Support me by shopping at Amazon!
Canon EOS 60D Gordon Laing, October 2010
 
 

Canon EOS 60D design and controls

The Canon EOS 60D may represent a new mid-range DSLR category for Canon, but when viewed from the front, it greatly resembles its semi-pro predecessor with a similar shape and styling. Measuring 145x106x79mm, it falls roughly in-between the EOS 50D and EOS 550D / T2i in size. Nikon's D7000 is roughly the same height and depth, but over one cm narrower in width. We've pictured the EOS 60D alongside its predecessor, the EOS 50D below.


 
 

The EOS 60D may resemble the EOS 50D from the front, but there are considerable differences on the top and rear which we'll describe in a moment. One of the biggest changes though lies under the skin of each body: the EOS 50D as a traditional semi-pro DSLR employed magnesium alloy construction whereas the EOS 60D has switched to the same plastic-over-metal construction as the entry-level bodies. This single change has caused considerable concern with enthusiasts on the forums, but it's important to look beyond the theory and actually compare them in person.

Canon puts a positive spin on the change of materials by describing the EOS 60D as being 8% lighter than the EOS 50D while also coming-in at a lower price point. Looking at the body weight including card and battery, the EOS 550D / T2i, EOS 60D, EOS 50D and EOS 7D weigh-in at 527g, 755g, 812g and 900g respectively, while Nikon's D7000 weighs roughly the same as the 60D at 780g.

So technically the EOS 60D certainly is lighter than the EOS 50D, but we were hard pushed to notice the 57g difference in use. Sure, the EOS 60D is noticeably lighter than the EOS 7D, and conversely, noticeably heavier than the EOS 550D / T2i, but when compared side-by-side with the EOS 50D, there's really not much in it.

 

This is the first surprise concerning the 60D's build, and it's a little disappointing not to find the 'downgrade' in materials making a more significant difference to the weight. The second surprise though is discovering the EOS 60D feels much better in your hands than you first assume, and in our view is actually more comfortable than its predecessor. Like the EOS 7D before it, the EOS 60D takes inspiration from Nikon's design book by incorporating a small indentation on the inside of the grip for your finger tips. The thumb rest on the rear has also been changed from the quarter-circle of the EOS 50D for a longer diagonal raised ridge. Both added-up to a body that felt more comfortable and secure in our hands than the EOS 50D, while similar rubber coatings on crucial surfaces ensured no slips.

 
 

It's also important to remember plastic can be very strong. We asked Canon how the toughness and weather-proofing of the EOS 60D compared to the EOS 50D and the company claimed there was no significant difference in terms of shock resistance and the weatherproofing was identical. Of course a magnesium alloy body is more likely to dent rather than crack on hard impacts, but the message we want to get across is the EOS 60D's build and ergonomics are much better than you might assume – and despite sharing the same construction as the EOS 550D / T2i, the shape and handling are certainly a big step-up. Sure, if you're likely to drop your camera or take regular hard knocks, then we'd still recommend a magnesium alloy body, but average photographers will find the EOS 60D more than adequate.

Looking at the upper surface in more detail, the photos above reveal changes in the Command mode dial and information screen. The former is now black on the EOS 60D and for the first time on a Canon DSLR employs a lock button in the middle. Like those on some earlier Canon film SLRs, this button must be held down to allow the dial to turn, which prevents accidental changes.

The EOS 60D's mode dial offers the usual PASM modes, along with a separate Bulb position and a single Custom mode along with full Auto, Creative Auto, Flash Off, five presets and the Movie mode. Eagle-eyed Canon spotters will note the EOS 50D offered two Custom modes along with the automatic depth-of-field A-DEP mode, while accessing Blub from the Manual setting. So the new EOS 60D gains a movie mode, promotes Bulb to its own position, and loses one Custom mode.

     
     

Curiously the Creative Auto (CA) mode has shifted in location and also features a new interface. As before it still offers a beginner-friendly approach to controlling depth-of-field with a 'background blur' scale taking care of the lens aperture, but there's now also a 'shoot by ambience selection', which allows you to choose from Standard, Vivid, Soft, Warm, Intense, Cool, Brighter, Darker and Monochrome processing. There's also direct access to the Drive and Flash options on-screen, and these along with the background blur and ambience can be adjusted using the Q-Menu system we'll describe lower on this page.

 
 
Support this site by shopping below

   
 
   

On the upper right side of the body is an LCD information screen that's a little smaller and less detailed than that on the EOS 50D, but which still represents an upgrade over an entry-level body which typically has none. While all the shooting details can be displayed on the main colour screen on the rear of the camera, the benefit of having some of it replicated on the top is greater visibility in bright conditions (not to mention less blinding in the dark), along with much lower power consumption.

The EOS 60D's upper LCD screen shows the shutter speed and aperture, ISO value, exposure compensation, shots remaining, metering, drive and AF modes, along with icons indicating AEB, battery life, monochrome shooting, white balance correction, and flash exposure compensation. What you won't find from the EOS 50D are the image quality and white balance settings, but in its favour, the EOS 60D features a broader +/-3EV exposure compensation scale, a more accurate battery indicator, and the simple but considerate inclusion of the letter M to indicate manual focus. Note where more than 1000 frames are available, the EOS 60D still just shows 999 rather than adopting Nikon's cleverer approach of abbreviating, say, 1100 shots as 1.1k.

The EOS 60D features four buttons running along the top of the screen – one more than the EOS 50D and 7D – although for simplicity all now offer a single function only. From left to right, the 60D's controls offer direct access to the AF mode, Drive mode, ISO setting and Metering mode. So it loses the 50D and 7D's direct access the White Balance and Flash Compensation settings, but both can still be adjusted via the main screen interface. It's a sensible compromise, although interesting to note the EOS 550D / T2i offers direct access to the AF mode, Drive mode and ISO settings in addition to the White Balance and Picture Style, so the loss of a metering button aside, actually offers a little more direct control.

Completing the upper surface controls are a button to illuminate the LCD screen, a finger dial and the same click-style shutter release button as the EOS 50D.

 

The biggest external changes from the EOS 50D can be found on the rear surface. Most obviously there's a switch to an articulated screen which we'll describe in detail below, but equally there's significant differences in the controls. The AF-ON, AE lock and AF point buttons are still in the upper right corner, but pretty much everything else has changed in some regard.

Like the EOS 7D, there's now a satisfyingly chunky power switch around the base of the Command dial rather than the smaller switch by the thumb wheel of the 50D. Live View now gets a dedicated button to the right of the viewfinder, and it also doubles-up as the record button in the Movie mode. The Menu, Info and Play buttons are now to the right of the screen, along with a new dedicated Q button to fire-up the on-screen user interface, while the delete button is now to the left of the viewfinder. Note the FUNC and Picture Style buttons of the EOS 50D are no longer present, and more importantly, neither is the mini joystick.

The biggest control change concerns the rotary thumb wheel. First the good news: there is one on the EOS 60D, differentiating it from the entry-level models and lending it an air of the traditional semi-pro models. But the bad news is it's a little smaller in diameter than those on existing Canon DSLRs, the SET button in the very middle is much smaller, and worse, there's now an eight-way rocker in the centre to replace the separate mini joystick of the semi-pro models.

Now there's nothing inherently wrong with a rocker control, but the one on the EOS 60D just doesn't feel right. It's almost flush to the surface of the wheel around it, and suffers from minimal travel and feedback when you push it in any direction. As a result it can be hard to press at times and equally hard to know if you have pressed it; and as you spin the wheel with your thumb it's also easy to accidentally depress it.

Ergonomically this is an own-goal, and ironically we found the control wheel on the tiny PowerShot S95 (where the entire wheel tilts as a rocker) was easier to use. We understand Canon removed the joystick from the EOS 60D to further differentiate it from the semi-pro models, and are relieved it kept a control wheel of some description, but the rocker button inside just doesn't do the otherwise decent ergonomics of the EOS 60D any justice.

     
     

On the upside, the EOS 60D does at least offer a respectable array of button customisation - see above. You can make changes to the AF and metering buttons, the AF point selection button and customise the SET button in the middle of the rocker and wheel. It's no EOS 7D in regard to customisation, but at least there's some options.

Finally, around the front of the camera, you'll be relieved to learn the depth-of-field preview button is still present. This also works in Live View, with the screen brightening to compensate for smaller apertures, although obviously if the light levels are already low, there'll be increased noise in the live preview.


Canon EOS 60D flash

 
 
 
Support this site by
shopping below

 

The Canon EOS 60D features a built-in flash, which can popup by itself in the fully automatic modes, or at a push of a button in other modes; like other Canon DSLRs, this flash is flickered for AF assistance rather than using a dedicated lamp like Nikon’s bodies. The 60D’s fastest flash sync speed is 1/250, matching semi-pro bodies and slightly quicker than the 1/200 of the 550D / T2i. The  maximum coverage matches lenses with a 17mm focal length, so will be a perfect match for the various kit zooms, although it falls a little short of the 15mm coverage of the EOS 7D.

 
 

In a welcome upgrade over its predecessor, the EOS 60D follows the EOS 7D to become the second Canon DSLR to support wireless flash control with the built-in flash.

Like the EOS 7D, the popup unit can become a wireless Speedlite transmitter, allowing the EOS 60D to control up to three groups of Speedlites, without the need for an additional master unit. It’s a great upgrade to have on the 60D, albeit not as sophisticated in the number of remote units as the 7D.

There is of course a hotshoe on the top of the body, which like recent semi-pro Canon DSLRs features a plastic surround which mates with Canon’s higher-end Speedlites to provide environmental sealing. The EOS 60D also offers options to configure both the internal and compatible external flashguns.

Options for both types include flash compensation, curtain sync, wireless setting and E-TTL II mode. External Speedlites which support camera-control include the 430 EX II and 580 EX II. Connect one of these and the camera controls additionally offer flash bracketing and zoom options.

While the EOS 60D features wireless flash control, its repositioning as a mid-range body means the PC Sync port of the EOS 50D has been lost. Existing xxD owners may be sorry to see it go, but the EOS 60D's target audience will find the support for wireless flash control arguably more useful than the ability to connect to studio lighting or flashes without compatible hotshoes. Indeed many existing xxD owners will find wireless flash control more useful than a PC Sync port.

 

Canon EOS 60D viewfinder

The Canon EOS 60D employs a penta-prism viewfinder with 0.95x magnification and 96% coverage. The coverage is quoted as being 1% greater than the EOS 50D, although we believe it's the same head with minor tweaks – either way, you wouldn't notice 1% extra coverage in use, so it's fair to describe the EOS 60D's viewfinder size and coverage as being the same as the EOS 50D.

 
   

While EOS xxD owners will find the specification unremarkable, it does represent a step-up in brightness and apparent size over entry-level DSLRs which normally employ penta-mirror viewfinder systems. Nikon realised long ago the value of a penta-prism viewfinder to upsell enthusiasts from entry-level to mid-range bodies on models like the D80, D90 and D7000, so it's no surprise to find Canon following the same strategy here. It gives the EOS 60D a degree of classiness that's lacking from entry-level models.

But Nikon's not stood still and having implemented penta-prism viewfinders on mid-range bodies for several generations, it's raised the game with the latest D7000 which boasts nothing less than 100% coverage. This kind of specification is normally reserved for high-end semi-pro bodies like the D300s or Canon EOS 7D, so to find it on a mid-range model is very impressive. So while the use of a penta-prism viewfinder is a classy upgrade for the EOS 60D over entry-level models, the D7000 trumps it in this respect.

The EOS 60D's viewfinder may essentially match the specification of the EOS 50D before it, but Canon's updated the information running below the frame to match that of the EOS 7D. There's still the usual exposure details along with the ISO value always displayed, but the EOS 60D now extends the exposure compensation scale to +/-3EV and includes a four-segment battery icon.

 
 

The information bar may be the same as the EOS 7D, but the EOS 60D doesn't share its transmissive LCD focusing screen. Instead the nine AF rectangles and the spot-metering circle are etched onto the same Ef-A Precision Matte focusing screen as the EOS 50D before it, and like that model you can swap it for the optional Ef-D Matte with an alignment grid (pictured) or the Ef-S Super-Precision Matte for easier manual focusing with lenses sporting apertures faster than f2.8.

Interchangeable focusing screens are feeling old hat now though, since Nikon has implemented transmissive LCD graphics for several generations in its mid-range models upwards. These allow you to switch an alignment grid on and off in a menu rather than buying and fitting a fiddly optional accessory; they also allow AF markings to disappear when inactive for an uncluttered view. Canon implemented its first transmissive LCD screen for a DSLR in the EOS 7D, and it's a shame not to find one here on the EOS 60D. Again it's an aspect where Nikon takes the lead.

The EOS 60D may be lacking the transmissive LCD screen of the EOS 7D, but still offers a single axis electronic levelling gauge through the viewfinder, using the exposure compensation scale to indicate tilt if desired. The SET button can be configured to offer this facility.

 

Canon EOS 60D screen

The Canon EOS 60D becomes the first Canon DSLR to feature a fully-articulated screen. The screen is hinged on the left side of the body (as viewed from the rear), allowing it to flip and tilt in any direction for easier composition at high or low angles, while also being able to turn to face the photographer or back on itself for protection.

 
 

This is the single biggest new feature of the EOS 60D and one which will be welcomed by videographers, along with anyone who takes pictures at unusual angles. It's also a key advantage the EOS 60D enjoys over the Nikon D7000 which still uses a fixed panel; interestingly the only Nikon DSLR with a flip-out screen at the time of writing was the upper entry-level D5000.

In use the articulated mounting feels very smooth and robust; there's obviously some concerns over potential damage, but the literal flipside is being able to protect the screen by folding it back on itself. We should also note in all our time testing cameras, we've never experienced any issues with the mechanisms used by Canon on its articulated screens.

As mentioned above, the most obvious application is when shooting movies, and it's certainly nice to finally be able to hold the camera at waist height or high angles when filming. But it's useful when taking stills too. Beyond being able to take images at high, low or discreet angles, it's also a considerable relief not to strain your neck when the camera's mounted on a telescope – indeed we can see many astro-photographers selecting the EOS 60D just for this aspect alone. Macro photographers or anyone else who finds their cameras in unusual positions will also love it. The only downside is the screen flips out by 175 degrees rather than 180, which means it's slightly tilted in relation to the direction of the camera. This can feel a little odd at times, but is far from a deal-breaker.

The articulated mount isn't the only thing which makes the EOS 60D's screen special, as it also inherits the superb TFT panel first seen on the EOS 550D / T2i. This panel measures 3in and employs a wider 3:2 aspect ratio which perfectly matches the shape of its images. The vast majority of other cameras use squarer 4:3 aspect ratio screens which mean 3:2 images in Live View or playback have black bars above or below when the entire frame is viewed. Not so on the EOS 60D, which like the EOS 550D / T2i before it, fills its screen in Live View or playback.

Like the EOS 550D / T2i, the 60D's screen also sports a slightly higher resolution of 1040k dots compared to the 920k of earlier models. While this may not sound like a big leap, the crucial difference is the entire vertical resolution can now be devoted to the image. When viewing 3:2 images on earlier 4:3 shaped / 920k screens, letterboxing meant the actual image only occupied a portion measuring 640 pixels wide by 427 pixels tall. Now on the EOS 60D, the full 720x480 pixel resolution of the screen can be used to display images, giving it almost 15% more detail in each axis. And while framing wider 16:9 HD video will still involve some letterboxing, the 3:2 shape is a better fit than previous 4:3 models, again with the image filling more of the screen.

In use, this actually makes a big difference. Previous VGA screens already looked very good, but having the image filling the screen without letterboxing makes for a much preferable composing and viewing experience. Indeed you wonder why it's taken so long for DSLR manufacturers to fit screens which match the shape of their sensors – we know 4:3 shaped screens are more commonly available, but that hasn't stopped Panasonic from fitting 3:2 shaped screens for some time now, albeit – ahem – on cameras with 4:3 shaped sensors.

The Canon screen itself is bright and crisp, but like most is not immune to the effects of bright sunlight. With the Sun shining directly on the screen, the image can be hard to see, and any smears or fingerprints become obtrusive. But the ability to twist the screen out to a different angle allows you to minimise the effect and keep the image visible.

Overall the quality of the panel along with the articulated mounting is a real highlight of the EOS 60D. The panel is the best we've seen on a DSLR and the uncompromised articulation, not hindered by the hinge position or a single axis design is genuinely useful. This is a major selling point of the EOS 60D over the competition.

 

Canon EOS 60D Live View

The EOS 60D is equipped with Live View facilities which allow you to compose with the main screen. The implementation is essentially the same as the EOS 550D / T2i before it, with a couple of minor but useful additions.

   
   

Entering Live View is the same as the EOS 550D / T2i: simply press a dedicated button to the side of the viewfinder and start composing a couple of seconds later. To autofocus, just half-press the shutter release. Both steps may seem fairly obvious, but represent a major improvement in usability over the EOS 50D. Back then Live View was still viewed with suspicion by semi-pro photographers and the feature felt almost hidden away from sight. First you needed to actually enable Live View in a menu. Secondly you entered Live View with a button which shared its function with Direct Printing. And third, you had to press the AF-ON button to actually autofocus. None of this was particularly intuitive, so it's great to find the EOS 60D following the EOS 550D / T2i with its much friendlier and easier approach.

Like the EOS 550D / T2i, the default AF mode in Live View on the EOS 60D is the contrast-based Live Mode option (see below), which again matches the defaults of its main rivals. While this remains the slowest of the Live View AF modes, the lack of noise and interruption to the image – not to mention support for face detection – makes it the most sensible choice, at least in a lower-end model.

Once you’re in Live View, the EOS 60D delivers 100% coverage and exploits the full resolution of the screen, with a smooth refresh rate of 30fps. The effect of different apertures can be previewed by pressing the depth-of-field preview button below the lens release, and under most conditions the camera will temporarily brighten the screen to maintain a consistent image; if the subject’s already quite dark though, the screen will become noisier during the preview.

     
     
   
   
   

Pressing the Info button cycles between five views: a clean image, one with basic shooting information at the bottom (now super-imposed thanks to the image filling the screen), one which adds additional information down the left side of the image, one which additionally places a live histogram in the upper right corner, and finally one which swaps the histogram for a single axis virtual horizon.

The latter is a nice update to find here and while it may lack the dual-axis display of the 7D, the presence of tilt information remains very useful. You can also view the virtual horizon on-screen out of Live View, or using the exposure compensation scale through the viewfinder. Note the Nikon D7000 also offers a virtual horizon, but strangely continues to avoid providing a live histogram.

The Display view which adds details to the left side of the image indicates the current settings for the Drive Mode, White Balance, Auto Lighting Optimizer, Quality, AF Mode and Picture Style in two columns. Like the EOS 550D / T2i before it, these can all be adjusted on-screen by pressing the Q button. This rearranges the icons in a single taller column (with the addition of flash compensation) and allows you to highlight the required detail using the rocker, before then turning the finger or thumb wheels to adjust it. Meanwhile the dedicated AF, Drive and ISO buttons on the top fire-up dedicated menus for each, although adjustments to the metering mode are not possible in Live View.

Canon continues to offer the choice of two alignment grids in Live View, although like existing models you’ll need to enable them in the Live View menu; while this means you can see a grid and histogram at the same time, we’d prefer it simply appeared as an option when cycling through the Display views.

Looking at autofocus in more detail, the EOS 60D inherits the same three modes as the 550D / T2i: the default contrast-based Live Mode, followed by Live Mode with face detection and finally Quick Mode which uses the traditional phase-change AF system. As described above, all three are activated with an intuitive half-press of the shutter release rather than having to press the AF ON button on the EOS 50D.

With the EOS 60D set to its default Live Mode, a white rectangle is shown in the middle of the frame, which can be moved around using the cross-keys. Half-press the shutter release and the 60D will focus on whatever’s in the frame using a contrast-based system. Like other DSLRs, contrast-based autofocus in Live View is relatively slow, but operates very quietly without the sound or interruption of the mirror flipping.

     
     

Support this site by
shopping below

 
Like earlier Canon models, Live Mode adjusts the lens roughly at first before slowing down to fine-tune the focus. At best this could take around two seconds, but it’s not uncommon to find it taking as long as four. Beyond a lack of interruption, the technical benefit is taking a focus reading direct from the sensor’s image, so Live mode doesn’t suffer from the potential AF inaccuracies of a traditional phase-change system; this is of particular benefit since the EOS 60D now sadly lacks the AF micro-adjustment of its predecessor which allowed you to calibrate lenses to minimise front and back focusing issues.

The EOS 60D's Live Mode with face detection (indicated by a smiley icon) uses the same contrast-based system as normal Live Mode, but if it recognises a human face, it’ll frame it with a box and focus on that instead when you half-press the shutter release; if there’s more than one face in the scene, you can use left and right cross keys to select the one to focus on.

As you might expect, the 60D's processor can recognise and track faces as quickly as a compact, but the actual focusing process itself remains the same speed as normal Live Mode – as such it can take several seconds. If you’re lucky, the camera will lock on and confirm within a couple of seconds, but if it ends up being longer, it’s easier to exit Live View and frame a portrait shot through the viewfinder instead.

Finally, the EOS 60D's third AF option, Quick Mode, employs the traditional 9-point phase-change AF system used when composing through the optical viewfinder. As such, the camera shows a graphical representation of the nine AF points on-screen in the same diamond configuration, with the active point(s) now illuminating green for consistency with the Live mode. An adjustable white frame remains in the middle for magnified focusing assistance – see below.

Like other phase-change AF modes in Live View, the camera needs to flip its mirror down to take a reading before flipping it back up again to continue the live feed. There’s obviously some noise and an interruption to the image during this time, but it remains the quickest if the three AF modes in Live View – indeed, if the AF system locks onto the subject without a problem, the entire process can take less than a second.

At any time during the Live or Quick AF modes, you can press the magnify button to show a 5x view, then a 10x view. The 60D will zoom-in on wherever the white frame is positioned on screen, which can be moved before or during using the cross-keys. At 10x, the EOS 60D shows an area that’s one tenth the width of the full image as you’d expect, but then scales this 518 pixel wide crop to fill the 720 pixel width of the monitor. So the 10x mode actually appears to be operating at greater than 1:1 magnification.

     
     

For purists it may be shame there’s still no exact pixel-mapped 1:1 viewing mode, but at 10x there’s little evidence of scaling or fuzziness; indeed the image looks pin-sharp and allows you to confirm auto-focusing or make very precise manual focus adjustments. This view is also sharper than that of existing Nikon models which become relatively fuzzy at their maximum magnification, including the D90 with its VGA screen, although we're yet to test the facility on the newer D7000.

Live View on the EOS 60D is also available at a higher resolution when the camera’s connected to an HDTV using the HDMI port, or connected to a PC or Mac and using the supplied EOS Utility – see our Features page for more details on the latter.

 

 
 

The EOS 60D also inherits the additional silent shooting options of the 50D. Mode 1, the default, is quieter than normal shooting and also supports continuous shooting at up to 5fps. Mode 2 is quieter still by employing an electronic first curtain shutter to actually take the picture, but delaying the noisier re-cocking of the physical shutter so long as you keep the shutter release held.

The idea is to press the shutter release button to take the photo (with a very faint click), but keep it held until you’re out of ear shot, after which you can let go, allowing the 60D to audibly re-cock the physical shutter. You may only be able to take one photo with this technique, but it could be useful in certain situations. Note there’s also an option to disable Silent Shooting altogether, which sounds like the camera’s taken two shots; Canon only recommends using this to avoid exposure issues with extension tubes or Tilt and Shift lenses.

Finally, new to the EOS 60D's Live View facilities are the choice of aspect ratios: you can now shoot in 3:2, 4:3, 16:9 or 1:1 shapes.

So all-in-all, by making some minor changes, Canon's enhanced what was already a very capable Live View system. Dedicating a button to Live View and using a half-press of the shutter release to autofocus make the process much more intuitive than its predecessor, while devoting the entire screen to the composition delivers a superior image. The addition of a virtual horizon in addition to a live histogram and grid view is also useful.

The main contrast-based AF system hasn't become any faster though and like most equivalent systems, you still can't continuously autofocus for tracking action. If you want a DSLR which can track moving subjects in Live View as quickly as through the viewfinder, then you'll need to turn to Sony which offers a variety of models which are able to exploit the quick phase-change AF systems while composing with the screen.

 

Canon EOS 60D shooting information and menus

Like its recent predecessors, the EOS 60D uses its main colour screen to display all shooting information and the high resolution allows the fonts to look very smooth. At first glance the details displayed look similar to the earlier 550D / T2i and 7D, but as always Canon's taken the opportunity to rearrange them a little.

   
   

With one of the Creative (PASM, Bulb or Custom) modes selected, you'll see the following: on the top row you'll find the shooting mode, shutter speed, aperture, ISO sensitivity and a D+ icon indicating whether Highlight Tone Priority is enabled or not. On the second row there’s the +/-3EV exposure compensation scale, drive mode and electronic level status. Next down on the third row are the flash compensation value, Picture Style, White Balance, Auto Lighting Optimizer setting and Custom Controls status. On the fourth row you'll find the AF mode, a graphical representation of the nine AF points, the metering mode and the image quality, leaving a four-segment battery indicator and the shots remaining at the bottom. This lower strip also indicates the transmission status of an Eye-Fi card if present.

Also at the bottom, in the lower left corner is a box labelled Q, indicating that pressing the new Q button will activate the camera’s Quick Control mode. This allows you to highlight a desired setting, before then turning the finger dial or thumb wheel to directly adjust it, or pressing SET to present a dedicated menu for that item.

It’s similar in practice to other on-screen adjustment systems like those pioneered on Olympus DSLRs, although affirming its more serious nature in Canon's range, the 60D is lacking the choice of alternative colour schemes of the entry-level models. Disappointingly Canon has also continued to resist the temptation to rotate the on-screen details to remain upright as you turn the camera.

     
     

The menus are similar to those on the earlier 550D / T1i, exploiting the high resolution monitor and processing for smooth fonts, colourful icons and fading transitions between pages; it’s a good-looking system. Like semi-pro bodies you can use the finger dial and thumb wheel to scroll through pages and options respectively, which is easier than trying to get to grips with the new rocker button.

In terms of the actual pages, there's now four devoted to Recording options, followed by two for Playback, three for Setup, and one each for Custom Settings and 'My Menu' settings; there’s 20 Custom Functions in total and throughout the review we’ll highlight some of the options. Note that switching to the Movie mode adds three new pages dedicated to this function, while temporarily losing the Custom Functions, My menu and three of the four Recording pages; we'll detail these in the Movie mode section under the Features tab.

     
     

In playback mode, pressing the Info button cycles between a clean image, one overlaid with basic information, followed by a thumbnail with extended shooting information and a brightness histogram, and finally a thumbnail with less shooting information, but both brightness and RGB histograms. You can also use the magnify buttons to zoom-in on an image or zoom out to display either four or nine thumbnail views. Images look great played back on the quality screen, but it's a bit old fashioned to only offer nine thumbnails when rivals offer many more along with calendar views.

New to the EOS 60D are a number of in-camera post-processing options from a series of Creative Filters to RAW processing. These are available in the Play menus and we'll detail them in the processing section of the Features page.

 

Canon EOS 60D battery and connectivity

The EOS 60D is powered by the same LP-E6 as the EOS 7D and EOS 5D Mark II: an 1800mAh Lithium Ion pack which Canon claims is good for up to 1600 shots through the viewfinder without flash – a significant boost over the EOS 7D which only offers 1000 shots under the same conditions, presumably due to having two DIGIC 4 processors rather than one. In Live View, the battery should be good for 350 shots without flash, or for about two hours of movie recording.

   
   

Like the EOS 7D and EOS 5D Mark II before it, the LP-E6 allows the EOS 7D to offer accurate feedback on the exact charge remaining. Like Nikon though, it inexplicably hides the percentage figure in a menu, but at least it’s there and the main icons indicating battery life on the main screen, upper panel and in the viewfinder feature more segments than before.

The Battery Info menu page shows the exact percentage of charge remaining, along with the number of shots fired during this charge so far, and an indication of the recharge performance using three squares. With all three lit green, the battery recharging performance is in good condition. Two lit squares indicate the recharging performance is reduced, while a single red square means it’s time to buy a new battery.

If you’d like extended battery life, you can fit the optional BG-E9 Battery grip which takes two LP-E6 packs (or a set of AA batteries) while additionally providing a portrait grip and controls. Note the EOS 60D's battery and optional grip are different from those on the EOS 50D, so anyone hoping to reuse accessories from this model will be disappointed; there's also no wireless transmitter option. That said, the batteries from the EOS 7D and EOS 5D Mark II are the same, which is handy if you're considering the EOS 60D as a backup body.

 
 
Support this site by
shopping below

 

Like other Canon DSLRs, the various ports are located behind a flap on the left side of the body, although unlike the EOS 50D and EOS 7D, there's only one flap on the 60D. Behind this you'll find a 3.5mm stereo jack for connecting an external microphone, a Type-C mini HDMI port, a combined USB and TV output and a socket for the optional RS-60E3 remote switch. These are actually the same four ports offered by the EOS 550D / T2i, and owners of higher-end Canon bodies will note the switch from the more capable N3-type remote port of the EOS 50D, EOS 7D and EOS 5D Mark II.

Owners of semi-pro bodies will also notice the absence of a PC Sync port for connecting to studio or flash lighting which isn't compatible with the hotshoe. The removal of this port has caused much gnashing of teeth by existing 50D owners, although as detailed in the flash section, the average 60D owner will arguably find the added support for wireless flash control more useful.

Like other Canon DSLRs, there’s still no option to force different resolutions over HDMI; instead the EOS 60D will display images at the TVs optimum resolution (normally outputting a 1080i signal). As mentioned in the Live View section, the EOS 60D can output a live image at up to 1080i for a very detailed view, although once you press the record button for movies, the signal is degraded to standard definition PAL or NTSC. So while you can use an external display while filming with the EOS 60D, it's a shame the quality is degraded to the same resolution as the built-in screen once you press the record button. Anyone wanting to exploit an HD output for more accurate on-screen focus pulling will be disappointed.

In terms of memory, Canon has made a switch from Compact Flash on the EOS 50D to SD on the EOS 60D. This isn't surprising considering the target audience of the EOS 60D, although again it'll prove frustrating for any EOS 50D owners looking to upgrade as they won't be able to reuse existing memory cards.

The EOS 60D supports the SDXC format which allow cards bigger than 32GB, along with exploiting the speed of cards rated up to Class 10; it'll also work with Eye-Fi cards for wireless transfer of images. Canon recommends using a card rated as Class 6 or higher for recording HD movies; we used a Lexar Professional 8GB SDHC 133x model in our tests which is rated as Class 6 and worked fine with all the movie modes. SanDisk's Ultra III cards are also rated as Class 6, so should be a great match for the EOS 60D; note the cheaper Ultra II cards are only Class 4, so while fine for still photography on this camera, will be too slow to support the HD movie modes for longer recording times.

At this point it would be remiss of us not to mention the dual SD card slots of the Nikon D7000. These allow the D7000 to record duplicate images on both cards for instant backup or RAW files to one and JPEGs to another. It's an impressive capability to find on a mid-range DSLR and one which trumps the EOS 60D.

Now let’s check out the Features section which includes details on the sensor, autofocus, drive modes, image processing and of course the 60D’s new Movie modes.


If you found this review useful, please support us by shopping below!
All words, images, videos and layout, copyright 2005-2014 Gordon Laing. May not be used without permission.

/ How we test / Best Cameras / Advertising / Camera reviews / Supporting Camera Labs