The 60D and the 7D sits at two different segments on Canon’s DSLR lineup. Canon is the largest DSLR manufacturing company in the world, so they can afford to have something like the rebel series DSLRs as well as the semi-professional 40D and 50D in the market. And to top it all it has the professional 1D and 5D series cameras, which sit at the very top of the chain. When the 7D came into the market, it offered a way for enthusiasts to try out an extremely powerful camera that boasts such stunning features as 100% viewfinder coverage, 19-point AF system and a fast 8 fps continuous shooting speed without necessarily having to doll out huge amount of cash for something like the 5D Mark II. The 7D carved out a niche for itself and so did the very popular 60D. This discussion pits these two crop sensor DSLR cameras against each other. For more information on DSLRs and sensors check this course we have.
Sensor Size, Megapixels and Crop Factor
Both the 7D and the 60D has the same 22.3mm x 14.9mm APS-C CMOS sensor with an effective 18 megapixels. Both produces large fine jpegs of the size 5184 x 3456 pixels. The crop factor for Canon’s APS-C sensors is 1.6x. This means a 50mm lens would effectively become an 80mm lens when mounted on either of these two DSLRs.
Body, Dimension and Build Quality
The dimensions of the 60D and the 7D are comparable. At 144.5 x 105.8 x 78.6mm the 60D is slightly smaller than the 7D, which is 148.2 x 110.7 x 73.5mm. Weight of the 60D is less than the 7D. 755 grams compared to 820 grams. However, the real point of difference is the build quality. The 60D had a good pedigree. The 50D and the 40D were well built. But somehow Canon thought otherwise with the 60D and thus instead of using the same magnesium alloy chassis it now has a lightweight aluminum chassis with polycarbonate resin on top of it. The 7D, however, does not disappoint and it has a sturdy magnesium alloy body, which is great construction for any tough assignment you may be asked to do.
The 7D’s storage is a compact flash card while the 60D writes on a SD/SDHC/SDXC card. The 7D is compliant with both CF I and II cards and also supports UDMA cards. With a compact flash card, you will benefit from that larger storage and better read/write speed.
Viewfinder and Frame Coverage
Interestingly the 7D offers a 100% viewfinder coverage. This is something that even the 5D series did not have up until the 5D Mark III was launched. The 60D on the hand offers only 96% viewfinder coverage. Needless, to say the 7D is a better bet when you need more accurate composition. Both the cameras sport Pentaprism type viewfinders which ensure a brighter and clearer view when compared to something like the Rebel Series cameras. For more discussions on DSLR composition check this photography course.
Both the 60D and the 7D has a 3” LCD monitor at the back to review what you have shot and to assist during live view and video shooting. However, there are some subtle differences between the two. The 60D’s LCD monitor is a tilting flipping one while the 7D boasts a fixed one. The 60D has a 1040,000 dots resolution and the 7D only 921,000 dots. However, the 60D sports the older Clear View technology while the 7D has the latest Clear View II version.
If you are an existing Rebel T2i user the shutter speed of 1/4000th of a second would be something that is really hampering your chances of shooting fast action or sports or wildlife. With the 60D and or the 7D what you get is a significantly better max shutter speed of 1/8000th of a second. With a fast lens such as the 85mm f/1.2 you can really capture some stunning portraits with shallow Depth of Field.
Both the 60D and the 7D shoots full-HD movies at 1920 x 1080p at 30, 25 and 24 fps. At 720p HD it can shoot at 60 and 50 fps. The tilting flipping LCD screen of the 60D provides a major advantage over the 7D as it allows the photographer to compose and shoot much more conveniently. Those acutely low angles or when shooting over the head of a crowd the 60D is really a better video tool than the 7D. In regards to sound both have a built-in mono mic input. A 3.5mm socket is provided on both of them to plug in an external microphone for stereo sound recording. The 7D does not have the ability to manually control the sound levels during recording. The 60D has this feature. Speaking of video modes and the ability to do manual exposures or manually control the audio level, here is a course that would give you some insights into how to effectively use your DSLR for shooting professional quality videos.
The 60D uses the same tried and tested 9-point AF system that we have seen in the rebel series DSLRs as well as the precursors to the 60D the 50D and the 40D. The thing is all these AF sensors are cross-type with the center AF point a dual cross-type at f/2.8. Comparatively the 7D has a 19-point AF system that is also all cross type. It too has a center dual cross-type AF point available at f/2.8.
Continuous Shooting Speed
The 7D wins the race with its fantastic 8 fps shutter speed. Although you may say it is not the same as the insane 12 fps continuous shooting speed of the 1DX, but even then the 7D is a much better tool than something like the Rebel series DSLRs. The 60D on the other hand shoots only at a modest 5.3 fps (bettered by the 70D which shoots at 7 fps). The 60D is certainly not the camera that you could risk taking with you to your son’s school football match.
Price is, needless to mention, an important consideration when it comes to buying a DSLR. The whole point that Canon introduced the 7D was so that serious photographers looking to upgrade from a basic entry level camera can get a taste of what it is like to use a pro-level model without coughing up pro-quantity money. The 7D is arguably the best all-round APS-C DSLR that you could get in the Canon line-up (even when considering the latest 70D). So far as pricing is concerned the 60D costs a tag less than $900 dollars sans lens. Comparatively the 7D costs just a tag less than $1500 sans lens.
There is a popular myth that better camera means better photography. It is about time that this myth is broken. Please note that cameras don’t make breathtaking compositions. Photographers do. So, instead of investing in the best camera, buy a decent one and invest the rest of the money in great lenses. You should also invest in a photography course such as this. Both the 7D and the 60D are good cameras and their still shooting is comparable because essentially they have the same sensor and same resolution. Movie shooting is more convenient on the 60D thanks to its tilting flipping screen. On the other hand, the 7D is better built with its magnesium alloy body cast and weather sealing. Plus the 7D also has a very fast continues shooting speed which you won’t get in an APS-C model unless you move to the DSLT segment (Digital Single Lens Translucent mirror technology of Sony). Undeniably, there are small features on either side that would make one seem better than the other.
So, the ultimate deciding parameter would be the price. If you are tight on budget the 60D will give you all the features that you need to shoot great stills and great videos. If you are looking for a sturdier DSLR with better features, go for the 7D.