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Canon EOS D60

by Jeff Graeber, April, 2002


Merry Go Round - Fisherman's Warf

The Canon EOS D60 is an update to the very popular EOS D30 first released in October of 2000. Some of the key changes are:

  • Increased resolution from 3.1 Megapixels (2160x1440) to 6.3 Megapixels (3072x2048)
  • Reduced shutter lag time to ~100ms
  • Improved buffer system
  • Highlighted AF points in viewfinder
  • Illuminated top LCD
  • Improved white balance

There are more changes, but these were all I needed to make the decision to purchase this camera.

The body is a unique design from Canon, on par with the Elan 7 or Elan 2. It is bulky, especially with the optional BG-ED3 battery grip attached, yet is still ergonomic. It weighs almost as much as an EOS-3 and feels heavier than the D30.

Ugly freakin birds - San Francisco Zoo

The CMOS is the exact same size as that of the D30, 15x23mm in size. This continues the 60% field of view cropping we saw in the D30. Please note that the camera only crops your field of view, the depth of field is not the same as the equivalent effective focal length exposed on a full frame of 24x36mm film. Canon calls it a 1.6x focal length multiplier which is an incorrect term. Your 200mm 2.8 lens becomes a 320mm 2.8 effectively, but still looks like a 200. This is great if you are a fan of long lens shooting (that would be me), but is still a thorn in the side of wide angle fans, as your 28mm becomes a 45mm roughly.

What is truly amazing is that to my eye, the noise level is the same as the D30. Generally when you keep the imaging sensor the same size but reduce the size of the photosites your noise increases. This can be easily seen by comparing same images from the Canon S30 and S40, G1 and G2, and other cameras. According to tests done at DPReview.com the D60 has equivalent noise levels up to ISO 400, and only slight increases in noise vs. the D30 after that. I've made prints up to 12x18 as of this review on an Agfa D-Lab 2 digital minilab system at ISO 1000 that didnt exhibit noise above and beyond a similiar speed negative film.

The nearest competitor in resolution is the Kodak DSC-760 digital camera. It too is a 6.3 megapixel slr, but it costs over $3000 more than the D60, putting it out of reach for many consumers. I dont see too much of a difference in the files from either of these cameras on inkjet prints of 13x19 and silver halide prints of 12x18.

In Use

Portrait The exposure meter is as accurate as any of the consumer EOS bodies. It will underexpose a predominantly white composition and will overexpose a predominantly black composition, just as any 18% grey reflective ttl metering system. The D30 was notorious for being a little extreme with the underexposure and this has been addressed in this camera.

White balance has been tweaked. According to Canon only the daylight preset was made cooler, but from I've seen it's been changed throughout. This may have to do with the overall change in color balance. I find color to be very accurate in Auto White Balance mode in all compositons except those with people. It's a bit like shooting with Velvia. Wonderful saturation for landscape or nature photography, but is too saturated and red in photoshop. On my calibrated monitor and on my prints I get best results by reducing the red channel to 96% then reducing saturation around -15 or -20. It's rather consistant and I've set an action in photoshop to do this for me when I hit F12.

The RAW files from this camera will force you to rethink your storage options. On my D30 a 256MB compact flash card would cold 68 RAW files, almost two rolls of film. On the D60 this is cut down to 32, or less. The average size of the RAW file is 7.5mb-8.5mb, with the higher the ISO giving you larger files. Consider at the very least doubling your current storage capacity, as well as investing in a CD burner or DVD burner for you computer. The files will add up fast and you'll need a place to put them besides your hard drive.

Big Blue The reduced shutter lag is noticeable, making the camera feel more responsive than a D30. Overall startup speed is about a second faster than the D30 from the time you turn it on and when you can actually shoot it, which is not a big improvement. The illuminated LCD makes my frequent trips to the Monterey Bay Aquarium a lot more enjoyable, as I generally need to work with ISO 100-400 at different times and I'm not a fan of 'guesstimating' how many times I actually clicked over when changing a setting in the dark.

Autofocus

This is a source of a lot of heated debate. Some state there is an improvement, others see no difference from the D30. As the D60 and the D30 share the exact same sensor, and from my personal experience, I tend to agree with the camp that says there's no difference. This is not to say it's bad.

This is a consumer body camera, and performs as such. Using slow zoom lenses indoors will not net you good results. Using fast primes like the EF 50mm 1.4 will greatly improve the usability of the AF indoors. If you need reliable AI servo autofocus or a through the lens infrared focusing system you'll do better with the EOS 1D or the D1X/D1H if you are a Nikon user, if the $3000 difference in price doesn't bother you that is.

Image Quality

Crab Guy In a word: Amazing. There is enough detail in the files to make crisp, sharp 12x18's. If you live or work in the Palo Alto, California area near the California Business District, there is a 12x18 print of Crab Guy over the photofinishing counter in Keeble and Shuchat Photography.

Conclusion

The D60 is a great addition to your existing Canon system. The resolution is approximately the same as a 2700 dpi film scanner, with no time invested in scanning and retouching. The files are as smooth as they are on the D30 and the new bundled software is many leaps and bounds above the simple converter that came with the earlier camera. For many, at this resolution, this camera is replacing their 35mm bodies.

If you are not a Canon user, you can try:

Deap Breath Swimming

Where to Buy

The Canon D60 is stocked by:

  • as a kit at Ritz Camera which is more likely to get it to you earlier because of their buying power. (Editorial note: They also told photo.net that they offer an unusual extended warrantee that covers breakage of the camera, that might be useful for those of us who will be running around shooting a lot with this camera.)
  • Adorama

For additional retailer information, see our recommended retailers page and the user recommendations section.

More

Text and pictures, (c) Copyright 2002, Jeff Graeber

Readers' Comments


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John Chennavasin , April 12, 2002; 01:24 A.M.

The digital exposure compensation feature in Canon's Raw Image Converter software also works on D60 raw images. This is an added bonus since the E-TTL flash exposure system is the same as the D30's, and produces the same inconsistent results.

Jeff Graeber , April 13, 2002; 11:23 A.M.

I dont post full size pictures, ever, on the net for the following reasons:

1) my pictures are my own and i wont have them reproduced by anyone a) with the amouht of spam mail i get from photo.net fromfolks wanting to 'sell' my photos for me, this is likely to never happen

2) silicon valley has not yet embraced broadband in it's residential districts, and i'm on a dialup. 2.5mb jpeg would take me 15 minutes to upload.

3) you can not judge how it's going to print by looking at the monitor.

hence why i mentioned dpreview in my review.

Lesong Wang , April 17, 2002; 01:17 A.M.

Till now, I have yet to see a landscape picture made by D60 that showing satisfactory detail. Not here either. How about show me a picture of something like grand canyon? Show me some big rock to see if D60 can get those amazing details like MF or bigger format can make. I have sold my D30. I am hungry now!!

Waldemar Haak , April 17, 2002; 12:36 P.M.

The resolution may not be quite enough for landscape work, but on the other hand: 4.5x6 is not good enough for this kind of pics either. The quality of the prints is somewhere between a very good 35mm and a bad (i.e. handheld, 400 ISO) 4.5x6 shot. Which is not that bad at all, considering a D120 will be out in about 2 years from now. I´m using the new 15-30 mm Sigma zoom with great results, by the way.

Vele Samak , April 17, 2002; 01:51 P.M.

I love comments like the one above from Lesong Wang who question whether the D60 has satisfactory detail, and then proceed to compare the detail from a 6MP digital camera to that of a MF or large format camera. While we are at it, let's see if the D60 can fly us cross-country in under 3 hours. Well, if it could also wash our dishes then maybe all the MF and large format fans out there will gladly jump over to the D60.

The fact is that the D60 sounds like a good improvement over the D30, an already very good digital camera. At 6MP and print size of 13x19, the D60 surely beats 35mm film, with perhaps equivalent detail to MF camera. At larger print sizes, I doubt you will find many D60/D30 users making positive compairsons to MF or larger format prints. Maybe at 12MP or 16MP and prints over 13x19 we can talk about overcoming the resolutions in MF, until then let's not go over these irrelevant compairsons and comments on the digital cameras.

An avid D30 user,

larry lambert , May 10, 2002; 10:40 P.M.

much banter about overcoming medium format, get a MF camera and DIGITAL BACK, my oh so advanced people, they do exist.

Jeff Graeber , May 11, 2002; 10:28 P.M.

that was not a very good comment there bub.

how much does the average medium format system that will take a back cost? about $5k

how much does the back itself cost? about $10k at the lowest right now

how difficult is it to manage 96mb+ files in the field? extremely.

if your end result is digital, the digital original (read: digital camera) is the way to go.

please no one line comments without substantiated facts. thankyoudrivethru.

larry lambert , May 13, 2002; 12:59 A.M.

here's a substantiated fact for you, many d-60 users report that their camera is easily capable of outperforming the lenses in their existing system, i.e. their 28-135 is revealed to be alot softer than they once thought. Few lenses in the Canon line are actually capable of revealing the true resolution of d60. Most of these lenses are in the L series line, outside of it the 50 f1.4, 35 f2, and a handful of other primes are going to allow d60 to really shine, so for those considering a move to this remarkable camera, also consider a lense upgrade that will make the most of your investment. regarding my previous comment, my intent was not to incite anyone, however a few of the comments involved people resigning their eos digitals because of a lack of detail, detail which is outstripped by medium format in any form. I merely wanted people to be aware of the availability of digital backs for mediums, because I have seen more people than I care to dump an exemplary system just so that they could "make the big leap to digital", thinking that a wholly digital camera was the only way to acheive this, moves that I have vicariously regretted. For the landscapers that are itching for d60 to approach the performance of MF or even LF, i'd want to say that the limits most likely don't reside in the camera body, there may just not be a wide angle lense in ANY of the camera lines that can deliver the goodies you're looking for. However my point is that this is not a reason to retire D60.

Jeff Graeber , May 13, 2002; 10:11 P.M.

and that's still a very bad argument.

where's bob atkins?

medium format lenses are of lower resolution than 35mm lenses. this is fact, heck i'll even have my mamiya/bronica/hasselblad reps email you and confirm this.

the 'resolution' of 35mm lenses is still far MORE than the current imagers can resolve, but their apparent 'sharpness' varies.

michael reichtmann over at luminous-landscape.com has very good articles on sharpness and perceived sharpness.

anyone buying a 35mm type slr to replace their MF camera either wasnt ready for the type of photography MF/LF requires, or has never seen a really good print from a MF negative.

michael reichtmann has good comparisons of MF vs. D60 on his page as well.

remember, the D60 makes prints the equal of 35mm up to 11x17. as someone picky about the look of his prints i've never taken 35mm beyond 11x17, that's where medium format shines.

the right tools for the right applications. You dont take a hasselblad to the Superbike Challenge, and you dont take a digital/35mm to Yosemite to retrace Ansel Adams' footsteps.

Michael MacDonald , May 15, 2002; 10:17 P.M.

Medium format photography is indeed still better than digital. However it is just a matter of time until this is not the case as digital surely will surpass it in the very near future. It will go into history with the LP record and the 45 rpm. Ebay will indeed have a vast array of medium format equipment for sale and that is not a put down of the format or film systems at all it is just the nature of technology. Medium format will never die it will just slowly fade away. I will miss it. not to much though

Dennis Eccleston , May 17, 2002; 02:05 P.M.

I was reading the review and comments on the Canon D60 as I was thinking of purchasing one to get more use from the Canon 75-300 mm IS lens I use on my XL1s video camera for extreme telephoto (2160 mm equivalent). I was interested in the comments about MF/LF and how inadequate 35mm and digital cameras were for landscape. I purchased my first digital camera earlier this year, a Fuji Finepix 6900, with considerable reservations, believing that one needed pixel counts of 8 megapixels for an uncropped 8 x 11 and an order of magnitude higher (i.e 40 or 60 megapixels) than present day high end digital for high resolution, croppable quality enlargements. However when I printed my first 8 x 10's I was amazed at the sharpness and, following requests, had some 20" x 30" posters made by Ottofoto. Though the resolution at this scale cannot be more than 100 dpi the pictures (Rockport Harbour at dawn and White Pelicans) look amazingly sharp and free from noise or artifacts of any kind. Colleagues called upon their friends to look at the quality of these poster prints, which are now framed and decorating their walls. Though I currently mainly shoot wildlife video, I have used 35 mm and larger for 40 years and do appreciate sharpness and resolution. I know we cannot count hairs on the head or grains of sand on the beach with any 6 megapixel camera, but at a normal viewing distance, with a sharp lens, a steady hold and an accurate focus small format can work fine for ANY size you care to print. Content is still key. I doubt my Canon D60 (when I buy it) will turn out better pictures but it should shoot faster and allow me to change lenses.

Brian Kennedy , June 21, 2002; 10:30 A.M.

i'd want to say that the limits most likely don't reside in the camera body, there may just not be a wide angle lense in ANY of the camera lines that can deliver the goodies you're looking for.

I think you are mistaken. Regardless, right now "wide angle" and "digital SLR" are contradictory terms. My 17-35 wide angle zoom ends up looking like a normal zoom on the D60, once the D60 crops it by nearly 40%.

I don't want only good image quality, I also want to be able to shoot at wide angles. Right now, I think we're getting close on my first request, but still sorely lacking on the second. I have no doubt it's only a matter of time.

Joe Heiliger , July 26, 2002; 01:38 P.M.

I have been shooting with my D60 for about 3 months now, and I truly love it. I get great prints up to about 11x17, and I am able to share my work with friends quickly and inexpensively (no drum scans...).

Issues: 1. The D60 is not meant for doing wide angle shooting. You just can't get lens (at a reasonable price...) that will do what you want.

2. There are still issues with the focusing system in low light. It is not much faster (if at all...) then the D30. You just need to be aware that you will have to use some fast glass to shoot in low light or deal with the the slow focusing speeds.

I don't think anyone ever said that this particular camera will replace MF. Some of the people arguing here are trying to polarize beliefs and make this an "Either/Or" argument when it is just not the case. I believe you have to use the right tools for the right applications. If you are going to be enlarging past 16x20 and you are selling the print, you should be shooting MF.

ron purdy , September 10, 2002; 08:13 P.M.

New Canon digital SLR camera and others in the works:

http://www.digitalfocus.net/sections/views/1DsRumour/1DsRelease.htm

Jeff Graeber , November 20, 2002; 01:34 A.M.

er, yeah.

i just shot a D100 this weekend in a studio. it focuses as slow as my D60 does.

d100, 28-70 2.8afs just as slow as my d60 28-70L.

and is the case with both cameras, the outer focusing points do not focus accurately.

if you need SPEED you buy a professional body. i fyou dont need SPEED you dont. quite frankly i have no idea what you're tlaking about af speed. i've panned bikes doing 120+ passed me with a 3002.8 and the D60 with no problem - see my portfolio.

if you using a crap lens..well you get what you pay for.

larry lambert , November 25, 2002; 01:23 P.M.

Whis IS lense is crap, Mr. Graeber? Tell all the readers so that they won't make the same mistake as Mr. Herbert. "medium format lenses are of lower resolution than 35mm lenses"- that why NASA takes all MF stuff into space, meanwhile the D1x's they got for FREE from Nikon as a marketing push stay down on the launchpad. (If you want proof of that I'll email it to you, along with copies of my press passes. "this is fact, heck i'll even have my mamiya/bronica/hasselblad reps email you and confirm this. " Then I'll choose the Rep, get Mr. Fleischer (Zeiss) who frequents this board to admit that a Superachromat is trumped by a price-point driven 35 piece of glass an i'll concede the point. Thanks for flaming me out, seems that now the autofocus Hasselblad is the talk of the town now, especially mated with a MF DIGITAL BACK, at least for real professionals. Bub, keep your small thinking comments in your Wolf camera where they belong.

larry lambert , November 25, 2002; 01:32 P.M.

"michael reichtmann over at luminous-landscape.com has very good articles on sharpness and perceived sharpness." For Mr. Reichtmann's comments on the H1, go here: http://www.photo.net/equipment/hasselblad/h1/

Rachel Jacklyn Bilodeau , December 23, 2002; 07:52 P.M.

Someone mentioned that they had not seen landscape images with the D-60 - check out these images by George Dangerfield (http://www.photoblink.com/photosthumb.asp?groupby=authorid&value=653&cid=0)

Jeff Graeber , December 23, 2002; 10:14 P.M.

You're going overboard Mr. Lambert.

you of all people should know that in the 35mm world you get what you pay for.

if you put a tamron 28-300 lens on a camera, film or otherwise, dont expect to get contrast, clarity and resolution of my 85mm f/1.2.

i sell these cameras. i get people in my store who look at my stuff, then look at theirs, and wonder why mine look so much better. i'm not so arrogant to say my composition was superior, but the prints just jump out at you. why? because i'm using the best glass i can personally afford, and i did this before even considering putting $2k into a camera.

if you spend $2k on a digital body, dont you dare spend $100 on the lens. you have that entirely backwards and should be looking at a film body.

Jeff Graeber , December 23, 2002; 10:23 P.M.

oh and mr. lambert, why are you trolling the review of a camera that is clearly beneath you.

a 'professional' is just someone who gets paid to do what they do. i've seen some amateur work that outshines some professional work.

MF lenses ARE LOWER RESOLUTION LP/MM than 35mm. nasa takes MF into space for the HUGE NEGATIVE. dont mix your apples with your sour grapes.

the d60 is not meant for the sports photography i do during the summer, that's what my 1D is for. my 1d isnt good at long exposures, that's what my d60 is for. and the 1ds, digital backs and most medium format is not readily available for the masses. i'd rather spend $5k on some killer canon glass than on a medium format kit..which would then require another 12k or so for the digital back that i need..which oddly enough has a 35mm sized sensor in it.

so unless you have any personal experience with this camera, go away. speculation and trolling is what dpreview.com is for.

larry lambert , February 14, 2003; 03:59 A.M.

"MF lenses ARE LOWER RESOLUTION LP/MM than 35mm." Objects of 4 millimeter in size (approximately 1/6 of an inch) have been imaged from almost 400 meters distance (more than 1.000 feet) with a 100 mm Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar lens at f/5.6 and a Contax RTS III 35 mm SLR camera featuring the unique Contax vacuum pressure plate. Similar results were obtained with Contax AX 35 mm autofocus SLR, Contax RX 35 mm low noise SLR and Makro-Planar 60 mm, Planar 85 mm f/1.2, Planar 100 mm f/2, Aposonnar 200 mm f/2, Vario-Sonnar 28–85 mm and 35–70 mm zoom lenses, even with moderate priced Planar 50 mm and Distagon 28 mm. Resolutions on the same level have been achieved with Carl Zeiss lenses in Hasselblad medium format cameras, proving that at Carl Zeiss, medium format lenses, contrary to popular belief, offer no lower resolution than the very best 35 mm lenses.-Zeiss Camera Lens News See here.

Jeff Graeber , March 03, 2003; 12:59 A.M.

you are still trolling, lambert. go to dpreview.com if you feel the need to troll.

you have yet to contribute anything productive that relates to the review of this camera outlined above, positive or negative. unless you have something to contribute relating to your personal experience with the equipment reviewed here, your comments are not relevent nor welcome.

$10 says he's the first one to post on the 10d review about his medium format camera.

Image Attachment: graveyard1jpg.jpg

. asher , July 31, 2003; 09:49 P.M.

WOW thoses D-60 reds are hot. C-MOS thieves off the hard light, the mid-tones dull out and adobe comes in for the contrast placement, while the red waves soak into your composition. Even Canons digi-video cameras need a key light for proper exposure. maybe its just their glass??

R. Moreno , June 22, 2005; 03:59 P.M.

Annoying oversight: Horizontal to Vertical orientation when designing the "rotate" button for in-camera display. Use the battery pack grip and you rotate the camera so the auxillary shutter release button is up. Fine and good; it's been that way for decades. Now when reviewing the pictures, there is a menu option to rotate the pictures. I would have expected that pressing it once would anticipate that I was holding it in that orientation described above. It doesn't. So if there are a few dozen pictures, that's a few dozen more presses of buttons to get them upright. Annoying.

Elvis McNeely , January 13, 2007; 04:42 A.M.

The EOS D60 is somewhat an old camera and hard to find if you want to purchase one, although you can find some used ones on amazon. For Canon lovers, here is a decent list of current Canon EOS cameras.

Mike Barnhart , January 27, 2007; 11:28 P.M.

Jeff, Where did you get teh convertor for infrared? Thanks


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