Canon 60D Review
Canon announces 50D successor with EOS 60D
- Fast image sequence
- Manual sound level control
- FullHD video recording
- Folding display suitable for practical use
- Flash salvo instead of real AF auxiliary light
- Kit lens does not use the 18 megapixels
- Slow contrast AF
- Processing at beginner level
Solid cameras in the semi-professional segment, also suitable as second housings for professionals, these are the two-digit EOS models from Canon. The latest variant of this camera class between beginner and high-end is called EOS 60D and presents itself as a model-maintained 50D with the new 18-megapixel sensor and faster image processor, which now also enables FullHD video recording. The 60D is priced between the 550D and the 7D, although it is more oriented towards its smaller sister. When asked whether this price difference is justified, we try to find an answer in this test report.
Canon combines the 18 megapixel CMOS image sensor in APS-C format (crop factor 1.6) with the Digic 4 image processor. This is intended to ensure both high performance and outstanding image quality. The sensitivity ranges from ISO 100 to 6,400, but can also be increased to ISO 12,800 in “Hi” mode. The high speed is demonstrated by the continuous shooting rate of 5.3 frames per second, which should be maintained in the JPEG format for 58 photos at a time. The autofocus module with its 9 cross sensors, already known from the EOS 50D, provides the necessary precise and fast focusing, including focus tracking. The medium lens supports particularly fast lenses up to F2.8. The well-known and extremely reliable iFCL (intelligent Focus Color Luminance) system is also used for the exposure measurement system. As the name suggests, it takes into account not only brightness, but also sharpness and color. A total of 63 areas are recorded in order to be able to precisely measure even high-contrast motifs. The sensor consists of two layers, one of which reacts to red light and the other to blue light. Flashes can control the 60D like the 7D wirelessly. This eliminates the need to purchase the 230 EUR Speedlight transmitter.
The internal flash can be used as a master flash or the slave flashes can be used for exposure alone. The control of two groups directly from the camera allows creative lighting settings, while the support of four channels ensures that several photographers can work side by side without interference.
In addition to these advanced functions, Canon is also aligning the EOS 60D a little more in the direction of beginners. This can be recognized not only by the shrunken, lighter and now plastic housing, but also by the use of SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards (including support for WLAN SD cards of the Eye-Fi type) and the motif programs, whereby of course the modes for semi and full manual exposure control are not missing. The aim is to make photography easier for beginners. There are also new possibilities for playback. For example, creative filters such as minituarization effect, grainy film or blur as well as the possibility to change the image size. The original is retained in each case. But RAW images can also be developed directly in the camera, which is sure to make not only beginners’ hearts beat faster. Also new is the possibility to pre-sort the images by rating them with 1-5 stars. Alternative aspect ratios of 4:3, 16:9 and 1:1 can already be set during recording, while the 3:2 format is native.
Canon has also revised the ergonomics with the housing. The joystick has been replaced by a multifunction selector integrated in the rear rotary knob with central OK button. This should allow an even more intuitive and faster operation. On the other hand, the second steering wheel has been retained, so that two parameters such as aperture and exposure time can still be conveniently set, each with its own control element. With a diagonal of 3″ (7.6 cm) and a resolution of 1,040,000 pixels, the rear screen is not only a true way of looking at things, but it can also be folded to the side and rotated upwards and downwards, so that the LiveView function can be used from all angles. The dirt-repellent and reflection-reducing coating is intended to provide increased comfort and clearer vision. By mounting the monitor joint on the side, its degree of freedom is not restricted by the use of a tripod or battery handle, which is available as an option. The EOS 60D has retained the upper LC display, which shows important shooting parameters at a glance. These are also visible in the status bar of the optical viewfinder. New is the built-in electronic 2D spirit level. It facilitates the horizontal orientation of the camera on the screen, on the upper LC display or in the viewfinder status bar. For “conservatives”, however, Canon continues to offer interchangeable viewfinder mats, for example with a grid structure.
The video function with H.264 coding is almost a matter of course. It records 24, 25 or 30 frames per second in FullHD resolution (1,920 x 1,080 pixels). At 720p even 50 and 60 frames per second are possible. The videographer can also focus manually or automatically at the push of a button (which is not good for the running film). Due to the free adjustability of the aperture the creative play with the sharpness or blur is possible without problems, also the exposure time can be adjusted manually. An automatically controlled exposure is even possible via an ISO automatic. The best way to record the sound is via an external stereo microphone, which can be connected to the camera via the 3.5mm jack. And of course, an HDMI connection is not to be missed.
Ergonomics and workmanship
The Canon EOS 60D is relatively compact. The obligatory grip bead is somewhat small for large hands, so that the little finger of the right hand lands under the grip. The camera still fits well in the hand and the shutter release with the precise pressure points is easy to reach. The housing is not made of metal, as is usual with the 50D, but of plastic. It makes a good impression, but feels much less solid than you would expect in this class. Also the switches and wheels rather convey the charm of a beginner SLR, so that 50D owners will surely be disappointed at first. In any case, the first impression does not convey the value that the 50D climber desires. Nevertheless, the 60D is solidly manufactured and, thanks to the rubber coating, has a very good grip in the right places. And the housing material used has one advantage: Compared to its predecessor, it reduces its weight by about 100 g to 780 g. With the kit lens EF-S 18-135 mm 1:3.5-5.6 IS on which this test is based, the 60D weighs 1,230 g ready for recording.
The housing openings for the HDMI, USB, external microphone and remote control connections are adequately protected against dust and moisture by a simple rubber cap, while the memory card compartment has no seals. Only the battery compartment flap is protected against wind and weather by a thin foam rubber insert. One should therefore not expect too much weather resistance. The metal tripod thread lies exactly in the optical axis and even with the large quick-release plate attached, the battery can be replaced.
On the upper side of the housing, to the left of the prism, there is the mode dial with the main switch, to the right four buttons for the most important camera functions, the main dial and an information panel showing the most important recording parameters. Two thirds of the back is occupied by the 3 inch (7.6 cm) display, which can now be folded and swivelled and whose resolution has grown to over one million pixels. The buttons for menu, image information, playback, zoom in and zoom out and the multi-switch called “Multi-Controller” by Canon are located to the right of the display and can be easily reached with your thumb. Its principle is quite similar to that of compact cameras, but here it is implemented in a sufficiently large version so that it is easy to operate even with a large thumb: In conjunction with the “Q” key, various camera parameters can be set very quickly without detours.
The operation of the other keys has to be judged more critically: The main selector wheel, with which the aperture or time can be adjusted, is located slightly unfavourably above the shutter release, so that it can only be reached in a slightly cramped position. The speed dial on the back of the camera is easily accessible with the thumb, but makes a somewhat rickety impression. The multi-controller in the center of the speed dial is actually an 8-way rocker. Unfortunately, this lacks a clear pressure point, which can lead to incorrect operation. And last but not least, the mode selector is annoying: it is exemplarily protected against inadvertent adjustment by a lock. However, it impedes fast working by having an end stop. For example, if the photographer wants to switch from the “custom setting” (which can be used to save and recall frequently used parameters) to video recording, a complete turn must be performed. In the worst case 14 positions have to be turned off. This is particularly cumbersome because the unlock button must be kept pressed at all times. Without rotation limitation you would only have to switch one position in the opposite direction.
But the Canon EOS 60D also has sunny sides. First of all there is the display. Not only the high resolution of 1,040,000 pixels puts it on the winner’s podium in this discipline of all cameras currently available on the market. The enormous colour brilliance and sharpness, which doesn’t lose much of its sharpness even with a very flat view of the display, is also remarkable. And it can also be turned and swivelled in all directions via a folding mechanism. In conjunction with the LiveView, this opens up completely new possibilities. Of course, it is only a matter of time before other cameras are retrofitted accordingly, but at the moment there are only a few competitors offering similar features.
The menus are also good: There are eleven main entries, each of which is grouped in colour. Under each of these tabs you will find a maximum of seven setting options. In video mode, other options are displayed than in photo mode. The menus are quite clear and annoying scrolling is avoided. For example, all camera functions can be controlled and changed in the first four menus. The thumb navigates very smoothly through all menu items with the Multicontroller and confirms changes with the Set button. If you want it even clearer, the six most frequently used menu entries in “My Menu” can be put together individually, great!
Who’s the 60D made for? Canon seems to have clarified this question unequivocally: For everyone! It offers everything for beginners and professionals, from the “automatic button press”, in which the camera makes all settings independently, to motif programs (landscape, portrait, sport, macro, night), “normal” program, time and aperture automatic up to fully manual control. The 60D is able to achieve this balancing act between “just go for it” and targeted control. Beginners trust the “green” fully automatic, which works reliably. For those who enjoy experimenting, there is a “creative automatic” feature that can be used to influence the background (un)sharpness, for example. For professionals and studio photographers, the 60D can be set completely manually. It’s just a pity that Canon has rationalised the PC contact for the studio flash system away and thus certainly saved 20 cents…
Multi-field, selective, spot and integral metering are available for the exposure metering, between which you can switch very quickly with a direct selection button. The sensitivity of the sensor varies automatically from ISO 100 to 6,400, with the “H-Mode” to be activated separately even up to ISO 12,800. A limitation of the maximum sensitivity of the automatic to lower values is of course also possible. If the sensitivity is not sufficient, the built-in flash can help. In some motif programs and the fully automatic mode, it even folds out automatically if required. It can be synchronized to the first or second curtain and flashes either with or without ambient light, which can lead to slower shutter speeds. With a guide number of 13 he has enough strength for many occasions, which he also brings into the picture correctly and colour neutrally. The illumination is completely sufficient for the kit lens and without a lens hood it casts only a small shadow even at close range. When focusing, the flash helps with a small but noticeable thunderstorm. Red eyes, however, are reduced with the help of a bright yellow lamp. The small light dispenser can also remotely control Canon Speedlite EX series external flash units. It takes some getting used to that the flash shoe is also switched off when the flash is deactivated in the menu. If the studio flash unit should go on strike for some reason, a look at the menu will be helpful. There, one also finds extensive possibilities to influence the sharpness, saturation and colour rendering of the JPEG file. In addition, existing images can be assigned a graininess such as that of analog film material or a depth of field, for example, and saved as a new file. Professionals will appreciate the ability to convert their RAW files in the camera and influence exposure, white balance, contrast, noise reduction and other properties.
The integrated orientation sensor helps with the correct horizontal alignment of the camera. When the Info button is used to activate the digital spirit level, a virtual horizon appears on the monitor. If you also want a corresponding display in the viewfinder, you must find and activate the function that is well hidden in the individual menus. Press the Set button to display the level below the viewfinder image instead of the exposure indicator. The orientation sensor of course also recognizes portrait or landscape format and stores this information in the metadata of the image file if desired. The photo is then automatically displayed on the display and in the image processing program according to the format. In addition to the spirit level, there is a grid and histogram, and an overexposure warning during playback.
Clearly the biggest advance compared to the 50D is the great folding display. In LiveView mode, the full benefit unfolds when inconspicuous photography is required from difficult perspectives. This will especially please reportage photographers. With the LiveView button located next to the eyepiece, the mirror can be folded up and the 100% image can be seen on the super sharp display. With the info button you can show a lot of data, e.g. a live histogram or the mentioned spirit level. The exposure preview to be activated in the menu simulates exposure corrections as well as white balance settings quite reliably. A useful function is the silent mode, in which the mirror does not fold back and forth unnecessarily. So only the soft clicking of the slotted shutter can be heard. It’s just a pity that the contrast AF is very slow and then sometimes is wrong.
In video mode, manual focusing is recommended anyway, because the creaking of the AF drive is captured by the built-in mono microphone with a wonderful presence. The only remedy here is to connect an external (stereo) microphone, which then also records in stereo. Equipped with a 3.5 mm jack plug, it is connected behind the rubber cap. The recording quality can be set from maximum FullHD (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) with 25 or 24 frames per second over 1,280 x 720 pixels to 640 x 480 pixels and 50 frames per second. A nice idea is that a 640 x 480 pixel section of the sensor can also be used. Canon will make a sevenfold digital zoom out of it. Automatic and manual control are available for sound recording, which is absolutely essential for film professionals. During playback, in addition to the normal speed, various slow-motion settings can be set and the beginning and end of recorded videos can be trimmed to the second.
In nominal terms, the EOS 60D manages 5.3 frames per second, in our test even more: the camera shovels 5.6 raw images and even 5.8 JPEGs per second into the internal memory. Unfortunately, it is a bit sparingly equipped, so that the fun in raw format is finished after only 16, compressed after at least 64 images. If the card is used as a storage location, the image speed slows to 0.9 (RAW) or 1.5 (JPEG) frames per second. However, the Canon only achieves the high image speed with normal lighting, in the dark it becomes much slower (even with the AF switched off). The tracking autofocus does not quite keep up with the high speed.
Canon has one of the largest and most comprehensive lens ranges of any camera manufacturer. From extreme wide angle to supertele everything is available, so there are lenses for every budget. But which one fits the 60D? The professional will certainly judge this quite differently than the beginner. Canon has planned the EF-S 18-135 mm 3.5-5.6 IS as a kit lens for the 60D and has thus rather done the ambitious beginner a (price) favor. For a surcharge of approximately 300 € on the housing, one gets a lens with the most frequently needed focal length range including optical image stabilizer. One can already be impressed by the key data, as the lens covers the large range between approximately 29 mm and over 200 mm compared to 35mm. One lens for everything, one always-dran lens.
If you take a closer look, it quickly becomes clear where savings have been made: Apart from the bayonet (and of course the lenses) it is completely made of plastic. The AF motor does its job reasonably quickly but quite noticeably. A distance scale is just as much a victim of the obligation to save as a lens hood. It can be purchased as an accessory. It is also annoying that the focus ring is pulled along by the AF motor. On the one hand, this is an obstacle when holding the camera and, on the other hand, the photographer may obstruct the engine. Especially when he wants to intervene manually in the sharpness, it’s stupid. With a quarter turn of the wide zoom ring, you reach the long end of the focal length spectrum, where the lens grows to 1.5 times its length.
Positive is the pleasant smoothness of the rotating ring, which nevertheless does not cause the zoom to adjust itself by gravity. It is also exemplary that the frame does not rotate during focusing or zooming. This is advantageous when using a polarizing filter. All in all, however, the 7.5x zoom makes an impression that doesn’t inspire much confidence.
There are bright spots, on the other hand, in the configurability of the AF fields of view: With a direct selection button, you can either let the camera select the 9 AF points or select the appropriate one yourself. Groups of measuring fields are unfortunately not possible. Whichever field of view the photographer chooses, the Canon is relatively fast despite the simple AF motor. On average, less than half a second elapses between pressing the shutter button and taking a picture. Pre-focused, the Canon 60D takes a good tenth of a second to do what is generally perceived as “immediate”. In LiveView, the same autofocus module can do its job, but the mirror has to fold down and up again, which almost erodes the speed advantage. The contrast AF gets down to business more quietly. The focus field can be moved manually almost over the entire image field or automatically follow a face. In good lighting conditions, this works sluggishly but safely. In twilight, the contrast AF becomes a torture: it desperately searches for the correct distance for seconds, then stops briefly at the correct position to focus a bit off at the last moment. In any case, manual intervention should be taken here. A 5x or 10x magnifier that can be switched on with the thumb makes this enormously easier.
The depth of field is controlled by a button on the bayonet connector of the camera, which is easily accessible for the left hand. It seems that Canon had to make too many concessions with the 18-135 mm lens. The zoom simply doesn’t fit the camera class of a 60D.
The sensor area of 22.3 x 14.9 mm is crowded with 5,184 x 3,456 pixels. This corresponds to an edge length of one pixel of about 4 micrometers. A hair is 10 times as thick! If one considers these dimensions, it quickly becomes clear what high demands are made on a lens that can handle the eighteen megapixels of the Canon EOS 60D. As always, we had the optical quality tested in the DCTau test laboratory. In the protocol, the efficiency is specified as around 60 percent at the long and short end, up to a maximum of 80 percent in the mean focal length. This means that only about 10 to 14 megapixels can be used effectively. After all, this mediocre resolution is quite constant over the entire image field. The relatively low-light lens does not get much better by dipping down, only the edge blur of the telephoto area becomes more even when the aperture is closed. Seen in this light, it can confidently be used with an open aperture. The sharpening in the camera shows light or dark edges and is rather intended for the quick use of the photo. However, this also leads to problems with fine structures, so-called artefacts arise.
The noise, especially problematic at such high pixel densities, has been very well reduced by Canon: The sensitivity range can be used without regret up to ISO 3,200, above which a slight colour noise is added to the usual grain size. Up to this sensitivity, the input dynamics are also convincing, with the 60D providing eight and a half f-stops throughout. Only from ISO 3.200 on does it fall below the 8 apertures. The tonal value processing is again intended for the direct utilization of the photo: Clearly “crisp” in the midtones and flat in the light and dark areas. Those who want to carry out extensive tonal value corrections should resort to the raw file. There you can also strengthen the somewhat too bright black values.
A dark chapter is the distortion. In the entire focal length range, clearly visible curvatures of actually straight edges occur. Especially the wide angle position shows strong barrel-shaped deflections, which are even visible in the viewfinder. But also the medium and long focal length have to struggle with distortion, but here cushion-shaped. This eliminates the use of this lens for demanding landscape photography, especially when the horizon is in the picture. It is completely unsuitable for architectural photography or reproduction purposes. When vignetting, the image is not quite so sad. There is a so-called “spontaneous” darkening of the image corners in the entire focal length range. But Canon has an automatic correction for this and other lenses stored in the camera. Once the 60D has detected the lens, the photographer can activate the correction in the first camera menu. This clearly but not completely reduces the effect and remains visible in critical scenes. The exposure of the 50D successor proved to be very reliable in practice. Even under critical lighting conditions, she rarely made the wrong decisions. Only in snow did it stay about two f-stops below the correct exposure, which occurs with all cameras and is easy to correct. The much more critical overexposure did not occur. Also the white balance is mostly irreproachable, only with artificial light the mood was a little too warm. But here, too, much lies in the eye of the beholder and he can exert far-reaching influence in the menu of the 60D.
As successor the Canon EOS 60D will disappoint some 50D photographers. Neither the housing quality nor the levers and switches correspond to what was expected. The supposedly higher resolution is being proven wrong by the kit lens. If one does not have the comparison to the 50D, the thing presents itself differently: The EOS 60D is a camera for financially strong beginners and economical professionals. Both will appreciate the great equipment, whereby the 60D becomes almost unrivalled by the folding display. However, professionals should avoid the EF-S 18-135 mm 3.5-5.6 IS offered in the kit and choose a more suitable lens themselves. Canon fans who can do without the ingenious display and don’t want to pay the relatively high price offered for it are well served with the 550D. Demanding people who want the solidity of a semi-professional camera will choose 7D.
- Fast image sequence
- Manual sound level control
- FullHD video recording
- Folding display suitable for practical use
- Flash salvo instead of real AF auxiliary light
- Kit lens does not use the 18 megapixels
- Slow contrast AF
- Processing at beginner level
Canon EOS 60D Datasheet
|Sensor||CMOS sensor APS-C 22.5 x 15.0 mm (crop factor 1.6
)19.0 megapixels (physical) and 18.0 megapixels (effective)
|Pixel pitch||4.3 µm|
|Picture formats||JPG, RAW|
|Colour depth||42 bits (14 bits per color channel)|
|Metadata||Exif (version 2.21), DCF standard|
|Maximum recording time||29 min 59 sec|
|Audio format (video)||WAV|
|Autofocus mode||Phase comparison autofocus with 9 sensors, 9 cross sensors|
|Autofocus Functions||Single AF, Continuous AF, Manual, AF Assist Light|
|Focus control||Fade out button, Live View|
Viewfinder and Monitor
|Reflex viewfinder||SLR viewfinder (prism viewfinder) (96 % image coverage), 22 mm eye relief, diopter compensation (-3.0 to +1.0 dpt), replaceable focusing screens, grille can be inserted|
|Monitor||3.0″ TFT LCD monitor with 1,040,000 pixels|
|Info display||additional info display (top)|
|Exposure metering||Center-weighted integral measurement, matrix/multi-field measurement over 63 fields, spot measurement (measurement over 2 % or 9 % of the image field, AF-AE coupling)|
|Exposure times||1/8,000 to 30 s (Automatic
|Exposure control||Program automatic, Aperture automatic, Time automatic, Manual|
|Bracketing function||Step size from 1/3 to 1/2 EV|
|Exposure compensation||-5.0 to +5.0 EV with step size of 1/3 EV|
|Sensitivity to light||ISO 100 to ISO 3.200 (automatic
)ISO 100 to ISO 12.800 (manual)
|Remote access||Remote tripping|
|Motives||0 further motif programmes|
|Picture effects||8 Picture Styles|
|White balance||Auto, Cloudy, Sun, White balance bracketing, Shadow, Flash, Fluorescent lamp, Incandescent lamp, Manual|
|Color space||Adobe RGB, sRGB|
|Continuous shooting||Continuous shooting function max. 5.3 fps at highest resolution and max. 58 stored photos, (when using a UDMA memory card), 16 RAW images in succession|
|Self-timer||Self-timer at intervals of 2 s, special features: or 10 s (optional)|
|Shooting functions||Live histogram|
|Flash||built-in flash (hinged
)flash shoe: Canon, standard centre contact
|Flash number||Guide number 13 (ISO 100)|
|Flash functions||Auto, Fill Flash, Flash On, Flash Off, Slow Sync, Flash On Second Shutter Curtain, Red-Eye Reduction|
|Image stabilizer||no optical image stabilizer|
|Power supply||Power supply connection|
|Power supply||1 x Canon LP-E6 (lithium ion (Li-Ion), 7.4 V, 1,800 mAh)|
|Playback Functions||Highlights / Shadow Warning, Playback Histogram, Image Index|
|Voice memo||Voice memo (WAV format)|
|Face recognition||Face recognition|
|Special functions||Electronic water level, orientation sensor, Live View|
|Ports||Data interfaces: USBUSB type
:USB 2.0 High Speed
|AV connectors||AV output: HDMI output Micro (Type D)|
|Supported direct printing methods||Canon Direct Print, PictBridge|
|Features and Miscellaneous||built-in low-pass filterDual-DIGIC-IV signal processing processor Simultaneous
JPEG and RAW recording possible9-point autofocus
to 18 EV single autofocus
10x viewfinder magnifier in Live View modeFace Detection
Size and weight
|Dimensions W x H x D||144 x 106 x 79 mm|
|Weight||755 g (ready for operation)|
|included accessories||Canon CBC-E6 Special Battery ChargerCanon
LC-E6 Special Battery ChargerCanon
LP-E6 Special Battery
Camera Software ZoomBrowser EX / Image Browser for Windows and for MacintoshCamera Software
Digital Photo Professional for Windows (2000/XP)
Twain Driver (98/2000)
WIA Device Driver for Windows Me/XPPanorama Software
|optional accessory||Canon LP-E6 special rechargeable battery power supply
ACK-E6 car battery charger
CBC-E6 interchangeable memory cardCanonSpeedlite EX system flash units; IR remote control LC-5; remote control RC-1/RC-5; eyecup Eg, eye correction lens Eg, anti-fogging eyepiece Eg
Firmware update 1.1.1 for the Canon EOS 60D: Minor bugs fixed