Canon EOS-60D Review

How Does it Compare?

The Canon EOS-60D is a solid offering in the midrange digital SLR space. With its very good photo quality (especially with a decent lens), rotating, super high resolution LCD, generally snappy performance, full set of manual controls, Full HD movie mode, and decent selection of bells and whistles, it definitely is a worthy successor to the EOS-50D. Yes, the switch to a composite body is a step down, though there are so many improvements on the 60D that I'll forgive Canon for that one. Some other downsides include occasional highlight clipping and color casts in artificial lighting. As usual, contrast detect autofocus is slow in live view mode, though at least there's still a "quick AF" option. There's no continuous autofocus in movie mode either, though that's typical for a D-SLR. Overall, though, I enjoyed using the EOS-60D, and it's certainly a digital SLR that I can recommend.

The EOS-60D is a midsize digital SLR made of plastic, with an aluminum chassis underneath. There has been a lot of grumbling about the switch to plastic from magnesium alloy (on the 50D), but frankly, the 60D is solid and doesn't feel like it's going to shatter into a million pieces if you accidentally bump into the wall. The camera is easy to hold and operate, thanks to a large, rubberized grip. The camera incorporates a lot of design elements from the more expensive EOS-7D, including dedicated buttons for live view and the Quick Control menu. Like the 50D, the EOS-60D supports both EF and EF-S lenses, with a 1.6X focal length conversion ratio. I was not overly impressed with the F3.5-5.6, 18 - 135 mm IS kit lens that came with my camera, which was fairly soft, with strong barrel distortion and purple fringing. On the back of the camera is a feature that separates the 60D from all other Canon D-SLRs, and that's a flip-out, rotating 3-inch LCD display. This screen is just gorgeous, with over a million pixels, so everything is nice and sharp. I found the screen to be easy to see outdoors, and the overall viewing angle was good. In addition to its powerful built-in flash, the 60D supports external flashes that can be attached to its hot shoe, or used wirelessly (a long-awaited new feature).

The 60D is designed mostly for the advanced amateur crowd, though there are a few things that beginners may enjoy. You've got your choice of two auto modes, including a "Creative Auto" option which allows you to change the "background blurring" (aperture) and "ambience" (Picture Style) with ease. For the enthusiast, you'll find manual exposure controls, white balance bracketing and fine-tuning, and three RAW sizes. The electronic level is also a nice extra. Naturally, the 60D supports live view, and all the usual pros and cons that come along with it. While it's generally pleasant to use, I'd avoid the two contrast detect AF options, as they're very slow. I don't like how the live histogram covers nearly a quarter of the frame, either. I think everyone will enjoy the 60D's Full HD movie mode, which allows you to take up to record up to 12 minutes of continuous 1080p30 or 1080p24 video. While monaural sound is recorded, the camera has an input for adding an external stereo microphone. You can adjust the aperture, shutter speed, or ISO in movie mode, or let the camera do everything automatically. There is no continuous autofocus, however, so start practicing your manual focusing if you plan on zooming a lot. The 60D's playback mode has been updated (finally), with new in-camera RAW processing and special effects.

Camera performance is very good. The EOS-60D is ready to start taking photos as soon as you flip the power switch, though you may want to wait for its dust reduction cycle to finish first. If you're shooting with the optical viewfinder, you'll be pleased with the camera's autofocus performance. I found that it locked focus in 0.1 - 0.3 seconds at wide-angle, and 0.4 - 0.8 seconds at telephoto (with the kit lens). Low light focusing was okay without the AF-assist flash, and very good with it. Live view focusing is another story. If you're using the Quick AF mode (which I recommend), you'll wait just a bit longer than you would if you were using the viewfinder. The two Live AF modes are very slow, with focus times in the seconds (and very poor low light performance). Shutter lag wasn't an issue, and shot-to-shot delays were minimal. The 60D's continuous shooting mode is responsive, with the high speed mode taking anywhere from eight to an unlimited number of photos (depending on the quality setting) at at least 5 frames/second. Battery life was the best in class, and you can double it by picking up the optional battery grip (which supports AA's, by the way).

Photo quality is very good, though you really need some quality glass attached to get the most out of the 60D. Exposure was generally accurate, though the camera does clip highlights at times. Colors were pleasing in most situations, save for artificial light, where photos sometimes had a brownish cast. Sharpness depends a lot on what lens you're using. The 18 - 135 mm kit lens is on the soft side, while the much more expensive F4L, 70-200 is tack sharp. In other words, you get what you pay for. The camera keeps noise levels very low, with detail loss not appearing until ISO 1600 in low light and ISO 3200 in good light. At the highest ISOs, you can squeeze a little more detail out of the 60D by shooting RAW and doing some easy post-processing. Purple fringing is another lens-dependent thing, and it was quite strong with the 18-135 (and not a problem with the 70-200). Redeye was a problem on the 60D, and there's no digital removal tool to get rid of it, unfortunately.

Overall, the Canon EOS-60D is a very good choice for those with Rebels or EOS models like the 20D/30D/40D. Heck, even if you don't have a Canon D-SLR yet, it's still well worth considering. It offers a nice design (even with the plastic body), plenty of features for the enthusiast, a fantastic rotating LCD, and Full HD movie recording. Many of my complaints about the camera's image quality are related to the so-so kit lens that came with my 60D. If you attach a quality lens to the 60D, I think you'll be very happy with what it can produce, whether it's stills or Full HD videos.

What I liked:

  • Very good photo quality (with a good lens)
  • Low noise levels through ISO 1600 in low light, and ISO 3200 in good light
  • Well designed, easy to hold body
  • Super high resolution 3-inch rotating LCD display; live view offers three focus modes, live histogram, composition grids, and frame enlargement
  • Responsive performance in nearly all areas
  • Plenty of manual controls; three RAW sizes available
  • Nice continuous shooting mode takes photos at 5+ frames/second
  • Handy electronic level
  • Built-in wireless flash control
  • Can shoot HD videos at 1920 x 1080 with sound, at your choice of 24 or 30 fps, with manual control over ISO, shutter speed, and aperture
  • Best-in-class battery life
  • In-camera RAW processing
  • External mic input, HDMI output
  • Remote capture software included
  • Optional battery grip, which supports AAs

What I didn't care for:

  • Some highlight clipping; photos taken in artificial light can have a brownish color cast
  • Redeye a problem, no removal tool available
  • 18 - 135 mm kit lens has strong barrel distortion and purple fringing (and I can't imagine that the 18 - 200 mm kit lens is any better)
  • Sluggish contrast detect AF in live view mode
  • No continuous AF in movie mode
  • Histogram blocks a good portion of the live view
  • Plastic body a step down from the EOS-50D; the joystick on that camera was better than the new multi-controller, as well

Some other midrange D-SLRs to consider include the Nikon D7000, Olympus E-30, Pentax K-7, and Sony Alpha DSLR-A580. The mirrorless Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 and Samsung NX10 are also worth a look.

As always, I recommend a trip down to your local camera or electronics store to try out the EOS-60D and its competitors before you buy!

Photo Gallery

See how the 60D's photos turned out in our gallery!

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If you have a question about this review, please send them to Jeff. Due to my limited resources, please do not e-mail me asking for a personal recommendation.