DCRP

Canon EOS-60D Review

by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor

Originally Posted: December 5, 2010

Last Updated: December 15, 2010

The Canon EOS-60D (priced from $1099) is a midrange digital SLR that features an 18 Megapixel CMOS sensor, rotating LCD display, 5.3 frame/second continuous shooting, and Full HD movie recording, in addition to the usual things like manual controls and expandability that you'll find on most every camera in this class. Those of us who have been following Canon D-SLRs for a long time got a laugh out of the name of the camera. After all, back in 2002, there was an EOS-D60 -- and I owned one.

Anyhow, the EOS-60D is the follow-up to the 50D, and it has a lot in common with its big brother, the EOS-7D. Here's a chart comparing all three cameras (you may need to widen your browser window for it to fit):

Feature

EOS-50D

EOS-60D EOS-7D
MSRP, body only N/A $1099 $1699
Resolution 15.1 MP 18.0 MP 18.0 MP
Image processor DIGIC 4 DIGIC 4 Dual DIGIC 4
Construction Magnesium alloy Polycarbonate over aluminum chassis Magnesium alloy
LCD size / resolution 3.0" / 920k px 3.0" / 1.04M px 3.0" / 920k px
LCD position Fixed Rotating Fixed
LCD auto brightness adj. No No Yes
Viewfinder mag / coverage 0.95 / 95% 0.95 / 96% 1.0 / 100%
AF system 9-point 9-point 19-point
Metering system 35-zone 63-zone 63-zone
Continuous shooting rate 6.3 fps 5.3 fps 8.0 fps
Built-in flash strength GN 13 GN 13 GN 12
External flash options Hot shoe, PC terminal Hot shoe, wireless Hot shoe, PC terminal, wireless
Electronic level No Yes Yes
In-camera editing None RAW images, movies Movies
Movie max resolution None 1920 x 1080 (24p/30p) 1920 x 1080 (24p/30p)
Movie manual controls None Shutter speed, aperture, ISO, audio level Shutter speed, aperture, ISO
Number of custom functions 25 20 27
External mic support No Yes Yes
Wireless file transmitter WFT-E3/WFT-E3A No (supports Eye-Fi, though) WFT-E5A
Memory cards used CompactFlash Type I/II SD/SDHC/SDXC CompactFlash Type I/II
Battery used BP-511A LP-E6 LP-E6
Battery life (CIPA standard, with viewfinder) 640 shots 1100 shots 800 shots
Dimensions (W x H x D) 5.7 x 4.2 x 2.9 in. 5.7 x 4.2 x 3.1 in. 5.8 x 4.4 x 2.9 in.
Weight 730 g 675 g 820 g

There are some pretty huge improvements on the 60D when compared to its predecessor. First, you've got the same 18 Megapixel CMOS sensor as the EOS-7D. You also get a higher resolution, rotating LCD, an improved metering system, wireless flash support, an electronic level, and Full HD movie recording. The bad news? The EOS-60D has a composite (read: plastic) rather than metal body, slower continuous shooting, and fewer custom functions than the 50D. Even so, you're really getting the best of the EOS-7D in a body costing $600 less.

Ready to learn more about the EOS-60D and whether it's right for you? Keep reading, our review starts now!

What's in the Box?

To the best of my knowledge, the EOS-60D will be available in three kits. You can get just the body only ($1099), the body with an 18 - 135 mm lens ($1399), or the body with an 18 - 200 mm lens ($1499). Here's what you'll find in the box for all three of those:

  • The 18.0 effective Megapixel EOS-60D camera body
  • LP-E6 lithium-ion battery
  • Battery charger
  • F3.5-5.6, 18 - 135 mm IS EF-S lens [18-135 kit only]
  • F3.5-5.6, 18 - 200 mm IS EF-S lens [18-200 kit only]
  • Wide strap
  • USB cable
  • A/V cable
  • CD-ROMs featuring Canon EOS Digital Solution and software instructions
  • Fold-out pocket guide + 322 page camera manual (printed)

The EOS-60D supports both EF and EF-S lenses, and you can buy the camera with or without one. Mine came with the 18 - 135 IS EF-S lens, which is average. It's pretty soft unless you close down the aperture, and purple fringing can be strong as well. While I can't say this with 100% confidence, I assume the 18 - 200 mm kit lens performs similarly. If you want to use another lens, Canon (and other manufacturers) have literally dozens to choose from. Just remember that there's a 1.6X crop factor, so the field-of-view on a 50 mm lens is really 80 mm.

Digital SLRs never come with memory cards, so you'll need to supply your own. As you saw in the comparison table at the beginning f the review, the EOS-60D now uses SD/SDHC/SDXC media, instead of bulkier CompactFlash cards. I'd recommend picking up a 4GB card for still shooting, or an 8GB card (at the very least) if you'll be taking a lot of movies. You'll want a high speed card (Class 6 or faster) for best results.

The 60D uses the same LP-E6 rechargeable lithium-ion battery as its big brother, the EOS-7D. This battery packs a whopping 13.0 Wh of energy into its relatively compact shell, which is as high as you'll find? How does that translate into battery life? Have a look:

Camera Battery life, live view off
(CIPA standard)
Battery life, live view on
(CIPA standard)
Battery used
Canon EOS-60D 1100 shots 320 shots LP-E6
Nikon D7000 1050 shots N/A EN-EL15
Olympus E-30 750 shots N/A BLM-1
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 * N/A 320 shots DMW-BLC12
Pentax K-7 740 shots N/A D-LI90
Samsung NX10 * N/A 400 shots BP1310
Sony Alpha DSLR-A580 1050 shots 560 shots NP-FM500H

* Mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, live view only

Battery life numbers are provided by the camera manufacturers

The EOS-60D has the best battery life in its class and, as you saw before, it easily beats out the more expensive 7D, as well. If you are shooting exclusively with live view, expect those numbers to drop down to about 320 shots per charge, which is on the lower end of the spectrum for a D-SLR or interchangeable lens camera (at least those that I have numbers for).

All of the cameras in the table above use proprietary lithium-ion batteries. These batteries tend to be expensive, with a spare LP-E6 setting you back at least $58. In addition, should that battery die, you can't just grab an off-the-shelf battery to get you through the day. That is, unless you buy the...

Canon EOS-60D with its BG-E9 battery grip
EOS-60D with optional battery grip
Image courtesy of Canon USA

... optional battery grip! The BG-E9 battery grip ($187) can hold a pair of LP-E6 batteries, giving you double the battery life. The grip also includes a magazine which holds six AA batteries, which can save the day should the LP-E6's run out of juice.

When it's time to charge the LP-E6, just pop it into the included charger. The charger plugs right into the wall (though this might not be the case outside of the USA), and it can refill the battery in about 2.5 hours.

Digital SLRs support a load of accessories, and the table below covers just a fraction of those available for the EOS-60D:

Accessory Model # Price * Description
Lenses Varies Varies The 7D supports all EF and EF-S lenses with no conversion ratio
External flash

270EX
430EX II
580EX II

From $139
From $257
From $415
Get improved flash strength and less chance of redeye with these use external flashes. The two high end models can be used wirelessly.
Wired remote control RS-60E3 From $21 A shutter release button on a 25-inch-long cable
Wireless remote control RC-6 From $24 Cut the cord entirely with this wireless remote
Battery grip BG-E9 $187 Get double the battery life (with AA support) and extra controls for shooting in the portrait orientation.
AC adapter ACK-E6 From $113 Power your camera without draining your batteries
HDMI cable HTC-100 From $46 You can get generic cables for a lot less elsewhere
Leather case EH21-L ?? A fitted, semi-hard case. Not easy to find.
* Prices were accurate at time of publication

And believe it or not, those are just a few of the accessories available for the 60D! Other options include viewfinder accessories (angle finder, focusing screens, etc), macro lights, car chargers, and lots more.


EOS Utility - Main Screen

Canon includes version 23 of their EOS Digital Solutions Disk with the EOS-60D. The first application that you'll probably bump into is EOS Utility, which is sort of a gateway to all the other software programs. Here you can download photos from your camera, use remote capture, adjust camera settings, create Picture Styles, or monitor a folder (used with the optional Wireless File Transmitter).


EOS Utility - Selecting Photos to Download

If you choose to select and download images to your computer, you'll get the screen you see above. Once photos are transferred to your computer, you have two ways of viewing and editing them.


ImageBrowser in Mac OS X

The "consumer-friendly" option for viewing images is ImageBrowser (for Mac) and ZoomBrowser (for Windows). On the main screen, you get the usual thumbnail view, with quick access to image e-mailing, printing, editing, and slideshows.

Double-click on a JPEG image and you'll bring up the photo in its own window. Editing functions include trimming, redeye removal, and the ability to adjust levels, color, brightness, sharpness, and the tone curve. There's also an auto adjustment feature, for those who don't mess with all those controls.

The Browser software can be used to view RAW images, but that's about it. If you want to edit them, you'll need to use the next product.


Digital Photo Professional in Mac OS X

Digital Photo Professional is Canon's RAW editing application. The main screen isn't too much different from Image/ZoomBrowser, with your choice of three thumbnail sizes, plus a thumbnail + shooting data screen. The batch processing tool lets you quickly resize and rename a large number of photos.


RAW editing in DPP

The RAW editing tools in DPP are quite robust. Basic properties you can edit include exposure, white balance, the tone curve, Picture Style, saturation, and sharpness. In addition to adjusting the basics that I described above, DPP also lets you tweak color tone, saturation, the tone curve, both luminance and chrominance noise, and lens aberration (such as distortion, vignetting, and purple fringing).

If you want to edit the camera's RAW images with Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom, you'll be pleased to hear that they are fully supported, assuming that you have Camera Raw 6.2 or newer.

I'm sure that most people in the market for a camera like this know what RAW is, but in case you don't, here's a quick explanation. RAW images contain unprocessed image data direct from the camera's sensor. Thus, you can adjust settings like white balance and exposure without damaging the original image, so it's almost like taking the photo again. The downside is the large file size (compared to JPEG), fewer shots in continuous shooting mode, and the need to post-process each image on your computer before you can turn it into a more common format like JPEG. The EOS-60D supports three different RAW sizes: full size, medium, and small.


Remote camera control, complete with live view

Back when I mentioned EOS Utility, I said that it supports remote capture, so here's some more detail on this handy feature. This software you control the camera right from your computer, with access to most camera settings. The live view feature is fully supported, complete with a histogram, composition grid, and the ability to enlarge the frame and manually tweak focus. Photos are saved directly to your computer, though they can be stored on the camera too, if you wish. You can also take movies using Remote Capture, though the files are initially stored on the camera. When you're done recording, the software will allow you to copy the video files over to your Mac or PC.

Remote Capture also lets you set up the My Menu feature (more on that later), and it can also be used to send Picture Styles that you've created to the camera. The Picture Style editor (another piece of software) lets you open up a RAW image, adjust color, the tone curve, contrast, and sharpness, and then save the results as a new Style.

One last software product to mention is PhotoStitch. This helps you combine multiple photos into a single panorama. The 60D doesn't have a Stitch Assist feature like Canon's PowerShot models do, but that doesn't mean that you can't do it yourself!

The EOS-60D includes a thick, detailed manual, and you'll need it -- this is a complex camera. While it won't win any awards for user-friendliness, it should answer any question you may have about the camera. Documentation for the software bundle can be found on an included CD-ROM.

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