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Canon EOS 60D Digital SLR Review

Canon's latest DSLR aimed at advanced enthusiasts boasts a high resolution 18Mp CMOS sensor, Full HD video recording and an articulated swivel screen for live view shooting from any angle.

| Canon EOS 60D in Digital SLRs
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Verdict and ratings

Canon EOS 60D: Click on the thumbnail for the larger image.
Canon EOS 60D front
Gary Wolstenholme takes Canon's latest enthusiast SLR for a spin.

Ever since the introduction of Canon's EOS 10D in 2003, their twin digit named digital SLRs have proved a popular choice for photographers after more than the entry level bodies offer, but without the extortionate expense of Canon's top-line professional bodies. They were so good at filling this niche, many a pro would have them as a back up, and many even as their main camera. Times have changed and manufacturers have bolstered their ranges of digital bodies in an attempt to cover each individuals needs more comprehensively. In today's Canon SLR line-up we now have the EOS7D sitting at the top of the APS-C pecking order. In my mind, this means Canon have had to re-jig their range a little, aiming this EOS 60D more at the budding enthusiast, rather than as an APS-C second body.

At the moment, the body only price of the EOS 60D is around £900, which is £250 cheaper than the current price for the EOS 7D and will probably be the most popular choice for upgraders from Canon's entry level range, or from older EOS xxD models. However it is currently £300 dearer than Canon's top entry-level model, the EOS550D. Various lens kits are also available ranging from the bog standard 18-55mm at around £1000 to the top line EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 at around £1640. In this review Gary Wolstenholme will take a look at how it performs, handles and whether it can carve a new niche in Canon's SLR line-up.

Canon EOS 60D: Features
In terms of raw specifications, there isn't much new technology in the EOS 60D. The 18Mp CMOS sensor is the same found in the lower-end EOS550D and the higher end EOS 7D, which provides ample resolution for large prints, provided the image is sharp where it's important. The camera has a native sensitivity range of ISO100-6400, and the option to expand this range to ISO12800, which should make shooting in very low light conditions without flash possible. An auto ISO feature is also included, but there is no facility to specify a minimum shutter speed, just a maximum ISO making this feature a little basic for a camera of this level.

All that information is stored to either an SD, SDHC or SDXC memory card, bring the camera more in line with the entry-level bodies that use this popular storage format.

Focusing is taken care of by the same 9-point diamond-shaped array of sensors found on previous Canon models, which can operate in light as low as -0.5EV and all of the points are cross-type sensors, which are sensitive to both horizontal and vertical contrast. This may be a major distinguishing feature for those torn between this camera and the EOS 7D, which has the newer, improved 19-point sensor, which should perform better with fast moving, erratic subjects. Continuous shooting speeds up to 5.3 frames per second are at your disposal, with a buffer large enough to accept 58 JPEG image before slowing down.

A built-in flash with a guide number of 13m at ISO100 is provided, which should be fine for a bit of fill-in here and there. What's exciting is that the wireless flash functions, first introduced on the EOS 7D, have been carried over to this model. This should open all sorts of creative possibilities for those wishing to use their Canon EX Speedlites off-camera with full TTL metering.

One of the most obvious and striking features is the articulated 3inch LCD screen, which has a resolution of approximately 1040,000 dots. The screen is clear and sharp and has a decent anti-reflective coating. Being able to change the angle and orientation of the screen is a boon for users of the live view shooting facility. It can save many a cricked back when shooting from a tripod and many a dirty knee when shooting at low angles. The autofocus performance during live view appears to be improved over earlier models. Although it still doesn't focus anywhere near as quick as when using the viewfinder, is only takes a brief moment to lock onto subjects when the lighting conditions are in your favour.

An electronic level feature is also included, which landscape and architecture snappers will appreciate. I found it a little difficult to get my head around how to adjust the camera when the screen was set at an angle, but I soon got the hang of it.

Metering is provided by the new iFCL 63-zone dual-layer sensor found in many of Canon's latest models, including the EOS 550D and EOS 7D. The sensor uses both colour and luminance information and promises to ensure accurate exposures in a wide range of conditions. The full compliment of creative manual and fully-automatic exposure and scene programs are provided, making the camera suitable for those who still enjoy the convenience of fully-automated scene modes. The usual plethora of Picture Styles can also be selected depending on the look you wish to achieve. In addition to this Canon have added a Creative Filters feature which allows certain effects, such as a toy camera effect, to be applied to images afterwards. These effects can only be applied to JPEG images in camera.

Those wishing to upgrade from an older twin digit EOS, such as the EOS 30D or EOS 40D will be disappointed to find that this is the last in Canon's line-up to receive a new battery-type. The newer LP-E6 cell has taken over from the common BP-511. On the positive side the new battery should provide better information to the camera about battery-life than the old cell and longer life too.

Full HD video recording is also possible at resolutions up to 1080p at 29.97 frames per second, or up to 59.94 frames per second at 720p resolution. Automatic and manual exposure modes are available while shooting video, allowing you to keep your creative options open.

Canon EOS 60D Key features: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
Canon EOS 60D side   Canon EOS 60D mode dial
The body is well-proportioned and tactile rubberised grips make handling comfortable.   A lock button in the centre of the mode dial is a simple, yet elegant solution to the problem of changing modes by accident.
Canon EOS 60D swivel screen   Canon EOS 60D battery compartment
(Above) An articulated swivel screen makes live view shooting from almost any angle a breeze.

(Right) The old BP-511 battery has been ditched in favour of the newer LP-E6 Li-Ion cell.

Canon EOS 60D: Handling
Sitting where it does in Canon's range, the EOS 60D lacks the magnesium alloy, weather sealed body of the EOS 7D, but this doesn't necessarily mean the camera isn't well built. The glass-reinforced polycarbonate is rigid and feels rugged enough for the camera's intended market, while still being quite lightweight at 755g including the battery and memory card.

Tactile rubberised grips have been placed in all the important areas to give a good grip of the body, which is a little smaller than that of the EOS 50D it replaces, but still large enough to handle well with a large telephoto lens attached. Those who like to attach a supplementary battery grip to improve the handling, especially when shooting portrait may be interested in the BG-E9 grip, which weighs in at around £200 and is available from Warehouse Express here.

Canon have started from the ground up with this model. Rather than adding improved features to a tried & tested body, the EOS 60D has a new control layout and the little fiddly joystick has gone to make way for a much more tactile directional control pad located around the set button. Nested beneath around this is the secondary control dial. I really like the new, simplified approach to the control layout. The directional pad is much better than the old joystick for navigating menus and selecting AF points. Users of previous Canon cameras of this level may just take a little while to adjust though. In a continuation of this more simplified approach to the control layout, there are now four command buttons on the camera's top plate, each having their own job, such as adjusting the AF or Drive modes, rather than the dual function approach found on previous models.

Another nice touch is the new locking button on the main control, which has to be depressed each time you wish to change exposure program. It's a simple and elegant solution to the problem of accidentally knocking the dial off your required setting each time the camera is taken from a bag or case.

Overall I really like the way the 60D handles. The combination of lightweight materials and a simplified control layout makes getting to grips with the camera's features quite straightforward, at least for me.

Canon EOS 60D: Performance

Canon's iFCL evaluative metering system copes well under a wide range of conditions, producing balanced exposures much of the time, especially in scenes of even contrast and lighting. In use I did find the camera prefers to expose for the shadows, which can occasionally lead to the odd over exposed picture here and there. For those who prefer more traditional metering options, the usual dependable trio of centre-weighted, partial and spot metering options are at your disposal. Spot metering is fixed to the centre AF point rather than tracking the selected point, as can be found on Canon's top-end bodies.

Canon EOS 60D: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
Canon EOS 60D evaluative metering exposed for the shadows   Canon EOS 60D -2/3EV exposure compensation
The evaluative metering exposed for the shadows in this predominantly light scene losing detail in the sky.   Setting -2/3EV exposure compensation results in a more faithful exposure in this instance.
Canon EOS 60D Evaluative metering   Canon EOS 60D Even light
  (Above) Even light, with the sun behind me results in pretty much perfect exposures.

(Left) Evaluative metering has coped quite well with the difficult contrast in this scene.


Another feature carried over from Canon's latest cameras is the Auto Lighting Optimiser, which promises to improve dynamic range in images by either lightening the shadows or darkening the highlights.

In practice this feature basically brightens the shadows, leading to more even-looking exposures. In very high contrast scenes I found this feature can benefit from a little negative exposure compensation to help save the highlights, as the Auto Lighting Optimiser will brighten up the shadows.

Canon EOS 60D Auto Lighting Optimiser Off   Canon EOS 60D Auto Lighting Optimiser Low
Auto Lighting Optimiser Off.   Auto Lighting Optimiser Low.
Canon EOS 60D Auto Lighting Optimiser Standard   Canon EOS 60D Auto Lighting Optimiser Strong
Auto Lighting Optimiser Standard.   Auto Lighting Optimiser Strong.

The same 9-point diamond-shaped array of cross-type AF sensors found in the previous EOS 50D and EOS 40D models has been used in the EOS 60D. Users of those two previous models will agree that it works pretty well, keeping up with all but the most erratic fast-moving subjects.

Although the system works well, and is a step up from the AF system found in the EOS 550D, which only has one cross-type sensor at the centre, it lacks the refinement of the new 19-point focusing system found on the EOS 7D. I suppose it is the best compromise considering this camera's placing in Canon's range.

During testing I had two lenses at my disposal, an EF 50mm f/1.4 and an EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM. Both lenses focused quickly and accurately in most situations and I found continuous focus tracking enough to keep up with traffic driving towards me at around 30mph with either lens using the centre focus point.

During live view two focusing options are at your disposal. Contrast detection ensures the screen doesn't black out during focusing, which leads to a better user experience on the whole. This mode appears to be much improved when compared to older Canon models, with focusing on static subjects taking fractions of a second, rather than whole seconds. When this still isn't quick enough there is the quick mode, which uses the normal AF sensor and requires the mirror to flip down, blacking out the screen during focusing. However there is noticeable shutter lag when shooting in live view in either mode, which will disappoint those hoping to use the camera in this way for snapshots.

The 18 megapixel CMOS sensor is certainly capable of resolving a lot of detail, producing images with excellent clarity straight from the camera.

Canon EOS 60D Jpeg sharpness test image   Canon EOS 60D image processed from RAW
Jpeg sharpness test image.   The same image processed from RAW using Canon's DPP software using standard settings.

For the shot above I set the camera to shoot large JPEG plus RAW using an EF 50mm f/1.4 lens set to f/8. The DiGIC 4 processor does a grand job of processing the JPEG image, which is incredibly difficult to tell apart from the image processed from the RAW file using Canon's DPP software. Every last detail in the face of the watch has been rendered clearly.

ISO and noise performance
Canon's other cameras using this 18Mp CMOS sensor have proved that despite the extra pixels, the camera is quite capable of producing decent results at reasonably high ISO settings. Images taken at settings between ISO100 and ISO800 show no significant signs of noise.

From ISO1600 onwards the tell-tale signs of noise, and noise reduction start to set in. At ISO1600 there is a slight drop in colour saturation and a little softening of fine details, probably due to noise reduction keeping any speckling from becoming an issue. ISO3200 is still good, but noise in the shadow starts to become much more apparent, leading to a loss of detail and contrast in these areas. This can be seen clearest in the dark areas around the lock keeper's cottage and in the brickwork in the building behind, which is now a red/orange mush.

At ISO6400 the levels of noise are clearly apparent, with quite noticeable speckling and loss of colour saturation. Quite strong colour noise can be seen on the water's surface in the outdoor test shot too. And finally at ISO12800, which can be set after enabling ISO expansion in the Custom functions menu, the levels of noise are very high, making this setting suitable as a last resort only.

Canon EOS 60D Outdoor ISO speed test: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
Canon EOS 60D Outdoor ISO100
Canon EOS 60D Outdoor ISO100 Canon EOS 60D Outdoor ISO200 Canon EOS 60D Outdoor ISO400 Canon EOS 60D Outdoor ISO400
ISO100 ISO200 ISO400 ISO800
Canon EOS 60D Outdoor ISO1600 Canon EOS 60D Outdoor ISO3200 Canon EOS 60D Outdoor ISO6400 Canon EOS 60D Outdoor ISO12800
ISO1600 ISO3200 ISO6400 ISO12800

Canon EOS 60D Test chart ISO speed test: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
Canon EOS 60D Test chart ISO100
Canon EOS 60D Test chart ISO100 Canon EOS 60D Test chart ISO200 Canon EOS 60D Test chart ISO400 Canon EOS 60D Test chart ISO800
ISO100 ISO200 ISO400 ISO800
Canon EOS 60D Test chart ISO1600 Canon EOS 60D Test chart ISO3200 Canon EOS 60D Test chart ISO6400 Canon EOS 60D Test chart ISO12800
ISO1600 ISO3200 ISO6400 ISO12800

Colour reproduction
Using the standard picture style, the EOS 60D tends to produce images with reasonably punchy colours and a decent amount of contrast, leading to vibrant images without looking over done. Several picture styles can be chosen from with a couple of clicks and three user definable settings are also available.

Each of the presets apply different colour saturations, contrast and Auto Lighting Optimiser settings depending on it's suitability. For example, the landscape picture style ups the colour saturation and contrast, but also the Auto Lighting Optimiser setting, to help deal with scenes of higher contrast.

Some examples of the different picture style settings can be seen below.

Canon EOS 60D Colour reproduction: Click on the thumbnail for the larger image.
Canon EOS 60D Standard Picture Style
Standard Picture Style

Sony Alpha A500 Colour test: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
Canon EOS 60D Portrait Picture Style   Canon EOS 60D Landscape Picture Style
Portrait Picture Style   Landscape Picture Style
Canon EOS 60D Neutral Picture Style   Canon EOS 60D Faithful Picture Style
Neutral Picture Style   Faithful Picture Style
Canon EOS 60D Mono Picture Style    
Mono Picture Style    

Auto white balance on the EOS 60D performs very well indeed, correcting the casts present in common lighting conditions well enough to give decent colour reproduction. Under incandescent lighting the results are hard to distinguish between using auto white balance and the incandescent preset. The same goes for shooting under the warm-white fluorescent lights in our studio. The accuracy of the auto white balance setting is very impressive and should allow you to concentrate on other things when shooting.

Canon EOS 60D White-balance test: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
Canon EOS 60D Auto white-balance in incandescent lighting   Canon EOS 60D Incandescent preset in incandescent lighting
Auto white-balance in incandescent lighting.   Incandescent preset in incandescent lighting.
Canon EOS 60D Auto white-balance in fluorescent lighting   Canon EOS 60D Fluorescent preset in fluorescent lighting
Auto white-balance in fluorescent lighting.   Fluorescent preset in fluorescent lighting.

Creative Filters
Creative filters are an interesting extra addition to the EOS 60D, allowing popular effects to be created that would normally require a little time post shoot in image editing software afterwards. The filters can be applied to JPEG images in camera and are saved as a new file on the memory card. Filters include a grainy black and white, soft focus and toy camera effect. A filter is also provided for creating a selective depth-of-field effect like you would get shooting a model village.

The quality of the effects is quite good and each has three strength settings with the Black & White one having three contrast levels, and the toy camera effect (which should keep most Lomography fans happy) having a choice of warm, standard and cool colour balances. The miniature effect allows you to choose a stripe of sharpness on either the horizontal or vertical axis to which blur is progressively applied to either side.

Some examples of each creative filter can be seen below:
Canon EOS 60D creative filter original image Canon EOS 60D creative filter Grainy B/W with low contrast Canon EOS 60D creative filter Grainy B/W with standard contrast Canon EOS 60D creative filter Grainy B/W with strong contrast
The original image Grainy B/W with low contrast Grainy B/W with standard contrast Grainy B/W with strong contrast
Canon EOS 60D creative filter Soft Focus effect set to low Canon EOS 60D creative filter Soft Focus effect set to standard Canon EOS 60D creative filter Soft Focus effect set to strong Canon EOS 60D creative filter Toy Camera effect set to cool
Soft Focus effect set to low Soft Focus effect set to standard Soft Focus effect set to strong Toy Camera effect set to cool
Canon EOS 60D creative filter Toy Camera effect set to standard Canon EOS 60D creative filter Toy Camera effect set to warm Canon EOS 60D creative filter Miniature Effect  
Toy Camera effect set to standard Toy Camera effect set to warm Miniature Effect  

The full HD video recording on the EOS 60D produces video clips of excellent quality. Footage recorded, even at very high ISOs looks clean and crisp, with no jerkiness or signs of unwanted artefacts. Sound recorded by the built-in microphone isn't too bad, but those who are serious about their video will want to take advantage of the external microphone socket for better quality and less background hiss.

This clip, recorded at 1920x1080 resolution at 25 frames per second shows how smooth and detailed the footage is, despite being recorded at ISO1600.

Write Times
Although Canon specify that this camera can buffer only 58 JPEG images, the DiGIC 4 processor does a great job of offloading those images to the memory card. Using a Class 10 Lexar Professional SDHC card, I took 191 images in 35.86 seconds before the camera showed any signs of slowing down. That averages out at a shooting speed of 5.33 frames per second, which is a tiny bit faster than specified.

Continuous shooting in RAW is much more limited. With the huge file sizes churned out by the 18 megapixel sensor the camera slows down much more quickly only buffering 17 shots before pausing briefly. This is still quite acceptable performance for this level of camera.

Battery life
The LP-E6 Li-Ion battery provides ample power for extended use. Although I didn't have the camera in my possession long enough to do exhaustive battery tests, I had it long enough to see that the camera performs well in this respect. After taking 456 shots during testing, in a mixture of normal shooting modes and live view the battery still showed all four bars of power present.

To see how much more it would take, I took about 15minutes of video and left the camera on live view for about half an hour. The battery still showed full power, so I took an additional 257 shots in RAW plus large JPEG then went back through the images deleting them individually. When I had deleted 92 of them the battery meter finally removed a bar. This is very impressive performance, showing one battery should be ample for a day's intensive shooting.

Lens performance
The camera supplied for testing was the body only kit, but I had the EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6mm IS USM which is available as a kit bundled with the camera and an EF 50mm f/1.4 USM.

Both lenses were capable of producing great results with the EOS 60D and we will be testing each lens separately soon. Please visit here for our latest lens reviews.

DxOMark provides objective, independent, RAW-based image quality performance data for lenses and digital cameras to help you select the best equipment to meet your photographic needs.

Visit the DxOMark website for tests performed on the Canon EOS 60D.

Canon EOS 60D: Verdict
Although on first impression, the EOS 60D appears to offer little more than the current cameras in the Canon range, it fills the gap well between the entry level EOS 550D and the professional level EOS 7D.

The camera handles well, and I really like the new simplified control layout. This should make the transition for upgraders from Canon's entry level models much less painful. Unfortunately the change to SD cards and the LP-E6 battery may disappoint those wishing to upgrade from older Canon models such as the EOS 30D or EOS 40D, but then you can't have everything, can you?

If you were previously tempted by an upgrade to the EOS 7D but don't really require the weather sealed magnesium build, faster continuous shooting speeds and better autofocus and certainly can't justify the cost, the EOS 60D could be the camera for you. Likewise if you feel you've reached the limits of your entry-level Canon camera but don't fancy biting off more than you can chew.

I feel the EOS 60D is a worthy and welcome successor to the EOS 50D, which it replaces, filling the gap between the EOS 550D and EOS 7D in Canon's line-up very well indeed.

A great all-round camera for those who want more than the entry-level models offer.
Canon EOS 60D: Pros

Canon EOS 60D Swivel screen for live view shooting
Canon EOS 60D Decent ISO performance
Canon EOS 60D Simplified controls
Canon EOS 60D Excellent handing
Canon EOS 60D Superb video quality
Canon EOS 60D Battery life
Canon EOS 60D Wireless flash facility

Canon EOS 60D: Cons
Canon EOS 60D Auto ISO could offer more parameters
Canon EOS 60D Shutter lag during live view shooting


Canon EOS 60D: Specification
Price £900.00
Lens mount Canon EF
Resolution 18MP
Sensor size APS-C
Sensor type CMOS
Max. Image size 5184 x 3456
Aspect ratio 3:2
Crop factor 1.6x
Viewfinder Pentaprism, approx 96% coverage
Focusing system 9 cross-type AF points
Focus types AI Focus
One Shot
AI Servo
File types JPEG, RAW, M-RAW, S-RAW
ISO sensitivity ISO100-6400 + ISO12800 with expansion
Metering system TTL full aperture metering with 63 zone iFCL SPC
Metering types Evaluative, partial, Spot, Centre Weighted
White-balance AWB, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten, White
Fluorescent light, Flash, Custom, Colour Temperature Setting.
White balance compensation 1. Blue/Amber +/-9
2. Magenta/ Green +/-9.
Exposure compensation +/-5 EV in 1/3 or 1/2 stop increments
Shutter speed range 30-1/8000 sec (1/2 or 1/3 stop increments), Bulb
Continuous shooting Max. Approx. 5.3fps. (speed maintained for minimum of approx 58 images (JPEG), 16 images (RAW)
Image stabilisation N/A
Movie mode 1920 x 1080 (29.97, 25, 23.976 fps)
1280 x 720 (59.94, 50 fps)
640 x 480 (59.94, 50 fps)
Monitor Vari angle 7.7cm (3.0") 3:2 Clear View TFT, approx. 1040K dots
Media type SD, SDHC, SDXC
Live View Yes
Interface USB
Power LP-E6 1800mAh Li-Ion rechargeable battery
Size (wxdxl) 144.5 x 105.8 x 78.6mm
Weight (with battery) 755g

The Canon EOS 60D costs around £900 for the body only and is available from Warehouse Express here:

Canon EOS 60D Body Only

The Canon EOS 60D costs around £1000 with the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens and is available from Warehouse Express here:

Canon EOS 60D with EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM

The Canon EOS 60D costs around £1150 with the EF-S 17-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens and is available from Warehouse Express here:

Canon EOS 60D with EF-S 17-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM

The Canon EOS 60D costs around £1150 with the EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens and is available from Warehouse Express here:

Canon EOS 60D with EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM

The Canon EOS 60D costs around £1640 with the EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM lens and is available from Warehouse Express here:

Canon EOS 60D costs around £1640 with the EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM

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Photographs taken using the Canon Canon EOS 60D

Under Starters OrdersW   H   YI think it's a SwallowtailNo School todayA Memory.Streets of Bundi.Hove Seafront.El Capitan from the Merced RiverA walk in the WoodsA cluster of FunghiArriving in styleSo  why do we take PhotographsThe Tall TreesWoodland WalkMorwellham Quay

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28 Oct 2010 10:39PM

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