Since the Canon EOS 60D ( see hands-on preview here)was announced 2 days ago there have been multiple comments/complaints posted on internet photography forums that it's nothing more than a slightly higher spec Rebel T2i rather than a true upgrade of the EOS 50D. These complaints seem to mainly focus on the fact that the 60D uses a mostly polycarbonate body whereas the EOS 50D uses a mostly magnesium alloy body. Well, that's true but I'm not really sure how much practical difference that makes to the typical user.
I've also seen complaints about the size. It appears that some people assume that if the body is plastic, then it must be a Rebel, therefore it must be small. It's not. It's pretty much the same size as the 40D and 50D. I find the Rebel cameras a little small for my hands, but the 40D, 50D, 60D are all pretty much the same size and fit my hands well. The 7D is just a fraction larger (0.1" wider and 0.2" taller).
The following video (from DigitalRevTV) shows how durable the T2i (EOS 550D) is, despite having a mostly polycarbonate (plastic body). Again, how much durability does the average user need and while a magnesium alloy body is nice, does the average (or even extremely clumsy or very stupid) user actually need it?
...and after the torture how is the image quality and can the camera be fixed...
Unfortunately my personal research budget means that I won't be (deliberately) performing any similar tests on an EOS 60D. I also seriously doubt that Canon would be very appreciative if I sent back a loaner camera that had been used as a hammer, dunked in tea and had been set on fire. It's probably safe to assume that a 60D would probably fare as well as the T2i, though as I mentioned in my hands-on preview, the tilt/swivel LCD might not fare too well in drop tests. Again though, something I'm unlikely to be deliberately testing!
So if it's tough enough, what does the 60D lack? Well, the 60D drops the AF microadjustment and a PC flash connector found on the 50D, but again I wonder how many 50D owners make much use of either of those features. I do sometimes use the PC connectors on my cameras for studio flash work, but you can get a hotshoe PC flash adapter if you really need one. I might use AF adjustment so I'd really have liked to see it on the 60D but I guess I can live without it and I'm sure a lot of other 50D owners could. I actually don't have it on my 40D and I've never had the need for it with the lenses I own. Another difference is that the 60D uses SD cards rather than CF cards, but that really doesn't affect camera performance in any way. The multi-axis controller joystick used on the 50D and 7D has been replaced on the 60D by a similarly functioning control integrated into the inside of the QCD (Quick Control Dial). The ergonomics aren't so good as with a separate controller, though the functionality is still there.
On the other hand the 60D does add HD video with manual sound control, an electronic horizontal level indicator, wireless flash control from the built in flash, a tilt/swivel LCD (great for video shooting), an 18MP sensor, a "normal" ISO 6400 (the 50D has 6400 as an expansion option) and some new firmware features like in-camera image editing.
Those who seem to think of the 60D as a Rebel derivative (EOS 600D") might like to consider the use of a real pentaprism, a larger viewfinder, the rear QCD, the higher capacity battery, the use of the AF system from the 50D with all cross type sensors and the ability to change viewfinder screens. None of these are found on any of the Rebel models.
Below is a table which compares the major features of the EOS 50D, 60D, 7D and Rebel T2i. You can judge for yourself whether the 60D is an upgrade of the 50D or something closer to a "T3i". Whatever it is and wherever it fits into Canon's DSLR lineup, it still looks like an excellent camera to me, especially for the average amateur photographer and it's clearly the Canon DSLR of choice for anyone wanting to shoot video a significant amount of the time. If you demand the best still camera performance, highest durability and most features, then the EOS 7D would be the APS-C DSLR of choice. For video the 7D currently lacks the manual control over sound level that the new EOS 60D provides and the tilt/swivel LCD. Canon could probably add manual audio control via a firmware update (as they did for the EPS 5D MkII), though whether or not they will ever do that for the EOS 7D I don't know.
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note: Red = "better"
|Rebel T2i||EOS 50D||EOS 60D||EOS 7D|
|Street Price 08/10)||$800||~$950||$1100||~$1550|
|Body||Polycarbonate||Mg alloy||Polycarbonate||Mg alloy|
|Viewfinder Coverage||95%, 0.87x||95%, 0.95x||96%, 0.95x||100%, 1.0x|
|Manual audio control option||no||none (no video)||yes||no|
|Multi-axis controller ("joystick")||no||yes||integrated into QCD||yes|
|Wireless flash control from built in flash||no||no||yes||yes|
|Shots per battery (no flash)||550||800||1600||1000|
|Max frame rate||3.7 fps||6.3 fps||5.3 fps||8 fps|
|JPEG buffer (est.)||34||90||58||126|
|Electronic level horizontal||no||no||yes||yes|
|Electronic level vertical||no||no||no||yes|
|Metering sensor||63 zone dual layer||35 zone||63 zone dual layer||63 zone dual layer|
|AF sensors||9 - 1 cross type||9 - all cross type||9 - all cross type||19 - all cross type|
|Physical Dimensions||5.1" x 3.8" x 3.0"
129 x 98 x 75mm
| 5.7" x 4.2" x 2.9"
146 x 108 x 74mm
|5.7" x 4.2" x 3.1"
145 x 106 x 79mm
|5.8" x 4.4"x 2.9"
148 x 111 x 74mm
|Rebel T2i||EOS 50D||EOS 60D||EOS 7D|