I’ve had my new Canon 60D for one full week now, and thought I’d share a few things about it … both what I like and what I feel needs improvement. I have a few high-res/long exposure photos I’ve also uploaded for you to check out, but this isn’t a crazy in-depth scientific review, (I’ll leave that to the expert reviewers). I wanted to share some of my thoughts on a more user-friendly basis with the camera.
A few of these I already mentioned in my previous blog post, after only having the camera for a few hours, but thought they were well worth repeating in this more detailed “review” of the camera. I’ve had a few solid events to use the camera with: one was a full fledged stock (work) photo-shoot, and the other was a night-time/sunset photowalk, so I didn’t just tinker around and find things randomly. Many of these observations were discovered when I actually needed them, so it was all very organic process.
Articulating Screen: Yes, I really do like this feature. I’m not sure if I’d want it on my pro bodies, but for a small compact-ish DSLR this feature is really fun to have. One of the great things about it that you might not realize is the ability to flip the screen completely around to hide the LCD monitor. This is a bonus for two reasons: #1 is that you can keep yourself from chimping all the time, and #2 is that you can keep that screen protected while in your bag, sitting on your car seat, etc. I also like that I can lift the camera up really high and shoot down on something. I’m shorter than most people, especially in a crowd so it’s nice to be able to get those shots without having to guess on the composition. I guess the only “bad” thing about this screen that I’ve noticed is that when it’s turned outward (so I can see the screen) then it sticks out more than most LCD screens do, which means my nose touches it a LOT more than my other cameras.
Buttons on Back: The buttons on the back of the camera had to be re-arranged and limited due to the articulating screen. The biggest changes to these are that, when compared with the 50D there is no “Picture Style” button (which I rarely use and won’t even miss) and the Multi-controller is also changed (also known as the “joystick”). It’s now an up-down-left-right button that reminds me of a Nikon feel, something I never did like about those cameras. As long as they keep the joy-stick in their pro-line bodies and also keep the scroll wheel (Quick Control Dial) in place then I’m totally okay with it.
Buttons on Top: The buttons on top of the camera, just above the LCD panel, are nicely recessed and not sticking out nearly as much as some of the other cameras. I also really like the little bump on the ISO button … makes it easier to find when I’m in the middle of shooting (looking through the viewfinder) or in a dark environment and it’s hard to see the labels. This is a nice improvement and I hope to see this on the newer pro cameras when they are released as well. And, on a side note I really do like the slanted LCD panel … I don’t think it will really make a difference in my shooting but it’s kinda cool looking.
SD Card Slot: I’ve never really used SD cards with my DSLR cameras, so this is new to me. It’s not much different than using a CF card, except that I’m more likely to lose my SD cards and I don’t have a very fast card reader for it and I had to buy some SD cards to actually use with it. It’s nothing, IMO, good or bad, just worth mentioning.
Creative Filters: These are fun, and I have a feeling that the only one I’ll ever really use is the “miniature” effect (see my blog post about it here). I personally don’t see any real practical use for the filters, since I mostly enjoy processing photos from my iPhone in this way, but it’s kinda neat to have. Maybe this is just a stepping stone to future enhancements of the Canon cameras … either way they are fun to play with.
RAW editing: This is a nice feature if you know you want to quickly blog an image or transfer it somewhere you want to use it right away without putting it through Photoshop/Lightroom (like with an iPad). What you can do with this is edit a photo (global adjustments like plus/minus a stop exposure, white balance, picture style and a few other things) and then save it on your card as a JPEG. It would be nice if you could actually overwrite the RAW file with those settings, like with white-balance, but it’s a fun and possibly useful feature to have when traveling if you need to output a JPEG really quickly.
No PC Terminal: This just seems weird to me … why would this be kept off the camera completely? I only discovered this while showing my camera to another photographer, and I’m not sure that this will affect my shooting … but I know it may be annoying for others. Just so you know what I’m talking about … the PC terminal is the place you plug in an external light to (like a studio light or flash). When I shoot in my studio I use PocketWizards, which just sit on the hot-shoe and don’t need to be plugged in, but not everyone has (or can afford) PocketWizards so the next best thing is to be connected to the light. With no PC terminal you have to find an adapter for your hot-shoe … they aren’t always real expensive, but kinda a pain to have to use.
No Micro-adjustment: This will probably not be a big deal to me, since I won’t be using the 60D as my primary “work” camera, but I have had some issues with the focusing on the 24-105 f/4L IS lens that I had to adjust with the settings on my 7D (blog post here). I don’t expect to be hung up over this not being in the menu, but it would be nice to have.
Video Dial: Since video is a new addition to this line of camera, they had to place it somewhere on the dial (I guess they didn’t like the way it sits on the 7D). I have to say that I really don’t like the way they placed it all the way at the bottom of all of the “basic modes”. I personally never use these modes, and all of the still-image shooting modes I use sit above the green square so having to dial all the way to the bottom is kinda inconvenient. It would have been nice if they set it in the middle somewhere, that way it’s not a near-full turn around to get to it. The only nice thing about it is that you know you’re there when it won’t go any further … might make it easier to find in a hurry, but I haven’t had to do that yet.
I really like this camera. We can be as nit-picky as we want, but for the price-point and expectations I had I’m very happy with it so far. I’ve only used a 5DMkII and 7D from the canon line (my old film Rebel from 1997 doesn’t really count) so I have a little bit different view on what it could be like. For me this camera is going to be my “walking around” body that I take to social events, photowalks, etc. I’ll probably still use it for work but mostly just as a back-up or second body. It’s a much nicer size for taking around casually, and it will allow me to keep my 7D packed up and safe when I’m not in “work-mode”.
I used it at a recent stock photo-shoot (work) over the weekend as my second camera body. I wanted to get a good feel for it in an actual working environment and never had one problem. I didn’t even realize I had a different camera in my hand, other than the LCD being a little bit closer to my nose than my 7D was (and the fact that I still don’t have a battery grip for it … they should hopefully be shipping in a few weeks). At ISO 100 I am so far very pleased with the results. I rarely go over 100 for my controlled work shoots, so that’s something that is important to me.
I was also able to take it out with me to a night/sunset shoot and took some high-ISO long exposure photos with the camera. I have them below (click on each image for a full-res version) so you can decide for yourself what you think of the quality at those settings. It was in no way a controlled environment, but it’s a true example of a low-light poorly lit scene when a high-ISO is likely to be used.
There are obviously more details and features on the 60D that could be covered in a review, but these are the ones that really stand out to me and will affect my daily work and use of the camera. If you have any questions about it feel free to ask below in the comments … I’m also starting to write a book on the 60D with the “Snapshots to Great Shots” series (similar to my 7D book) that should be available in a few months. As soon as it’s available for pre-order I’ll be sure to post it here on my blog.