The new Canon EOS 60D is a perfect step-up camera for the amateur photographer who may currently be using an EOS Rebel model, but one aspect of its feature set is sure to appeal to high-end users: its HD video capabilities. Packed with arguably the fullest set of HD video features and in-camera controls of any EOS model to date, it may well find its way into the hearts of serious video enthusiasts. We’ll highlight the EOS 60D’s video features in this report, giving an overview of its abilities.
18-million pixel, APS-C size sensor with wide ISO range:
Like the previous EOS Rebel T2i and EOS 7D cameras, the new EOS 60D has an 18 million pixel CMOS imaging sensor. It’s not full-frame — that distinction is currently reserved for the EOS 5D Mark II camera — but its APS-C size is identical to the Rebel cameras and 7D, making it significantly larger than the imaging sensors in the vast majority of professional video cameras. Canon CMOS sensors have a proven track record of superb image quality, along with characteristics like easy limiting of depth-of-field (to throw backgrounds out of focus).
And their low-light performance has stunned the HD video world. The EOS 60D continues to excel here, with an ISO range from 100 thru 6400 for video operation, and excellent low-noise performance even in low light.
Exposure Control — fully automatic, or manual:
Like most previous EOS HD SLRs, the EOS 60D gives users the choice of totally automatic operation (ISO, shutter speed and lens aperture selected by the camera, based on ambient light level), or manual operation. The choice is made in the shooting menu, once the mode dial is set for video mode shooting. In manual operation, ISO can be set manually as well by the photographer, or it can be automatic — choose a reasonable lens aperture and shutter speed, and the camera will hold those values and automatically vary the ISO as light levels change, providing an interesting alternative to fully automatic exposure. Shutter speeds for video operation range from 1/30th second (1/60th at the 50/60fps settings) to 1/4000th.
It’s here that the EOS 60D breaks new ground, in terms of features built-in to the camera. It offers the following features for sound recording during video shooting:
- Built-in microphone (mono sound), with standard 3.5mm stereo jack for external microphones
- Choice of automatic or manual recording level control for sound (in manual, the user can select from a 64-step range to maintain consistent recording levels, depending on ambient conditions). Sound recording can also be disabled completely, if the user desires.
- Built-in Wind Filter (selectable in “sound recording” menu, when in video mode); can easily be switched on or off (out-of-the-box default setting is off)
The EOS 60D is the first Canon EOS HD SLR to have these audio recording features in-camera at the time of its introduction.
High-definition and standard-definition video options:
Like previous EOS HD SLRs, the EOS 60D offers a full range of recording sizes and frame rates in its shooting menu, when it’s set to video mode:
- Full HD 1920x1080, at either 24fps (actual 23.976) or 30fps (actual 29.97). In PAL mode, either 24fps (actual 23.976) or 25fps (actual 25.00)
- HD 1280x720, at either 60 fps (actual 59.94) or 50fps (actual 50.00)
- Standard definition 640x480, at either 60fps (actual 59.94) or 50 fps (actual 50.00)
- Crop mode: 640x480, at 60 or 50 fps — crops the video image so you record with effectively about 7x the magnification you’d get in other video recording sizes. An interesting choice when it’s necessary to really zero-in on distant subjects. This feature is shared with the current Canon EOS Rebel T2i camera as well.
At a time when many competitive digital SLRs are limited to resolutions below Full HD 1920x1080, and/or provide restricted frame rates, the EOS 60D is ready out of the box to tackle more challenging video projects, and provide great image quality along with flexibility.
Vari-angle LCD monitor:
EOS 60D is the first Canon EOS SLR ever to have a variable-angle LCD monitor, and this is a tremendous benefit for certain video applications. The monitor’s versatility means that users can do anything from angling it to shield it from bright sunlight to comfortably shooting overhead or floor-level shots. The monitor’s slightly wider 3:2 aspect ratio means a larger image during video shooting, whether in HD with its 16:9 ratio, or in standard-def mode.
Equally important is that the LCD monitor hinges on the left side of the camera body. Compared to some competitive models, this is a significant enhancement: the monitor’s movement is never constrained by being mounted on a tripod or bracket, or even with a battery grip attached (as can be the case with monitors that hinge at the bottom of the LCD). And it offers far more articulation than those monitors that tilt outward from the camera body.
This high-resolution monitor has over 1,000,000-dot resolution, further enhancing its value during video shooting.
Electronic Level Display:
Before you begin shooting video, a press or two on the rear INFO button will call up the EOS 60D’s Electronic Level Display on the LCD monitor. This intuitive display will show, with an accuracy of about 1 degree, when the camera is positioned to keep horizons perfectly straight, or when it’s tilted slightly — a terrific aid for positioning the EOS 60D, especially for subjects that don’t have pronounced straight lines, or when shooting subjects at a strong angle.
It’s not any ONE feature that makes the EOS 60D so appealing for HD video shooting; it’s the combination of attributes in a well-designed, compact yet solid package. Sacrificing none of the image quality or performance of previous EOS HD SLRs, the 60D adds capabilities like its in-camera audio control, the first vari-angle LCD monitor ever in an EOS camera, and a very useful Electronic Level Display. This is on top of the many features seen in previous EOS models like the more-expensive EOS 7D and EOS 5D Mark II, such as manual or automatic exposure control, image control with Canon’s Picture Style settings, and the superb low-light recording capabilities EOS cameras have become famous for.
Considering its relative affordability and powerful HD video feature set (which in some ways surpasses that of more expensive EOS bodies), the EOS 60D has the ability to be an important tool for the serious video enthusiast.
More Articles by this Author
by Rudy Winston
by Rudy Winston
by Rudy Winston
by Rudy Winston