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Nikon D60 Review

by Hannah Thiem, July 2008 (updated March 2011)


The Nikon D60 digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera is the current smallest, most lightweight Nikon DSLR camera designed for amateur, entry-level photographers, as well as prosumer photographers looking for a less expensive back up or travel camera.

The Nikon D60 is an upgrade to the Nikon D40x, (compare prices) (review), which was introduced in March 2007. Aside from a few minor changes and additional features, the external appearance and internal configuration of the D60, announced January 2008, is almost identical to its small compact DSLR predecessor. Like the D40x, the D60 is compatible with all F-mount lenses, but will only autofocus with AF-S and AF-I Nikkor lenses equipped with an autofocus motor because the D60 lacks an in-body motor.

What’s new on the Nikon D60?

  • auto-orienting screen (horizontal or vertical)
  • built-in stop motion movie maker
  • active D-lighting feature, which adjusts the shadow areas of the photograph
  • improved system to minimize dust landing on the sensor
  • graphical white balance adjustment offering fine-tuning of white balance settings
  • eye sensor function, which turns off the LCD when the user looks through the viewfinder
  • kit option includes the new 18-55mm VR lens, with the VR improving photographs in low light by 2-3 stops, as compared to the previous 18-55mm kit lens
  • simultaneous recording of both RAW and JPEG data of the same image

Where to Buy

Photo.net’s partners have a few of the Nikon D60 still available. You may be also able to find a used Nikon D60 in the Photo.net Classified Ads. Otherwise, check out Nikon’s newer models listed below.

If you are new to digital photography, start with the photo.net guide Building a DSLR System.

Operating Speed

The Nikon D60 is a relatively fast, responsive camera. Powering up the camera takes under 0.19 seconds. There is an almost non-existent shutter lag of a split-second. Using the active d-lighting feature causes a slight delay in the write speed to the card, as there is more information to process. Overall, the D60’s reaction time is fast for an entry-level DSLR, faster than most point-and-shoot cameras and comparable to other similar entry-level digital SLR cameras.

At 3 frames per second (fps) in continuous drive mode for capturing RAW without active d-lighting and 2.6 fps with active d-lighting on, the D60 can capture changing facial expressions, but is not fast enough for capturing action-packed sports or tracking fast-moving animals.

The continuous drive mode can provide a useful tool for minimizing camera shake in photos when photographing in low light or free holding the camera. The first photo in a series of 3 fps may capture some shake from depressing the shutter, but the following images will be more steady. I tried this technique at an outdoor concert featuring Taj Mahal in NYC. Although I was able to get sharper consecutive images after the first capture, the speed wasn’t quite fast enough to be able to quickly capture Taj’s changing expressions and performance.

Controls

The Nikon D60 has only one control wheel, which is similar to the D40/D40x. The higher-end Nikon DSLRs have two control wheels—command and sub-command dials to control the aperture and shutter speed individually. In Metered Manual (M) mode on the D60, shutter speed is set by rotating the control wheel, aperture is set by holding down the exposure compensation button while simultaneously rotating the control wheel. The other 3 standard exposure modes, Aperture-priority (A), Shutter-priority (S), and Program (P) are easier to set using the one available control wheel.

In addition to the creative exposure modes, the D60’s mode dial offers seven Digital Vari-Program modes: completely automatic (green), portrait, landscape, close-up, sports, night landscape and night portrait. Each mode corresponds to a predetermined camera setting that will be reasonably effective for that type of subject.

The D60 enables faster viewing of image enlargements with separate magnification and reduction buttons, a feature that Nikon introduced on the D300. The magnification and reduction buttons are located to the left of the LCD monitor.

Behind the shutter release are the buttons for controlling the active D-lighting feature and adjusting the exposure compensation. Adjustments are made by simultaneously rotating the control wheels.

The camera has three metering modes: 3D color matrix, center-weighted, and spot metering. The 3D matrix meter tries to be smart about offering tips on better exposures. For example, when composing a photo with a big swath of bright blue at the top of the frame, the camera will offer the advice of: “must be a blue sky; exposure should be determined by looking at the darker objects underneath”. The center-weighted setting uses a much simpler exposure algorithm, determining exposure primarily mostly by looking at objects toward the center of the frame. When capturing RAW files, the difference between matrix and center-weighted metering will only be significant in extreme lighting situations, such as photographing the setting sun. The spot meter is useful for backlit portraits and other situations where the subject doesn’t appear in the same light as the background.


Text ©2008 Hannah Thiem. Photos ©2008 Hannah Thiem.

Article revised March 2011.

Readers' Comments


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Victor Wei , August 15, 2008; 03:16 A.M.

Great comprehensive review by photo.net.

I have been taking over 4,500 photos with this camera since it came out in April and agree with all the points noted in the review. Overall, I find this "beginner's" camera very capable of producing great quality images.

One new feature in the D60 not mentioned in the review is the EXPEED image processor which is found in D300 but not D40 or D40x. This superb processor was one of several reasons why I chose it over the D80.

Dave Williams , August 21, 2008; 05:46 P.M.

Used for several thousand photos since May '08. The new features, especially mirror dust removal and EXSPEED really add value. One frustration is manual focus on the otherwise excellent kit lenses (18-55mm and 55-200mm). It is a real hassle with filters and not at all accurate. Overall though, the D60 is a true big step up and very useful on its own and as a second camera body to a D300.

Aubrey Pullman , September 30, 2008; 09:46 P.M.

I find it appalling that the d40 & d60 cannot meter using older lenses. There are so many wonderful old Nikkor MF lenses that would provide good value and learning for someone new to photography.

sharon stevens , October 08, 2008; 01:49 A.M.


Casper, Turkish Angora

Great choice for a beginner.

This is my first SLR camera and I am still learning all the new terminology. Even so, when taking pictures on automatic, they are turning out great. I am experimenting with close ups, bugs, scenery and stop action. I am loving it. Can't hardly wait until I really understand what all it can do!

James Stevens , October 23, 2008; 04:21 P.M.

I have had my D60 since May, 08. I like how it handles, light-weight, easy to hang on my neck all day. I find mine tends to overexpose outdoors in bright sunlight just a bit. If I remember to compensate for this, it is not a real problem. I also like the fact that it uses SC/HC cards. They are cheap and plentiful. The only major con is that it will not autofocus older, standard lens. Now that I am used to autofocus, this is a headache. Overall, very pleased.

Alex Goldenberg , January 04, 2009; 11:03 A.M.

I have been using my nikon d60 for about a month because i got rid of my rebel xt, it takes breathtaking pictures and is very easy to use. I recommend this camera for anyone with a budget, my father owns a d90 and this works just as well.

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James Fretz , February 26, 2009; 01:46 P.M.


The D60 is my first real DSLR camera (I'm not counting a Kodak P850, which was but one step above a point-and-shoot) and I've learned a lot about photography shooting with it. The slope of my learning curve still feels pretty steep, and though there are times when I fantasize about upgrading, ultimately I don't think I need to go there yet. But the time will come.

Cody Bennett , April 24, 2009; 04:50 P.M.

I shoot snowboard and skiing action stills for professional riders with this camera, while it sucks in "automatic" mode it kills it in "Manual" mode, providing crisp high quality images through the nikon glass, for an entry level pro-sumer camera with the correct lens setup you can take shots with the pros, wish it had a AF motor inthe body though :(

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Mel Zilora , October 10, 2009; 05:48 A.M.

Ditto James on the overexposure, but it is pretty slight. This is my first DSLR and I was torn between the Canon family of intro DSLRs and the d60. I think the d60 is a great option for someone just switching over from point/shoot--very intuitive, easy-to-navigate menu, and great "on-board" support for learning about the manual features. The 3 points of focus is a bit limiting--I often just end up using manual focus to have more control--but the d60 is definitely a "good enough" camera for any beginner.

Chris Bland , December 17, 2009; 06:30 A.M.


www.lauraleandra.com

I was able to start my own business in Hawaii using the D60. If you take the time to read the manuals and invest in some professional post production software, you can produce some really amazing creations.

Alexander du Plooy , November 20, 2012; 06:09 A.M.

I just upgraded to an amazing D7000! Until now both me and my girlfriend have used D60 s and although it might be outdated now, it was an awesome experience working with my trusty 60! We have done a few weddings, many studio shoots and many many other shoots and this camera just surpasses all the bad things so often said about it. If you know how to use it it does wonders!


I love you D60.... I really do.

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