Canon EOS 60D Gordon Laing, October 2010

Click here to find out about the EOS 60D's Movie Mode

Canon EOS 60D lenses, focusing, sensor & drive

The Canon EOS 60D employs an EF lens mount and is fully compatible with both Canon EF and EF-S lenses. Thanks to its APS-C sensor size, all lenses effectively have their field of view reduced by 1.6 times.


The EOS 60D is available as a body alone or in a choice of kits with stabilised zoom lenses. Most geographic regions will be offered either the budget EF-S 18-55mm IS kit lens, which offers a basic 3x optical range that’s equivalent to 29-88mm, or the more recent EF-S 18-135mm IS which offers a much longer range equivalent to 29-216mm. As a side-note, this lens is also slightly longer than the DX 18-105mm VR model supplied in the Nikon D7000 kit.


You can compare the quality of both kit lenses in our Canon EF-S 18-135mm IS review. Given the choice between them, we'd go for the EF-S 18-135mm IS for its greater range, although for much longer reach you could alternatively complement the EF-S 18-55mm IS with the EF-S 55-250mm for around the same total price. It all depends if you want to carry one or two lenses.

If you want a single lens with the maximum zoom range, consider buying the body alone and fitting it with the EF-S 18-200mm IS lens. Like other super-zooms, the quality may not be as good as lenses with shorter ranges, but having an 11x zoom at your disposal in a single lens sure is handy. See our Canon EF-S 18-200mm IS review for full details.

Alternatively if image quality and quicker focusing are your priorities, we can highly recommend buying the EOS 60D body alone and fitting it with the excellent EF-S 15-85mm IS USM lens. It may not zoom as long as the EF-S 18-135mm IS (nor obviously the EF-S 18-200mm IS), but it will zoom wider, while delivering better image quality and quicker, quieter focusing; in our view it's the best general-purpose lens for Canon's APS-C DSLRs. For more details, see our Canon EF-S 15-85mm IS USM review. Finally, if you'd like other recommendations for specific styles of photography, like portraiture, sports or close-ups, please check out our Canon lens buyer's guide.


Canon EOS 60D focusing

The Canon EOS 60D employs the same 9-point AF system as the EOS 50D. All nine points are cross-types, sensitive to both horizontal and vertical lines when used with lenses of f5.6 or brighter. The central point is also twice as sensitive as the others when used with a lens aperture of f2.8 or brighter.


Like the 50D, the AF points are arranged in a diamond pattern and represented by small rectangular outlines which illuminate red when active; you can switch the red lights off if preferred in a custom menu. Press the focus area button and you can use the rocker to manually select a single focus point or use the finger dial or thumb wheel to cycle through the options. Under dim conditions, the flash will popup and flicker to provide AF assistance, but if you find this alarming, you can disable it or only request AF assistance from an external flashgun in a custom menu

Like all Canon DSLRs there’s three auto-focusing modes: One Shot AF for still subjects, AI Servo AF for moving subjects, and AI Focus AF which automatically switches from One Shot to Servo when it detects a subject starting to move. If you switch your lens to Manual focus, the 'AI Focus AF' wording in the upper LCD display is replaced with 'M Focus' – a small but considerate touch

Fitted with the EF 24-105mm IS USM lens we used during our tests, the EOS 60D focuses quickly and confidently like its predecessor. To put the AI Servo AF system to the test we photographed Queenstown's famous Shotover Jet boats using this lens. These boats race along the Shotover river in Queenstown New Zealand, approaching at high speed before suddenly executing 360 degree spins. As such they represent a challenge to any AF system. Under these conditions we found the EOS 60D's AI Servo tracked the boats effectively, and you can see some continuous shooting examples below and in our Gallery.



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In terms of numbers, the EOS 60D's inherited 9-point AF system sounds less glamorous than the new 39-point AF system of the Nikon D7000, but it's worth noting the latter shares the same number of cross-type sensors. Until we test the D7000 we can't comment on the effectiveness of its new AF system, although the greater number of AF points in the D300s, not to mention the EOS 7D, give them an edge when a subject changes distance unpredictably between focusing points. But again in our tests the EOS 60D's AF system was sufficiently quick and responsive to deliver decent results, and if you can keep the action around the diamond capture area, you’ll be fine in most situations.

Existing EOS 50D owners will however be disappointed that the AF system has essentially remained the same for several XXD generations, especially as Nikon continues to develop more sophisticated options. Indeed it's one of the few areas where Canon allows itself to be beaten on the numbers game.

While the EOS 60D's AF system is the same as that on the EOS 50D though, there's one important feature missing on the new model: AF Micro-adjustment. This allows you to tweak the point of focus to compensate for lenses which suffer from front or back focusing. Pro DSLRs have featured AF Micro-adjustment for some time, but the EOS 50D was the first non-pro Canon DSLR to boast the feature, and now annoyingly it's been removed from the new EOS 60D. So if you want AF Micro-adjustment, the cheapest current Canon DSLR to offer it is the EOS 7D. It's also revealing to note Nikon's D7000 features something similar with its AF Finetuning.

But while it's annoying to discover another feature from its predecessor has been removed, how important is AF Micro-adjustment? If you have lenses which suffer from front or back focusing, and you know how to use AF Micro-adjustment properly, it can certainly make a noticeable difference when focusing through the viewfinder.

But equally it's important to remember the vast majority of DSLR owners do just fine without AF Micro-adjustment, and we've also spoken to many pros who've never even applied the feature despite having it on their cameras; you'd be surprised how many hadn't even heard of it. It's also important to note any front or rear focusing issues can be eliminated by using contrast based AF in Live View, since this ignores the phase-change AF system and simply looks directly at the output from the sensor. Admittedly contrast-based AF is only practical for static subjects with the camera mounted on a tripod, but it really does work and it really can bypass AF errors under these conditions.

So is the absence of AF Micro-adjustment a big issue on the EOS 60D? Only you can decide. It will be disappointing for higher-end photographers who know how to exploit it, and undoubtedly a loss for Canon now that Nikon has implemented it on the rival D7000, but we don't think the 60D's target audience will be that concerned. Remember while you can easily knock the EOS 60D by comparing it to a semi-pro body, it's equally important to consider what it offers over an entry-level one. As such, while both the EOS 60D and EOS 550D / T2i may both share 9-point AF systems, the former features nine cross-type sensors rather than just one in the middle, making it more accurate and confident in use.


Canon EOS 60D metering, exposures and bracketing


The Canon EOS 60D offers the same four metering modes as its recent predecessors: TTL Evaluative, Partial (6.5% of v/f area), Spot (2.8% of v/f area) and Center-weighted; the viewfinder also indicates the spot metering area with a circle. In a welcome upgrade over the 35-zome TTL Evaluative metering system of the earlier EOS 50D though, the new EOS 60D has inherited the more sophisticated 63-zone Focus Colour Luminance (iCFL) system introduced on the high-end EOS 7D. This employs dual layers allowing it to take colour information into account, and finally bringing Canon's latest DSLRs more in line with Nikon’s legendary 3D Colour Matrix Metering system.


And it really works too. We used Evaluative metering for all our sample images and found few if any occasions when we’d want to apply any compensation. It certainly seems more effective than the earlier 35-zone system of the EOS 50D, and we felt more confident on relying on it for our day-to-day shots.

The EOS 60D offers shutter speeds from 1/8000 to 30 seconds plus a Bulb option; the fastest flash sync speed is 1/250. The fastest speeds are in-line with the Nikon D7000 and semi-pro models, and are a step-up from the entry-level EOS 550D / T2i which offers maximum shutter and sync-speeds of 1/4000 and 1/200 respectively.

Basic exposure bracketing is available with three frames up to 2EV apart in 0.3EV increments, which puts it in line with most cameras at this price-point including the Nikon D7000. Both cameras also share exposure compensation in a broad +/-5EV range, again a step-up from most entry-level models.


Canon EOS 60D sensor and processing

The Canon EOS 60D features an 18 Megapixel CMOS sensor which delivers the same resolution as the EOS 550D / T2i and the high-end EOS 7D. Indeed we understand the only difference between the sensors in each body is the data readout: four channels on the lower-end models compared to eight on the 7D, allowing the latter to support quicker continuous shooting for RAW files. Speed aside, Canon describes the image quality on all three models to be essentially the same.

The physical size and pixel count is certainly identical: the EOS 60D's sensor measures 22.3x14.9mm and generates 3:2 aspect ratio images with a maximum resolution of 5184x3456 pixels. At 300 dpi, these can be reproduced at up to 17.3x11.5in, compared to 15.8x10.5in on the 50D. The rival Nikon D7000 employs a new 16.2 Megapixel CMOS sensor with 4928x3264 pixels, allowing reproduction at around 16.5x11in – so the extra two Megapixels of the EOS 60D only give it an advantage of around one diagonal inch at 300dpi.


The EOS 60D’s JPEGs can be recorded at four lower resolutions (8, 4.5, 2.5 and 0.3 Megapixels) and with the choice of Fine or Normal compression for all but the final two small sizes. RAW files are of course offered, although unusually in the choice of three resolutions: either the full 18 Megapixels in RAW, 10.1 Megapixels in MRAW or 4.5 Megapixels in the SRAW.

Cleverly the RAW and JPEG options can be set separately, allowing you to choose any combination. So if recording both JPEG and RAW, you could have RAW, MRAW or SRAW, accompanied by a JPEG at any of the five resolutions or two compression settings. Unsurprisingly the dedicated RAW / JPEG button of the higher-end EOS 7D isn't here, but you can configure the SET button to go straight to the image quality page. Best quality Large Fine JPEGS typically measure 6-8MB each, while full-size RAW files measure around 22-25MB each.

Like its predecessor, the EOS 60D employs 14-bit analogue to digital conversions, and this 14-bit tonal detail is also recorded in the RAW images. See our Results pages for examples comparing the camera’s JPEG and RAW output. RAW files can also now be processed in-camera with the ability to apply chromatic aberration and distortion corrections – see the Menus section on the previous page for full details.

Like the EOS 50D, copyright data can be added to images, but in a welcome move inherited from recent models, the author and copyright details can now be entered in-camera unlike its predecessor which required you to do it through the supplied EOS utility.


With the same physical sensor characteristics as the EOS 550D / T2i, it's not surprising to find the EOS 60D also inheriting is sensitivity range which runs from 100 to 6400 ISO, with a maximum of 12800 ISO (H) available if ISO expansion is enabled in the Custom settings. Note: if Highlight Tone Priority is enabled, the EOS 60D's sensitivity range is reduced to 200-6400 ISO.

In a welcome update over the EOS 50D, there's now an Auto ISO setting with the option to set the maximum sensitivity between 400 and 6400 ISO. If the ISO is set to Auto, the PASM modes will operate between 100 ISO and the maximum sensitivity set in this menu. With Auto ISO, the scene presets operate between 100 and 3200 ISO, apart from the Portrait setting which is fixed at 100 ISO. If you're using Auto ISO with the flash, the sensitivity is fixed at 400 ISO, unless this results in an over-exposure in which case it's reduced to 100 ISO.

On previous Canon DSLRs, the sensitivity would stick at 400 ISO when the ISO was set to Auto in Manual or Bulb; this remains the case for Bulb or flash exposures on the EOS 60D, although sensibly Manual mode now works with Auto ISO in the same way as Program and the other exposure modes.

Like the EOS 50D, two noise reduction modes are available in the Custom Functions menu: Long Exposure Noise Reduction is applied to exposures longer than one second and can be set to Auto, On or Off, while High ISO Noise Reduction is available in the choice of four settings, Standard (the default), Low, Strong or Disable. Note Strong NR will reduce the maximum burst during continuous shooting.

Unusually there's no dedicated White Balance button on the EOS 60D, but you can easily access it via the Q menu or within the main menu system.

Pressing the White Balance button allows you to choose from Auto, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten, White Fluorescent, Flash and Custom. White Balance correction and bracketing are also available, and in a nice update over entry-level models, you can manually enter a colour temperature from 2500 to 10000K.

Sharpness, Contrast, Saturation and Colour Tone are applied using a number of Picture Styles: for colour photography, you have the choice of Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral and Faithful, while a further Monochrome option offers four filter and four toning effects. Contrast, Saturation and Colour Tone can be adjusted in a range of +/-4, while Sharpness is offered from 0 to 7. While it’s possible to tweak these presets or configure your own with the three custom modes in-camera, software supplied with EOS 60D lets you create and edit precision Picture Styles to your absolute requirements.

We used the default Standard Picture Style for all our sample images, and found it delivered fairly lively-looking JPEGs similar in style to the EOS 550D / T2i and EOS 7D. All three bodies deliver much punchier and crisper JPEGs by default than the earlier EOS 50D which was fairly muted and laid-back in comparison. These different approaches are quite apparent in our JPEG results pages, although our RAW results prove it's easy to match the output styles.


Leveraging the EOS 60D's 14-bit A-D conversion is the Highlight Tone Priority (HTP) option, inherited from recent models but still buried away in one of the custom function menus and disabled by default. According to Canon, this improves the highlight detail by expanding the dynamic range from the standard 18% grey to bright highlights. This option is only available between 200 and 6400 ISO and Canon warns noise could be increased in shadow areas. ‘D+’ icons in the viewfinder, upper screen and rear screen indicate when Highlight Tone Priority is enabled, so there'll be no surprises.

Below you can see crops taken from our main results image, taken with and without Highlight Tone Priority, HTP. If you have a fairly good monitor, you should be able to spot tonal differences in the snowy ridge of the mountaintop on the HTP version which has become burnt-out on the version without HTP. It can be pretty subtle though and when measuring actual values in Photoshop, you're only looking at a difference of around 10 levels. Looking at the image as a whole, the histogram of the HTP version has been compressed a little at the highlight end, like a Levels adjustment, albeit made at the point of exposure. As with previous HTP tests, it remains a subtle effect, but one which could still benefit subjects with bright highlights, such as snowy scenes, or wedding dresses.

Canon EOS 60D JPEG
Highlight Tone Priority Disabled (default)
Canon EOS 60D JPEG
Highlight Tone Priority Enabled
100% crop, 1/640, f8, 200 ISO
100% crop, 1/640, f8, 200 ISO



The EOS 60D additionally inherits the Auto Lighting Optimizer from recent models, which adjusts the brightness and contrast of images with dark areas (such as backlit portraits). The camera offers the same four settings as the EOS 50D: Standard, Low, Strong and Disable. The Standard setting is always applied when the EOS 60D is set to Auto or the Scene presets, and is also applied by default in PASM modes, although you can adjust it to one of the other three settings if preferred.

The settings and implementation may be the same as its predecessor, but Auto Lighting Optimizer on the EOS 60D (like the EOS 550D / T2i and EOS 7D) has now been promoted from the depths of the Custom section to its own prominent position on the second menu page. The camera also indicates the current setting on-screen, so again there's no surprises.

Canon EOS 60D Auto Lighting Optimiser: Off / Strong
0.6 secs, f8, 100 ISO
0.6 secs, f8, 100 ISO

Above you can see two examples of the same composition taken with the Auto Lighting Optimizer disabled (above left) and with its Strong setting (above right). In this particular example which includes dark shadow areas and blown highlights, you can see a subtle boost to the interior walls and within the dark roofing, although the bright window highlights remain saturated. We’ve included histograms of each which reveal a reduction and slight rounding of the shadow values and a minor boost in upper mid-tones on the version with Strong Auto Lighting Optimization. Beware when using the Strong setting that continuous shooting speeds will fall.

Following our policy of using default settings when testing cameras, most of the same images you’ll see in this review were taken with Highlight Tone Priority off and the Auto Lighting Optimizer set to Standard. Since both can result in artificially higher noise levels though, we ensured both were disabled for our High ISO Results pages.


The EOS 60D also inherits the Peripheral Illumination Correction of its predecessor and recent models. This is optionally applied to JPEG images to reduce the effect of vignetting where the image darkens towards the corners. The EOS 60D contains a database of 26 Canon lenses and allows you to enter a further 14 models or swap existing ones for other models if preferred. If the lens model is recognised, the correction will be applied by default to JPEG images, although you can switch the option off if preferred. Canon describes the resulting effect as similar to that offered on RAW images in recent versions of its Digital Photo Professional (DPP) software, although DPP itself can offer additional corrections.


Any lens for which DPP offers corrections can be entered into the EOS 60D's internal database using the supplied EOS Utility. The latest version includes correction data for the new EF-S 15-85mm and EF-S 18-135mm IS zooms, but none of the lenses announced in autumn 2010. DPP also offers data for each lens fitted with a 1.4x or 2x Extender, although these will count as additional entries in the camera's 40-model internal database.

Since Peripheral Illumination Correction is enabled by default, you’ll see the effect of it on our JPEG sample images throughout this review taken with the EF 24-105mm f4L IS USM lens. In our tests, it proved effective at reducing the effect of vignetting, although in extreme cases with certain lenses there can still some darkening in the extreme corners. It remains an improvement over the versions without though, but remember any digital brightening will result in potentially greater visible noise in the applied areas – especially if the ISO was already high on the original.

Unfortunately Canon still doesn't offer in-camera reduction of coloured fringing on JPEGs – at least not automatically anyway. This is in contrast to Nikon which has offered automatic fringing corrections on its DSLR JPEGs for some time. But the EOS 60D does let you reduce them on RAW files using its new in-camera processing tools.

Select RAW Image Processing in the first play menu, choose a RAW file and the EOS 60D will present a series of in-camera processing options. These allow you to adjust the brightness by +/-1EV, change the white balance, picture style, Auto Lighting Optimizer, High ISO noise reduction, the colour space, the JPEG size and quality, along with applying correction for peripheral illumination, distortion or chromatic aberrations; these last three are simply either on or off. If you adjust the Picture Style, you get further options to adjust the sharpness, contrast and saturation in the same way as edting Picture Styles in the main menus. The resulting image can then be written as a new JPEG file.


The correction data for chromatic aberrations and distortion is stored in the same internal database as peripheral illumination. So you can store correction data for up to 40 lenses and choose the desired models using the EOS Utility software, see the drive section below. Since this correction data comes from DPP, we suspect details for chromatic aberration and distortion data were actually already present in earlier EOS DSLRs which supported peripheral illumination correction, but simply not implemented until now.

To put the RAW processing capabilities to the test we took our main outdoor resolution photo, then processed the RAW file both in-camera and using the supplied Digital Photo Professional software. You can compare the results in our Canon EOS 60D Raw results page.

The DPP software obviously offers many more controls, not to mention finer adjustments for each, but at least the EOS 60D finally has the ability to reduce coloured fringing in-camera. That said, the EOS 60D makes you jump through hoops to get it: you'll have to go through the fuss of taking a RAW file and processing it into a JPEG in-camera with chromatic aberration correction enabled. Compare that to Nikon's DSLRs which simply apply correction in-camera to JPEGs automatically – can we have that next time please Canon?

The EOS 60D's in-camera post-processing doesn't stop there: the playback menu also offers a series of Creative Filters, no doubt inspired by the Olympus Art Filters, although here applied after the event. The EOS 60D offers four Creative Filters which can be applied to RAW or JPEG files, then saved as new JPEG files. You can choose from the ever-popular Grainy Black and White or Soft Focus, opt for Toy Camera (which darkens the corners and applies a colour cast), or choose the increasingly common Miniature effect (which simulates a tilt and shift lens). Each filter offers a selection of options to tweak the effect.

So once again it's over to our standard real-life resolution test shot with each of the four filters applied.

Canon EOS 60D JPEG
Grainy B/W Creative Filter
Canon EOS 60D JPEG
Soft Focus Creative Filter
Canon EOS 60D JPEG
Toy Camera Creative Filter
Canon EOS 60D JPEG
Miniature Creative Filter


Canon EOS 60D drive modes and remote control

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The Canon EOS 60D offers two continuous shooting modes: Low, which shoots at 3fps and High, which shoots at 5.3fps. The top speed is 1fps slower than the EOS 50D, another downgrade which again has caused frustration for owners of that body, but to be fair to the EOS 60D, it is shifting 3 Megapixels more data with every frame. It's also important to look at the camera's position in the current range, with its 5.3fps sitting roughly between the 3.7fps and 8fps of the models immediately below and above.

Canon quotes a buffer of up to 58 Large Fine JPEGs, 16 RAW files or seven RAW plus JPEG shots. The RAW buffer matches the EOS 50D, although the JPEG burst is reduced from around 90 frames. To put these figures to the test we fitted the EOS 60D with a formatted Lexar Professional 133x 8GB Class 6 SDHC card. In Large Fine JPEG mode and at 100 ISO, the EOS 60D fired-off 50 frames in 9.4 seconds and showed no signs of slowing; this confirms the quoted speed of 5.3fps. With the camera set to RAW, we fired-off the quoted 16 frames in 3 seconds before the camera stalled, again corresponding to a speed of 5.3fps.

So in practice, both the JPEG and RAW rate matched the quoted speed of 5.3fps. Interestingly in our earlier tests, the EOS 50D actually came up a tad slower than quoted at 6.1fps for JPEGs and 5.9fps for RAW files. So while the EOS 60D is technically slower than its predecessor, it's only by 0.8fps for JPEGs and 0.6fps for RAW files in our tests, which doesn't make a huge difference in real-life situations.

Indeed to put the EOS 60D's action credentials to the test, we photographed the famous Shotover Jet boats in Queenstown and found both the continuous AF and continuous drive were sufficiently quick for grabbing decent sequences. Sure, it's not as quick as the EOS 7D, which delivered 7.85fps for JPEGs in our tests, but it is good enough for most action situations, and again only fractionally slower than the EOS 50D. You can see a burst of ten frames from our AF section above, and a close-up sample of one in our Gallery. Note the rival Nikon D7000 claims a slightly quicker speed of 6fps, but again we'll have to wait for a final production sample to verify that in practice.

In terms of the self-timer, the EOS 60D gives you the choice of 10 or 2 second countdowns, although it doesn’t share the additional custom timers of recent entry-level EOS DSLRs which can take multiple shots as insurance.

A mirror lockup option is however available in the custom menu, which applies to either normal or self-timed shots.


In a feature which first made its debut on the EOS 40D, the EOS 60D can be remote-controlled by a PC or Mac using the supplied EOS Utility and USB cable. Still images can be recorded to your computer’s hard disk, the internal memory card or both, and there’s Intervalometer facilities for programmed shoots.


The EOS Utility lets you remote control and adjust pretty much any setting that doesn’t involve the physical turn of a dial or flick of a switch. So you can’t change the exposure mode from, say, Aperture to Shutter Priority using the software, but you can adjust the aperture or shutter value, the image quality, white balance, metering and sensitivity or even set the mirror-lockup. Impressively the software also lets you see the Live View on your computer monitor and even lets you manually or autofocus the lens with a magnified view for assistance.

The latest version which comes supplied with the EOS 60D appears very similar to the previous version with the EOS 550D / T2i. As such there are separate controls to enter either Live View or Movie mode, both supplying live images to your computer's screen. As before, while you can start and stop recording a video from your computer, the video file itself is only stored on the camera's internal memory card – there's still no means to record video direct to your computer's hard disk.

You’ll also see an option introduced with the EOS 7D to automatically popup the internal flash if desired, although you’ll need to push it back down again yourself. The Flash Function settings popup menu also lets you configure the wireless flash control.

New to this latest version is a subtle change in the description of one of the Shooting Menu options: what used to be described as 'Peripheral Illumination Correction' is now known as 'Lens aberration correction'. As before, this lets you populate the camera's internal database with correction data for up to 40 lenses from the entire Canon catalogue (or at least those already supported in the latest version of Digital Photo Professional). The difference this time is the correction data is not just limited to peripheral illumination, but now also includes chromatic aberration and distortion information. Annoyingly the camera will still only apply peripheral illumination corrections to JPEGs, but the additional chromatic aberration and distortion data can be used by the EOS 60D's new in-camera RAW processing facility (see section above).

Software-based remote control is a wonderful feature to have and if you have a laptop handy, it could even eliminate the need for certain photographers to invest in a cable release. It would be nice to be able to record video direct to your computer's hard disk, but considering other manufacturers charge for software-based remote control, or don't offer the facility at all, it seems churlish to complain.

Indeed remote control with the EOS Utility is now supported by and supplied with every single DSLR in the current EOS range, including the entry-level EOS 1000D / XS. So while Canon can be a bit mean about not supplying lens hoods with its non-L models, it certainly doesn’t skimp on the bundled software. Similar remote control software – often without the Live View capabilities – is an optional extra from other manufacturers, and Canon also bundles decent RAW processing software with its Digital Photo Professional program.

Now let's find out about the new video recording capabilities in our EOS 60D Movie Mode section!

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