Canon 60D: A Buying Guide

Canon 60D

It seems that I have neglected to update my camera situation on the blog. My used Canon Digital Rebel has been replaced by my new Canon 60D after a few years of use and faltering AF system. I think I may have mentioned that I had my heart set on getting a Canon 7D but I couldn’t seem to find one that was within my price range that was also in good, working order. The main reason I chose to get a 60D over the 7D is that it is almost half the price. The only compromise, I don’t know if I would even call it that at this point, would be that the 60D is a model down from the 7D.

I bought my 60D body on sale at Best-Buy for $850 in August. By purchasing the 60D I was able to get it straight from in-store pickup, brand new in the box. If I had tried to get a 7D, I would have only been able to afford a used body and I would’ve had almost no money for accessories. At the time I thought, “I probably don’t need that many accessories, and even so, they probably won’t amount to that much money. I already have a memory card that is compatible and a few lenses to get me by for a while” I was completely wrong. I’m glad I did get the 60D because I was then able to purchase all the accessories that I wanted, like a battery grip, a dual battery charger, a bunch of batteries, and most importantly, memory cards.

What had happened, and I kind of expected this but it’s only my second DSLR, is that there would be large increase in resolution from the Digital Rebel to the 60D. I went from shooting a 4GB CF card that I very rarely filled, to shooting a 32GB class 10 SDHC SanDisk memory card on the 60D. Had I not had the money I saved from getting the 60D instead of a 7D, I wouldn’t have been able to get that memory card. The 60D made it very easy to fill 32GB of memory very quickly. This isn’t really a problem for me, but I like to have an extra memory card. This way, I have the option of shooting more if, after I fill the first card, I want to keep shooting or it seems like I still have a few things in mind that I hadn’t gotten to within the first 32GB. I was taken aback by the fact that I had just bought 2 32GB SDHC cards within a few days of each other seeing as I never really filled my 4GB card that often. On paper it is a noticeable change to go from shooting a 12-bit 6 megapixel RAW file to a 14-bit 18 megapixel RAW file, I just didn’t think it would mean buying two memory cards that are 8x larger in capacity than the one I had been using. Buying the 60D instead of the 7D left me with enough money to purchase the extra 32GB card.

As for the all the other accessories, I wasn’t going to buy a new DSLR without them. I mainly want to focus on the battery grip and all the extra batteries. It may not seem like that big of a change until you use a camera that has a grip attached. The grip certainly makes shooting verticals easier because there is now an extra shutter on the bottom of the camera. Now, you don’t have to twist your hand around so that your wrist is perpendicular to the camera, it stays straight and causes much less strain. The added weight of the battery grip makes my camera feel a little more solid and is much easier to hold because I have big hands. The cartridge for the grip houses two rechargeable batteries instead of one so you can shoot twice as long. For me, the less time I have to spend switching out batteries and memory cards, the better. My point is really, that in buying a 60D I was able to spend money on the other things that really make the camera 110% better for me than my old one.

Like any buyer, I noticed that the 60D specs weren’t as good as the 7D specs. Of course, specs are what creates a separation between those two models. However, from an outsider’s perspective, it could seem like the 60D is very different from the 7D.

  • The 60D does 5.3FPS and the 7D does 8FPS. 
  • The 60D is built out of a slightly different material than magnesium alloy.
  • The 60D doesn’t have 100% viewfinder coverage.

The differences are so small and when you read reviews there are a lot of knit-picky people that make a huge deal out of those things. Another reason things like megapixels and frames-per-second are stressed in reviews and on spec sheets is because it’s all part of a marketing strategy. I don’t think I have ever talked to a sales associate that has failed to mention how many megapixels a camera has or hasn’t tried to sell me on a stupid feature that I’m never going to use. Sure, megapixels are probably something to keep in the back of your head when buying, but keep a few other things in mind. I wanted a camera that had a wider ISO range, maybe a few more megapixels but most cameras in retail stores have a good amount of megapixels already so you can’t really go wrong there. I was mainly looking for something that had a faster turn around time from after shooting a RAW image to being able to view it on the LCD screen on the back of the camera. My Digital Rebel took minutes to view any images after shooting just four RAWs. This wasn’t a problem with the camera, that’s just the way it’s built, but wasn’t really keeping up with me in terms of the pace that I wanted to shoot at, this why I upgraded.

Corporations like Canon and Nikon put those types of things like megapixels and FPS on their boxes because that’s all the newer models really have going for them, what’s better than the old one. They also play off of a lack of knowledge in their consumer bases. It’s more beneficial for the guy that’s head of the marketing branch to make it seem like you need 8FPS instead of 5 because he wants you to buy the product or he is out of a job. In reality, are you really going to notice? Apart from the name tag printed on the box, if you stripped down these two cameras could you really tell the difference? Not really.

When I picked up my camera from Best-Buy, I was excited, but I was doubtful because I really wanted a 7D but I was surprised to find that the 60D still blew me away. I expected there to be a clear separation of features and specs between the two that would make me say, “yeah, it’s alright but it isn’t a 7D” which is what I was hearing from a lot of reviewers. I have absolutely no complaints about this camera. It’s important to keep in mind when reading reviews that a lot of people have had better cameras than you and most of them probably aren’t making a huge jump from one model to the next. I went from using a Canon Digital Rebel which was the first DSLR Canon put into production around 2003, and I went to the 60D which came out around 2010. I only wish I had purchased this camera sooner, I did not know what I was missing.

Let’s just do a quick recap.

We talked about a lot of things to keep in mind when purchasing a camera. I tried to make this as universal as possible while still sharing my experience.

  1. What camera do you really want? (Are you actually just looking for more megapixels? or multiple things? is your current camera broken in any way?)
  2. What’s the next camera down that fits in your price range?
  3. How do the two cameras compare? (Things they put on the box: ergonomics, FPS, megapixels, crop sensor or full frame, ISO range. Things they don’t put on the box: durability, speed and transfer rate from camera to memory card)
  4. Is there really a noticeable difference from one model to the next?
  5. Being able to use money that is saved by buying the cheaper model for accessories and if you expected to purchase them. (I would not have gotten a new camera without a battery grip)
  6. Taking reviews into your decision. (I almost never buy anything off of Amazon that isn’t rated at least four stars)
  7. Realize that you can only take a reviewers opinion so far, eventually you just have to try the camera out. Most stores will let you check a camera out before you buy it as long as it is in-stock. 
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