10.09.2010

My take on the Canon 60D.

So.  I have had a Canon 60D for all of two days but I've already learned a good deal of stuff about the camera.  When my friends who shoot Canon ask about it they generally ask me two questions.  The first one is about how good the autofocus is and whether it will work for sports.  The second question is usually about how good the high ISO image quality is.  As for the AF.......works fine for me.  But lately I've been more interested in how well the camera can assist me in manually focus different Zeiss lenses.  When it comes to IQ and noise at high ISO's I guess the easiest way to find out is to round up a snarly looking teenager and have him sit still as I try a few exposures at every ISO setting and then plop them onto the computer and take a look.  

What I've shot below are images of Ben at 100 thru 6400 ISO.  I shot with two 500 LED lights covered with Rosco toughspun diffusion.  I set an aperture of 2.2 all the way through and changed the shutter speed in step with my changing ISO's.  I didn't change the lighting intensity, distance of subject to the lights or any other parameter.  I shot in basically the default settings.  Most importantly I shot with the noise reduction set to standard.  The files are Jpegs.  They started life as Large/Fine.  No changes were done in post.  No extra noise reduction added.  The color setting was "Standard".

It's pretty easy to see that the color and the exposure remain pretty consistent from ISO 100- 6400.  If you enlarge the 6400 exposure you will find some color noise which I think could be pretty well ameliorated with a bit of noise reduction in Lightroom or PhotoShop.  The sharpness remains high.  I could have done this test in raw but then it becomes, partially, a test of the raw converter as well.  If the camera can do this nice a jpeg right out then chances are the raw files will be pretty easy to handle as well.

Yes.  I know I would have gotten more hits if I used a "hot swimsuit model" but Ben was already hanging out in the studio and the fee was reasonable.

Ben ISO 100
Ben ISO 200
Ben ISO 400
Ben ISO 800
Ben ISO 1600
Ben ISO 3200
Ben ISO 6400


So much for the nerdish pixel peeping.  A camera is only half measured by its performance around these parts.  The other half of the measure is the way the camera handles.  While some of the controls have been moved around and some button commands that were dedicated on the 7D and 5D2 have been placed on the "Q" menu I was able to move through the "what the hell does this do?" stage pretty quickly.  Most of the menu items remain the same.  I have medium sized hands and find that the 60D fits me much more comfortably than either the 5D2 or the 7D.

I think the autofocus is faster and more assured than on the 5 and less lethally quick than on the 7D.  As I only shoot swimming, and then usually in bright daylight, I think the performance will be great for me.  Most of my use is for walk around art.  And that doesn't happen at the speed of light.

Here are five random things I like about the 60D:

1.  It uses the same battery and charger as the 5 and 7.  Yippee! More back up batteries and chargers.

2.  It is smaller and a bit lighter than the other two cameras.  Big bonus if used as a street shooting machine.

3.  It still feels solidly built.  Very solidly built.  Perfect balance, too.

4.  It does really great video.  The footage looks nice.  The sound quality is good.  The menus are straightforward and the swivel LCD is perfect (and beautiful to look at).  If you needed to choose a good, all around video platform I think this is the body I'd pick.  I'll let you know more after I've had a chance to shoot it in hot weather.  That's the nemesis of the Canons for video.....

5.  Strangely enough,  I like the SD card memory.  I have a ton of cards.  You can carry a pocketful.  They're plentiful, cheap and work.

Here are a few things I think are not so good:

1.  ..................


Okay.

As far as image quality goes I find that I like the way it renders flesh tones better than its predecessors.  I also like how quick the black out time in the finder is.

The bottom line is that the camera is sharp enough and fast enough for professional work at a high level. Two of these cameras and a small selection of lenses would be a great starting point for someone who wanted to venture into both still photography and the world of multi-media.  For my shooting I'd choose the following lenses:  15-85,  60 EFS macro,  70-200L (whichever one you can afford.  They are all good.  My preference is for the f4 with no IS.  It's cheap and lightweight but very, very sharp).  The whole package would be under $5000 and you'd be ready, from the camera angle, to compete in the professional arena.  Of course the lights and stands and microphones and stuff are a whole other post.

Why did I buy a 60D if I already had a 7D and a 5D2?  I wanted a stealthier camera to take out on walks and when shooting for myself.  I wanted a back-up for the EFS system which I find myself using more and more.  The 5D2 makes nice files but I find myself not particularly enamored of its feel and ergonomic functionality.  I'm keeping it around for the really nice background blur I can get with sharp lenses but, at ISO 100-400 I feel that the other two Canons yield files that are just as nice.

Cameras need to hang out in pairs.  The EFS cams are my day to day cameras.  The full frame seems to always be a special use tool.  Especially in video, where my problem is usually not enough stuff in focus rather than too little.

Should you buy this camera?  Hmmmm.  How the heck should I know.  Maybe you're very happy with your 1DSmk3 or your D60.  If it works I guess you don't need to change.  I spend a lot of time with a camera in my hand and a lot of time messing with files.  If this keeps me from having to change lenses as often when out on location and the files process better then I can easily justify the expense.  Especially since the markets are visibly starting to recover.

Hope life is good.  More to come.

23 comments:

Trent Chau said...

good job Kirk.

Jimmy said...

Thanks for a good piece of information. I already own the 7D and I wish it had the articulating LCD screen as 60D does.

Randy said...

Thank you for an informative incite into this camera... I want it just for the articulating screen alone. That to me makes photography so much easier to be creative with!

Anonymous said...

Thanks.
KokiDS

Jonathon Delacour said...

I'm seriously thinking about picking up a Canon 60D but am delaying the purchase until I can read a comprehensive report on how well the camera can assist me in manually focusing different Zeiss (and Leica-R) lenses. Hopefully, "more to come" means you already have a post in progress about the 60D and MF...

Raianerastha said...

Thanks Kirk. I always like how your comments on a camera combine practical issues of handling with real world assessment of IQ. Does the 60D have soul?

I'm considering the camera especially because of Canon finally having the swivel LCD. However, I'm currently an Olympus user and it would be a "2 system" decision. Do you have any plans on trying out the E-5 when it becomes available to see how it shows off your Zuiko lenses?

kirk tuck said...

RAianerastha, I haven't had the 60D long enough for it to have revealed itself to me fully. I'll let you know about its intangibles when/if I find them.

As to the e5, I'd love to test one. I'll get in touch with the reps once they launch and see if I can get a review copy. The chip should be really good. We'll have to see if it's as good a value as a 7D. Thanks.

Jonathon, It's your turn. You buy a 60D and you tell us how the manual focusing works. Seriously, I'm using it pretty much exclusively with a MF 50mm. So far the focus confirmation has returned better focus than the same lens on a "calibrated" 5d2....

On the articulating screen. I haven't used it in any orientation other than as a flat screen on the back. We'll see if it's really work the sweat when we do the next video.

Doug said...

I think this is interesting Kirk. I'm not a D3 series user, but I've used them a lot and my next camera will be of that ilk, for a number of reasons.

You make a lot of good points re:usability and redundancy, but when it comes down to ergonomics, I really LIKE the cameras with the integrated vertical grip, especially with lenses of the 70-200 variety and larger. Smaller cameras just seem too unbalanced without the grip.

Now I know my commentary is a bit apples to oranges, as I'm a primarily wedding shooter, shooting thousands of frames a weekend (something I've tried to cut back on, especially after Zarias pointed me to this - http://smogranch.wordpress.com/2010/05/28/whats-old-is-new-return-to-weddings/), but as a guy with bigish hands, I find my fingers uncomfortable after 8-12 hours with a smaller body.

Also, I'm tired of having to send my D700 in for repair after I beat it up weekend after weekend. I haven't done the math, but with it having gone in for repair twice (totaling about $600) in the last six months, I suspect the D3 series ruggedness may pay for itself in the long run. (Especially as with 140k+ clicks my D700 is approaching the end of it's estimated shutter's life).

As for IQ, I think we're fast approaching a point where ISO noise is a moot point. Even in dark churches I rarely find myself above 1600 ISO at 2.8, probably only half a dozen times this year or so. I think this will push ISO out of the reasons to buy a camera, and things like ergonomics and overall usability will come to the forefront in importance.

kirk tuck said...

Doug, Everyone's hands are different and my tall friends with big hands hate some of the cameras I love. You sound like you are really rough on cameras. I shoot a lot of frames but I'm not too rough with my gear. It generally looks pretty much new after the year or so I spend with it. Everyone's working methodology is different but I'd rather have five $1K cameras than one $5K camera. I think they last just about as long and with digital you'll know pretty quickly if you have a camera problem. My smaller hands wrap around the 60D just right. Even better, for me, that the 7 or the 5.

Sheygetz said...

What about the viewfinder compared to the 7D? Don't you miss the three custom modes on that? The idea that finally all buttons are on the right-hand side and you don't have to move your lens hand, really appeals to me. I never used the small buttons lining the secondary display (which I cannot see w/o putting on reading glasses anyway), but the Q screen. So I don't care that these buttons lost their duo functionality.

Bill Beebe said...

It looks to be Canon's equivalent of the Olympus E-30, with the 7D the equivalent of the E-3/E-5. And it looks like Canon is doing the same thing that Panasonic/Olympus does, use the same (or nearly the same) sensor while varying processor capability, running from the least capable on the T2i up to the most capable on the 7D. Looking at it from an engineer's perspective, it looks like the 60D is the most cost-effective of the three.

Silvertooth said...

Kirk,
Thanks for the insight. I was about to email you about this camera and accompanying lenses. My trusty Oly E-500 is too slow to focus and the control switch is getting a little flaky. Besides, this weekend alone two different friends saw my bird and mountain photos and asked me to shoot their daughters' weddings!?! I need a flash--I don't know that I want to stick with Oly since I mostly shoot (or should I say photograph) birds. So it is a good time to upgrade and maybe switch to Nikon or Canon. Decisions, decisions!
Thanks,
Silvertooth

Bill Millios said...

While I love the idea of the articulating viewer (I had one on my old Canon G4 P&S, and loved it) - the SD cards are a deal-breaker - for now.

They're so small - I worry about losing them! Plus, I already have a bunch of CF cards - I don't need another card "system" cluttering up the workflow. I have the 5D II now, if I get another camera, it will either be another 5DII, or the 7D or the 1D IV, depending on the economic situation at the moment...

Doug said...

I am pretty rough on my gear, though I'd definitely rather have a $5k camera. I realize that to most people the D700 D3 difference is slight, but I've found the extra responsiveness of the higher end cameras makes a difference for what and how I shoot. They just seem to do a better job getting out of the way and letting me make photos.

Alan said...

"less lethally quick"
Your quotes are one of the reasons why I read your blog, though at times I put myself at risk at spraying the monitor with coffee (or wine).

I didn't know how fast and sharp the 7d/70-200 combo was until I shot college football this past weekend and saw sharp images that I at first was not sure about in the viewfinder. The shots of Ben give me a good idea of the ASA capability of the 60D. Do you see the 60D getting use in your theater shots for available light over the 7D?

kirk tuck said...

Alan, Thanks! As to the 60D' high ISO muscle.....I'd use both the 7D and the 60D at 3200 with passionate impunity. Given the need I'd pull out the 5d2 for 6400. They're all good.

Richard said...

"I spend a lot of time with a camera in my hand and a lot of time messing with files. If this keeps me from having to change lenses as often when out on location and the files process better then I can easily justify the expense. "

??

Are you simply saying that the 60D requires less PP?

kirk tuck said...

Richard, I should be clearer. Having a second or third camera means I don't have to change lenses as often during a project. Having a camera that does better files (especially in Jpeg) also saves me time in the post processing phase. Two different ideas that I lumped together in haste. thanks for mentioning it.

Richard said...

Kirk, thanks for the clarification and the interesting article. Yes, it is easy to see the time (and shots captured) by simply grabbing the body with the desired lens, especially in your favored street photography environment.

Cheers!

Calvininjax said...

Kirk, you mentioned in the piece that you were more concerned these days as to how easy it is to manually focus Zeiss ZE lenses but never gave an answer with regard to the Canon 60D.

I would be interested in your thoughts.

kirk tuck said...

Amazingly, I find the 50 ZE easier to focus with the 60D than with the 5d2!!!! I've given up trusting myself entirely and use the focus confirmation to be sure. But seriously, it's a nice screen for focusing. Amazed.

kirk tuck said...

I'll take the 60D out first every time. Now that I've had time with it I think it's great.

Canon 1.8 Lens said...

Thanks for an idea, you sparked at thought from a angle I hadn’t given thoguht to yet. Now lets see if I can do something with it…