• Price When Reviewed: £1,875 plus VAT (lens extra)

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Canon’s EOS D60 is the first of a crop of three ‘affordable’ six-megapixel digital SLR cameras priced around £2,000 to arrive this summer. The others are the Nikon F100 and the FujiFilm S2 Pro, which aren’t yet available. Canon’s D60 is the priciest at around £1,875, but it’s already being advertised for £1,700. These models aren’t aimed at professional photographers as they don’t have the super-tough metal bodies of high-end SLRs – but many pros will no doubt happily pay two grand instead of four to six. Digital SLR (single lens reflex) cameras can accept the huge range of lenses already available for film SLRs. And the optical viewfinders let users see exactly what the lens sees. However, there’s no live preview on the LCD screen – it can only play back after the shot has been taken. New image-resolution The 6mp resolution of these new cameras is significant because it’s close to the mathematically ideal figure for printing at A4 size in a magazine or on a photo-quality inkjet. Canon’s D60 has been developed out of the 3.3mp D30 shipped at the end of 2000 (see d 42, page 104). The D30 is still available for around £1,350. Both use optical and electronic components from the Canon EOS 30 film camera. This means that the D60 has a decent range of exposure options (shutter- and aperture-priority, auto, and several program modes), and three metering patterns (pattern, centre-weighted, and spot). The autofocus has three selectable/auto target points that flash in the viewfinder when focus is achieved, and the shutter-speed range runs from 1/4,000th to 30 seconds. Any Canon EF or compatible autofocus lens can be used, there’s a pop-up flash, and a hotshoe for external flashguns – and Canon’s EX series Speedlites can interface with the exposure system. CMOS vs CCD The main change is, of course, the new 6mp sensor, which outputs 2,048-x-3,072 pixels to give an 18MB file before compression. Other size-options are 2,048-x-1,360 and 1,536-x-1024 pixels. Users get a choice of Raw data, or two levels of JPEG compression. The Raw image can be opened by Canon’s supplied software, where users can apply multiple corrections – such as white balance – after shooting, then save the images as TIFFs or compressed JPEGs. You’ll need a lot of in-camera storage for the 7.7MB Raw images – fortunately, the compact Flash II card slot will accept an IBM Microdrive for storage up to 1GB. Canon has done a lot of work on its CMOS chip so that visible noise is no worse than that from a CCD – though image quality is very slightly less sharp than you’d expect from a CCD when you enlarge to 200 per cent on-screen. This doesn’t affect print or normal viewing quality. The D30 has an effective noise-reduction mode for exposures of a second or more; this has been dropped on the D60, as its standard noise reduction is deemed good enough. The sensitivity range can be set for 100, 200, 400, 800 and 1,000 ISO, although 800 and 1,000 are relatively noisy. Colours are calling We found the control buttons, selector wheel, and user-interface to be easier to use than those used by Nikon and Kodak on their digital SLRs. The 1.8-inch monitor is clear, but there’s only one zoom level – not enough to check sharpness on high-resolution files. A histogram option helps users check exposure levels. The D60 has improved shutter-button response, and there’s an eight-shot, three-per-second burst mode. The D60 has one colour mode, though users can adjust overall balance – Nikon’s F100 has three modes. The white-balance controls give a choice of auto, plus five presets, and an override. All digital SLRs tend to have good battery life, as there’s no preview monitor. In our tests, the D60’s Li-ion battery lasted for more than a day’s work between recharging. For heavy use, a twin-battery screw-on base/grip is available. There are two groups of I/I ports. The main download port is USB 1.1, and there’s a video-out port (PAL or NTSC). A proprietary remote control port plus a flashgun cable PC socket completes the set. Canon always bundles decent software with its cameras. There’s the ImageBrowser downloader/ viewer; the PhotoStitch panorama stitcher; an Adobe Photoshop plug-in; RemoteCapture for controlling the camera from the computer; and the RAW image converter. This camera gives great quality at a great price. And if you use Canon lenses, this is a no-brainer.