Both Canon and Nikon have refreshed respective entry level DSLR lines with current offerings – the Canon EOS 1000D and Nikon D60. In their standalone reviews both cameras scored a commendable 85%, but which should you buy? With the prices having now fallen to around £350 apiece, should your entry level purchase be the Canon or Nikon? The What Digital Camera Canon EOS 1000D vs Nikon D60 entry level DSLR group test head to head tells all…
Canon 1000D vs Nikon 60 – Features
Canon 1000D Features:
The Canon EOS 1000D followed the company’s slightly-better-specified EOS 450D, aiming to bring the DSLR concept in a non-intimidating form. The 100D features a CMOS-type sensor with an effective resolution of 10.1MP, with Canon’s EOS Integrated Cleaning System included to help minimise dust incursion.
The EOS 1000D has a DIGIC III processor to handle all processing and operating functions, and allows images to be captured in both JPEG and Raw modes, as well as a simultaneous capture of the two. Bundled with the 1000D is the Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS kit lens, which, as the ‘IS’ moniker suggests, comes with image stabilisation to provide up to four extra stops than would be possible without. The EOS 1000D has a focusing system that offers a seven-point wide-area pattern, which is fairly comprehensive for an entry level model’s stature. At its centre is a cross type point, with a working aperture of f/2.8, with the remaining six points arranged in a diamond formation. Both auto and manual focusing may be called upon when in live view mode, which displays a feed of the scene via the 2.5in LCD screen on the camera’s rear. Options within live view shooting include a depth of field preview function, a magnification of up to 10x, and a grid overlay.
As with its older 450D sibling, we see the same 35-zone metering pattern with options for evaluative, centre-weighted and partial metering, though there’s no spot option. Exposure compensation for both ambient and flash exposures may be selected over a range of -/+2EV, with the standard PASM exposure modes joined by an Auto option, an assortment of Scene presets, and Canon’s long-standing A-DEP option.
Nikon D60 Features:
The Nikon D60 takes the opposite route top the Canon 1000D by growing out of its D40x predecessor. Its form is virtually identical, as is the 10.2MP resolution, which gives it marginal (if negligible) edge in terms of resolution output over the EOS 1000D. Images are also stored in a choice of Raw and JPEG formats, though only a basic level JPEG may be recorded at the same time as a Raw file.
Without its own autofocus motor the D60 can only autofocus with motorised lenses, such as those in Nikon’s AF-S and Sigma’s HSM ranges. The latter, together with Tamron, has also been active in providing motorised versions of their current models, which, with Nikon’s AF-S ranges make enough models to satisfy pretty much every lens choice.
Processing comes courtesy of Nikon’s familiar Expeed technologies, though a feature unique to the D60 is its dust-removal system.
The D60 has an Airflow Control system, constructed in such a way so that the action of the mirror physically pushes dust down into its own collection chamber at the base of the camera, where it collects on an adhesive strip. This is paired with the more standard dust-removing method of sensor-based vibration, which is activated on shutdown of the camera, or manually as required.
Focusing with the Nikon D60 is limited to a trio of horizontally arranged points, with the options of Auto area, Dynamic, and closest subject. There’s no live view either, though the camera’s Stop Motion movie mode allows for a sequence of images to be compiled into an AVI file, producing a flickbook-style movie.
Canon 1000D vs Nikon 60 – Design
The Canon 1000D has a body akin to a simplified 450D. The newer EOS 1000D model loses the rubber grip and thumb rest of the 450D, resulting in a model that’s almost entirely of the same matt finish, though the grip is a slightly textured plastic. The casing of the flash flows smoothly with the top-plate, while all buttons are large and clearly labelled. It’s also nice to see that Canon has retained a separate button for adjusting sensitivity on the top plate. The rear sports a 2.5in LCD screen as well as a standard directional menu pad, with most buttons dual functional, while the mode dial is sufficiently tall to provide easy use. As I noted in my original review, the lack of contouring and a proper grip results in a slightly featureless body that’s perfectly comfortable to hold but not quite as ergonomically complete as other models, such as the D60.
Nikon’s more chiselled model varies little from its younger brothers, and at first glance you’d be hard pushed to tell the difference. The only changes are with the eye-piece sensor under the viewfinder, and a direct button for Active D-Lighting underneath the shutter release button. Its body is slightly mottled in finish, with fewer buttons than the 1000D and therefore fewer functions that can be directly accessed. The rear, for instance, offers just six buttons, a menu pad and a command dial, with plenty of room left over for comfortable handling. Indeed, one of the D60’s finest qualities is how well it feels in the hand.
Canon 1000D vs Nikon D60: Performance
Canon 1000D vs Nikon 60 – Performance
Canon EOS 1000D
One of the major differences between the Canon EOS 100D and Nikon D60 is the design and functionality of each camera’s graphic user interface. The 1000D’s menu system follows the same styling as previous EOS models, with six tabs and a My Menu option. It’s not quite as friendly as that of the D60, and at times its structure can be a little disorientating, but as with the D60 there’s the option of a display which consolidates all current shooting parameters for quick assessment.
Perhaps one of the 1000D’s biggest strengths is its Direct Access buttons, which, once you familiarise yourself with their layout and customise the Set button, pretty much live up to their name. Changing key settings is much easier on the 1000D than on the D60, which together with the camera’s faster burst rate makes it better for fast-paced action, where the camera may need to have its settings changed on a whim. An unfortunate caveat to all this is the camera’s relatively small buffer, which begins to run out of breath after just a few Raw files are shot in succession.
Autofocusing with the 1000D kit lens is fairly speedy, and the cross-sensor centre point is impressively sensitive. With more AF points than the D60, subjects are brought to focus much quicker when all the points have been activated, though when the camera does need to work the lens through its range to find focus, the motor doesn’t make the nicest of sounds. It’s not terribly loud but there’s a certain drilling to it that’s perhaps not as suited to environments where discretion is key. Fortunately, other Canon lenses containing a USM motor perform much better in this respect.
The Canon EOS 1000D is, however, ideally suited for macro and general tripod-based work thanks to Canon’s implementations of live view, and for an entry-level model such as the 1000D its functionality is hard to fault. With the system’s ‘traditional’ internal construction, it can’t hold a candle to that of the Sony A350 insofar as live-view focusing speeds go, but then neither can any other DSLR. It’s also slightly slower than the system seen in Nikon’s better-specified DSLRs, but against other models in its price range it puts in a commendable performance. The EOS Utility program that comes with the 1000D also allows for live-view tethering, maximising its potential for studio and general indoor use.
Nikon D60 Performance
In the menu department the Nikon D60 wins over the Canon 1000D by a mile – not just because of its clearer and more colourful design, but because of its instructional nature, too. Turning the camera on with its lens cap still attached, for example, prompts a ‘the subject is too dark’ message, which also appears if you go beyond the camera’s maximum exposure values. Pressing the ‘?’ button the rear instructs you how best to set your image parameters prior to shooting – so, for instance, if you’re shooting in low light it will suggest that you activate the flash. The Nikon D60 also allows for you to choose a virtual diaphragm to be displayed, showing whether you’re increasing or decreasing its opening as you change exposure settings. The menu itself is logically structured and tabbed into five sections, and, again, the ‘?’ button may be called upon to explain whatever feature you come across.
With just three AF points the D60’s system is not quite up to the standard of the 1000D’s, though the size and illumination of each focusing bracket is much clearer than the tiny dots of the 1000D. Considering that there’s no cross-type AF points, the centre point still manages to achieve focus fairly quickly (and with the kit lens fairly silently, too), but subjects off centre – or for that matter, those not directly covered by an AF point – take a while for the system to find. Live view aside, this is perhaps one of the major downsides of the D60’s performance, making it slightly less ideal for those situations where spontaneity is critical.
Canon 1000D vs Nikon D60: Image Quality & Verdict
Canon 1000D vs Nikon D60 – Image Quality
1000D vs D60 – Exposure and Tone
Studio tests indicate that the EOS 1000D has a wide dynamic range of around 8.5 stops, compared with the seven or so offered by the D60. Metering systems on both cameras perform well, though on occasion the 1000D does tend to overexpose a little when presented with darker conditions. By contrast, the Nikon D60 underexposes easier when presented with either highlights or just generally bright conditions.
1000D vs D60 – White Balance and Colour
Indoors, the 1000D’s AWB displayed very neutral results, with just a hint of magenta. By contrast, the D60’s can often turn up some rather warm results, often with a strong yellow or magenta cast (such as the image, right).
Both indoors and out, the D60 reproduces colours with a bit more pep than the EOS 1000D, with blue skies in particular showing greater depth and vibrancy.
1000D vs D60 – Noise
Due to the differences in white balance, noise is generally more visible in images from the D60 under artificial light, where images tend to be a little darker due to the heavier cast. As the 1000D tends to err on the side of overexposure, outdoors, in contrasty conditions, its images show less noise than the D60.
Noise from the D60 also tends to be of a finer grain than the 1000D’s, in comparison to the slightly more ‘blotchy’ patterning of the 1000D, though there is slightly more luminance noise in high-ISO images from the D60. The D60 begins to show both noise and noise-reduction effects earlier in the ISO range, and it’s more pronounced as you increase sensitivity.
1000D vs D60 – Detail and Sharpness
Although I used a range of lenses on both 1000D and D60 bodies, I’ve biased my findings towards each camera’s respective kit lens, as their results are the most relevant to the entry-level user. Both lenses maintain good sharpness, though the effects of fringing were slightly more visible with Canon’s kit lens.
Barrel distortion is about equal with both lenses – being satisfactory by the standard of most kit lenses – while the image stabilisation of each lens worked well, too, with detail still reasonably sharp in images taken at around 1/4sec from each camera, at a focal length of 55mm. There is a noticeable dfference in quality with better lenses, though as kit lenses go both are generally good.
1000D vs D60 – RAW and JPEG
JPEGs from both the 1000D and D60 are a little soft compared with Raw files, though I found this to be the case with the 1000D to a slightly greater degree. Its JPEGs on occasion show a little more depth and contrast than Raw files, though what Raw converter you use will affect default results. JPEGs from the D60 are preferable to the 1000D’s, though it’s a shame that a version of Capture NX isn’t included with the body, as this really helps to get the best results out of the Raw files.
Canon EOS 1000D vs Nikon D60 – Verdict
Trying to come to a conclusion between theCanon 1000D and Nikon D60 has caused me considerably more distress; whether to place one as a winner over the other or whether to have a winner at all. Every time I plumped for one model I would be reminded of the other’s plusses, and how where one camera may fall short in one area it would compensate in another. In essence, the question of whether one model is ‘better’ than the other is a superficial and only partially relevant one, particularly when both cameras perform to such a similar standard. Only the end user, together with their own working style, habits and preferences can decide which is the best model for them.
The fact is both the 1000D and D60 are equally excellent – they just do certain things differently. The small differences in image quality are far outweighed by how each model functions and the way they would be used by different photographers. The 1000D has the advantage of a more sophisticated focusing system, live view, and the inclusion of the DPP and EOS Utility software packages. The latter two points mean that the 1000D provides more room for growth, as the photographer becomes more creative and wants to experiment with either the practical uses for live view, tethering or post-processing. Yet, the D60 offers more features in-camera to experiment with and learn from, and provides a far better user experience. In fact, it’s hard to think of a camera better designed for the novice user.
So Canon 1000D vs Nikon D60 price war? – well, both are also excellent value at around £300-350. Overall, though, taking into account everything, the 1000D’s positive attributes means that it clinches it just by a whisker. While it lacks the ergonomics and styling of the D60, it goes that little bit further in terms of its specification and performance. Having been launched after the D60 – and arguably with the sole purpose of stealing some of Nikon’s entry-level thunder – it’s clear it has the upper hand, though both are fine DSLR choices in their own right.