The Canon 60D is a DSLR camera aimed at the serious amateur. Not quite ready to part with the funds to net Canon’s 7D or 5D MkII? This, says the manufacturer, is the camera for you: a ruggedly built, feature-stuffed snapper that counts full 1080p video among its charms.

Early impressions are positive. The 60D feels far less plasticky than the 550D, pleasantly weighty and sturdy. The 3-inch screen is bright, ultra-sharp (over 1,000,000 dots) and fully adjustable to almost any angle. The viewfinder is large and bright, and there’s an info-packed LCD on the top plate, just like on pro DSLRs.

Clicking hell

Canon has reworked its user interface a bit, and not everything clicks immediately. The mode dial, for instance, locks into place; you need to press a button in its centre to turn it, which is tricky and, well, unnecessary.

The dial, directional control and Q (quick menu) button on the right of the screen take care of most controls well, however, and anyone familiar with recent Canon DSLRs will be right at home. Others may require a bit more time – it’s not as idiotproof as, say, Sony’s user interface – but after a day or two will be fully au fait with changing focus points, metering, ISO, exposure compensation and all the rest of it.

But what about the pictures? The video? Well, we’re happy to report that the Canon 60D is a bit of a stunner when it comes to image quality. We took snaps with the ISO set to 800 and, when viewing the 18MP prints zoomed to full size on our computer screen, could barely see any noise. That’s rare.

Detail is high, colours are beautifully accurate and overall, photo quality is nothing less than superb. We used a high quality 85mm F1.8 lens for this review, but we’re positive any decent lens will turn out great shots.

Pro filmmaker

Canon has put a lot of effort into the video aspect of the 60D. Unlike the 550D, there are full manual controls for the video (aperture, exposure compensation etc.), along with a socket for rigging up an external stereo microphone. Videos can be shot in a variety of modes (1080p at 30/25/24fps, 720p at 50/60fps) and are delivered in MOV format, and quality is beautiful – this is one of a tiny handful of cameras that we could actually imagine a pro filmmaker using.

The Canon 60D is pricey, but it feels like the perfect camera for the Canon user looking to step up from the entry level and grab something almost pro quality. So if that’s you, and the 7D and 5D MkII are too rich for your blood, then think hard about whacking some money down on one of these.

Stuff says... 

Canon EOS 60D review

A mid-range DSLR that gets a gold star for both video and stills