Outstanding image quality and a handy swiveling LCD screen earn the Canon EOS 60D a spot on plenty of experts' recommended lists, but it's not the slam-dunk it once was. The Best Reviewed Nikon D7000 (*Est. $1,000 body only) out-specs it in almost every way, and even the entry-level Canon EOS Rebel T4i (*Est. $850 with kit lens) packs a lot of the same features.
Swiveling LCD screen is ideal for video and odd-angle shots. The Canon EOS 60D has one very useful feature you won't find on the Nikon D7000: a tilt-and-swivel LCD screen. This proves especially handy when shooting at an unusual angle, bracing the camera against something or following action in movie mode. It's not as useful as it could be, however, because autofocus is sluggish when framing a shot with the LCD screen rather than the regular viewfinder, testers say. This is a common failing among digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras.
The cheaper Canon EOS Rebel T4i goes one better, with a tilting, swiveling screen that's also a touchscreen. It lets you tap to shoot, swipe to review photos and more, and reviewers say this makes the T4i incredibly easy to work with.
But if you frame your shot through the viewfinder, you'll notice that the 60D's is much bigger and brighter than the entry-level Rebel's -- one owner says it's like getting a bigger computer monitor -- although not quite as good as the Nikon D7000's. While you can see 100 percent of the scene through the Nikon's viewfinder, the 60D shows only 96 percent, so you might see unexpected stuff creep into the margins of your shots.
Unlike cheaper DSLRs, the Canon EOS 60D gets a second small LCD panel on top -- similar to pro DSLRs -- that lets you check and change settings at a glance. Overall, experts find the 60D generally comfortable to use, but they don't rhapsodize about its the way they do the intuitive, hassle-free controls of the EOS Rebel T4i and Nikon D7000.
Very good image quality and speed. The D7000 edges out the EOS 60D in head-to-head tests at CNET and Imaging-Resource.com, but it's always a close race. One area where the Canon outmuscles the Nikon is in megapixels. It features the same 18-megapixel compact sensor as the pricier Canon EOS 7D (*Est. $1,500 body only), which is similar to the one on the cheaper EOS Rebel T4i; the Nikon has 16 megapixels. It's a great sensor, experts say, and part of the reason these Canons always deliver outstanding images in tests.
And, yes, the EOS 60D's mega-megapixels do capture a tiny bit more detail than the D7000 in Imaging-Resource.com's test. But the more pixels you cram onto a compact sensor, the tinier each pixel has to be and the less light they can absorb. In dim light, the Canon has to work harder to suppress grainy image noise, and it winds up smearing away some of that detail. Both cameras deliver nice prints, even up to extreme ISOs, but the Nikon holds a slight advantage here.
Speed-wise, the Canon EOS 60D shoots slightly slower than the Nikon D7000, 5.3 frames per second (fps) versus 6 fps. The cheaper Rebel T4i can fire off 5 fps itself, although it sacrifices shutter speed and can't hold its burst speed as long, like all entry-level cameras. In movie mode, the EOS 60D can shoot full 1,080p HD video like most DSLRs these days. As with the Rebel T4i, it offers a choice of three full-resolution frame rates -- 24, 25 or 30 fps -- to give your footage slightly different looks. The Nikon D7000 can shoot full 1,080p resolution only at 24 fps.
However, the 60D lacks continuous autofocus in video mode; both the D7000 and Rebel T4i have it. You can autofocus while shooting with the Canon, but you must trigger it manually by half-pressing the shutter button. Either way, any sort of DSLR autofocus tends to make noise that shows up on your audio. Like the Nikon, the EOS 60D has a built-in mono microphone plus stereo mic jack; on the T4i, both are stereo.
Battery life is outstanding. The Canon EOS 60D is rated at 1,600 shots per charge, versus 1,050 for the Nikon D7000 and 550 for the EOS Rebel T4i.
All plastic, but it can still take abuse. While the Nikon D7000 wears metal panels on its top and back, the Canon EOS 60D's shell is entirely plastic. However, both cameras are sealed against dust and moisture, which you won't get on most entry-level models.
The Canon feels "durable enough to survive day-to-day life," says Mark Goldstein at PhotographyBlog.com. Owners agree, including one who dropped the 60D "from a countertop to hardwood floor with a heart-stopping thud sound," but it still worked.
Another 60D survived a 5-foot drop onto a street during a wedding. "The thing bounced, tore the flash bracket off the top of the camera and put a major [gouge] in the bottom corner," the owner writes at Amazon.com. "I picked up the bits -- major adrenalin rush with the bride due any second and too late to get out another camera. The camera worked (without flash). Everything is now fixed and I can tell you that this camera is tough."
Lacks a couple of key features. The Canon EOS 60D is missing two important add-ons that the Nikon D7000 boasts, according to reviewers. First, the 60D has just one memory card slot while the Nikon has two. Dual cards are handy, testers say: The second card can serve as automatic overflow or backup, or a place to stash videos or raw files.
Second, the Canon lacks autofocus fine-tuning, which editors at Imaging-Resource.com call "a shame of an omission." This feature can compensate for lenses that aren't tuned exactly right, and the Nikon has it.
Otherwise, the Canon EOS 60D is just as full-featured as other cameras in its price range. It has most of the goodies enthusiasts want, but Canon packs most of these -- like bracketing and built-in wireless flash control -- into its cheaper Rebel T4i, too. Both cameras include a few preset Scene modes, although not as many as the Nikon, to help you quickly get shots like Landscape and Portrait. Both also allow you to save your own favorite settings under three user modes; the Nikon allows two.
However, the enthusiast Canon EOS 60D is more customizable than the entry-level Canon T4i, allowing the user to set 20 custom functions versus eight for the T4i.
Review Credibility: Very Good Pros or semi-pros may prefer the more full-featured Canon EOS 7D, but many others will be happy with the EOS 60D's movable LCD screen, HD movie capability and very good image quality, testers say. Editors give the camera a DPReview.com Silver Award.
Review: Canon EOS 60D Review, Richard Butler and Simon Joinson, November 2010
Review Credibility: Very Good The Canon EOS 60D "takes great pictures and videos, works like a charm and does incredibly well in low light," reviewers conclude after lengthy testing. It was a top pick here, but the Nikon D7000 has supplanted it.
Review: Canon EOS 60D Review, Shawn Barnett, Dave Etchells, Mike Tomkins and Zig Weidelich, Jan. 29, 2011
Review Credibility: Very Good With a terrific HD movie mode, wonderful image quality and a handy vari-angle screen, the Canon EOS 60D is highly recommended by PhotographyBlog.com, although Goldstein later prefers the Nikon D7000.
Review: Canon EOS 60D Review, Mark Goldstein, Oct. 14, 2010
Review Credibility: Good On a Canon-sponsored trip to Yellowstone National Park, Ryan finds the EOS 60D mostly comfortable to use, with a movable LCD screen that helps with odd-angle shots. He compares the 60D to other Canon models.
Review: Hands On: Canon EOS 60D DSLR, Phil Ryan, Aug. 25, 2010
Review Credibility: Good In this head-to-head battle, the Canon EOS 60D loses to the Nikon D7000. Grunin and Goldman like the Canon's video quality a little better, but the Nikon's faster shooting and better design put it over the top.
Review: Prizefight: Canon EOS 60D versus Nikon D7000, Lori Grunin and Joshua Goldman, Feb. 10, 2011
Review Credibility: Good With more than 375 customer reviews posted, the Canon EOS 60D maintains an overall rating of 4.6 stars out of 5. Some comments are extremely detailed, and the few low ratings usually come from buyers who got faulty cameras.
Review: Canon EOS 60D 18 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of November 2012