Search Terms, Questions and Answers Part 1

Over the last several months I’ve collected some of the search terms that led people to read my blog (it is easy with WordPress to check your daily/ weekly/ monthly stats such as this). I’m presenting several of them here, along with brief but informative answers. Whenever I say Canon xxD, please substitute 5D, 7D, 50D, 60D, 550D, etc. as you see fit. They are in no particular order except for the first one, which is the most common search. This is part 1 of 4 of this series. The next ones in the series include questions on humanitarian photography, the Canon 7D specifically, and finally lenses.

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Compare Canon 5D vs 7D vs 60D vs 50D vs 550D – (or any variation there-of: 60D vs 50D, 7D vs 60D, 60D vs 550D, etc.)
I’ve discussed these various comparisons in depth in several previous posts. Please check out these posts:
Post 1
Post 2
Post 3

Should I wait for Canon xxD or buy Canon xxD?
If a new camera has been announced and will be coming out soon, or a current camera is reaching the end of its typical life cycle, I would wait for the new camera. (You can see if a camera is reaching the end of its typical life by looking at the Canon EOS Digital SLR Timeline at the bottom of this Wikipedia page.) Otherwise you are buying a model that is possibly 12-24 months old already and has been improved upon by the newer models. And then you will be using it for another 2, 3, or more years. This is particularly applicable since the new 63 zone metering system is now being used in the latest Canon cameras instead of the older 35 zone system, plus some other nice features. From experience, I can tell you the new metering system makes a difference. That being said, there will always be improvements in the newest models, so it is a never ending process. Also, unfortunately, you should wait several months after a new Canon camera or lens is released because they have a solid history of real problems and quality control issues on early models.

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How much better is a Canon 7D than a 550D?
A Canon 7D costs $1534
A Canon 550d / T2i costs $799
The difference of the two cameras:
1534 – 799 = 735
735 = m% x 799
m = 735/799
m = .92
Move the decimal point over 2 places
The 7D is 92% better than the 550D.
Or perhaps the 550D is 92% as capable as the 7D? This is actually much closer to the truth, at least when it comes to features like image quality. I guess it’s all in how you do the math.

Canon 5D Mk2 vs. 550D / Why Canon 5D instead of 550D?
As I have said many times before, these two cameras are on opposite ends of the spectrum. It is a strange comparison between a full frame professional dSLR and an entry level dSLR that, quite frankly, confuses me. If the 5D fits your expanding needs as a photographer, you would already pretty much know that you needed a 5D after your extensive time using a Rebel or a 20D, 40D, etc. Otherwise, getting a 5D means most likely you’d be investing in far more camera than you will actually need or use. Please note, there is no such thing as a Mark II camera. “Mark II” means it is the second version of a particular camera or lens. There is a 1D Mark II, a 5D Mark II, a 70-200mm f/2.8L IS Mark II, etc.

Canon 50D vs. 7D for football stadium picture
It would depend on what teams are playing, what color jerseys they are wearing, which quarter it is and/ or the score, and the light temperature of the stadium lights mixed with the natural ambient light. The (very) slightly lower dynamic range of the 50D along with its tendency to overexpose by 1/3 a stop in evaluative metering mode would indicate that you would only want to use a 50D in the later quarters, when the ambient light is decreasing and the score is probably higher. Also, the digital sensors of both the 50D and the 7D have the tendency to overexpose and lose detail in areas of the color red. So if, say, Alabama was playing at home, you would want to consider using a film camera. The final consideration would be that the 7D has a built in level that can be used in Live View. If you wish to keep the playing field level, you might want to utilize this option. However, it will be hard to follow the action and keep your eye on the level at the same time. If you shoot in a more dynamic photo-journalistic style that includes tilted frames and dynamic perspectives, either camera will do.

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Canon 7D vs 5D autofocus speed
They are both more than fast enough for your needs. I promise.

How to set deep depth of field
Depth of field is determined by the aperture you select (plus, your focal length and distance-to-subject play a role too). First, put your camera in Av mode. Then turn the main dial (the one up top near the shutter button) counter-clockwise until you have the widest aperture your lens allows, possibly 2.8, 3.5, or 4.0. Then read this post:

Canon 60D Tutorial

I have completed an eBook tutorial and user’s guide for the new Canon 60D, called Your World 60D – The Still Photographer’s Guide to Operation and Image Creation. Learn to use your 60D, quickly and competently, to create the types of images you want to capture. You can learn more about the Your World 60D eBook and how to purchase it here.

(The eBook was originally, briefly called Real World 60D – it is the same book.)

Canon 5D vs 7D vs 60D vs 50D vs 550D / T2i

This post has been revised and updated to include the new Canon Rebel T3i / EOS 600D. Please proceed over to this post to read the most current information:

Canon T3i/600D vs T2i/550D vs. 60D vs. 7D, etc.

Like many others out there, you are asking yourself, “should I buy the Canon 7D or 60D or 50D or 550D / T2i?” It’s a difficult question because at this point the three dSLRs in the current Canon consumer line-up (EOS 60D, EOS 7D, Rebel T2i/ EOS 550D) all share a number of specifications and features, a similar exposure metering system, as well as an image sensor that is nearly the same, and all with 18 megapixels. So how do you choose between the Canon 60D, the T2i (550D) or the 7D? This decision has become infinitely more difficult (or perhaps infinitely simpler?) because the image quality and ISO performance of these three cameras will be nearly identical, and all are capable of taking high quality images. So as I like to profess, you need to choose which camera is best for you based on your needs and experience as a photographer and based on how the advanced features, controls, and customization options fit those needs and serve the way you work.

Canon T2i vs 60D vs 7D
photo by author

When you are trying to determine which camera to purchase or upgrade to, you need to first consider and determine your needs, and then see which camera fills those needs. Not the other way around where you look at the new features and speculate if you really need or will use them. I will discuss how to go about this in more detail below.

Review of Canon EOS 60D vs. 50D: Since the Canon EOS 60D basically replaces the Canon 50D (well, replacement isn’t exactly the right word because the 60D doesn’t really follow the 20D to 50D progression of improvements…), the 60D or 50D decision is an easy one. The 50D shouldn’t really be considered anymore. While the Canon 50D does hold a couple interesting advantages over the 60D (faster frame per second (fps) burst rate in continuous mode, stronger construction, more comprehensive buttons and controls, complete lack of fun filters like “grainy black and white”), the sensor and exposure metering system have been greatly improved in all the newer cameras (7D or 60D or 500D/ T2i) and I feel these features, along with the increase in mega pixels, outweigh any other 50D advantages. I would definitely choose a 60D instead of a 50D. This is coming from experience, as I use a 50D professionally and on a daily basis. Or choose a 7D instead of a 50D if your needs require it and budget allows it. (Find out below if your needs require it!) Digital cameras are somewhat disposable. Yes, even $1000 digital cameras. Within 5 years, your new camera will have become old, outdated equipment. The 50D is already two year old technology, so if you start with one now, in 4 more years it will be absolutely archaic! (Actually, since the 50D was just the 40D with a couple more megapixels, it is even older technology than that.) With digital SLRs, I advise buying a recent model, at whatever price range you can currently afford. Of course as with everything in digital photography, this is relative. The 50D is still an excellent camera. And camera companies have to keep coming out with new models every 12-18 months because that is what they do. The trouble comes in 2-3 years when your 50D is still perfectly good and still pretty new to you, but it can no longer compete with the latest offerings in terms of megapixels, ISO performance, and autofocus systems. If this hasn’t convinced you and you still want to consider the 50D for cost or other reasons, I write in more detail about the 50D vs. 60D comparison here from a camera features and operation point of view.

Before I get more into it, I want to mention that I have written eBook user’s guides for the Canon Rebel T3i/ EOS 600D, the Canon Rebel T2i/EOS 550D, and the Canon EOS 60D. After spending so much time studying, experimenting, writing about, comparing, and discussing these cameras, I decided to put all that knowledge into eBook form! Each of these user’s guides cover all the Menu settings, Movie Mode menus, and Custom Function settings – with recommended settings – plus discussions of how, when, and why to use the cameras’ settings and features, (metering modes, aperture and shutter priority modes, advanced autofocus use, and more) for everyday and travel use, to help you take better photos – Your World 60D, Canon T3i Experience, and T2i Experience. Learn more about the eBooks by clicking on their titles.

Back to the Comparison:

Review of Canon EOS 7D vs. 60D vs. 550D / Rebel T2i: So the decision now comes down to the Canon 7D or 60D or 550D / Rebel T2i. (What about the 5D Mk II? Just wait, I’m getting to that! And if you haven’t yet committed to Canon and are interested in comparing the Canon 60D vs. Nikon D7000, have a look at this post.) Below are comparisons of some of the similarities and differences of these three cameras. Remember that all of these comparisons and features are relative. Of course the fact that the 7D can take 126 consecutive photos at the rate of 8 frames per second makes it “better.” Advanced features like that differentiate it from the other models and are also why it costs more. But do you ever need to take 15.75 seconds of continuous photos? Ever? (Look at your watch for 15.75 seconds right now and act like you are taking continuous photos. Now what are you going to do with all those imaginary photos?!)

Sensor and Image Quality: As I said above, all three cameras share a very similar sensor and 18 megapixels, and so their image quality will be virtually the same. All are capable of taking professional quality images.

Exposure Metering: The three cameras all share the latest 63-zone exposure metering system and 4 metering modes. That means they will all determine the exposure virtually identically and enable you to take properly exposed photos in most every situation, including difficult back-lit scenes. The size of the areas metered for Partial and Spot metering vary slightly between the cameras, but that isn’t anything critical.

Autofocus: The 60D shares a similar autofocus system to the T2i and the previous 50D, with 9 focus points and three auto focusing modes. However the 9 AF points of the 60D are more sensitive than those of the T2i: all are cross-type in the 60D, only the center is cross-type in the T2i. The 60D autofocus system is much less complex than the sophisticated AF system of the 7D with its 19 AF point system and its additional Zone, Spot, and Expansion focus modes. These various modes address how you want to deal with and group these numerous AF points. Plus the custom settings of the 7D allow one to customize how the AF system works – how it tracks subjects, how it deals with objects that come between you and your initial subject, how quickly it responds to these changes of possible subjects that are at different distances from you, etc. However, if you are not an avid sports photographer, a wildlife shooter, or someone who understands, needs, and will use the elaborate features of the 7D AF system, then this shouldn’t dissuade you from the 60D.

Construction: As you can probably figure out from the prices, each camera is not built the same. The 60D has relatively strong construction of aluminum and polycarbonate. It is better built than the 550D but not as strong as the 7D’s magnesium alloy frame. The 60D also has some amount of weather sealing – more than the 550D/T2i, less than the 7D. But for most users, including even those using the camera daily or in travel situations, the construction of any of these cameras is far more than good enough, strong enough, and durable enough.

ISO: Since they all share a very similar sensor, the ISO sensitivity and performance at high ISO settings is virtually the same for these three cameras. But don’t take my word for it, don’t be swayed by pixel peepers on forums, instead check out the camera sensor tests at dxomark to verify this. As you can see, they all share the exact same overall score, and show very similar performance.

As with construction, the buttons and controls vary with these cameras. Unlike the T2i, the 60D and 7D have nearly every control an advanced photographer needs on the exterior of the camera and they also have the top LCD panel and rear Quick Control Dial that are not on the 550D/T2i. With all the cameras, any controls can also be easily accessed with the Q button and menu or in the other menus on the rear LCD monitor. The top buttons of the 60D set only one setting each, so this is less complicated than the multiple-setting buttons of the 7D. Canon has removed the white balance (WB) button on the 60D that the 7D and 50D have, but that isn’t a big deal – use the Q Menu. Another change on the 60D is that the Multi-controller has been moved from the thumb joystick like the 7D and 50D and placed in the middle of the rear Quick-control dial. This doesn’t change how it functions, and should just be a matter of getting used to the difference. (Unfortunately, I still really do prefer the old design and location.) If you plan on using your camera on Auto or Program most of the time, then the controls of the T2i are more than sufficient for your needs.

Menus and Custom Functions: These allow for greater control over customizing how the camera functions. The 60D has many more Menu and Custom Function settings than the 550D/T2i and nearly as many as the 7D. These settings enable you to customize the operation, function, and controls to work how you want them to, including things like exposure increments, peripheral illuminations correction for lenses (fixes dark corners) and customizing which button does what. Since many of the Menu and Custom Function settings can be complicated and confusing, my eBooks on the 60D and on the T2i/550D cover all of these options along with my recommended settings to get you up and running quickly!

Wireless Flash: Like the 7D, the 60D incorporates wireless flash triggering. It allows you to trigger multiple off camera flashes at different output levels. The 550D/T2i does not have this feature.

Articulating LCD Screen: The big new feature that the 60D has that the other two cameras do not is the articulating rear LCD screen. This may prove useful for videographers, as well as for setting up compositions while the camera is on a tripod, for macro use, or for using it from unusually low or high vantage points. Some users will be able to avoid buying an expensive angle finder because of this feature. There is also an electronic level in the 7D and 60D, visible in the viewfinder, rear LCD, or top LCD.

Viewfinder: The 60D has a large, bright viewfinder with 96% coverage of the actual resulting image, a tiny bit better than the 95% of the 550D/T2i but not quite as nice as the nearly 100% view of the 7D.

The 60D shares the same Digic 4 processor as the 550D/T2i. The 7D has dual Digic 4 processors. However, if you don’t need to shoot dozens of continuous images, you probably won’t notice any processing speed issues.

Continuous Shooting Speed: The 7D can shoot a blazing 8 frames per second, in which the photos barely change from frame to frame. The 60D can shoot a respectable 5.3 fps which is actually a more useful rate, and is a higher rate than the 550D/T2i rate of 3.7 fps. If you need the extremely high fps for sports, wildlife, or other action shooting, get the 7D. If not, don’t be swayed by this excessive feature.

Memory Card: The 60D uses the SD memory card like the 550D/T2i, not the CF card of the 7D and 50D.

Battery: The 60D uses the LP-E6 battery like the 7D and 5D, which is a nice feature as this battery can often last through a full day of shooting. The T2i uses a smaller battery with less capacity.

Size and Weight:
The 60D is larger and heavier than the 550D/T2i, smaller and lighter than the 7D. Go to the store and hold them to get a better feel for their size, weight, and feel.

AF Microadjustment:
The 7D has this feature, the 60D and T2i do not. Many are disappointed that the 60D does not include the ability to micro-adjust the focus so that each lens is completely accurate. However, if you have a focus issue, send your camera and/ or lenses to Canon while under warranty and ask them to calibrate them. Doing AF microadjustment yourself is often a maddening, never ending undertaking. You may make a good calibration under controlled conditions, but this really doesn’t replicate real life shooting.

Locking Mode Dial: This is a new feature for a Canon dSLR, only on the 60D, that keeps the Mode dial from accidentally rotating. A nice touch, and not at all difficult to change quickly with one hand, as some people have claimed: just push the center button with your left index finger, rotate dial with thumb and middle finger.

Full HD video: Of course they all offer this capability. Note that this is not video for your kids’ parties and soccer games. It does not have continuous autofocus while shooting, as a camcorder does. It is not designed for that kind of use, but rather for serious videographers who typically manually focus. You can adjust autofocus while shooting by pressing the shutter button or the AF button, but it may have a less than desired looking result.

Flash Sync: A Note to Strobists -the 60D and T2i do not have a PC sync flash socket to plug in PC sync cords. The 7D has this.

Ease of operation: While beginners may find all the buttons, controls, and menus of any dSLR difficult and confusing at first, the additional controls and menus of the 7D and 60D are all quite intelligently designed, intuitive, and straightforward for the more advanced user.


Purchasing: If you plan to buy any of these cameras through, (or just wish to purchase anything from Amazon) I would appreciate it if you use this referral link to Amazon or one of the camera links just below. Your price will be the same, and they will give me a little something for referring you, which will help support this blog. Thanks!  And due to popular request, if you are in the UK, here is my new referral link to Amazon UK. If you are in another country, click on one of my Amazon links, scroll to the bottom of the page, and click on your country for your local Amazon. And for those wishing to purchase from B+H Photo, just click here for my referral link to B+H. Thanks for supporting my blog!

See and buy the T2i on Amazon.
See and buy the 60D on Amazon.
See and buy the 7D on Amazon.
See and buy the Canon 5D MkII on Amazon.

I wrote a previous post that also goes in-depth into comparing and choosing between these cameras, but was written before the introduction of the EOS 60D. It does however have some additional info that may prove useful: Canon 7D vs. 5D vs. 50D (Plus 550D/T2i) Part II

Lenses, Accessories and Books: Now that you are on your way to deciding on a camera, you should also start looking into lenses, photography gear, accessories, and books. Check out this link, Best Lenses for Travel Photography, which also applies to general photography, Equipment for Travel Photography, which discusses useful and practical photo accessories and equipment for both everyday and travel photography. This post lists and describes Essential Books for Digital Photography, including the best user’s guides for each of these cameras.

And to sum it all up, here is a brief, mostly serious synopsis to help you make the camera decision:

Get a Canon 550D / Rebel T2i if you are new to photography or to digital SLR photography, or want to upgrade from an older Rebel because you want higher image quality and more mega-pixels (or HD video). If you have been happy with the features and controls of your previous dSLR camera and have not discovered the need, in your use of it, for any specific additional features, there is no need to look beyond the 550D. See the T2i on Amazon.

Get a Canon 60D if you have outgrown the capabilities of an older Rebel like an XTi or T1i due to your greater experience and more demanding shooting needs which require more direct or sophisticated controls and customization options. Or you have been pretty pleased with your 20D or 40D and its features but wish to upgrade for the increased image quality and mega pixels (or HD video). And/ or you need a more rugged camera for your frequent and demanding shooting and off-the-beaten-path traveling needs. Or if you need the increased 5.3 frames per second continuous rate to shoot sports or action. Or you really like swiveling LCD screens. If you typically shoot on Auto or Program mode, you do not need a 60D. If you do not manually select your own focus point and have never used exposure compensation you do not need a 60D. If you have never used the AE-Lock [*] button to lock exposure you do not need a 60D. If you don’t understand the relationship between aperture, shutter speed and ISO you don’t need a 60D. Or unless you plan to dedicate yourself to learning this camera and the principles of SLR photography and grow into this more advanced camera, please save the money or use it towards a better lens. See the 60D on Amazon.

Get a Canon 7D if you have extensive experience with a Rebel (xxxD series like 350D, 400D) or with an older xxD series (20D, 40D) camera, and you know and understand most of the 7D’s controls and advanced custom features, and you specifically need some of them for your demanding shooting needs. If you haven’t passed the above “criteria” for a 60D, you definitely don’t need a 7D. If you have never used Av aperture priority mode or M manual mode, you do not need a 7D. If you have never used autofocus tracking settings to track a moving subject across your frame and worried how an interfering object would affect your focus you do not need a 7D. If you have never used spot metering to determine a critical exposure level or experimented with back-button focusing you do not need a 7D. Or unless you plan to dedicate yourself to learning this camera and the principles of SLR photography and grow into this very advanced camera, please save the money or use it towards a better lens. However, if you often need to take 126 consecutive photos at the rate of 8 frames per second, you do need the 7D. Immediately. Even if you just sometimes need that. Totally worth it. That’s 15.75 seconds of continuous shooting. Who doesn’t need that? You’d make Eadweard Muybridge proud. See the 7D on Amazon.

(Please note, the T2i/550D, 60D and 7D all have these features I just listed: manually selected focus points, exposure compensation, AE-Lock, auto-focus tracking, spot metering, and back-button focusing. I’m just using them as a determination of your experience level and needs)

The Canon 5D Mark II is in a separate league than the other cameras, being a full frame professional camera, and thus I’m not going to compare it to the others in this context. As I said in a previous post,

If the 5D Mk II fits your expanding and demanding needs as a photographer, you would already pretty much know that you needed a 5D after your extensive time using a Rebel or a 20D, 40D, etc. Otherwise, getting a 5D means most likely you’d be investing in far more camera than you will actually need or use.

If you don’t already know that you need a 5D, you probably don’t need a 5D. Plus, as is often the case, those who could really take full advantage of a 5D are those who can’t afford a 5D. (I’m thinking about the talented photographers I come across on Flickr, etc. who are making amazing images with entry-level Rebels.) Feel free to spend $2,500 on a 5D Mk II if you want, but unless you have extensive experience with photography and with a digital SLR, using a 5D is completely unnecessary and is unlikely to help you take “better” pictures than you will be able to with a 550D. In fact, until you figure out the controls, features, menus, and custom functions of a 5D or 7D, you may be taking worse pictures! And besides, the 5D MkII becoming old technology. You should wait for the 5D Mark III :) See the Canon 5D MkII on Amazon.

Lenses: Lenses for Travel Photography
Accessories and Equipment: Equipment for Digital Photography
Books: Essential Books for Digital Photography

As I said above, when you are trying to determine which camera to purchase or upgrade to, you need to first consider and determine your needs, and then see which camera fills those needs. Not the other way around. Here is a post I wrote which discusses this, titled How to Choose a New dSLR Camera.

Canon 60D Introduced

The Canon 60D was just introduced!

Canon 60D

image of 60D from Canon website

As it had been widely rumored, the 60D has the articulating LCD screen. Although it doesn’t exactly replace the 50D in the sense that it doesn’t add upon the advancement of the 20D, 30D, 40D, 50D progression, it now takes that position between the 550D and the 7D. If you thought it was difficult to choose between a Canon 550D, 50D, and 7D, the choice just became infinitely more difficult, as all three of these cameras now share so many features. And because they share an image sensor that is very similar, and all with 18 MP, the image quality of these three cameras will be nearly identical. The Canon consumer/ pro-sumer lineup has never been so similar as it now becomes. So as I like to profess, you need to choose which camera is best for you based on the advanced features and customization options that are important to you and the way you work. See this post for what I mean.

Before I get into it, I want to mention that I will be selling a Canon 60D eBook tutorial, which covers ALL the Menu settings and Custom Function settings of the 60D (except movie menus), with recommended settings, PLUS in-depth descriptions of how and and why to use its settings and features in everyday use – Your World 60D – The Still Photographer’s Guide to Operation and Image Creation. Learn more about it here:

Strangely, the 60D takes a step back from the 50D in continuous shooting speed, in construction, and in use of an SD memory card, and lack of AF Microadjustment capability. They must have determined the smaller size and weight was an important consideration for the target consumer. But basically it is a Canon 550D/ T2i with a larger, more rugged body, advanced buttons and controls, and more advanced menu and customization options (or is it a stripped down 7D?!) One of the only functional differences between the 60D and the 550D is the faster continuous shooting speed. The elimination of the 50D’s thumb joystick and moving that control to inside the large control dial on the back is an interesting decision. While I think I prefer the location of the 50D thumb button, the new controller on the 60D may be easier to control on the diagonals, which I still struggle with on the 50D. In reality, it may just be a matter of getting used to the new control (although dpreview isn’t very pleased with it in actual use). The new 60D uses the same battery as the 7D and 5D, the LP-E6 – an unusual choice considering it is bigger than the 50D battery, but a good choice. Another great feature that Canon incorporated is the locking Mode dial, so that the top mode dial doesn’t accidentally move from, for example, Av mode to Landscape mode, which happens occasionally with my cameras as I take them in and out of their bags or as they lay against my leg hanging from the R-Strap.

Canon has added a lot of in-camera processing abilities which may prove to be useful and time saving to those who shoot a lot of photos and need fast turn-around. Most importantly, this includes the in-camera RAW processing, turning your RAW files into JPGS with the settings you desire, without opening them up and making the changes in Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop or Lightroom. This also includes in-camera image resizing, while maintaining the original file. According to Canon,

“In-camera RAW image processing features include Picture Style, White Balance (WB), Color Space, High-ISO Noise Reduction, Peripheral Illumination Correction, linear distortion correction and chromatic aberration correction. These powerful in-camera editing tools will allow photographers in the field to produce optimized images on the spot and generate JPEG files at various resolution and compression settings for immediate sharing, without affecting the original RAW data.”

“Another great new feature for photographers-on-the-go is Canon’s new image resizing function. After capturing full resolution or smaller JPEG images, the camera can generate lower-resolution copies using menu commands. New lower-resolution settings include 1920×1280 for optimal display on HD televisions, or 720×480, ideal for immediate uploading to social networking and other photo sharing web sites. The original high resolution files remain unaffected by the image resizing function.”

And also, they’ve included some new fun filters, including the unexpected “toy camera” and tilt-shift-like “miniature” filters:

  • The Soft Focus effect filter helps dramatize an image and smooth over shiny reflections.
  • The Grainy Black and White filter can give a different nostalgic perspective to any shot.
  • Canon’s “Toy Camera” filter deliberately adds vignetting and color shift for a creative option when shooting a colorful scene.
  • Users can also make a scene appear like a small-scale model, simulating the look from a tilt-shift lens, with Canon’s Miniature Effect filter, great when shooting any scene from a high vantage point.

These kinds of inclusions, along with the size and weight reduction, indicate that the 60D is moving down the pro/pro-sumer/consumer scale towards the consumer end, with the Canon 7D now being the pro-sumer camera. (However, I still profess that any of these cameras, from the 550D on up, can give you professional quality images). Unfortunately the new 60D is a camera designed with product positioning (to fill a spot and a price point between the 7D and 550D and its position in relation to Nikon) and marketing (to appeal to a certain target of customers) as a priority more than with technology, innovation, and advancement in mind, which is disappointing to Canon photographers accustomed to the xxD progression of improvements.

Is it more accurately the 60D vs. 7D? Or the 60D vs. 550D / T2i? Here was my analysis and speculation from this previous post, three months ago (I know it is silly and pointless to make these predictions, but I’m pretty proud of my earlier assessment):

“It seems that it [the 60D] will sit at a new position that will no longer be a bridge between pro and consumer cameras (pro-sumer) as the 7D now fills that role (as the 50D once did), but will now be considered a very advanced consumer level camera.”

As dpreview now states,

“With the 60D Canon has unashamedly moved the X0D range out of the ‘semi pro’ bracket and instead focused on the enthusiast photographer looking to upgrade from their Rebel. As a result, it’s not the obvious continuation of the 30D – 40D – 50D pattern that its naming might suggest. Rather than being a direct upgrade replacement for the 50D, it’s perhaps better understood as a ‘Super Rebel.”

And later they call it,

“…essentially a new tier of EOS SLR, perhaps best described as a ‘high end Rebel.”

Let’s see how the actual 60D specs line up with my predictions!

Canon 60D

  • 18 MP APS-C CMOS sensor
  • Vari-angle 7.7cm (3.0”) 3:2 ratio LCD
  • Full HD movies with manual control
  • DIGIC 4
  • 5.3fps shooting for up to 58 JPEGs
  • 9-point cross type AF System
  • iFCL metering with 63-zone Dual-layer Sensor
  • Integrated Speedlite transmitter
  • Estimate Retail Price $1,099
  • 96% Viewfinder
  • ISO 100-6400, H:12800
  • SD memory cards

My Predictions from this previous post

  • 18MP 1.6x sensor – same!
  • 3″ 3:2 LCD – articulating – same!
  • HD video – same!
  • single Digic processor- same!
  • 6 or so FPS at high speedclose but the 60D is a little slower than expected
  • 9 or so point autofocus system, less advanced than 7D – same!
  • 63 zone metering – same!
  • (I didn’t know what to predict for the wireless flash – glad to see they included it!)
  • cost: $1,100-$1,300 – same! B+H is listing it for $1,100. The kit is with the EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens for $1,399.
  • 98%+ viewfinder – I was off with this one. It is disappointing the 60D doesn’t have a viewfinder quite as big and bright as the 7D, but it is close. It also uses interchangeable focusing screens but it looks like it doesn’t have the nice light up grid option as in the 7D.
  • all other features of 50D (construction, custom functions, AF microadjustment, live view, etc.)- same for the most part. Slightly smaller and lighter. This is due in part to the unfortunate use of a “polycarbonate resin with glass fibre on aluminum chassis” body rather than the more rugged magnesium allow of the 50D and 7D. The 60D also eliminates the thumb joystick for choosing focus points and locates it within the large control dial on back. Again, a strange choice. The 60D does not have AF Microadjustment capability, so again this makes it closer to the 550D than the 7D. The 60D also does not have a PC terminal for connecting external flashes via a cable.
  • Doesn’t use CF memory cards – strange. Seems like a backwards step, but I suppose it contributes to the slightly smaller size.

Lack of AF Microadjustment: Since the Canon 60D does not have Auto Focus Calibration, AF Microadjustment, see the bottom of this previous post for how to deal with that. Canon is hearing from those disappointed that the 60D does not have AF Microadjustment and they may decide to update the firmware and include it in the 60D when it actually goes on sale. However, I still don’t understand why many are so adamant about AF Microadjustment. Have you ever tried to calibrate a zoom lens? Not just with the center point at one focal length, but rather to calibrate it for real life circumstances? At various focal lengths and with different focus points? It is an infuriating, possibly impossible task. AF Microadjustment is a built in admission of lack of quality control of cameras and lenses, and not a positive, much less deal-breaking, feature. I would love to hear from people who disagree because they have had positive and beneficial experiences with calibrating their lenses.

So, who is the Canon 60D for? Canon says,

“For the hobbyist looking for their first “professional-style” camera, or the enthusiast aiming to take their photography to the next level, the EOS 60D makes a sensible choice…For travelling photographers, the high resolution APS-C sensor will capture all the details while at the same time keeping the body and lenses small and light enough to avoid weighing you down.”

Fair enough, I would have to agree with that. See this other post to help you decide between a Canon 7D vs. 60D vs. 550D.

Here is a great quote from to sum it all up:

“You can look at the EOS 60D as a Rebel T2i but with a better viewfinder, better AF, higher frame rate, a tilt and swivel LCD, an electronic level, a rear QCD, a larger capacity battery and overall better ergonomics. Alternative you can look at the 60D as an EOS 7D, but with a less advanced AF system, less weather sealing, a slower frame rate, no vertical electronic level, a smaller JPEG buffer and using an SD(HC) card rather than CF. The unique feature of the EOS 60D is the tilt and swivel LCD screen.”

See their hands-on preview here.

more info here:

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Canon 50D to be Discontinued? 60D Coming?

A lot of you come across my site searching for comparisons of the 550D, 50D, 7D, and 5D (see this post for a thorough comparison of them) so you should know that the production life of the 50D appears to be coming to an end (and word that it is discontinued here).  What that means is you should possibly wait a month or so to see if 50D prices drop or if rebates are offered, or wait for the new improved model to replace it – the 60D or whatever they may call it – although it will be difficult to create a worthwhile improvement of the 50D that isn’t just a 7D.  If there is one, it will mostly serve to fill in the price point between the 7D and th T2i.  I’m speculating that it will cost $1,100 to $1,300 – a little more than the 50D, more than the T2i , but less than the 7D.  It will probably have 18MP, and have the 63 zone metering system of the 7D and 550D.  It is likely that its insides will be closer to a 550D with the exterior body and controls of a 50D/ 7D. Will it have the 19 point autofocus system, 8 frames per second high speed shooting rate, HD video, and remote flash control of the 7D?  If so, it would just be a 7D.  It seems that it will sit at a new position that will no longer be a bridge between pro and consumer cameras (pro-sumer) as the 7D now fills that role (as the 50D once did), but will now be considered a very advanced consumer level camera.

I’m going to join in on the pointless but fun 60D speculation:

  • cost: $1,100-$1,300
  • 18MP 1.6x sensor
  • 63 zone metering
  • 9 or so point autofocus system, less advanced than 7D
  • 6 or so FPS at high speed
  • HD video
  • 3″ 3:2 LCD – articulating
  • 98%+ viewfinder
  • single Digic processor
  • all other features of 50D (construction, custom functions, AF microadjustment, live view, etc.)

Exploring Metering Modes

It is one thing to know that your cool new Canon or Nikon digital SLR provides you with 3 or 4 different metering modes. It’s another thing to know how and when to actually use them in the field or in different real life situations. The Canon 5D, 7D, 60D, 50D and T3i all offer four different metering modes – Evaluative, Center-Weighted, Partial, and Spot – as I’m sure you have thoroughly read about in your manual, right? Nikons, like the D7000, D51000, and D3100 generally have three different modes: Matrix, Center-Weighted, and Spot. I’ll try to cut to the chase and simplify the explanations and their uses.  Note that there are some important differences between how they work for Canon and Nikon cameras, particularly the Spot mode.

Canon T3i T2i 60D metering mode partial spot viewfinder
The viewfinder of the Canon T3i (T2i and 60D similar) showing the areas evaluated for Partial Metering (superimposed grey area) and Spot Metering (black circle in center).

Evaluative (Canon) or Matrix (Nikon): This is the default mode for your camera, and it can be used for almost every situation you shoot. Yes, maybe 90% of the time, maybe more. The camera evaluates the entire scene, as divided into several zones, and chooses the best exposure based on its knowledge of thousands of potential image situations. The current metering systems are so good, they can even be relied on for backlit or other challenging lighting situations. An important feature of this mode is that advanced cameras such as the Canon 7D, Canon 60D or Nikon D7000, D5100 take into account the selected focus point in its determination of exposure settings. It is assuming your focus point is on your most important subject, so under challenging and critical situations, it is wise to confirm that the camera has chosen the focus point you want (well, this is always wise). Even better, you should typically manually choose the focus point or cluster of focus points, as the camera has no idea what your intended image is. So in special situations, such as dramatically back-lit scenes or a situation with bright light plus deep shadows, make sure you are not using the center point to focus and meter, and then recomposing to take the shot – because some of the zones that the camera evaluated are now no longer in your shot after recomposing, and other new areas are, so the camera has set exposure for an image other than the one you are taking.

San Miguel Duenas, Guatemala

Partial (Canon only): This mode meters a smaller area, about 9.4%, in the center of the scene on the 7D and 6.5% with the 60D. Nikons do not have this mode, though some Nikons such as the D7000 offer the ability to change the size of the Center-Weighted Metering circle (see Center-Weighted Metering below), so it makes up for this.  The area is approximately a circle that reaches to the top and bottom focus points, and the metering system ignores the rest of the frame. This mode is useful where there is a dramatic difference in lighting between the foreground or subject and the background. For example, when your subject is backlit – maybe standing in front of a bright window or the sun – and consequently their face is in shadow. I know I said evaluative mode can often handle this type of situation, but if you want the face or subject to be properly exposed and not risk blowing the shot, it is worth it to quickly switch to Partial metering mode. Again, another time to use this is when there is a wide range of light in your scene, from bright sunlight to deep shadows. Remember, this mode is not linked to your focus point. The partial area that is metered is always in the center, so meter on the part of the scene that is most critical and that you want properly exposed, using the central area of the viewfinder, lock in that exposure, then recompose and take the shot.

Campo Nuevo, Guatemala

Important Note about Locking In the Metered Exposure: The metered exposure setting is sometimes locked in by pressing the shutter button half-way down or sometimes not “locked” until the image is taken (depending on your camera, or current shooting mode, or how you set it up – read your manual!).  The shutter button also typically locks focus (unless you have changed that setting).  If you wish to lock in focus and exposure separately, which you often will need to do, on a Canon use the AF-Lock (for focus) button and/ or the AE-Lock (for exposure) button – which looks like this: * – to lock in one of them before locking in the other with the half-press or full press of the shutter button. On the Nikons, you have to set one of your buttons to be the exposure lock button, either the AE-L/AF-L Button or the Fn Button on some cameras like the D7000. I suggest first metering on the subject and locking in that exposure by pressing the appropriate button, then recomposing and locking in focus right before or as you take the photo. Or else learning the advanced methods of back button focusing. Get in the habit of knowing how to do this instinctively, and if you need to hold or just press the particular button, so that it comes naturally during critical situations. On the 7D and D7000 and other cameras you can also customize how these buttons perform or set other buttons to do these tasks. You can see in the viewfinder that you have locked focus when the focus dot is lit. You can see that exposure is locked with the AE-L indication in the Nikon viewfinder or the * symbol in the Canon viewfinder.

Locking exposure and focus, independently, each in the brief seconds before you take a shot? Confusing? A little, but not impossible to figure out with some experimentation and practice. Remember, this is why you bought the fancy dSLR, so that you could make use of all these advanced features and take your photos to another level!

Center-Weighted Average: This metering mode is sort of a cross between Evaluative and Partial metering. It acknowledges that the subject is in the center and requires special metering attention, but it also takes into account all the other zones. Again, this is not linked to the focus point, but always to the center, so if your subject is off center – which it typically should be for a more dynamic image – you need to lock in exposure on your subject and then recompose. I have found that with the Canon 50D, this mode is actually more consistent than Evaluative metering, which often over exposes by 1/3 or 1/2 a stop.  Note that you can use the Custom Settings of the D7000 to change the size of the center area being weighted.

This mode can be used when you want to ensure that the subject is properly exposed, but you also want the camera to consider the background. However, if the background is much darker or lighter than the subject, and you want the camera to expose only for the subject and ignore the background, use Spot Metering…

San Miguel Duenas, Guatemala

Spot: This mode meters a small center area, 2.3% of the frame with the 7D, 2.8% with the 60D, and 2.5% with the D5100 and D7000. This area is indicated by the small circle in the center of the viewfinder of the 7D and 60D. There is no center circle in the Nikon viewfinder and you will soon find out why.  So when do you want to use Spot metering? This, again, is useful for scenes with great variation in light and shadow, or in very critical situations. One of the most common ways to use it is when metering for proper exposure on a dramatically lit face or subject, but the exposure of the rest of the scene is unimportant. Or perhaps your subject is set against a plain but consistent background, like a bird against a large blue sky. It is also used to determine proper exposure of a subject before switching the camera to manual for a controlled studio shot, or a critical shot or series of shots where the lighting is not going to change. If your background is completely dark or extremely bright, and you don’t want the exposure system to consider it at all when determining the exposure of you subject, use Spot rather than Center-Weighted or Partial. With Canon cameras, the Spot that is used to evaluate the exposure is in the center of the frame, and is often indicated by a small circle. However, with Nikon cameras like the D5100 and D7000, the Spot surrounds the active focus point and is not necessarily in the center of the frame unless you are using the center AF point. So it is wise to become familiar with how your camera operates.

A fifth metering mode is Manual metering, which isn’t actually a mode in your camera, but is a method of metering. This is where you use a light meter or use your camera as a light meter (such as described at the end in the Spot section above) and then manually set your exposure based on the meter readings. This is used when you want ultimate control of the metering and exposure.

You can learn much more about the Exposure modes of specific cameras, including the 60D, T3i, D7000 and D5100, in my e-book users guide. See my e-book website, Full Stop to learn more about them or click the banner below! The guides also go into much more detail about setting up the related metering mode Custom Functions/Custom Settings and camera controls.

full stop dslr photo photography camera manual guide for dummies canon nikon

I recently ran across an interesting article which takes this discussion to another level by addressing the use of different metering modes in the very specific situation of a wedding. Since one of the main subjects in typically all in white, and the other in black, the metering mode you select and where you meter can make a dramatic difference in the exposure. While that article is specific to weddings, it is useful and helpful to read to further understand how the different modes work, and how special situations might call for some extra thought.