I was privileged enough to be able to play with the new 60D body for a short while (a very short while!) and all in all I must say that although I was a bit sceptic about where this body is aimed at, I was pleasantly surprised. The body we had in hand was a pre-production body, and although the rule is generally that you should not make your final assessments on these bodies, they are generally very close to the final product.
This is the first real styling change that Canon has brought into the new bodies. It was definitely the opportune time to do it, as this body tries to go in a slightly different direction with features like the LCD display that can swivel up and out of the body like the old G6/G7 Point-&-Shoots. The top plate’s buttons are shaped according to the angle of the design, with a small touch, a little nob on the frequently used ISO button.
The body came under a lot of criticism because of the new “all plastic” build, but to be honest, I couldn’t tell the difference. Seriously though, I think that if you dropped a body hard enough to crack the plastic casing, then you would have had a problem with an aluminum shelled body as well! The body is still too small for my big hands, so I would get a battery grip on it (but that is a personal preference) All in all it feel pretty solid, and responsive. The buttons worked easy and comfortably, nice and responsive. Movement through menu’s is the standard Canon style, but Idid confuse myself a bit. The menu options change according to the program dial settings. Video Settings can only be changed in Video mode, “Green Block” program removes almost half of the menus from the display. In this sense, It feels like Canon is trying to entice users to move up to a slightly higher end body. Speaking of the Video Mode. For some reason Canon decided to move the buttons that access the video features for the fourth time in so many models. Right now it’s located on the program dial for the 60D.
For some reason, Canon decided to re-introduce a locking button on the program dial. Why they did this, I can’t really fathom. Sure they had a good reason, just don’t know what it is. On my old EOS 5 film camera, I had the same locking button that you need to depress before making a change to the program settings (Av to Tv to Manual, etc) I broke mine twice just because we were working fast, and didn’t depress the button far enough while turning the button. Maybe this is built a bit better than the old film bodies, but I think it may become a problem.
I have mentioned the articulating LCD before. Personally I think I will break it off at some point. It’s not flimsy, I am just a bit hard on my cameras. What I do like about it though is that you can now close up the screen when the camera is in the bag, protecting it a bit. Also nice, for beginners, you can force yourself not to get instant feedback. If you can’t see the back display, you can try and make adjustments, forcing you the think and meter and learn like with film. The LCD is sharp and bright, easy to see and easy to work. The fact that you can change your viewing angle makes it infinitely usable in a whole range of situations.
The AF seems to be very responsive. Still slow and slugish in LiveView mode, but noticeably faster and more “sure” in backlight conditions than a 5DmkII for instance. Not as many focus points and AF options as a 7D, and definitely no second processor to handle AF functions. This didn’t seem to hamper the camera at all (and really, it shouldn’t). Running the frames was also surprising fast. Again, not quite the FPS of a 7D but definitely faster than a 5D2. The shutter is amazingly quiet. Almost sounds like the shutters on the 5 and 7D when already with an open mirror on LiveView mode. This will be a put-off for some people that want to feel the mirror slap, but in a wedding or event, the quiet function will be a plus.
Most importantly is the noise characteristics of this camera. Keeping in mind that it’s a pre-production model, I was amazed. Noise comparison seem to be 1 to 2 stops better than my 7D. If nothing else, I think this will sell the camera as a second camera to event photographers.. maybe even the primary. Nice to be able to shoot a wedding in natural light at ISO1600 and up, with minimal noise reduction necessary in post processing. From my side, as a stock photographer, it would be infinitely valuable. I would even consider carrying a body like this just for interior work, like places where tripods are not allowed (cathedrals and museums, etc.)
I think this camera will become the camera of choice for learning institutions, It’s easy to work, easy to set-up, more than advanced enough to shoot anything, and the low-light capabilities this camera seems to have, will allow for a very wide range of creative uses, both photographically and on the cinematography side.