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Canon EOS D60 Digital SLR Review

Canon EOS D60 Digital SLR Review

|  Canon EOS D60 in Digital SLRs
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Canon EOS D60 reviewCanon have been one of several manufacturers leading the industry with relatively low-cost digital SLRs. Their EOS D30 digital SLR was one of the first models to be available for around 2000 at launch, which was massively cheaper than the competition at the time. Now they have improved the EOS D30, whilst leaving un-changed many of the qualities that made it so great in the first place.

Note: The Canon D60 has been introduced into a much more competitive market than the D30, with rival manufacturers such as Sigma producing a digital SLR, Nikon providing the rival D100 and Olympus and Fuji also providing competing models.

It has been established that the D60 is largely based on the D30, so explained below are some of the main improvements the D60 offers according to Canon:

  • New 6.3 megapixel CMOS sensor
  • The low-pass configuration has been altered to "countermeasure red ghost outline that can occur in digital cameras"
  • Operation speed has been improved through modifications to the Firmware.
  • The viewfinder offers a superimposed display and visible illuminated AF points.
  • There are further custom settings and more information is displayed on the illuminated LCD
  • Shortened shutter release-time lag
  • Less noise at high ISO speeds
  • Improved AF performance
  • A total of six JPG compression modes and a RAW mode are available

The Canon D60's main features are:

  • 6.3 megapixel CMOS (Aspect ratio 2:3)
  • Focal length conversion of 1.6x
  • 3-point Autofocus
  • ISO range: 100, 200, 400, 800, 1000
  • 1.8in TFT monitor (114,000 pixels)
  • 7 white balance settings, 1 custom
  • 35-zone metering
  • Auto pop-up built-in E-TTL flash.
  • USB interface
  • Approx. 3fps for max. of 8 shots.
  • 8 shooting menus, 4 playback menus, 12 setup menus
  • Dimensions: 149.5x106.5x75mm
  • 780g weight

Canon D60 Body and handling
Canon EOS D60 Review - Side viewThe Canon D60 isn't marketed as a pro body like the 1D or newer 1Ds, yet many professionals use it, as in fact they still do the D30.

Although it isn't entirely targeted at the pro-market, who require super tough bodies for their demanding work life, the D60 still feels quite tough in the hand. The body is largely identical to the D30, with comfortable rubber padding around the front and rear of the grip. The viewfinder has a soft rubber cushioning and there's no doubt it's a very pleasant camera to use.

The rubber cover (shown right) on the side of the camera have changed slightly from the D30, with one piece to cover all four connections.

Canon EOS D60 Review - Front View

At this angle the D60 looks identical to the D30 apart from the model number and the new Canon "DIGITAL" logo at the lower right.

Canon EOS D60 Review - Rear view

Again, there is nothing very new about the rear of the D60 compared to the D30. This isn't a bad thing though, as the user interface is excellent. The large jog wheel controls a variety of camera settings and makes changing them quick and fiddle-free.

Canon EOS D60 Review - Top View

The most obvious (visual) difference between the D30 and the D60 is the silver mode dial.

Menu system
The menu system operates quickly and once you've remembered where everything is it's easy to use. The main options available in the menus are described below.

Canon EOS D60 Review  - Menu Playback
You can quickly change between images using the main jog-dial. Or you can zoom in and the image is split into different sections, which you then move through in defined stages. Pressing the info button displays information on the image being shown and a histogram. In this mode there is also a highlight alert, where overexposed areas will blink. You can view an index of images with up to 9 per view in small thumbnail form, or you can jump to other images using the jog dial.
Canon EOS D60 Review  - Menu

Main menu
Quality, Redeye reduction function, AEB to automatically change exposure level, ISO speed, LCD Panel illumination, Beep, Custom WB, Parameters, Protect, Rotate, Print Order, Auto Playback, Auto Power off, Review, Review time, LCD Brightness, Date/Time, File numbering, Language, Video system, Format CF card, Custom Functions, Custom Function default setting, Firmware version information.

Canon EOS D60 Review  - Menu Custom functions
Custom function 01 is unused, so they start on 02: Shutter button / AE lock button, Mirror lockup, Tv/Av and exposure level, AF-assist beam/Flash firing, Shutter speed in Av mode with flash, AEB sequence / auto cancellation, Shutter curtain sync, Lens AF stop button Fn. Switch, Auto reduction of fill flash, Menu button return position, SET button func. when shooting, Sensor cleaning, Superimposed display, Shutter release w/o CF card.

Camera modes
To make taking pictures easier for those new to photography, the D60 includes a selection of 'Basic Zone' modes. These are:

  • Fully automatic picture taking: This aims to leave nothing for the photographer to do but compose and press the shutter button.
  • Portrait Mode: Blurs the background to make the subject stand out.
  • Landscape mode: For sunsets, scenery etc.
  • Close-up mode: For macro photography of flowers, insects etc.
  • Sports mode: For fast moving objects, like a racing car.
  • Night Portrait mode: Uses flash to illuminate the subject in very dark conditions and a slow shutter speed to expose the background.

For the more advanced photographers there is the 'Creative Zone'. Which are the standard settings most enthusiast photographers will already know.

  • Program AE: Similar to Full Auto mode in the 'Basic Zone', this is a general purpose mode.
  • Shutter-Priority AE
  • Aperture-Priority AE
  • Manual Exposure
  • Automatic Depth-of-Field AE: In this mode, all the subjects covered by the AF points, from those close to the camera, to those far away, will be clearly in focus.

Besides these system modes, there are a number of optional features, including Autoexposure Bracketing and a choice of Evaluative, Partial or Center-weighted Average metering.
You can choose how the D60 focuses, either with one AF operation per shutter press, or continuously with the AI Servo mode. Or if you're wanting manual control, a flick of a switch gives you full control. Focussing speed with the 16-35L lens Canon provided with the our test camera was fast and very quiet. Although the speed of focussing will vary depending on the lens you're using and the conditions you're shooting in, the D60 seems at least as capable in this area as the D30.

Viewfinder and LCD screen
Canon EOS D60 LCDThe LCD provides approximately 100% coverage and allows a brightness control of two levels. The viewfinder has Dioptric Adjustment from -3 to +1 dpt.

Both provide very good visibility and we had no complaints whilst using them, with the LCD having good visibility even in bright sunlight.

Unlike the competiting Fujifilm S2 Pro and cheaper Sigma SD-9, the D60 does not feature a Firewire interface, only USB. This is more of a limitation than in the days of the D30, with larger file sizes causing further delays before images can be transmitted to the computer.

The standard video output terminal is switchable between NTSC and PAL and there is an N3-type remote control terminal. Also provided in the same connection area is a PC terminal and there is a Hot Shoe contact for use with a variety of Speedlites. Flash exposure compensation can be set within the camera when using compatible flash units.

Battery life
Powered by the same powerful BP-511 battery as its predecessor, the D60 was destined to be a capable performer. We've tested the battery-performance with the standard battery Canon provided with the camera and an alternative battery by Hahnel. It's fair to say, all but the most snap-happy photographers should be able to manage with one battery on short-trips. During our use, when shooting in RAW mode with an IBM 1Gb drive, the battery was going long after the IBM drive filled up.

Image quality
The EOS D30 was celebrated for its smooth low-noise images. The EOS D60 also produces smooth low-noise images at the lower ISO settings but has the advantage of offering a higher resolution than the D30. This higher resolution will allow you to print at larger sizes with an improvement in image quality and also will be provide more forgiving cropping options. For many D30 users, the impetus of image quality improvement may not as big a factor in upgrading to the D60 as it could have been.

The D60 provides a great deal of image quality control from within the camera, with a RAW mode and six JPG settings. The RAW mode provides the best quality, but it's an extra step in your image viewing process, so for many casual snappers it may be ignored.

The various ISO settings provided do not cover as wide a range as some competing models. The highest ISO1000 setting, although noisy is still usable and the lowest ISO setting of 100 competes very well or exceeds that of rival manufacturers cameras.

Colour performance from the D60 was at the high standard we expected with no major complaints to make. When we printed some of the test images at A4, they were beautifully colourful and sharp.

Focussing with the EF16-35L Lens Canon loaned us for the review was fast and quiet. Although not competing with Canon's higher-end Digital SLRs, the D60 focussing system provides more features and performance than some of its users are ever likely to need.

Sample pictures

Canon EOS D60 Review  - Sample

Canon EOS D60 Review  - Sample

Canon EOS D60 Review  - Sample

Canon EOS D60 Review  - Sample
(Crop from above image)

Canon EOS D60 Review  - Sample

Canon EOS D60 Review  - Sample

Canon EOS D60 Review  - Sample

Canon EOS D60 Review  - Sample

The Canon D60 has been an eagerly awaited camera, due mainly to the excellent performance of its predecessor. Canon have tweaked and upgraded an already excellent camera, to provide in the form of the D60, one of the best digital SLRs money can buy today.

If you've already got a collection of Canon lenses, have an old film-body that is collecting dust and want to move into the digital world without spending a fortune, the D60 is an excellent choice. Although old D30s are available on the secondhand market, the price difference and lack of support usually make them not worth considering, unless your budget is very tight.

Should you not have invested in a collection of lenses yet, you are offered a selection of Digital SLRs to choose from by Nikon, Fujifilm and now Sigma. Whilst this choice may bewilder, we've already found that both the Nikon D100 and Canon D60 are both very good performers and there's not a great deal to separate them. We'll be seeing how the Fujifilm S2 Pro stacks up against these two soon and also hope to have a look at the much cheaper Sigma SD-9 too.

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Photographs taken using the Canon EOS D60

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