Released within weeks of one another, the Nikon D7000 and Canon 60D both set new DSLR benchmarks. Since the announcement of each we’ve seen endless comparisons between the pair and watched the Internet’s forum fields light up like wildfire with regards to which is the better of the two. To settle the feud we’ve got hold of both cameras and pitched them together in a head to head showdown…
Canon EOS 60D vs Nikon D7000 – Features
Found in the upper echelons of the consumer range, both models come very well specified. On the cusp of professional specification this category is fiercely fought, though the approaches of the Canon and Nikon models are both fairly different:
The 60D has a 3in, 1,040k-dot vari-angle LCD screen that can be used through a variety of angles and is the only DSLR camera at this level to offer such a feature. By comparison the D7000 provides a more standard 3in, 920k-dot screen that’s fixed to the rear.
The Canon features an 18MP CMOS sensor, which is slightly higher resolution than the D7000’s 16.2MP offering.
With the launch of Canon’s 7D came a new 63-zone, dual-layered iFCL (intelligent Focus, Colour & Luminance) metering sensor that is also inherited by the 60D. The Nikon D7000’s equivalent is a brand new offering: a 2,016-pixel RGB metering sensor.
The D7000 also includes the brand new Multi-CAM 4800DX that has a 39-point array of focus points, nine of which are cross-type for enhanced sensitivity in both portrait and landscape mode. By comparison the 60D employs the same system as found in the 50D, offering nine AF points (all cross-type).
The Nikon employs the latest EXPEED 2 image-processing engine and tops out at ISO 25,600, compared to the Canon’s DIGIC 4 processor that provides a top-end ISO 12,800.
It’s not just stills where both models bestow much of their prowess however: the video modes of the pair are mightily impressive and, for the most part, of a similar specification. Both provide the ability to Full HD 1080p at 24fps (the 60D also has 30 or 25fps options).
Canon EOS 60D vs Nikon D7000: Design
Canon EOS 60D vs Nikon D7000: Design
Structurally the two cameras are relatively different: The D7000 has magnesium alloy top and rear covers for extra toughness and environmentally-sealed joints to help protect the camera from dust and moisture. Although it’s not as hardy as a pro-grade body it’s really not far away.
By comparison the 60D is built of aluminium and polycarbonate resin with glass fibre which, despite its metal frame interior, looks and feels rather plasticy and especially so considering the previous 50D’s magnesium alloy construction. Since the release of the 40D there’s been some degree of environmental-sealing which the 60D also sees as a benefit.
In terms of layout the two models are typical of a DSLR layout. The Nikon is typical of the manufacturer’s usual layout: very similar to the D300s’s layout. Its dual thumbwheel (one front, one rear) controls are very well placed and easy to use. The 60D makes a number of changes over the previous 50D model: the mode dial (which can’t rotate continuously, i.e. it has an ‘end point’ where it need to be turned back on itself) is to the top left while the display panel is to the top right; next to the latter are four action buttons which now have a better-considered single use rather than the previous multi-press use. However the previous 50D’s joystick mechanism to the rear has vanished and been replaced with a d-pad that has a rotational wheel instead of a rear thumbwheel. It’s rather a lot going on in one small space.
However the 60D’s grip is more prominent and deeper than the D7000’s which makes for more comfortable extended use should you weigh the camera up in the hand.
Canon EOS 60D vs Nikon D7000: Performance
Canon EOS 60D vs Nikon D7000: Performance
In use the one thing that separates the Canon from the Nikon is obviously its vari-angle screen. It’s possible to rotate this through 180° horizontally and 270° vertically and even stow the screen-side towards the camera when not in use for protection. The resolution is also 1040k-dots compared to the D7000’s 920k-dot fixed rear LCD screen. Both are of a good standard however and the ‘lower resolution’ is still a decent VGA (640×480 pixel) quality – it’s worth pointing out that ‘dot’ resolutions are actually three times higher than their true pixel resolutions (as individual red, green and blue dots are counted). The 60D has the same 480 pixels of height, but is 720 pixels wide for true 3:2 display with no bordering.
When using the viewfinder it’s the Nikon that takes command with a full 100% field of view, something the Canon 60D lacks by offering a 96% view. What this means is that some 4% of the final frame can’t be seen when composing through the viewfinder, whereas the D7000 is more precise in offering a full ‘what you see is what you get’ view.
Both cameras offer super-fast 1/8000th second shutter speeds and can record up to 30 seconds unless using the Bulb setting for longer exposures. The D7000’s shutter is tested to 150,000 cycles, whereas the 60D has an unconfirmed 100,000 cycle capacity, making the D7000’s lifespan some 50% greater.
Using both cameras in the studio and neither provides a PC socket for direct flash connections. As the previous 50D did have this connector, it seems an oddity that the 60D demotes this standard in omitting such a detail. The D7000’s lack of inclusion further supports that it’s not quite a pro-spec camera. Using a hotshoe-based radio trigger is more up to date, though doesn’t cover all the bases.
As well as fast shutter speeds, both models offer fairly impressive burst shooting options too: the D7000 is the faster of the two with a 6fps burst mode, compared to the 60D’s 5.3fps. The extra resolution of the 60D means that there’s more to process through the buffer, and this goes some way to explain its marginally slower pace. When shooting Raw + JPEG in this test the 60D succeeded in snapping eight frames before a slight delay on the ninth, while the D7000 succeeded in taking 10 consecutive frames before a pause (both using a Samsung 4GB, Class 10 Gold SD).
It’s not just the speed that matters during focusing however, as the D7000’s 3D subject tracking AF is very successful when shooting moving subjects. The 60D is less impressive simply down to number of AF points, but the speed at which it whips into focus is very decent and can often be more decisive than the Nikon system. However, menu digging will reveal just the depth of detail that the D7000 provides. It’s borderline pro and you can control whether capture can take place in absolute focus or when the shutter is pressed, adjust a five-point level for sensitivity of focus tracking, there’s a focus point wrap-around and AF illumination control. A secondary 11-point AF array is also available should this better suit your shooting style. The Canon 60D lacks any AF-illuminator apart from a pre-flash option and that’s far from subtle. Accessing the interior menus provides an Autofocus/Drive custom setting though the same level of detailed adjustment just doesn’t feature as per the Nikon. Both cameras provide AF-S (single shot), AF-C (Continuous / AI Servo) and AF-A (Automatic / AI Focus for automatic switching between single and continuous) as well as manual AF-point adjustment and locking.
When in live view mode it’s possible to compose images or capture movies, though both Nikon and Canon rely on a slower contrast-detection focusing system. The D7000 allows for edge-to-edge AF selection right across the entirety of the screen, whereas the Canon borders off the outermost edge for a marginally more limited selection. The Nikon attained focus more quickly than the Canon in a variety of tests, though both models struggle in low-contrast conditions or on subjects lacking stand-out detail.
One hugely impressive element of both cameras is the battery life. It’s hard to separate which is the longer-lasting as both models survived shooting several hundred shots, dozens of minutes of video and a variety of playback and adjustments.
Canon EOS 60D vs Nikon D7000: Image Quality
Canon EOS 60D vs Nikon D7000: Image Quality
60D vs D7000: Image Quality: Tone & Exposure
Canon’s latest iFCL metering system is very clever indeed. As electronic sensors are typically more sensitive to red light, its dual-layered approach has one red & green and one blue & green layer. The two exposures are combined, compared and, quicker than you know it, an exposure is made utilising each of the 63-zones.
By comparison there’s Nikon’s brand new 2,016-pixel RGB sensor that actually does more than just consider metering. By using such a vast number of pixels it can relay shape information to the sensor and deduce what the scene being exposed for is, thus making a more finely-tuned exposure adjustment.
However, the proof is in the pudding, or so they say. And it has to be said that Nikon’s latest offering is rather over-zealous at exposing for the mid-levels and can often result in over exposure. Where highlights are concerned it’s best to bracket exposures and often exposure compensation intervention was required for certain scenes.
Canon’s iFCL offering generally provided a more well-rounded and accurate exposure with more ‘room’ for the shadow areas.
60D vs D7000: Image Quality: Colour & White Balance
This is where the 60D’s shots take on a whole different life as the punch of colours delivered straight from camera is the more pleasing of the two. The D7000’s images are still exceptional, but seem more subtly coloured straight from the camera, especially when viewing side by side on each cameras’ rear LCD screens.
Colour balance from the Nikon is slightly warm, with a reddish tinge not uncommon, though not problematically so. Colour can also be slightly inconsistent at higher ISO settings even under consistent lighting.
The Canon has a more neutral and accurate base colour balance, with the occasional ‘cold’ cast, but is generally the more pleasing of the two.
Of course, any level of post-production can take place outside of the camera and there are options to tweak JPEG processing in-camera as you please, so these standard settings can be adjusted to suit your preference.
60D vs D7000: Image Quality: Sharpness & Detail
In both instances the kit lenses – Nikon 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 and Canon 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 – work relatively well, but it’s when adding faster, more responsive lenses that things really step up a gear. The majority of this test was carried out using both Canon’s and Nikon’s 24-70mm f/2.8 lenses head to head. The rise in autofocus speed from doing so was immediately obvious and the final results benefit from a sustained wide aperture and sharper ‘sweet spot’ when stopping down a little.
Detail-wise the final Canon images are obviously slightly larger and that lends itself better to enlargment or cropping at lower ISO settings. However, the D7000’s JPEGs straight from camera are better sharpened and hold detail better at the higher ISO settings.
60D vs D7000: Image Quality: ISO & Image Noise
The two cameras’ sensors are slightly different sizes (Nikon’s is 23.6 × 15.6mm compared to Canon’s smaller 22.3 × 14.9mm), and with Canon’s higher resolution the theory would suggest it would suffer from more image noise issues. However, this really isn’t the case until reaching the much higher ISO settings. Sitting Canon and Nikon shots side by side it’s otherwise hard to tell the difference between them when solely assessing image noise.
In fact both cameras provide exceptional image quality, especially at the lower ISO sensitivities. Saying that, the Canon does slip into more noticeable noise reduction (and therefore softness) from ISO 1600 and above, which gives the D7000’s high ISO images the perception of greater sharpness. At ISO 3200-6400 the 60D’s images are muddied and less detailed than the D7000’s, yet both show an interfering level of image noise. The ‘Hi’ settings, which extend to ISO 12,800 for the Canon and ISO 12,800-25,600 for the Nikon exhibit considerable image noise.
60D vs D7000: Image Quality: Raw vs JPEG
Both cameras provide software for Raw processing in the box – Nikon View NX 2 for the D7000 and Canon Digital Photo Professional for the 60D.
Generally speaking the two cameras show relatively little difference from one another in terms of sharpness, though there is significantly more colour noise present throughout both the ISO ranges.
From ISO 800 and above the 60D shows greater presence of colour noise than each of the D7000’s comparisons, and this is especially notable from ISO 6400 and above.
Canon EOS 60D vs Nikon D7000: Movie & Value
Canon EOS 60D vs Nikon D7000: Value for money
The D7000 costs around £1300 with a kit lens, around £300 more than the 60D. Such a difference in price may help decide on which to purchase.
Isolate the 60D and it’s very closely sandwiched between the 550D and 7D models – indeed the lower-spec 550D offers much of the specification for a fraction of the price, with the omission of the vari-angle screen and less specified autofocus the most obvious differences.
The Nikon D7000 is relatively closely matched to the D300s, albeit with a less significant build quality and focus system. However this does mean it’s very well specified at its lower price point.
Canon EOS 60D vs Nikon D7000: Movie Modes
Movie modes in DSLRs are becoming as important as still capture for a number of purchasers these days. For tax reasons there are limitations to maximum record time (29mins 59 seconds) as any longer would mean an additional 5% import duty and re-classification as a video (rather than stills) camera in the EU.
Furthermore there’s a limit to 4GB as a maximum file size as this is the largest portion of data that the mandatory FAT-32 file system can deal with.
In addition the larger sensor sizes in stills cameras are potentially prone to overheating when recording, so manufacturers themselves often put yet further caps on record time in order to avoid issues.
And lastly there’s the data rate, i.e. the number of bits of data being transferred per second. The higher this data rate is the potential better the quality will be, but also the shorter the video length will be due to the above restrictions.
The Canon and Nikon movie modes are both well-specified. However the Canon has the upper hand in terms of manual control. There are 24, 25 or 30fps options at Full HD 1080p, compared to the Nikon that offers just 24fps at 1080p. The Canon records shorter clips, but this is for the simple fact that it packs considerably more data (44mbit/sec – almost double the Nikon’s 25mbit/sec bit rate) into the files. The Nikon still performs well, and the company’s choice to move from its previous M-JPEG to newer H.264 compression (output directly as MOV files) is certainly a step in the right direction.
The Canon 60D limits the maximum video length to less than 12mins (at 1080p24), while the D7000 records a maximum clip length of 20mins. Overall the Canon 60D takes the winning ticket for its more advanced options and better movie quality.
Canon EOS 60D vs Nikon D7000: Verdict
Canon EOS 60D vs Nikon D7000: The Verdict
It’s a tough call as these are two cameras aimed at different contingents of the market. The 60D firmly targets itself at the more ‘consumer’ sector and its vari-angle LCD is certainly one major selling point. The D7000, on the other hand, is knocking on pro-territory’s door – it’s better built, has the more complex AF system but, and this will be of considerable impact, does costs some 30% more than the Canon. In many respects the D7000 is more closely matched to the Canon 7D model that may otherwise see a much tighter-run head to head.
Although images straight from the Canon 60D are better metered and generally more punchy, it’s really the Nikon D7000 that’s the better-specified and better performer in almost more areas. If high ISO image quality is of considerable importance to your shooting then the D7000 takes the biscuit here too. Unless the 60D’s vari-angle screen and better-specced video mode are truly essential elements for your work then the Nikon D7000 is otherwise hard to beat and, for this test, comes out on top.