Hands-On Preview of the Canon EOS 60D Digital SLR (UPDATED)

August 25, 2010

By Dan Havlik, PDN's Technology Specialist

Canon unveiled its newest digital SLR this morning, the 18-megapixel EOS 60D which boasts a full 1080p HD video recording mode and a 3-inch swiveling LCD screen. The 60D is a replacement for the 15.1MP Canon EOS 50D, a prosumer digital SLR that received mixed reviews when it was released two years ago.

The 60D, like it’s predecessor, uses a smaller APS-C CMOS image sensor which magnifies lenses by 1.6x. The 60D will ship at the end of September for an estimated priced of $1,099, body only. It will also be sold as a kit with Canon’s EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM zoom lens for $1,399. The Canon BG-E9 battery grip for the 60D will sell for $270.

In addition to the HD video mode and the tilting, twisting, turning superfantastic upside down LCD screen which helps you compose over-the-head or low angle shots, the 60D has a decidedly lighter build than its predecessor.

We got to take a pre-production 60D for a spin a few weeks ago and while it didn’t feel fragile in comparison to the 50D, it was not as hefty as that camera which was built like a tank.

According to a Canon rep we spoke with, the 60D has a polycarbonate plastic resin exterior over an aluminum chassis. It weighs 2.3 ounces lighter than the 50D: 26.6 ounces (60D) vs. 28.9 ounces (50D).

Weighing Options
Though camera weight may seem like a small point, it gives us an eye on how Canon is positioning the 60D. Where the 50D ($1,399) and the 7D ($1,700) had similar sturdy builds, the 60D ($1,099) leans more towards the entry-level Canon Rebel T2i. That’s not such as bad thing — the T2i is a great little camera — but it’s important to consider if the 60D whets your whistle.

Along with the extensive use of plastic, the 60D is more rounded and angular than the 50D was. There’s also more texturized rubber on the exterior of the camera and it’s easy to hold and feels good in your hand. There’s a new mode dial that locks into place to prevent accidental switches. (Yes, it happens.)

To move the dial to another mode, you have to press a button in the center. It seemed to work pretty well and was not nearly as sticky as a similar system on the Pentax K-7.

In another indication that Canon is gearing this camera towards the amateur set, shooting speed is slower than the 50D, with the 60D offering 5.3 frames per second bursts compared to 6.3fps for its predecessor. The 60D’s buffer offers 58 JPEGs or 16 RAW images before it locks up.

The 60D’s autofocus system does not seemed to have changed in three generations of cameras in this class: 9-point AF with all cross-type sensors. In our testing with a pre-production 60D, the AF system was, unsurprisingly, right on par with what’s come before it: not bad but not exactly sprightly if you’re planning on shooting fast action sports. Instead of a Compact Flash Card as on the 50D, the 60D accepts SD/SDXC/SDHC cards.

The 60D uses the DIGIV 4 processor and offers adjustable stereo sound through the mic jack. ISO ranges from 100 to 6400 standard, with the ability to expand it to 12,800 in the camera’s custom function settings.

(Photo © Dan Havlik)