60D vs 7D - Some comparison thoughts

Started Feb 23, 2011 | Discussions thread
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Marsh Forum Member • Posts: 72
60D vs 7D - Some comparison thoughts

Looking to replace my EOS 20, I had the opportunity to compare a 60D and 7D side by side for a couple weeks. I ultimately chose the 7D and thought I’d share some of my thoughts that led to the decision.

Full disclosure: This is NOT an attempt at a formal, scientific revie. I’m just sharing my personal observations. I'll leave the review expertise to Dpreview. Actually, their findings were pretty closely aligned to my experiences.

I classify myself as a pretty serious amateur and I shoot landscapes, closeup, macro, family events and sports. If you’re a pro or novice, your desires may differ. Lastly, I’m upgrading from a 20D. Many the 60D and 7D are both big improvements to me. If I were moving from newer camera, like a 50D, my impressions might be different.

I think the 60D and 7D are both excellent cameras. They have just enough differences to require tradeoffs and more difficult choices. Depending on your needs, you won’t go wrong either way.

Price:

The 60D offers a lot of power for a $1,000 body. Is the 7D worth $400 more? Hard to say, but it does offer some additional features and power that make it worth something more. I would have preferred to pay the lower price. But in the end, I wanted those 7D features and decided I could justify paying more (at least that’s what I tell myself). I don’t swap bodies very often, so I look at the 7D as a longer-term investment. If I’d been limited by a $1000 budget, I would be plenty happy with the 60D.

Ergonomics, Build and Layout:

I prefer the stability of a heavier SLR. Size and weight wise, the 20D fits closely between the 60D and 7D. It’s very close to the 7D. If I hadn’t compared these three cameras head to head, I might not have given this much thought. But seeing the 20D so close to the 7D, made the 60D feel quite a bit slighter to me. This a very personal preference, but the 7D just felt better in my hands.

Both cameras felt solid to me. I’m pretty careful with my equipment, so I felt the 60D's polycarbonate body would hold up fine under normal use. I thought the 7D shutter sounded a little “smoother,” but I can't judge better or worse quality.

I much prefer the 7D button feel and layout. They felt firmer and more responsive. The 7D button layout is similar to the 20D. That's one less thing to re-learn. All the 60D rear buttons are moved over to the right side. Also, some of the buttons have been omitted and functions combined. One example of this is the joystick whose functions are included on the scroll wheel. I found it easier to control by feel when using both thumbs and dedicated buttons. When too many functions are combined on one button or dial, you have to look at the controls.

I missed the ability to change the white balance selection with the buttons on the top right of the 60D. You need to go into the menu (or Quick Menu) to set WB. A small inconvenience.

Lastly, my rant about the lock / release button on the 60D mode dial (top left for setting program mode). I hate it. I’ve owned SLR’s for 40 years. Every one has had that kind of dial for shutter speed or mode, and I’ve never accidentally turned it! Sorry Canon…. What were you thinking on that one.

LCD Screen:

I wish the 7D had an articulated LCD screen. I don’t plan to shoot much video, but it would be helpful when shooting at funky, near-to-ground angles. Here, the 60D has a big advantage. However, in those situations, any live-view mode screen is an improvement over a plain old viewfinder. In truth, I don't use live view as much as I'd imagined. I’m conditioned to use the viewfinder.

Storage:

The 60D wins here because it uses SD cards. Not too many new CF devices being made. If I stock up, this shouldn’t be a problem.

Burst Speed:

The 60D shoots faster burst speed than the 20D and I was happy with it until I tried the 7D. 8 FPS is really nice and a luxury I’ve never had before. I love it.

Autofocus and Micro-Adjust:

I rarely set my AF point to anywhere but the center, so I felt the 60D’s 9 point setup was adequate. However, AF accuracy is a big deal to me, and this is where the 7D really won out with me. My 20D always had a fairly soft autofocus (back focus). I learned to work around it and chalked it up to limitations of the AF technology. Out of the box, both the 60D and 7D had a similar problem (although the 60D was a bit sharper). But I was able fix it with the 7D AF micro-adjust, using a LensAlign kit. Wow, what a difference! I’ve invested quite a bit in lenses, and the micro-adjust feature really helps me get the most out of them. Every digital camera should have this feature!

Image Quality and Noise:

Using both cameras, I shot quite a bit in high ISO / low light and long exposure situations. Just like Dpreview’s findings, I thought the 7D produced slightly less luminance and color noise at ISO settings of 1000+. Unless you continued to compare the two cameras head to head, these differences would be negligible. Both cameras produced good, usable shots all the way up to 3200 ISO. I typically shoot raw, and given Lightroom 3’s noise reduction capability, I’d say the low light image quality of both cameras was tremendous. BTW, anything over ISO 200 was pretty useless on the 20D.

The 60D and 7D are both huge steps forward from the 20D, but in the end here are the primary reasons I chose the 7D (in priority order):

1. AF Micro-adjust
2. Buttons and controls
3. Image quality (low light)
4. Ergonomics - size and weight
5. Burst speed

Are these items worth $400 more? I don’t know, but I am 100% satisfied with my 7D.

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