Friday, August 27, 2010

Canon 60D Announced

On Thursday August 26, Canon announced the long awaited EOS 60D, but many people who were interested in the camera are confused by some of the decisions Canon made with this new xxD camera. The 60D does get higher resolution, coming in at 18MP, like the EOS 550D/T2i and EOS 7D. One of the biggest changes in the 60D, compared to the 50D that proceeded it, is the move to a polycarbonate body (industrial strength plastic) from magnesium alloy. This change allowed Canon to shave 8% of the weight of the 50D in the new 60D, which I might add is also slightly smaller. Many of the semi-pro controls are still in place, in front of the top LCD, but they are all single function vs. dual function on the 50D. The camera's target buyer is clearly aimed at people who find the 550D/T2i too small or limiting, but don't have the cash, or desire, to step up to a camera like the 7D.

To me the 60D is a bit of an odd ball, because it is basically a 550D/T2i with a faster burst rate and a few extra buttons. It has lost important features like AF micro adjustments (AF Fine Tune in Nikon Speak), the joystick for changing focus points. As for changing focus points, Canon has taken a more Nikon like approach in that there is a 4 way controller around the SET button. The 60D does retain the rear command dial/wheel, which many Canon users love. The 60D inherits the same metering system as the 7D and 550D/T2i, which is an improvement over previous xxD cameras. If you've read my review of the T2i/550D you know that I wasn't overly impressed with that metering system, so if that is a step up I feel sorry for Canon users who had the older cameras. The burst rate is down to 5.3FPS from 6.3FPS, which seems to fall in line with the higher resolution sensor. That is still 2FPS faster than the 550D/T2i, so for the target users it should be fine. I'll talk more about that user base later.

One of the biggest features Canon is promoting is the new vary angel LCD. This should grab the attention of some point and shoot users (G11) who may be used to having such features. This screen could be useful for video bloggers who need to see what they are doing when they are shooting those lovely low noise 1080p videos we have come to known and love from the T2i/550D and 7D. Personally I find such screens to be not relevant, and only creates a weak point on the camera. Such screens are known to develop problems over time, because wires get twisted and break. Time will tell if the screens on cameras like the D5000 and 60D will suffer the same fate.

Canon seems to be aiming the 60D at the same group that found the D90 so attractive, consumers who want more than a entry level camera, but don't want too many buttons to complicate matters. Although people who have 40D and 50Ds may not like the 60D, there may be a large group of 450D/Xsi and 500D/T1i users who would find the 60D very attractive. Partly because the MSRP is going to be around the $1000 US mark, but also because it is still light weight compared to the 7D. Canon is clearly trying to push previous xxD users to the 7D, while trying to draw xxxD users to the re-envisioned xxD line.

Canon may very well do that, but they also appear to be shooting themselves in the foot. There are a lot of, vocal, xxD users who are saying that they might switch to the Nikon D7000 (D90 replacement) if the specs of said camera come out as rumored. That could be significant, because these users are willing to pay a set amount for such a camera body and the old xxD cameras fell right into that range, and it now looks like the D90 replacement will fill that spot. It as if Nikon and Canon are switching spots, with the mid range non-entry level, but not semi-pro either cameras switching places. The D90 replacement is said to have a mag alloy body that is slightly bigger than the D90, faster frame rate (6FPS at least) and some more advanced controls and 1080p video. It is as if Nikon and Canon got together one day and said, "hey you guys have been doing this for "x" number of years and we did this for the same time period, lets switch spots and see how it goes!"

From my standpoint I find this move interesting and it will be interesting to see how this move effects Canon, for better of for worse.