DCRP Review: Canon
by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Thursday, April 11, 2002
Last Updated: Monday, April 15, 2002
After months of playing with boring point-and-shoot cameras, how could I pass up a chance to use Canon's latest digital SLR, the EOS-D60 ($2199)? This camera is an update to the popular EOS-D30, with the biggest change being the new 6.2 Megapixel CMOS sensor. The resolution of the D60 is so high, you could make billboard-sized prints!
Unlike other digital cameras, the D30 and D60 use a CMOS sensor instead of a CCD. One of the big advantages of the CMOS is noise-- there isn't any. When doing long exposures, the D60 doesn't need to do any noise reduction.
There is a lot of competition for the D60 on the horizon: the Sigma SD9 (which uses the Foveon X3 sensor), the Nikon D100, and Fuji FinePix S2 Pro are all coming this summer.
If it sounds like I'm going to like this camera, you're right. Here's why:
What's in the Box?
The EOS-D60 can come in two different packages. The one you'll probably want is the "kit" version for $2199, which includes everything you need. However, if you don't need the battery, AC adapter, or battery charger, a $1999 basic version is also available. Items in bold only come on the $2199 version. Here's what you'll find in the box
The first thing to understand about all digital SLRs is this -- they do not include lenses. Some resellers will have bundles which include lenses, but usually it's just the body only. If you've already got some Canon EF lenses sitting around, you're ready to go, they should work without issue. For those (like me) who don't own any Canon lenses, the purchase of such a camera gets expensive quickly.
Another thing not included is a memory card of any kind. The D60 supports the IBM Microdrive, and it's what I'd recommend picking up. Do note that Microdrives are power hungry, and will drain the batteries faster than a standard CompactFlash card.
The D60 uses the same BP-511 battery as the PowerShot G1, G2, EOS-D30, and some Canon camcorders. This 7.4V, 1100mAh battery has a total power rating of 8.1 Watt/hours (Wh) which is pretty darn impressive. When you combine a high power battery with a camera that doesn't use the LCD nearly as often as most digicams, you get impressive battery life. Canon estimates that you can take 620 shots per charge, if you don't use the flash. If you do, the number falls to about 490, which is still great. In my own use of the D60, the battery seemed to last forever. I'm not a big fan of expensive proprietary batteries but if you can afford a camera this expensive, buying an extra battery or two isn't a big deal.
Power adapter with batteries
If you buy the $2199 kit, you'll get the CA-PS400 "Compact Power Adapter", which is a fancy way of saying battery charger. This puppy can hold two BP-511 batteries at a time, though it charges them one at a time. It takes about 90 minutes to recharge each battery.
If you want to plug the camera into the wall, Canon includes a DC coupler, which is essentially a battery with a cord sticking out of it, that plugs into the battery charger.
As far as accessories go, if you can name any one accessory, it exists. Want a different eyecup? Done. Flashes? Take your pick. Filters, flashes, carrying cases, and more are all available. And don't forget lenses.
The Canon EOS Digital Solution Disk includes the usual software: ImageBrowser, PhotoStitch, Remote Capture, and RAW Image Converter. There's also TWAIN drivers for Photoshop, and a USB Mounter for the Mac. The camera is *not* compatible with Mac OS X at this time, nor is the software. You will need to use a card reader, reboot into Mac OS 9, or wait for Apple to get it fixed, before you can connect. Canon has a Mac OS X native version of ImageBrowser and PhotoStitch that will be sold for $19.95 through their customer service department. Canon also includes a version of Adobe Photoshop LE with the D60.
The D60's manual isn't as user-friendly as their PowerShot manuals, but it sure is complete. Everything you ever wanted to know about your camera is here.
Look and Feel
The EOS-D60 is a traditional SLR camera -- most people won't even know it's digital unless they catch you looking at the LCD. The body is very well built and it feels perfect in your hands -- Canon has been making these for a long time, you can tell. The camera is definitely heavy (not nearly as much as the EOS-1D), but it's par for the course when it comes to digital SLRs.
The official dimensions of the camera, sans lens, are 5.9 x 4.2 x 3.0 inches (WxHxD), and it weighs 780 grams totally empty. Let's take a tour of the D60 now, starting with the front of the camera.
I've removed the lens so you can get a look at the EF mount. Any Canon EF lenses you have will work. One thing to keep in mind is that you must multiply the lens focal length by 1.6 to find the "effective" focal length on the D60. For example, a 50mm lens is really an 80mm lens on the D60.
Just to the right of the lens mount is the lens release button. To the northwest of the lens mount is the AF illuminator which doubles as the self-timer lamp.
Above the lens mount, you can see the built-in flash on the D60. The working range of this flash depends on many things, including the ISO setting and what lens you're using. At ISO 100 on a 24 - 85 mm lens (which is what I used), the range is 1.0 - 3.4 m at wide-angle, and 1.0 - 2.6 m at telephoto.
If the built-in flash doesn't do it for you, the D60 has a hot shoe as well. More on that later.
Here's the back of this beast. The D60 has a 1.8" LCD display which displays your pictures quite nicely. Here's another possible wake-up call about digital SLRs: you cannot preview images on the LCD before they are taken! The only time you see a picture on the LCD is after it has been taken!
One thing that will happen with the LCD is nose smudges. Buying a larger eyecup would probably take care of that problem.
The optical viewfinder is huge, and covers 95% of the frame. There is an information line at the bottom, which shows exposure info and settings. Also, there are three boxes in the middle of the frame which show the points that the camera is focusing on. A diopter correction wheel (not seen here) will help out those with less than perfect vision.
The switch directly to the left of the optical viewfinder is the power switch for the camera. The on/off switch to the southeast of the viewfinder turns that command dial on and off.
There are five buttons to the left of the LCD, and thankfully, they don't have a million functions each. From top to bottom:
That button below the LCD will delete the current photo on the LCD. Don't worry, it'll ask first.
That big wheel on the back is known as the "Quick Control Dial". It will be used for menu navigation and changing settings. The button in the middle ("Set") will accept a setting in the menus, or turn on the backlight on the LCD info display that you'll see in a moment.
What you see when you press the "Info" button
There are two more buttons, whose labels you cannot see here, located at the northeast corner of the camera. The one on the left is the AE/FE (exposure / flash exposure) lock button, and the on the right enters manual focus point selection. You can redefine what the AE/FE lock button does via the custom settings menu (more on that later). The manual focus point selection feature will let you choose between three preset focus points.
Finally, we're moving on, to the top of the camera. There's plenty to see here, so I'll work my way from left to right.
Over on the left side is the mode wheel, which has many choices. There are task-specific modes ("scene modes") and general shooting modes. Here goes:
So what are all those? hopefully the last six are self-explanatory. So I'll tell you about the others.
Auto depth-of-field mode will attempt to put all subjects, even at varying distances, in focus. For example, you may want this mode if you're taking a picture of a group of people where everyone is in different places in the frame.
Program mode will let the camera pick the best shutter speed and aperture, while giving you control over all the other settings. This is in contrast with Auto mode, which is basically a point-and-shoot mode.
If you want control over aperture, you can use aperture priority mode, where you pick the aperture and the camera chooses the shutter speed. The aperture range will vary according to your lens.
Shutter priority mode is the exact opposite of aperture priority mode. You will have a choice of shutter speeds ranging from 30 - 1/4000 seconds, and the camera will pick the aperture. There is also a bulb mode, where the shutter is kept open for as long as the shutter release button is pressed. This feature works best with a remote shutter release (of which there are many available).
Full manual mode lets you choose both the shutter speed and aperture.
Moving along in our tour now. Right at the center of the picture, you can see the D60's hot shoe. The D60 is fully compatible with Canon's EX-series Speedlites. If you want to use a non-Canon flash, you're doing so at your own risk. It may or may not work correctly.
Continuing towards the right, we reach the LCD info display, and more buttons. First, the buttons. Unlike the EOS-1D, you don't have to hold these down to make changes. You press them once, and you have 6 seconds to make changes. Depending on what you want to change, you'll use either the main or the quick control dials. The buttons change:
Not surprisingly, the D60 features a host of white balance choices, including a manual mode. One difference between the D60 and much more expensive EOS-1D is that you cannot manually set a color temperature.
The one shot AF mode is the one you'll use for everyday shooting. AI servo is for action shots, when objects in constantly in motion. I used this for many of the basketball pictures I took.
Continuous shooting mode will take up to 8 photos at either 2.5 or 3 frames/second (depending on the focus mode you're using).
The other items around the LCD info display include the shutter release button and the main control dial. And that leaves us with the LCD info display. Here's a closer look.
OK, so this is not the greatest picture of it, but you get the idea. This display shows just about every option under the sun. Here it's shown white balance (Auto), shutter speed and aperture, quality and resolution, self-timer, metering, focus mode, beep, battery life, and exposure compensation. That's a lot of stuff!
One nice thing is that by pressing the "set" button, you can turn on a backlight for the display.
On this side of the camera, there are a couple of things to notice. Just to the right of the lens mount, there are two buttons (three if you count the lens release). The top one will pop-up the flash, while the bottom one is used to preview the depth of field.
Over to the right, under a rubber cover, you'll find all the I/O ports on the D60. Let's take a closer look.
The bottom two ports are for external flash sync (left) and remote shutter release (right). Above that you'll find USB and video out ports.
This illustrates one big difference between the D60 and the really expensive D-SLRs: no FireWire. The EOS-1D and Nikon D1X use FireWire to transfer photos to your Mac or PC. Here you're "stuck" with USB, which is considerably slower.
Over on the other side, you'll find the CompactFlash slot, which is behind a reinforced plastic door. This is a Type II slot, so the Microdrive (not included) is fully supported.
Opening the door while the camera will shut it off. If it's still recording images to the CF card, it will stop doing that too.
On the bottom of the camera, you'll find a metal tripod mount as well as the battery compartment. There's an additional compartment for a watch battery that stores your cameras settings.
Using the Canon EOS-D60
The D60's startup time depends on the memory card being used, but it's still snappy. It took about 2.5 seconds with a 128MB CF card, and 3 seconds with a 1gb Microdrive. Auto-focus is fast (0.5 sec) when there's a good amount of light, but when there's less light it can take two seconds or more, especially if the AF illuminator is used. Shutter lag is virtually nonexistent.
When I was doing my action shots at the basketball game and at Fort Point (see surfing pictures in the gallery), the camera was quick enough to capture the action.
The EOS-D60 does not have a TIFF mode. Rather, it uses a lossless RAW format, which you then process on your computer (and can then export to other formats). The big advantage of RAW is the file size: it's at least a third of the size of a TIFF. You can also fool around with the exposure settings with a RAW file, since it's the raw CCD data.
Let's take a look at the many image size and quality choices on the D60:
|Resolution||Quality||Approx. file size||# Images on 128MB card|
3072 x 2048
2048 x 1360
1536 x 1024
Notice that RAW mode only works at the Large size. If you want to know how many photos the 1gb Microdrive can store, just multiply the last column by 8.
Now let's talk menus. The D60 has just one menu which contains options for recording, playback, and setup. Each is designated with a color: red, green, and yellow, respectively. You maneuver through the menus with the big dial on the back of the camera, and use the set button to select items. The menu choices are:
Ok, how about those custom settings now? These really let you customize your D60. Here goes:
02. Shutter button / AE lock button - define what these buttons do, in terms of AE and AF lock
03. Mirror lockup (on/off) - lock the mirror out of the way when you need an ultra-steady shot
04. TV/Av and exposure level (1/2, 1/3-stop increments) - Change how precise these are
05. AF-assist beam/flash firing (Emits/fires, Does not emit/fires, only ext. flash emits/fires, emits/does not fire) - for messing with the AF illuminator and the flash
06. Shutter speed in Av mode with flash (Auto, fixed at 1/200 sec)
07. AEB sequence/auto-cancellation - which order the shots are taken in AE bracketing mode, and whether it turns off when done
08. Shutter curtain sync (1st, 2nd-curtain)
09. Lens AF stop button - used on some super-telephoto lenses
10. Auto reduction of fill flash (on/off)
11. Menu button return position (top, most recently set, most recently set + save in memory) - the latter will remember the last menu option, even when camera is turned off
12. SET button function when shooting (default, change quality, change SO, select parameters)
13. Sensor cleaning (on/off)
14. Superimposed display (on/off) - whether or not focus points are shown in viewfinder
15. Shutter release w/o CF card (on/off)
Well that's enough of that! On to photos now!
My usual night shot location was fogged in, so I ended up here at City Hall. As you'd expect, the camera had no trouble taking in the necessary light to get a great shot. The shot above was a 30 second exposure (view 8 second exposure). But what really stood out was the complete lack of noise in the shot. As I said back at the beginning of this review, the D60 doesn't need any noise reduction tricks, because there's no noise to reduce. There are a few mysterious specks, but overall, wow.
Since I didn't
have a macro-capable lens, the usual Mickey statue isn't in this review. But
you can check out the above shot if you want to inspect the details of my plastic
fruit and vegetables. There are some semi-closeups in the gallery
What can you say about the D60 photo quality other than "stunning". The photos I took with the D60 were incredible -- colors are deep, there's no noise, edges are soft, and it's truly photo-realistic. A few times, it seemed like the D60 underexposed the shot, but if I tinkered with the settings, it would have been perfect. But don't take my word for it, check out the standard photo gallery plus the basketball gallery, and judge for yourself!
No self-respecting D-SLR would be caught dead with a movie mode!
The playback mode on the D60 is actually pretty basic. The PowerShot cameras have a better playback mode, but perhaps the people who would be buying the D60 don't care?
I've already listed the basic playback features back in the menu section, but here they are again: image protection, thumbnail mode, DPOF print marking, and slideshows.
The fancier features include image rotation and "zoom and scroll". The zoom and scroll feature is poorly implemented. You hit the thumbnail/zoom button and the camera goes to 9 thumbnail mode. You hit it again and then it's in zoom and scroll mode. Unfortunately, that's it, you can zoom at 3X and nothing else. You can use the big dial to look around in the zoomed-in area.
You can use the jump button to quickly move ahead 10 images (or 9 in thumbnail mode), which is handy when you've got lots of pictures on the memory card.
As you'd expect, the D60 tells you plenty about the photos you've taken. A histogram is also shown. The camera moves through images very quickly, showing a low-res version instantly, with a high-res version about a second later.
How Does it Compare?
I'm going to be frank in my conclusion (but aren't I always?). I currently own (and very much love) an Olympus E-10. I'm also trying to find room on my credit card to pay for a Canon EOS-D60. From the quality construction, familiar SLR feel, responsive controls, and, of course, superb photo quality, the D60 is at the top of my list. Of course, at over $2,000, it's not going to be on many people's lists. But if you're whether you're a pro photographer, or just a serious amateur like myself, you want the D60. There's some competition on the horizon from Sigma, Nikon, and Fuji, but for now, the D60 is king.
What I liked:
What I didn't care for:
Other D-SLR's to check out include the Canon EOS-D30 (the predecessor to this one), the EOS-1D ($$$), the Fuji FinePix S1 and S2 Pro, the Nikon D1X ($$$) and upcoming D100 (which looks to be a close competitor to the D60).
As always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try out the D60 and it's competitors before you buy!
Want a second opinion?
Jeff welcomes your comments or questions. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Due to my limited resources, please do not send me requests for personal camera recommendations.
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