Thursday, August 26, 2010

Canon Launches Dumbed-Down EOS 60D, 8 New Lenses

The Canon 60D: devolution in action

R.I.P. Canon xxD line as we know it. After 2 years, the long-lived Canon EOS 50D finally gets a successor, sort of, in a dumbed-down EOS 60D.

So why all the gloom at the new camera?

To put it bluntly, the new 60D is no true successor to the 50D at all. In fact, when compared to the camera it "replaces," the 60D is actually quite a bit of a devolution in technology that is more like a high-end rebel than the semi-pro body the 50D was. Obviously, the Canon development strategy had to be thinking something along these lines: the 7D is too close to the xxD line as-is, and we don't want a 60D cannibalizing 7D sales, so let's dumb down the camera and slot it in between the 50D and Rebel T2i, instead.

Result: a camera a lot of 50D buyers won't even be considering. Brilliant!

First big change, the 60D loses the metal body that was first introduced way back with the EOS 10D in 2003. Instead, it gains a plastic shell like the Rebels that will hardly inspire confidence. Second, the continuous shooting is slower, a lot slower. While the 50D could do 6.3 frames a second with a continuous burst of up to 16 RAWs and 90 JPEGs, the 60D can only shoot at 5.3 fps and, while it can do 16 RAWs, too, it can only manage 58 JPEG files. Another huge gripe for 50D and ancestor model owners hoping to upgrade their camera is the fact that the 60D uses SD memory cards, not the CF cards that the xxD line has used for its entire existence.
Another feature (or lack thereof) sure to disappoint: no AF microadjust! Yes, this feature is one that most people will probably never have to use, but should you buy a lens that just doesn't want to focus where it should, this can save a lot on shipping fees and asprin, too. Truly, this is the one feature short of full frame that may lead me to consider dumping the 30D as it does everything else I need it to do.

Now, onto the controls.

By looking at the buttons on the camera, one can see that there are a lot less, which means more diving into LCD screen menus to change settings. Yuck! On top of the camera, the dual function buttons are gone, replaced by single function ones. Obviously, without adding buttons to the top of the camera, two of the dual functions seen on previous xxD models had to go: the white balance control (also gone from the top LCD screen along with file quality setting) and the exposure compensation. Onto the back of the camera. Another change to the 60D's functionality is the fact that it loses the joystick that was seen on the other xxD models through the 50D. Instead, a button setup designed for the same function is placed inside the rear quick control dial (which, thankfully, remains!). Unfortunately, one has to tap this button (rather than simply move it in a given direction) to get it to work. Other losses include the second custom setting position on the right dial, the function button, and the picture style button. Instead, users are forced to use an on-screen Q menu to do things that, on the older cameras, could be done with the touch of a button. Now, for the buttons that haven't been removed, haven't been removed, they've been rearranged all over the rear of the camera.

Oh boy, isn't change great!

Okay, enough griping, now for some changes that aren't bad, but not really improvements, either. The 60D adds the 3:2 aspect ratio (same as the pictures themselves) LCD screen first seen on the Rebel T2i. Unlike the Rebel, though, the 60D's screen articulates, which is something many other camera makers have been doing for some time now. Oh yes, the pixel count goes up to 18Mp, too. As a last 'you decide' change, the rear control wheel is now unlocked via button rather than switch. AS an added feature designed to help shooters keep track of their images, there is now an organization function that allows photographers to assign each picture a 'star' value, ranging from 1-5.

Now, for a real improvements in functionality. The 60D shows 3 stops of exposure compensation rather than the 2 seen on the 50D, which is good. Naturally, as befits all other dSLRs of today, the 60D adds a video mode, thus expanding photographic applications. With the new mode comes a dedicated movie button and a position on the mode dial, too. Another addition that has trickled down from the 7D is an electronic level to ensure that your horizons are indeed horizontal.

So, after this extensive analysis, who is the 60D for?

Current xxD shooters may want to skip this one and just spring for the 7D instead, as the 60D is, in many ways, a devolution from your current camera when it comes to user-friendliness. That, plus the need to buy new memory cards, may not sit well with a lot of people. However, for current Rebel users/prospective Canon buyers, the 60D has a lot to offer. The user-friendliness is, without doubt, a step above that of the Rebels and many of the capabilities of the camera are clear-cut improvements, too. Are they worth the extra $200? That's up for you to decide.

Me you ask? As a 30D shooter, I sure won't be buying a 60D.
Now for some good news all Canon shooters can appreciate: new glass!
Canon 70-300 f4-5.6L (said to be 'affordable')
Canon 8-15 f4 fisheye (world's first fisheye zoom as far as I know)
'II' versions of the 300 and 400 2.8Ls
'II' versions of the 500 and 600Ls (press release)
'III' versions of the 1.4 and 2x teleconverters

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