Read advice and tips on becoming a more creative photographer. Harold Davis shares assignments and creative projects with you to help expand your creativity with photography. This month's column is on...
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.
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.
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.