur or sharpness. Exposure compensation is itself an ambience selection, available as Darker or Lighter options. The exposure steps available with the three-step strength adjustment correspond to 2/3-stop increments/decrements.

For the photographer comfortable with manual settings, the 60D has all the usual suspects. Tweak to your heart's content.

During our test period, we shot the majority of our photos using the Program auto mode and were generally pleased with the results. Even though the 60D may look intimidating to a novice, when set to the Program auto mode, it handles pretty much like a point-and-shoot camera.




SHOOTING VIDEO

More and more people are using DSLRs to shoot video footage. Even some filmmakers are using these cameras instead of expensive, purpose-built video cameras. The appeal of using a DSLR for shooting video primarily exists due to the ability to change lenses. With such a huge variety of lenses available, you can get virtually any cinematic effect you are looking for. For the casual user, however, the addition of video shooting capabilities simply means you don't have to carry a video camera when you travel.

The 60D is a very capable video camera, to say the least. Our 28-135mm Canon zoom lens produced excellent video footage (see sample video below). Video footage can be shot in Full HD 1920X1080 @ 24fps or 30fps and 720p @ 60fps.



WHAT WE LIKE
  • Excellent photo quality
  • Build quality second-to-none
  • Good built-in, pop-up flash
  • Articulated LCD "Live View" monitor
WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE

  • Auto-focus seemed slow in low light

VIDEO REVIEW



SAMPLE VIDEO


SAMPLE PHOTOS
Click on the thumbnails below to view a larger image




Reviewed by Chris Dikmen
Managing Editor of CruiseReport.com
     
     
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One Comment
 
BOY
 
Already was my plan, along with the 35mm prime (to counter the APS-C lens crop to get frnmiag closer to a 50mm lens on a 35mm format).Once I've got those, then I'll look into a decent EF-S zoom, followed by a real EF tele. And that's pretty much the limit of my plans.
 
Thursday, November 29, 2012 9:16 AM  
 
 
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