At A Glance: Camera Angles

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As you already know, even with the cool firmware upgrades, the Canon EOS 5D Mark II is getting a little long in the tooth. Since the 5D Mark II was released over two years ago, Canon has launched several new HD video-enabled DSLRs that have been used to shoot every type of production—from feature films to family outings.

The EOS 60D is Canon’s newest DSLR and is positioned between the Rebel T2i and 7D. The camera contains an 18-megapixel, APS-C-sized CMOS sensor and a new single DIGIC 4 image processor. The sensor of the 60D is roughly the same sensor as the 7D (22.3×14.9mm), although the 60D’s body is significantly smaller and lighter (1.6 pounds compared to the 7D’s 2 pounds). From a still-photography perspective, one of the biggest differences between the two systems is the 7D’s 19 cross-type AF points compared to the 60D, which has only nine points. For video, this isn’t much of a factor since autofocus is rarely used, due to the nature of most DSLR lenses.

One of the most talked about new features of the 60D is its Vari-angle LCD screen, which enables a shooter to compose shots at high or low angles. Not only will the Vari-angle help assist you with handheld work—especially if you’re holding the camera at your feet or above your head—but if you’re working on a tripod or a moving camera stabilizer like the Camtrol, you won’t have to be eye-level with the camera in order to see what you’re shooting. The 60D’s 3.0-inch, flip-out LCD also has higher resolution than the 7D (1,040,000 dots vs. 920,000). Like the other Canon HD DSLRs, if you want to use a larger external monitor, you can output a video signal through its HDMI port, but unlike the 7D, it outputs only a standard-def signal because of its single DIGIC processor. Another issue with the Vari-angle LCD is that there isn’t a Zacuto viewfinder fitted for the 60D, unfortunately, which also can help with magnification. All in all, I’m a big fan of the Vari-angle, but if you’re working on bigger-budget productions where professional external monitoring is needed, the 7D may be a better fit.

In terms of operational controls, there are a few minor differences between the 60D and the 7D—pluses and minuses. One noticeable feature not found on any of the Canon HD DSLRs is the dedicated video setting on the 60D’s mode dial, which engages Live View or movie capture. Because it’s more of an entry-level DSLR, the camera lacks a white-balance control button, which forces you to make color temperature changes in the menus. In order to navigate through the camera’s menus, the 60D uses a multiway dial control instead of a joystick like the 7D. I found the wheel slightly slower and more awkward than the joystick, but overall, it was minor.

Like the T2i, the 60D captures to SDXC or SDHC memory cards, which tend to be smaller and cheaper. The bit rate (amount of compression) for the 60D is the same as the 7D at approximately 47 Mb/s, which is significantly higher than the 5D Mark II’s rate of 38 Mb/s and close to the XF300’s rate of 50 Mb/s, although the XF300 does capture MPEG-2, 4:2:2 footage.

The retail price of the 60D is $1,099, which is far cheaper than the 7D, 5D Mark II and 1D Mark IV. In my opinion, the price point is the real reason you should buy this camera. In terms of advantages, the 1D Mark IV should still be your choice for low-light shooting, the 5D Mark II is the best for capturing shallow depth of field because of its full-frame sensor, and the 7D rules for HDMI monitoring. But overall, the 60D delivers the most bang for your buck while still providing most of the professional features you’ll need to capture cinematic shots. With the money saved, you can pick up an additional lens or two.

Contact: Canon, (800) OK-CANON,