Don’t be scared of this Canon 60d review, be inspired! The banner above is a frame grab from my new feature length Zombie movie shot on the 60D.
The Canon EOS 60D DSLR Camera is the best of all the DSLR Cameras for its price, I’ll show you why in this Canon 60d review. Every Pro newspaper shooter I know uses the 60D, and swear by it. They love this camera. They shoot both stills and video on it. Sure the 5dMkIII is amazing, but do you really need to pay that much to get an awesome image? I don’t think so.
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So The Canon 60d Review:
First off there are three things that make me love the Canon 60D:
My latest short film shot on the 60d:
Evil Mermaid VS Foreign B Actor is a crazy, very surreal tale of the little mermaid gone bad. This battle is an original, random, weird and dreamlike story of magic powers, evil mermaid teardrops, bad dubbing, censorship, insanity, and B acting. I wanted to make it look like one of those cheesy poorly made kungfu movies with bad everything. It was fun and easy to make with the 60d, and it was a test of my skill to make something with practically no footage to work with.
Basically the 60D has the same image quality as the 7D, but is way more versatile, its cheaper, and has an added sound feature: manual levels. Great!
Now I shoot video. I am a pro photographer, I use the 60d, you can count on this review to be accurate. I’ve been in the business for over twenty years working in film and TV production in Berlin and Canada, and the Canon 60D is the best camera I have ever had in my hand, and believe me when I say I’ve used a lot of cameras in my time. That’s why I’m writing this 60d review. I remember the day when a video camera had to have the lens cap kept on it when not in use. Why? Because if unwanted bright spots, like a light, or even a reflection would enter the lens, and for a long enough time, it would burn a spot on the tube, and destroy the camera. Bad!
This review is probably not the most technical. I’m giving it to you straight up and practical.
So let me say that video cameras have come a long way since those days, and now the Canon 60D produces the best image I have ever had the pleasure to work with, for its price and size. Wow, just trying to write this Canon 60d review makes me so excited and breathless that I can barely go on. So let me catch my breath…
Ok, the 60D is an interesting and dynamic model indeed. It combines the best elements of the T2i and the 7D in a rugged body, tougher than the T2i, and lighter than the 7D or 5D, this is an advantage. I have had it out in rain storms too, and it was fine, but the 60d is not water proof. Although it is wise to keep cameras covered from the elements, even the pro cameras will eventually shut down after enough humidity gets inside. This happened to me when I was chasing a black bear through the streets of Calgary in the rain all day, my Panasonic just crashed.
Anyway, for the price, the photo quality of the 60D is incredible in my opinion, that’s why I’m writing this Canon 60d review. It can’t be beat. Why? It has a top notch cinematic look, beautiful skin tones, soft backgrounds when you use the right lens and aperture.
It is great in low light, but you need to have the right lens. It works great all the way up to ISO 1600, which I rarely ever have to use. You probably don’t want to go over ISO 1600 when shooting JPEGs.
Exposure and metering live up to my expectations. Canon’s 14-bit processing pipeline tends to deliver nice tonal range results, and the 60D seems to preserve detail in shadows and highlights well. And I love the ergonomics. The controls are quick and easy, and it is a snap to delete anything you don’t want, or manually change the white balance in a snap, something you can not do on the Pro Sony XDcam I’m shooting on right now for TV.
One big enhancement over the 50D is the video capture, and the 60D is perfect for this. The motion looks very smooth, and I couldn’t even get it to exhibit any rolling shutter at all, although the new Final Cut ProX will take care of this for you in a flash. Like all DSLR’s there was a bit of moire. And you can shoot 24p: frame rates and manual exposure controls that indie filmmakers love, and makes the 60D a great alternative to more higher end cameras for producing your indie films.
I would like to point out that the best thing about this Canon EOS 60D DSLR Camera is the 3-inch articulated LCD monitor for shooting video. It is easy to focus with the LCD, which flips out, and can be turned in any direction making it easy to use this camera for extreme angles, and keep in focus. This is exceptionally great for Steadicam work, and the 60D is the only Canon camera suited for Steadicams without buying super expensive remote control gear!
So this is my take. Let me explain the greatness of the 60d camera, point for point:
The photographic quality is simply breathtaking. The large sensor produces an image many times better the the Pro HD XDcam from Sony that I am shooting TV on right now, a camera worth many many thousands of dollars more to be sure.
The Canon 60D sensor size is actually the same size as 35 mm film. This means you get the same shallow depth of field as with 35 mm film, which means beautiful soft backgrounds, awesome portraits: easy to cerate the film look! It is almost impossible to reproduce this kind of cinematic beauty on the Sony XDcam, even though it has three sensors in the camera, one for each color, but they are all much smaller sensors.
Every time I upload something I have shot, or watch it on a full HD TV, or project it on my HD home theater system, it blows me away the awesome image you get for so little money. I have compared stuff shot on Red’s Epic with stuff shot on the 60D, and I can not see any big difference. Of course the comparison was done on a computer screen, the difference would be seen perhaps on a big cinema screen. However, I doubt if the average viewer would notice it even on the big screen?
I’m going to point out the amazing ability to change lenses on an HD video camera that cost less than $1500 dollars: number one reason film makers love the 60d and other DSLRs.
So here I am after twenty years of professional camera work shooting 35mm cinematic quality, with a camera so lite I can hang it around my neck, or put on a feather lite tripod. Its a camera I can take into a park, or a bus, or pretty much anywhere without drawing attention to myself: try doing that with a film crew.
I just finished shooting the first few scenes of a new feature length zombie movie I am shooting on the Canon 60D, and I did it alone, even the Steadicam work. I shot all day, and I still had energy to shoot more. Let me tell you the pleasure it is to have such power in a camera that comparatively weighs almost nothing.
The 60D is lighter than the 7D or 5D, and works best on a Steadicam, or in my case, the flycam nano. Setups that would take an entire crew hours to create are done in minutes with the 60D. Just pick up the camera and move it in for close-ups, or out for wide shots. In a lot of cases you do not even need a light, maybe just a little battery powered fill, as the camera is so awesome with the ISO.
For a Pro who has been lugging around super heavy cameras for decades this is like paradise, a dream come true, especially because of the large cinematic image you get out of it, which would otherwise need a crew to move and set up to get the same results.
Now I paid $800 for The 60D body at B and H Christmas sale, that was it. How can you beat that price! You are getting a Hollywood sized sensor for $800 to 900. I would never have thought this even possible three years ago.
The Right Lens
Important: you have to get a good lens. Why? No Camera, and its super sized sensor, in the world, is worth anything without the right glass. You need to have a good lens. Don’t get a kit lens. Get a prime lens, a fixed focal length, the fastest one you can get. 1:8 or less. This will help you to use less ISO when it is dark. I have a Sigma 28mm 1:8, which becomes a 50mm when taking the cropping of the sensor into consideration, and the lowest I go is ISO 600. At ISO 600 you will not see any noise, and I have actully lit a scene with a single cigarette lighter at ISO 600. AMAZING!
Yes, glass is very important! This Canon 60d review would not be complete without pointing out the impotence of a good lens.
Having 1k, 2k, 5k images means nothing if it looks terrible, vignetted, or soft! A good lens will make almost any sensor look good. But cheap glass will make any great DSLR look bad. Buy the Sigma W/A 28mm f/1.8 EX Aspherical DG DF Macro AF Lens This is a full frame lens so if you buy the 5D later it will work on it too. Always buy full frame lenses so upgrading won’t be a problem. Plus the Sigma 28mm can do macro, and uses 9 blades to give you wonderful round soft cinema looking backgrounds.
Another thing I want to touch on in this Canon 60d review is audio. A lot of photographers ignore it, or forget that a film is not just a picture, but also audio. Sometimes if the audio does not work, the image means nothing. I would go as fare as to say that sometimes the audio is more important than the image. So it is wise to put some thought into this. A DSLR camera was never meant to be a video camera. It is a still camera with an incredible HD video option. With the right accessory you an turn that still camera into a top notch HD video camera. Yes, it is important to have greatsound to match your great image, and thank God the 60d has a manual audio level option, only controlling it during recording is impossible.
But the manual option is good. Why? Because you can override the AGC (Automatic Gain Control) amps built inside. Unfortunately owners of the 7d do not have this option. But there is hope. All you need to get is a preamp, which can disable the AGC externally. A preamp is a must have accessory if you are planning to shot a movie on a DSLR. Get it for the 60d too. Preamp’s are very low noise, and will give you gain control, and external metering, and headphone metering. This means you can control your sound during recording on the 60d. You can also use pro microphones with XLR inputs or 3.5 minijacks. A preamp is a must have accessory.
Now let go beyond this review:
Another huge reason to buy the 60d instead of the 7d, and another reason for this Canon 60d review, is the fact that one of the best third party firmware updates that you can get for a Canon DSLR is not available for the 7d. This update is called Magic Lantern, and it will turn your still DSLR into a pro HD cinema camera, offering more options than even my Sony XD cam has.
It will put the audio levels in your monitor so you can actually see them while shooting. It will give you every kind of crop mark, and custom crop marks, time-lapse (although limited) Zebra, green screen levels to get evenly lit GS, FPS override, bit rate override, just to mention a few… Magic Lantern is the biggest gift given to indie film-makers around. The guys who created it are geniuses. Magic Lantern is truly magical, and you can get it for the 60d. I use it all the time to shoot movies.
The best thing is that the firmware does not replace your official Canon firmware, but runs along side it, installed on each of your memory cards. The trick is when you find your optimal settings, be sure that each card is set up the same way, so you don’t start shooting with one card, pop in the next card, and everything looks different. I love Magic Lantern on the 60d! (Warning: your guarantee will no longer be valid after using ML, and ML is not for beginners! Before installing it please know the 60d, or 5d, inside and out…)
Go for it! If you enjoyed this 60d review, Get the Canon EOS 60D DSLR Camera now!