Operation and controls

Although the EOS 60D retains the many of the ergonomic features of the 50D (not least the large, comfortable hand grip), its handling is significantly revised. The articulated screen precludes the inclusion of the under-screen row of buttons that graced the 40D and 50D, and these have instead been arranged on the right-hand side of the screen, in a fashion distinctly reminiscent of the EOS 550D.

Gone too is the AF-point-selecting joystick just below the viewfinder, replaced by a multicontroller within the rear control dial. This will be instantly familiar to users of most entry-level cameras, but may cause consternation for those people familiar with using the joystick. Canon says that it's made this change so that the control is more readily accessible when using a vertical grip (which seems fair enough).

The 60D overall has slightly fewer buttons, and fewer functions assigned to those buttons it does have (which, as mentioned earlier, makes it a lot more approachable for the less experienced user). To make up for some of this loss of direct access, the SET button is customizable and can be used to control white balance, amongst other functions (see the Menu section for more details). Also you always have the prominent 'Q' button for access to the interactive settings screen.

A summary of the major physical changes over the 50D follows below:

  • Major re-arrangement of buttons
  • Joystick replaced by multicontroller within rear dial
  • Gains 'Q' quick-menu button
  • Loses Func. button
  • No dedicated Picture Style button
  • Top-plate buttons all now single-function
  • No direct external control for white balance or flash exposure compensation (now via Q button)
  • Soft button (rather than switch) to unlock the rear control dial

Top of camera controls (right side)

The shutter button, main control dial, and AF-ON, * and AF-point buttons are in the familiar Canon positions, but the buttons on the top-panel have been simplified. On previous Canons at this level each button has had two functions assigned to it. On the EOS 60D this has been reduced to just a single function per button, with both front and rear dial cycling through the options for that function. You get access to the core camera controls of of AF mode, drive mode, ISO and metering, with white balance and flash exposure compensation relegated to less direct control.

The ISO button is in the now-standard Canon location behind the control dial, with a little raised dot on it to aid tactile identification. This makes it particularly easy to operate with the camera to your eye (always a good thing).

Top of camera controls (left side)

The mode dial is pretty standard stuff, but has a lock button at its center to prevent accidental operation (which makes it a bit slower and more awkward to operate, at least until you get used to it). It also gains a movie position but offers only a single custom memory, rather than the two offered by the 50D. The camera's on/off switch resides beneath it.

Rear of camera controls

The back of the 60D bears very little resemblance to the 50D - the buttons that lay in a strip under the LCD have had to be scattered across the rest of the body (with the replacement of the customizable Func button by Q menu, and loss of the Picture Style button altogether). The live view /move record button and Q button have been positioned within easy reach of the thumb - making clear how much of this camera's operation is expected to be done via the rear LCD panel and with hands in their usual shooting position.

The Q menu now becomes the default method for changing imaging parameters such as white balance, picture style, file size / quality, and auto lighting optimizer. From here you can also turn on the 60D's electronic level display, and change the other camera functions like metering pattern when the top-plate isn't very visible (for example with the camera up high on a tripod).

Front of camera controls

The front of the camera offers a flash pop-up button and a depth-of-field preview button. The latter has swapped sides compared to either the 50D or 550D, and is now on the same place as on the 1D-series. This places it under the control of the fingers of your left hand (rather than the thumb), which makes it a bit easier to use if you're shooting with larger, heavier lenses: with a bit of practice you can learn to operate it with your little finger. It's not so well placed for portrait format operation though.