The Canon EOS D60 is not the first digital SLR (Single Lens Reflex) from Canon, and it will most definitely not be the last. But it is a very special model nevertheless, for several reasons. One of them, of course, is that it is the first digital SLR I have ever liked so much I decided to buy it. But I am getting ahead of myself here…
About the camera:
The EOS D60 is pretty much an exact copy of the D30, with one exception; The resolution.
I wrote an article here on E2 about Why digital cameras will replace APS and 35mm systems. My main argument was that you cannot get more resolution than about 6 megapixels from a 35mm negative.
The D30 set a new standard when it came – many – in particular people working for the press – photographers traded their 35mm equipment for digital for the first time, because the D30 behaves just like a normal film-based SLR. Not that the D30 was the first one to do this, but the D30 was the first camera that was even remotely affordable for most people.
The D60 – released in March 2002 - continues this legacy by upgrading the D30 from 3 megapixels to 6 megapixels, and adding a few other minor features.
*) Because the imaging chip is smaller than a 35mm negative, the focus length of the cameras have to be multiplied by 1.6. This means that a 100mm lens becomes an 160mm lens when mounted on the D60. This can be an advantage (a 400 lens becomes a 640 lens – cheap zooming power for hardly any money!) or a disadvantage, as the wide angle sector of the market is still quite sparse, and quite high in price. This is quickly changing, however.
Yeah, yeah.. Sounds great.. But what do those technical data mean?
Those data mean that the D60 is not really a digital camera. It is a full-fledged SLR that just happens to be digital. The specifications of the D60 are about the same as that of an Canon EOS 30 35mm film camera (which it was, in fact, built on). It is not part of Canon’s professional line of cameras, but with 6 megapixels and otherwise great performance, there is no reason not to use it professionally.
So how does it compare with 35mm photography?
Well – in many ways, it is a lot better. For one thing, the resolution of the CMOS chip is better than the "resolution" of 35mm film has ever been. It has been commonly acknowledged that it is pointless to scan a 35mm film in any more than 7 megapixel, because the actual grain in the film starts to show. With the D60, if you shoot in 800 ISO, the “grain” is significantly less visible than in a 35mm scan with the same ISO values.
Also – scanning a 35mm shot at full resolution takes roughly a minute at highest resolution. A full roll of film, therefore, takes about half an hour. Transferring the images from the D60 to the computer takes 3 minutes (or less, if you get a firewire cardreader)
How do you like the camera?
I have fallen in love with it. I have seen some great scans in my life, but on a recent fashion-shoot I did, upon reviewing the pictures at home, I could actually sit down and count the hair on the models’ arms. The resolution is incredible, and the fact that you can switch lenses, use proper external speedlights (flashguns), the fact that you don’t have to wait for your scans, and the fact that shutter lag is gone makes me very happy.
Is there anything bad about the camera then?
Of course. Nothing can be all good. The D60 has trouble focusing in low light, sadly enough. This is the same for all of Canon’s non-professional cameras, but it is rather sad, still. Of course, using an external speedlight helps a lot (it emits a red crosshair that the camera can use to lock on to), and if things get really bad, you can always focus manually.
Also, for some reason (and pretty depressing, when you buy a camera for £2000) Canon have not made Mac OS X drivers for the camera yet, so as of now, I have to reboot into OS 9 to transfer my images. I am assuming both Apple and Canon are working on this, though, and this problem is probably solved before the end of the month (i hope...) this was fixed with OS 10.1.4.