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Review Canon EOS 60D

For this review we tested the Canon 60D: the latest member of the EOS 10D, 20D, 30D, 40D and 50D family. It doesn't take much phantasy to imagine a Canon 70D emerging in the near future. With the X0D series Canon aims at both advanced and beginning amateur photographers. Even many professionals use a camera from this series as a back-up camera. Canon 60D review
The sensor of the Canon 60D also forms the heart of the Canon 7D and the Canon 600D, but these two cameras have a different camera body.
For those who are used to a Canon SLR, the design of the Canon 60D looks familiar. At the backside you'll find the turning wheel and a limited amount of buttons. New is the tilt swivel LCD panel. Looking at the details, the on/off button rests at an unfamiliar place for a Canon camera.
In this price segment competition is fierce; examples of competitors are Nikon D5100 and Sony SLT-65V. Quite a few potential Canon 60D buyers might also take a look at a Canon 7D or a Canon 600D in combination with a better, and more expensive, lens than a kit-lens.
Canon 60D

Measurements were made using Imatest. You'll find the test results in our Canon 60D test report. For the test method and explanation of terms, see the FAQ section.

Canon 60D versus Canon 50D

  • Canon 60D has 18 megapixels instead of 15 (Canon 50D). You won't notice this difference in practice.
  • Tilt swivel screen: very convenient for macro photography.
  • The Canon 60D can record a movie. The 50D can't record a movie.
  • The Canon 60D has been downsized in comparison with the Canon 50D, to make way for the Canon 7D. The number of images per second is lower (5,3 vs 6,3 frames per second). There's no more joystick, AF micro-adjustment or multi-flash support.
  • Canon 60D utilises an SD type memory card instead of CF type. Replacing your Canon 40D or Canon 50D requires some extra budget for new memory cards.
  • The Canon 60D camera body isn't made of a metal alloy anymore; the weight of the camera has been reduces with 70 grams.

Canon EOS 60D versus the competition: Sony SLT-A65V, Nikon D7000, Pentax K-5, Canon 7D and Canon 600D

  • The Sony SLT-A65V is a 24 megapixel camera (vs 18MP for the Canon 60D) with a fixed semi-translucent mirror. Because of the semi-translucent mirror, the Sony camera reaches a higher number of frames per second. The assortment of Sony lenses is smaller in comparison with Canon or Nikon.
  • Nikon D7000 (16 MP) and Canon 60D (15 MP) have almost the same number of megapixels..
  • The Pentax K-5 has an almost identical suggested retail price in the Netherlands. Image stabilization is built into the camera. The Pentax lens assortment is relatively small, which is one of the reasons why you will noft find a second-hand copy easily.
  • The Canon 7D is more expensive than the Canon 60D, although it uses the same sensor. The camera body is larger, heavier and more solidly built. The burst rate of the 7D is higher. The Canon 7D has AF micro-adjustment and the convenient joystick at the backside.
  • The Canon 600D also has the same sensor, but the camera body is more compact. The camera body of the Canon 600D misses the handy wheel at the backside of the camera body, which is one of the reasons why the ease of use of the Canon 600D is less.

Viewfinder, LCD screen and menu

The viewfinder accuracy amounts 96%, the enlargment 0,95 and the crop factor 1.6, which results in a total enlargment of 0,57. For an APS-C camera this is a large viewfinder, but it is not as large as a viewfinder on a full frame camera like the Canon 5D MK2. The viewfinder view is clear and read-out of the information underneath the viewfinder is easy. The tilt swivel LCD panel is large and distinct, which will be appreciated by macro-photographers.

The Canon 60D menu is as usual for Canon; several tabs without any long lists on the individual tabs. This makes the menu very conveniently arranged. Which can not be said about the buttons at the backside of the camera: they are less conveniently situated as the buttons on the Canon 40D or Canon 5D MK2. The on/off button, on the other hand, is placed at a handier position. The absence of a joystick makes the Canon 60D less easy to use than other Canon camera bodies that do possess a joystick.

Sharpness: resolution

If you combine the Canon 60D with a good lens, like the Canon 70-200 mm 2.8 MK2 , the Canon 60D will deliver you a jpg file with an average resolution of almost 1200 LW/PH. A RAW file, after a standard development applied in Lightroom, delivers a higher perceived sharpness and an average resolution of nearly 1900 LW/PH. These numbers are considerably lower than the resolution of files from a full frame camera (Canon 5D MK2: RAW 3000 LW/PH; jpg 2000 LW/PH). But taking your pictures with a Canon 60D in RAW, will result in images with the same resolution and perceived sharpness as someone shooting jpg files using a Canon 5D MK2. That sounds much better, doesn't it? See our Canon 60D test report for  further details.

Resolution in real life: Better results with RAW

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The difference in sharpness between a jpg file, directly from the camera with a 1200 LW/PH resolution (left) and a RAW file with a 1900 LW/PH resolution (right) is not only measurable, but also noticable. The jpg file (right) is more smooth and shows less detail, for example in the hair. This is a crop at true pixel size, thus these differences will only be noticable at large print sizes. Using less noise reduction for the RAW file (in this image: 25 in Lightroom), will increase the differences between RAW and jpg. Noise will still not be visible in a print of the RAW file, but you will see more detail.

Dynamic range: measurements and observations

The Total dynamic range is 12,2 stops on average for a RAW file and 10,1 stops on average for a jpg file. Which is a good result for an APS-C sensor.
In comparison with the Canon 5D MK2 (with a full frame sensor), the dynamic range is almost the same for both RAW files (12,3) and jpg files (10,6). For a brief description of the test method and explanation of terms, see the FAQ section.

The dynamic range of this camera is so good that in practice you'll seldomly observe clipping in both the highlights and the shadows at the same time. In the studio we created a situation with such a large contrast, that both clipping of the jpg file in the shadows (marked in blue by Lightroom) and clipping of the highlights (marked in red by Lightroom) occurred.
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The dynamic range of a RAW file is (@ 100 ISO) 2 stops larger than the total dynamic range of a jpg. That's why you don't see any clipping of the shadows of the RAW file, even in this extreme situation (if you move your mouse over the image, you'll see a larger version).
A poor signal to noise ratio (mostly in the shadows) reduces the dynamic range of both RAW and jpg files to a usable dynamic range of just over 7 stops at low ISOs, down to 3 above 6400 ISO.
In the discussion below you will see the noise performance of two diffrent RAW files (100 ISO and 3200 ISO) with an identical total dynamic range. Because of a worse signal to noise ratio, the 3200 ISO image has a much more limited usable dynamic range.

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Noise

You will find our measurements in the Canon 60D test report. Comparison of JPG files with RAW files (without any noise reduction) show that the noise of the jpg files is suppressed even at the lowest ISO levels. The difference between noise between Canon 60D and Canon 5D MK2 amounts approximately 1 stop. To the right you see a crop out of an 100 ISO RAW image of cars in candle light, without any noise reduction.

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At 3200 ISO the RAW file (developed without any noise reduction) clearly shows noise. Applying noise reduction will make this image much more pleasing. You will be able to print this image at A3+ size. We know from experience that - regardless the camera a picture has been taken with - whenever the noise is less than 2.5%, an A3+ photo print can be made without the noise as a disturbing factor.

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Color accuracy

The Canon 60D delivers RAW files with a good color rendition (average Delta E 94 = 4,2). Saturation lies between 105 and 107%. Color accuracy depends on the camera calibration profile (neutral, Adobe standard, faithful) you choose in Lightroom. The color accuracy of jpg files also depends on the profile you choose on the camera (Neutral, Faithful, standard, etc.), but is always less accurate than the color accuracy of a RAW file. Depending on the ISO setting, the JPG files (standard) show an average color error (Delta E94) between 6 and 11, which equals the performance of the Canon EOS 5D MK2.

All of our images shot in tungsten light were too red and too much saturated. In artificial lightning, auto white balance of the Canon 60D is not good enough.jpg (average Delta E94 = 12,8 for jpg and 11,4 for RAW @ tungsten light). See our Canon 60D test report for  further details.

 

Built in flash

The Canon 60D has a built-in flash. Using this flash in combination with a Canon 17-85 mm lens, shows sigificant vignetting at 17 mm, which is enlargened by the range of the flashlight.

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Autofocus speed

The shutter lag of the Canon 60D is very short (0.1 sec). The autofocus speed of the Canon 60D is good, but does depend on the lens you use.

Autofocus accuracy

The autofocus of the Canon 60D is accuratem using the Canon 100 mm Macro lens. On average AF attempts achieved 98 % of the the optimum resolution. Such a difference is too small to notice with the naked eye. Even if you could view them side by side. That's an even better score than that of the Canon 5D MK2.

Autofocus accuracy in practice

The accuracy and sensitivity of the middle AF point is good and with most lenses the Canon 60D will not start 'hunting' at low light situations. The outer AF points lie close to the center AF point, which is not very usefull. The camera is normally set in an AF modus in which the camera focusses on the closest subject. This will result in a few misses for new Canon 60D users.

Autofocus tracking

The autofocus of the Canon 60D was not fast or accurate enough to make a series of consecutive sharp images of this small train (with a speed of only 1 km/hr). But the number of (almost) sharp images was higher than for the Canon 5D MK2.
The test images show a typical example of color Bokeh; a specific type of chromatic aberration associated with many lenses with an aperture < 2.8. We already mentioned this lens property in our Canon 100 mm 2 review.

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Conclusion






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See our list of tested cameras to compare the performance of this camera with other cameras.

Pro

Con

  • Signal to noise ratio
  • Color rendition at daylight
  • Dynamic Range
  • Fast and reliable autofocus (less with moving objects)
  • Handy tilt swivel screen, low weight and easy to use menu
  • Less easy to use in comparison with the 50D
  • No AF micro adjustment
  • Color rendition at tungsten


The image quality of the Canon 60D will be more than sufficient for most amateur photographers. Color accuracy at daylight is good, even better than the color accuracy of the Canon 5D MK2. The auto white balance performance at tungsten light leaves (as for many other camera) room for improvement. For those who shoot in RAW, you can improve the whitebalance significantly by correcting the whitebalance afterwards. Noise and dynamic range of the Canon 60D sensor are almost as good as noise and dynamic range of the Canon 5D MK2 sensor.
The Canon 60D has been 'downsized' in comparison with the Canon 50D. The camera body is not made of a metall alloy anymore, the handy joystick and AF micro-adjsutment have been sacrificed for a lower price. Ease of use has become, in comparison with previous X0D models, become less. Therefore we wish the return of some features, like the joystick and AF micro-adjsutment, in the 70D. But the Canon 60D really has many good qualities. Autofocus is fast and accurate, the viewfinder is large and clear (for an APS-C camera). Both the menu and the tilt-swivel screen work very well. Potential buyers of a Canon 60D, might also wish to take a look at the Canon 600D or the Canon 7D. Especially, weight, size and ease of use of these 3 camera's differ. All three camera's share the same sensor and deserve a better lens than the Canon 17-85 mm /4.0-5.6 kitlens.

See our Canon 60D test report for our Imatest measurement results

Ivo Freriks
Author: Ivo Freriks
With Camera Review Stuff I hope to make a modest contribution to the pleasure that you get from photography. By testing cameras and lenses in the same way, evluating the results and weighing up the pros and cons, I hope to help you find the right camera or lens.

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