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60D Review with real photos

January 20, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

Way back in October, Doris had a choir concert at St. Martin’s Lutheran Church near downtown. This was just after I got my 60D so it seemed a good time to test it out. These photos don’t strictly belong in this blog, but we’ll consider them part of a ‘real-world’ review. I feel a bit silly reviewing a 2-year old camera, but I’ll trudge on anyway. Each photo is linked to the full-size picture, except the last. Because of this and the length of the post, I didn’t see a need to include larger images within the post itself. All photos were processed with Adobe Lightroom 4.3. I’m still learning to use it, so results may not be great. Especially the indoor photos, due to difficult conditions.

St. Martin's Lutheran Church

Completed in 1929, the church is very pretty with ornate decorations, stained glass, etc. Nothing like the cathedrals in Montreal, of course, but much better lit… Afterwards, I walked up to The University of Texas campus and did some obligatory photos of the Tower. Unfortunately I spent too much time there and was only able to take a handful of photos at the Capitol before I had to get back to the concert.

St. Martin's Lutheran Church

I’ve used the Canon 40D for a few years now and honestly did not have much to complain about. Image quality and battery life are both great. The 10MP resolution is low for large prints as I found 24″ x 36″ to be too much. The only thing I really dislike is the screen resolution. It just isn’t high enough to determine if your photo is focused. I am generally somewhat depressed after looking at the photos on the back of the camera because they aren’t sharp, only to get home and realize that they are actually fine.

St. Martin's Lutheran Church

My new camera will actually be a 6D, but I needed a new backup. The 60D and 6D share the same memory card format and battery, so it’s a perfect match. I bought a refurbished 60D on sale from Canon’s online store. The 60D has numerous differences but here are the ones I consider to be the most important:

  • Megapixel count has increased from 10 to 18
  • Live View focus
  • Articulated, high-resolution screen
  • Ability to record video
  • Moved from CompactFlash to SD cards
  • Longer battery life
  • Lighter weight
  • Mode lock
  • And of course all the buttons have been changed and moved around…

The higher resolution images are welcome for large prints, but I am not happy with the small increase in noise. The large files also take longer to process and of course take up more space.

The University of Texas at Austin

I was looking forward to the Live View focus, but so far I have not had much success in the wild. The object you are focusing on needs to be still. Convincing an avian to sit still while your camera focuses does not work well in the real world. However, the new high resolution screen makes it much easier to use manual focus with Live View. The screen is by far my favorite feature. It is just awesome. My pictures look great on the camera and I can easily tell if they are in focus. The articulated (moveable) screen is actually pretty handy. I often find birds in locations that would require awkward positioning but since I can rotate the screen in multiple directions, it’s no longer a problem. (Although the 6D does not have this feature). The articulated screen is good for video, too. I rarely record video, but now that SLR’s have it, means I don’t have to carry around my pocket camera just for video.

The University of Texas at Austin

Even though I already have 2 or 3 CompactFlash cards, I don’t mind moving to SD. Because SD readers can be found built-into tablets and computers, I no longer need to carry a memory card reader (sort of; more on that someday). It also means my pocket camera and SLR now use the same cards, which is just one less extra thing to carry. This is invaluable when you are traveling.

The longer battery life is great, but not something I need. The lighter weight is also nice, as every ounce counts, but it’s not noticeable by me. (BTW, the following photo is obviously too bright in the sky. I haven’t yet figured out how darken just part of an image in Lightroom. Well, I can, but not well.)

Texas Capitol

One thing I do appreciate is the lock button on the mode dial. You can’t change camera modes without pushing this button. There have been so many times that I have found my camera in a different mode than I was expecting. This will finally prevent that and save some shots. The implementation is a bit wonky since you have to use one hand, however I don’t often change modes.

I am not thrilled about the new button layouts. The joystick has been replaced by directional pad, which I find hard to manuever, even though I don’t have large hands. The buttons on the top are much smaller. I prefer the 40D’s larger buttons which are much easier to press. I also don’t like that the order has changed. The button to light up the top LCD is now on the far right instead of the far left. This makes no sense to me. I rarely use it, so it’s previous position on the far left was great as I actually had to make a real effort to find and push it. Now, it’s the easiest button to push. No wonder I keep pushing a button and nothing happens. I only somewhat miss the white balance button, since I usually leave it on Auto and correct later on the computer.

Texas Capitol

I do think the 60D is producing better color on the photos and a more correct auto white balance, but I haven’t done any formal tests so take it as you will. I also tried out Highlight Tone Priority in some of these photos. I won’t be using it anymore since it is creating extra noise in the shadows. It is easier and cleaner for me to just recover highlights in the software later. All in all, it’s an excellent camera and one I would definitely recommend. If you don’t need giant 18 MP files, you can certainly use one of the smaller file sizes.

St. Martin's Lutheran Church

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