Body & Design

The D60 is the third incarnation of the the most compact Nikon digital SLRs to date, and externally not a lot has changed since the D40x. Not that this is a bad thing; as we've said since the original D40 this range of cameras is proof that you can build a compact digital SLR without compromising comfort or ergonomics (well at least if your lens mount isn't too large). Built to the high standards we've come to expect from Nikon the D40X uses high grade plastic in its construction (wrapped around a metal frame) and has tight seams with no rattles or creaks.

Side by side

Aside from the new badge, a new mode dial (which is topped off with a flat metal disk) and minor changes to the icons printed on and next to a couple of buttons the D60 is essentially identical to the D40X that came before it.

Buyers in the entry-level DSLR market have never been so spoilt for choice, with all the major manufacturers offering at least one lightweight, affordable ten megapixel-ish model. The D60 is at the smaller, lighter end of the scale, though none of these cameras could be described as big or heavy. Since the original D40 we've been impressed by the handling offered by Nikon's body design - the smaller lens mount means there's room for a far more comfortable grip than Canon's 450D and it really is surprisingly compact. Below you can see the D60 with some of the other cameras in this class (from left the Canon 450D, Nikon D60, Olympus E-510 and Sony Alpha 200).

Camera Dimensions
(W x H x D)
Body weight
(inc. battery & card)
Olympus E-410 130 x 91 x 53 mm (5.1 x 3.6 x 2.1 in) 435 g (1.0 lb)
Nikon D60 (and D40/D40x) 126 x 94 x 64 mm (5.0 x 3.7 x 2.5 in) 524 g (1.2 lb)
Canon EOS 450D 129 x 98 x 62 mm (5.1 x 3.9 x 2.4 in) 517 g (1.1lb)
Sony DSLR-A200 131 x 98.5 x 71 mm (5.2 x 3.7 x 2.8 in) 625 g (1.4 lb)
Pentax K200D 133.5mm x 95mm x 74mm (5.2 x 3.7 x 2.9 in) 690 g (1.7 lb)

In your hand

I may be getting a bit repetitive but with the D40/D40X and now D60 design Nikon have proved that it is possible to make a compact digital SLR with a comfortable grip. Nikon may have a slight real estate advantage over Canon because of their smaller lens mount but whatever the case it's clear that they weren't going to compromise comfort or handling. The D60's grip is smaller than that found on the Nikon's old 'entry level' model (the D50), but is considerably better than that found on the EOS 400D (Digital Rebel XTi), and still feels better in our hand than the new EOS 450D (Rebel XSi). A plastic body is par for the course at this price point but there's plastic and there's plastic, and that used by Nikon feels more robust and higher quality.

LCD Monitor

No change to the screen since the D40X. The 2.5" LCD monitor dominates the rear of the camera, filling the space between the viewfinder and bottom and a considerable amount of horizontal real estate. That said Nikon still managed to stick with the oversized buttons down the left side. As with its predecessors, the D60 does away with the separate 'control panel' LCD display; the LCD monitor performs this function during shooting. Note the new eye sensor (more on which below).

Camera information display

Nikon has changed the way the information display works slightly with the D60. Where the D40/D40X required a push of the 'info' button the display now comes on automatically when you turn the D60 on, turning off again after 8 seconds of without pressing any buttons (customizable) or when the eye sensor is activated by looking through the viewfinder.

The information display provides an overview of camera settings as well as a graphic representation of shutter speed (the line surrounding the aperture) and aperture. Press the 'Quick Setting' (magnify) button and you can navigate around this screen to change settings such as image quality, white balance, ISO, drive mode etc. You can alternatively choose the 'classic' info display format which does away with the graphical representation of shutter speed and aperture and instead looks more like a standard control panel. As with the D40X you can choose from several color schemes. New for the D60 is function that rotates the display automatically when you turn the camera to vertical (portrait) orientation.

Graphic display format Classic display format

The diagram below shows a breakdown of all the potential information displayed in the 'Graphic' display mode.

1 Shooting mode 15 AF-area mode
2 Shutter speed 16 Focus mode
3 Aperture (f-number) 17 Release mode
4 Shutter-speed display (graphic) 18 ISO sensitivity
5 Aperture display (graphic) 19 White balance mode
6 Electronic analog exposure display / AE-C 20 Image size
7 Flash compensation value 21 Image quality
8 Flash sync mode 22 Focus point display
9 Exposure compensation value 23 Battery indicator
10 Help indicator 24 Beep indicator
11 Active D-Lighting indicator 25 Optimize image preset indicator
12 Frames remaining / Preset WB rec / PC 26 Auto ISO sensitivity indicator
13 K (over 1000 exposures remaining) 27 Manual flash control / External flash comp.
14 Metering mode 28 Date Imprint indicator

Diagram reproduced with permission from the Nikon D60 user manual.