BUILD AND DESIGN
Dimensionally, the 60D is a virtual twin to the 50D, with a deeply sculpted handgrip body that is the template for virtually every DSLR. The body is composite but seems solid and well built, with a shutter rated for 100,000 actuations (down from 150,000 in the 50D).
Ergonomics and Controls
While the composite body of the 60D is smooth and somewhat slick feeling, there are patches of nicely tacky rubber-like material strategically placed in the handgrip and thumb rest areas of the body that promote a firm feel and hold. The body is nicely contoured and the index finger of the right hand falls naturally to the shutter button, with the right thumb resting clear of controls and buttons on the camera back.
The camera can display an electronic level in either the viewfinder or on the monitor to help with camera leveling – the viewfinder makes use of the exposure level scale while the monitor presents a large display with a green horizontal line representing level. Move off level and the line tilts and turns red. Here’s a look at both level and slightly tilted displays:
The 60D presents a multi-control dial on the camera back which incorporates a multi controller and set button inside the quick control dial. Here’s a look at this new control along with the quick control button (“Q”) on the camera back.
It takes a little getting used to, but in combination with the quick control button the new multi-control dial makes changing various shooting settings a fairly simple task. Here’s a quick tour: hit the “Q” button and you get this screen displaying current shooting settings – note that the exposure compensation box is selected and we’re in aperture priority shooting mode.
Using the multi controller portion of the multi-control dial, we next select the aperture function which is currently set to f/5.6.
Turning the quick control dial we can change the aperture setting, in this case to f/8.
Control of shooting functions varies with the particular shooting mode – Canon calls the manual exposure modes the “creative” zone while the automatic modes are the “basic” zone and present many fewer choices than the creative zone shooting options. Here’s the “Q” screen for the fully automatic shooting mode:
Canon has also installed a locking mode dial in response to “customer requests,” but this is one feature I wish they’d left in the lab or done differently.
The 60D mode dial contains 15 icons and to move from one to another requires you to depress the center button on the dial while turning the dial to switch from one shooting mode to another. It’s a somewhat awkward process and slows movement from one mode to another, particularly when jumping a considerable number of modes. Positioning the locking button alongside the dial instead of in it would have produced a smoother operation.
Menus and Modes
In addition to the basic and creative zones previously discussed, the 60D also has a movie shooting mode and the palette of menus displayed will be different in each case. In the basic zone, for example, there are 2 pages of shooting menus, 2 pages of playback menus and 3 pages of setup menus. In creative zone modes there are 4, 2 and 3 pages of shooting, playback and setup menus respectively.
There is also a custom settings menu in the creative zone with exposure, image, autofocus/drive and operation/other sub-menus. The movie mode menu runs to 1 page. Once you’ve gone to the menu palette via the menu button, you can select an individual menu page by scrolling with either the main dial or multi-controller; items on that page are then scrolled to using the quick control dial and the set button accesses the individual item.
The 60D may be “designed primarily for advanced amateurs,” but in addition to the standard DSLR manual shooting options there’s a healthy dose of basic zone automatic shooting modes that are likely to be eschewed by advanced amateurs but embraced by folks moving into a 60D from a compact digital. Including movie mode, there are 15 shooting options overall:
- Auto: Fully automatic mode with camera handling all settings.
- Flash Off: Fully automatic mode with flash disabled.
- Creative Auto: Fully automatic mode which allows user to set depth of field, drive mode and flash firing.
- Portrait: Automatic scene mode with camera optimized settings to blur background and soften skin tones.
- Landscape: Automatic scene mode with wide depth of field and enhanced green and blue tones.
- Close Up: Automatic mode for shooting flowers or other small subjects up close.
- Sports: Automatic mode for shooting moving subjects.
- Night Portrait: Automatic mode utilizing flash for the portrait exposure and longer shutter speed to expose ambient light in background.
- Program AE: Automatic exposure mode with camera setting shutter and aperture but user has numerous inputs and may change aperture/shutter settings via program shift feature.
- Shutter Priority (Tv): User sets shutter speed, camera sets aperture and user has range of other settings available.
- Aperture Priority (Av): User sets aperture, camera sets shutter and user has range of other settings available.
- Manual: User sets shutter and aperture, has range of other settings available.
- Bulb: User sets aperture and shutter stays open as long as shutter button is fully depressed.
- Custom: Program AE shooting mode that allows user to set up various camera settings that are recalled by switching to this mode.
- Movie: Capture NTSC MPEG video at 1920 x 1080 resolution at 24 or 30 fps; 1280 x 720 at 60 fps; 640 x 480 at 60 fps and cropped 640 x 480 at 60 fps. PAL format 1920 x 1280 at 24 or 25 fps; 1280 x 720 and 640 x 480 at 50 fps; 640 x 480 and cropped 640 x 480 at 50 fps.
The 3.0-inch LCD monitor on the 60D has a 1.04 million dot composition, is adjustable for 7 levels of brightness and offers nearly 100% coverage. More significantly, the monitor may be swung out from the camera body through 180 degrees of motion, rotated through about 270 degrees and can be stored facing the camera body for protection when not in use. The ability to adjust monitor angles is an advantage when shooting video or live view stills in bright outdoor light, but even then there are times when image composition is difficult under these conditions.
Monitor peak brightness came out to 422 cd/m2 (nits), and contrast ratio was 715:1.
The 60D viewfinder offers 96% coverage and a diopter adjustment for varying levels of eyesight. That 96% coverage means subjects or details not visible through the viewfinder can creep into the edges of captured images.