7D or 60D?

My friend and student Ed asked (and this is the abbreviated version, his question was more nuanced): “should I buy a Canon 60D or a 7D to replace my Digital Rebel”?

Because this type of question comes up often – one camera versus another one, and use the difference for lenses – like “a D90 plus a lens versus a D300 without one” – I thought I would share my answer here. It may give you some ideas as to the factors that affect a difficult choice like this.

These are both great cameras. They both have the same sensor and the same video.

The 7D does not have the cool articulating mirror, true, but it has other advantages that made me buy one:

  • The 7D has a titanium body (60D is plastic)
  • Weatherproofing.
  • A much better, entirely new focusing system.
  • Better controls (e.g. a switch for video/live view selection; more controls accessible via a switch rather than a menu).
  • More customization options
  • Better viewfinder (100%)
  • More settings in video (e.g. the option to use Av mode)
  • Faster: Two processors rather than the 60D’s one means that you get 8 frames per second when shooting sport. That’s FAST!

Clearly, there is no good or bad – both good. But

  • If you want a sturdier, weatherproofed camera with the latest focus system (more points is good: you will only use one, but you have more to choose from for that one, in a bigger area), and if you shoot sports, then the 7D for sure.
  • But since lenses are more important than cameras for the image quality, if quality is important and the other factors are less so, then go for a cheaper camera and better lenses.

As said: either is good.  But I hope this brief discussion shows there is no clear winner in these things, since the factors that go into your decision are multifaceted and complicated.

7 thoughts on “7D or 60D?

  1. For what it’s worth, the 7D has a magnesium body as opposed to titanium. I wonder how much it would add to the price if Canon started machining titanium camera bodies?

  2. I am also looking at replacing my Rebel too. I decided to go for the 7D but I will wait till the next version of the 7D comes out which I expect should be at the end of 2011. Gives me more time to save up the extra money too 😉

  3. i’ve had my canon 40d for a little more than two years now, and i’ve still got my 20d from before that. the next thing i will buy are remote triggers so that i can fire the flash without the sync chord pissing me off!

    Zhang Jingna had a blog post ( http://blog.zhangjingna.com/2010/10/equipment-and-where-money-comes-from.html ) not too long ago about starting out shooting fashion with a canon 350d and kit lens, and Alex Koloskov compares his Canon 1DsMK3 with a Canon G11 ( http://www.akelstudio.com/blog/do-you-really-need-an-expensive-dslr-camera-point-and-shoot-vs-professional-dslr/ ) for product photography! Both posts happy reading if you’re on a budget.

    • Indeed. You have heard me say it many times, the camera is less important than the lens. And my micro four thirds camera is just about as good as an SLR in many ways. And a Kia will get you to Rome just like a Ferrari. Thought I’d quite like the Ferrari.

  4. As the “Ed” who sparked this post in the 1st place I want to thank Michael for his (as usual) helpful and detailed comments. I went to Henry’s to get my hands on the two cameras and was equally impressed. It’s tempting for a high-end hobbyist like myself to save the $600 and enjoy the articulating screen of the 60D. The 60D also used SD cards which, while slightly slower and less reliable (I’m told) are cheaper in large capacities and I have a built-in SD card reader on my laptop which would be nice to use.

    Ultimately, I’ve put off the decision at least a couple of weeks while I wait for a Canon 28-300 IS f/3.5-5.6 lens I’ve had my eye on arrives at Henry’s for me to play around with. At $2500 this puppy is much more expensive than either body upgrade I’m looking at but pretty much everyone agrees that great lenses trump upgraded bodies any day. I’m hopign to use this to replace my current workhorse…the Sigma 18-200 IS f/3.5-6.3. I do a lot of wildlife travel photography and the extra telephoto with a slightly improved speed is very attractive to me.

    Any thoughts on whether I’ll actually notice the difference between shooting at 5.6 over 6.3 at max telephoto?

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