As with all my camera/lens reviews, I don’t do shots of charts or brick walls. I test my
cameras in real life situations, using the equipment as I intend to use it. There are other sites
with more technical statistics and specifications, geared toward gear-heads. The following review
is for the average person who’s considering a 60D as their next camera.
Also, I know the camera’s been on the market for a while, so is it pointless to write a
review? No. Because: (1) this site is for me — anyone else reading it is just icing on the
cake; (2) the camera is still on the market and is likely to be there for many months to come; and
(3) there might be just one person who’s helped by this.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: I’m very pleased, not at all disappointed.
I already listed many of this camera’s specifications
here, when deciding whether to buy this over
the 600D (Rebel T3i). And I listed my first impressions on my other blog,
here, just after receiving the camera.
I’ll try not to repeat much of what was said there, but be aware that some overlap will occur.
Lenses Used In My Tests
I only own seven lenses compatible with Canon EOS cameras, and only used four of them while testing
this camera. Three are “prime” (non-zoom) lenses, ranging from 28mm to 85mm in focal
length, and one is a telephoto zoom lens. I list them here for reference purposes, along with which
tests were performed with each lens.
Sigma 28mm f/1.8 EX DG Macro:
High ISO, burst mode, manual Kelvin, video, live view manual focus, creative filters, wireless flash
Sigma 50mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro:
High ISO, auto-ISO, live view manual focus, wireless remote
Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM:
auto white balance (outdoors), autofocus speed, overall image quality
Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 APO DG Macro:
Auto-ISO, auto white balance (outdoors), spot meter, auto-focus speed
UPDATE, 2014.04.28: I’ve since used all my lenses on this camera. The Sigma
10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM fails to achieve desired autofocus for any object farther than a meter
away, but this is common with ultra-wide-angle lenses. The Sigma 18-125mm f/3.5-5.6 DC is a
low-quality lens and its shortcomings were made more obvious by the high quality of the 60D’s
Each feature of the camera that I tested is listed below, along with my impressions. The first ones
listed are features that helped me choose this camera over the 600D or features that I was looking
forward to using regularly. Near the end are my impressions of a few other features or settings
that were incidental to my purchase.
White Balance Control
I list this feature first, because it contains my only real disappointment in the 60D so far. Unlike
the Rebel-series cameras, the 60D and others like it offer specific color temperature white balance
control. My first test of this was indoors, under CFL bulbs that claim to have an output of 2700K.
When I set the camera to 2700K, this was my result:
The curtains and sofa are indeed green, but nothing else in the image should have been. I also
tested at 2500K,
4000K in the same setting,
with less-than-satisfactory results. Of course, this could be user error. It could be that the
lights in question aren’t emitting 2700K light.
A couple of days later, I tested this setting again, with better results. Using an off-camera flash,
I was able to match the camera to the light very successfully:
The LCD panel on top of the camera (near the shutter button) has indeed been helpful. With my old
400D, you had to activate the entire main LCD on back to see exposure and other camera settings.
With the 60D, itís nice to have those on top for quick reference. For normal shooting, I never
have to turn on the back LCD.
(Both cameras have exposure information electronically displayed inside the optical viewfinder.)
Rear Control Dial
This is one of the huge differences between the Canon Rebels and any higher-level Canon DSLR.
Having the second wheel to control exposure settings is as big a bonus as I thought it would be.
It’s also helpful for navigation through menus.
The dial feels sturdy, as it should.
However, inside that dial is a directional control button for navigating menus. I’ll
admit it’s a little small for my fingers, though I can still use it. It reminded me of the
cell phone issued to me by my last employer; I had to use a pencil eraser to dial numbers because
the buttons were too small.
In-Camera Conversion Of Raw Files
I figured this would come in handy for the rare occasions when I want to immediately give someone
a copy of one of my images. Most people don’t have raw-conversion software on their computers.
My parents are a good example. Since I shoot exclusively in raw format (.cr2) now, I couldn’t
immediately give my parents a copy of an image they like (if I was visiting them). But the 60D can
convert a raw file into .jpg in-camera, in just a few seconds. There are even a few raw-editing
tools available, including white balance adjustment, exposure adjustment, and others.
For normal work, I still recommend using full-fledged raw-conversion software (DPP for Canon
users). And in most cases, I actually enjoy having an excuse to not let others have the images
immediately — most of them need a little work.
The 60D’s battery was rated for 1600 images (under optimal conditions), compared to only
550 for the other camera I considered. I was skeptical, but not anymore. Batteries have indeed
come a long way in the last few years. After four days of regular use, exploring the menus, testing
live view, recording nearly 200 images and three videos, I’d only used 27% of the
battery’s full charge.
[Edited to add: After 16 days of regular use, more live view use, and over 400 images, the
first battery still had over 45% power remaining.]
[Edited to add: Two years later, my first two batteries still maintain their charge and
perform wonderfully. Example: I charged two batteries in mid-December 2013 and didn’t have
to charge them again until February, after recording more than 1,400 images and several
This brings up another cool thing: any time, I can check the battery’s exact usage. The
screen will show percent of charge remaining, and how many shutter actuations took place
since the battery was installed. The screen also shows where the battery is positioned
— either in the camera, or in the left or right end of the battery grip.
[Edited to add: The Vello BG-C6 battery grip arrived on Feb. 21. See my review of the grip
Both cameras I considered had a normal ISO range of 100-6400 and both were expandable to
ISO12800, three full stops faster than my older cameras, and both have auto-ISO available. The
60D allows third-stop increments when adjusting ISO.
In the film days, there were only two exposure settings: shutter speed and aperture. Your ISO was
set by your film, though you could “push” it later. The digital age introduced ISO as a
third exposure value, something that could be changed in camera for every shot. But auto-ISO is a
relatively new addition. “Tv” mode and “Av” allowed photographers to set
some of the exposure values while letting the camera choose one. Now, with auto-ISO, any
one of the three exposure values can be automated.
I’ve often shot in situations where I wanted the aperture and shutter speed to be constant,
but the light levels were changing, and wished for auto-ISO. It didn’t disappoint. When
shooting in “M” mode with auto-ISO enabled, the camera always chose the correct value.
The user can also limit the auto-ISO on the high end, to avoid unwanted grain/noise.
I also will have many occasions to use the expanded ISO range of this camera, since at least half
my images are made indoors under normal household lighting. So, ISO12800 was the very first feature
I tested on this camera. Shutter click #1:
While I wasn’t happy with the white balance of that image, I was extremely pleased at how
the camera handled the noise at such a high gain.
(View it larger.)
Sure, you could view the original size and tsk tsk over the digital noise, but it’s
quite a bit better than even ISO800 just a few years ago. This ability will completely change the
way I shoot in low light.
As for ISO ranges once considered very high, the noise is almost non-existent. Here’s an
image shot at ISO1250:
As for third-stop increments, this might not come in quite as handy as I’d hoped. I’m
not the kind of photographic perfectionist who pees himself if my exposure is a third-stop over
or under. I can correct that in post-processing or even live with a slightly dark or slightly
bright image. But it’s nice to have.
Faster Exposure Speed
I liked the idea of having 1/8000 sec. available, in case I wanted to shoot at wide apertures
in bright sunlight. Unfortunately, we haven’t had bright sunlight since I bought the
UPDATE, 2015.03.17: Over the past three years, I’ve very often used 1/8000 as
my exposure time, due to shooting at wide apertures in the daylight. It’s something that
I simply couldn’t do with my older cameras.
Faster Burst Mode
This would’ve come in extremely handy if I were still shooting sports, but I’m not.
(And to be honest, my last year or two of sports shooting, I rarely used burst mode anyway; I
found it more productive to just wait for the right moment to release the shutter.)
I did test the camera’s burst mode and it does indeed fire 5+ frames per second, in both
.jpg mode and raw mode. The shutter sounds better than the Rebel shutters and actually not quite
Faster Flash Sync
I haven’t tested this. I normally shoot at 1/200 when using flash, and that’s quite
fast enough to kill ambient light, at least indoors. In retrospect, this wasn’t so much
a “feature” as it was a marketing coup. If it had been really fast, like
1/1000 sec. (like I had on my old Olympus point-and-shoot), it would be more impressive.
This is a huge bonus, the significance of which I hadn’t realized before I received the
60D. I remember a few years ago, looking through the viewfinder of a friend’s top-level
Canon and being amazed at the size of the viewfinder. I assumed it was larger because it was a
full-frame camera, and didn’t expect another crop-sensor camera (60D) to have such a large
It’s significantly larger than the optical viewfinder of the Rebel cameras. This should
probably be played up more by Canon when marketing (except they’re usually marketing the
Rebels, so it might be counterproductive). Having such a larger, brighter viewfinder is incredibly
helpful when composing images or using manual focus.
Live View / Articulating LCD
These two features weren’t selling points for me; both cameras that I considered were
equipped with Live View and articulating (fold-out) LCD screens. I’ve lived without live
view since moving up from compacts to DSLRs, and never really saw the point of a fold-out LCD on
a professional-level camera. In my mind, they were features meant to sell cameras to the average
consumer who likes cool stuff regardless of whether it’s practical.
After testing, I’ve changed my mind. They actually are both practical, especially when used
In video mode, Live View is the only way you can see what you’re filming, since the mirror
is locked up during recording. So it basically works like a camcorder’s flip-out screen.
For taking pictures under normal circumstances, I’ll still use the (large) optical viewfinder.
But for recording macro images... That’s where these features really come in handy. Using
Live View, you can magnify a portion of the image 10x (electronically) and get absolute precise
manual focus, something I’ve never been able to do before. I was even able to do this while
handholding the camera and get some of the clearest macro images I’ve ever recorded.
This is a two-inch wide portion of a 4”x4” fence post in my back yard, recorded in
Previously, I would have put the camera on a tripod for this, and still would’ve needed
several shots to get it just right.
Using the flip-out LCD screen (facing forward), I can now compose self-portraits easy as pie. I
remember all the self-portraits I’d taken in the past, where you compose the image on a
mostly blank spot, then set the timer and hurry to get in front of the camera before the picture
is taken. And then it’s out of focus.
Not anymore. With Live View visible on the fold-out screen, I can see my face. I can make sure one
of my eyes is near the center AF point. I can take the shot at the exact moment I want (using a
wireless remote control).
Of course it’s possible to get great self-portraits with any camera, even film cameras.
But I haven’t found anything before that makes it this easy. Thinking of all the times
I’m home alone with my 16-month-old, this could make it very easy to take pictures of the
two of us together.
UPDATE, 2015.03.17: I have indeed used the LiveView feature to manually focus many times
over the past three years — for family portraits, macros, sunsets, and more, not just macros.
Wireless Remote Control
I was willing to live without a remote control. Canon’s online specs for this camera says
that the 60D works with a RS-60E3, which is a wired remote control. They didnít mention
any compatibility with a wireless remote. In the cameraís manual, it says to use an RC-6 wireless
remote. Neither mentions that the 60D will work with other Canon (and third-party) wireless
I already had the less expensive RC-1 wireless remote control for my Rebels, so I tested it with
the 60D. It worked perfectly, even when using Live View. The above self-portrait was taken using
the RC-1 to release the shutter.
This was an unexpected bonus.
The electronic level was another unexpected bonus. I guess I’d missed this when reading
specs pre-purchase, or I didn’t know what it meant so I skimmed over it.
Basically, the camera can tell you whether it’s level. Either in the viewfinder or on the
large rear LCD screen, the level can be displayed. Since almost every image I’ve ever
recorded has to be corrected for tilted horizons, this will get a lot of use from me.
We’d already bought the Nikon Coolpix S6100 partly for its HD video, and are relatively
happy with it (and we have a decent camcorder), so I wasn’t intending to use the 60D for
videos. But I had to test it. Click here to
view my first video from this camera.
Since I hadn’t read the manual, I wasn’t sure how to get the thing started. My wife
figured it out by accident, hence the confused nature of this video’s opening moments. I
was pleased with the overall quality of the video, especially considering that it was shot under
crappy indoor CFL bulbs. Once I realized video was recording and corrected the manual focus, it
I actually plan to record more videos, utilizing some of my high-quality DSLR lenses, just to see
One issue: the .mov file that resulted was incompatible with YouTube for some reason, which is why
that video is hosted on Vimeo instead. (The Nikon’s .mov files work perfectly on YouTube
>UPDATE, 2013.10.21: Some time after writing this review, I changed the video
settings to a lower resolution, and they then worked just fine on YouTube — most of them.
That the 60D uses a tiny SD (or SDHC or SDXC) card for image recording probably won’t be
an issue for anyone moving up from the world of compact cameras. They’re already accustomed
to it. Personally, I grew to love my CF cards — they’re thicker, and larger in every
dimension. I have a hard time holding the SDHC card, have difficulty inserting it and removing
it. But all the cameras I considered would have had this same issue for me.
As for performance, it seems to work just fine.
UPDATE, 2013.10.21: Eventually, I had to buy an SDHC card with a faster write
speed (right). The original one I’d bought (left) was too slow for video and high-speed
It’s supposed to make the shutter quieter when shooting with Live View, but... As far as I
can tell, it makes no difference in sound when you use this feature.
The four “Creative Filters” built into this camera are there for someone else
besides me, but I tested them anyway. It allows you to take a normal image, then apply any of
these four filters (miniature effect, grainy black and white, soft focus, or toy camera) with
varying degrees of strength.
Here’s my result of the “miniature effect”, with the original image posted below it:
But I’m accustomed to using a battery grip on the Rebels
(see image), so the
60D doesn’t really look large or feel heavy to me. The right-side grip is thicker and
protrudes more, but there’s nothing to hold onto at the bottom, so I likely will purchase
a third-party battery grip, if for no other reason than to hold the camera, but probably also for
the vertical shutter release button.
UPDATE, 2015.03.17: I did of course purchase a third-party (Vello) battery grip, as
noted elsewhere. It has stayed on the camera.
Wireless Flash Control
The ability to wirelessly control off-camera flashes via the 60D’s built in pop-up flash
is one feature Canon used to market this camera. As someone who uses wireless flash triggers
regularly to control off-camera flashes, it wasn’t a selling point for me.
I did however read the pages in the manual regarding this feature; the instructions seemed
needlessly complex. I doubt anyone freshly moving up from a compact camera or a lower-level DSLR
would understand it at all. I’d recommend flipping through the camera’s menu settings
and seeing what works.
Note that you can buy Cactus V4 flash triggers for $40-something, and the newer, better V5
triggers for about $60. Their instructions are simple: (1) put transmitter on your camera’s
hot shoe, (2) put flash on receiver’s hot shoe, (3) make sure transmitter and receiver are
set to same channel and that flash is turned on, (4) take pictures.
[Edited to add: I tested wireless flash control a few days later. My conclusions are
[Edited to add: I discovered and tested “face detection AF mode” on Feb. 20. My
conclusions are posted here.]