So, you’ve hit the point where you’re outgrowing your old entry level Canon DSLR and are contemplating between the Canon 60D vs 7D?
Maybe you’ve found that you’re settling into a niche of photos that you enjoy taking—portraits, landscapes, candids, action—and you’re noticing that your camera is lacking where your needs are concerned. You’ve decided on spending a little more this time, future proofing yourself, so to speak, and there are two cameras in the mid-range that you’re comparing: the Canon EOS 60D vs. 7D.
Problem is, there’s a pretty substantial price jump from one to the next: the 60D body lists at $599, while the 7D is at $1,339. Is it worth it? Let’s take a closer look.
Canon 7D vs 60D Comparison Table
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Canon 7D vs 60D: Which One is Better for You?
First, let’s see what these cameras have in common.
The sensors both capture 18 megapixel images, so you can be sure you’ll be able to make any large size prints, up to 11.5 x 17 at high resolution.
They’ve got identical ISO sensitivity capabilities, with a native range of 100 – 6400, and both support a Custom Function to boost the effective sensitivity to 12800 for those extra low light situations.
The shutter speed range is also the same, from 30 seconds on the slow side to 1/8000 for high-speed photos.
Both have built-in flashes with integrated wireless master functions (for controlling off camera flashes), and can record full HD video at a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080. In the case of video, both cameras boast an autofocus feature, but you should ignore this.
In video mode, the autofocus is slow and imprecise—it works off the contrast of light in the scene, and not the more advanced cross-type AF sensors that the still camera uses (more on that later). It’s not continuous autofocus, either—you need to hit the AF button while shooting to refocus if your subject moves, and you could probably do better just using the manual focus ring.
They share a bunch of image post processing features, such as being able to change White Balance reduce noise in high ISO images.
And very importantly, both cameras have an automatic sensor cleaning function, which “shakes” the sensor with ultrasonic vibrations at startup and shutdown—and any time in between you want—to remove dust particles from the sensor.
In all, these are both very powerful cameras, with capabilities that rival Canon’s professional grade offerings—but there’s still that question of the $600 difference.
Now, let’s look at the difference between the two cameras:
At heart of these two cameras, just like in any computer, is the processor.
The 7D has two DIGIC 4 processors to 1 for the 60D
Here we see a big difference in the Canon EOS 60D vs. 7D. The 60D’s got Canon’s DIGIC 4 processor inside; the 7D has two. This has a significant impact on shutter lag, which is the time between the point the shutter button is pressed and when the picture is actually taken. And the difference between the two is striking: 131ms for the 7D to the 60D’s 253ms.
7D’s autofocus offers 19 points to 9 for the 60D
The difference is even more impressive when you consider the difference between the two cameras autofocus systems. Part of what makes shutter lag is the time it takes for the camera to focus on the scene at hand. In the case of the 60D, there are 9 autofocus points—all cross-type, meaning it focuses on the horizontal and vertical plane simultaneously.
A complicated algorithm working under the covers to determine what, exactly, is your subject, and then sending the signal to the lens to focus on that area of the frame. The 7D, on the other hand, has 19 cross-type autofocus points—one more than double—and so there are twice as many areas in the frame that twice as many processors are now handling.
You’d think this would make the speed scale out evenly, but it doesn’t. The 7D’s shutter lag, as we’ve seen is a significant improvement over the 60D. And 19 autofocus points is going to vastly improve your ability to take a clear picture of a dynamic scene on the quick.
Will this matter to you? It depends on what you’re shooting. If you’re a portrait or landscape photographer, or even just capturing never-motionless-but-kind-of-slow targets like kids, those extra 10 AF points are going bring much value to you. But if you shoot sporting events, or cars, or fast moving pets, you’re going to find yourself composing and focusing on the fly with ease.
The 7D shoots at 8fps to the 60D’s 5.3 fps
Additionally, the 7D’s maximum burst rate of 8 frames per second—compared with the 60D’s 5.3—is going to positively impact your high-speed photography, as well.
Is the 7D worth the higher price?
Yes, but it depends on how you use it
Again, though, is it worth the difference in cost? If you’re a professional, and getting as many good shots to choose from takes on a heightened importance, then, yes, it probably is (but there’s something else to consider that I’ll get to in a little bit).
For the amateur, this kind of autofocus system is overkill. It is digital, after all, and so it’s not like film is being wasted if you take a bunch of bad shots. The performance of the 60D with 9 autofocus points and quality optics on your lens is going to get you to a higher success rate regardless, and you don’t need to have hundreds of photos to sift through and decide which is suitable for publication or sale.
And that seems to be the key when comparing the Canon EOS 60D vs. 7D. They’re both mid-range cameras that will take stunning photos, but the 7D is geared more towards the serious enthusiast or professional.
The body of the 7D is a hefty-in-the-hand magnesium alloy, while the 60D is essentially plastic. Some may tout the weight difference as a selling factor of the 60D—it’s lighter—but any pro will tell you that she prefers the solid weight of a non-plastic body. It’s easier to hold a heavier camera steady, less likely that the mere press of the shutter button will move it, which in low light is pretty important.
The 7D offers weather proofing, a more sturdy body and 100% viewfinder coverage!
Also, The 7D’s viewfinder gives you a 100% view of what the lens is picking up, erasing any doubt about what the final result is going to look like. Compare that to the 60D’s 96%—not much of a difference, but also enough to affect composition in tight spots.
The 7D is also weather sealed, so it’s really much more of a go-anywhere professional’s tool. It can with better withstand impact, rain, snow, sand, dirt, and other environmental concerns that might otherwise make a photographer think twice about pulling out his 60D.
The 60D offers the Vari-Angle LCD
The 60D also has the articulated “Vari-angle” LCD, which allows you to swing the monitor out away from the camera and tilt it in various positions. This is a great feature for the amateur and pro alike, enabling more creative angles without contorting the body in uncomfortable or awkward positions, and making video that much easier to shoot, too. But the small arm that attaches the monitor to the camera is just another piece that can break, more of a concern for the pro who will be putting his camera through the paces. For the light workload of a photo hobbyist, the articulated monitor is more suitable, even a benefit.
Really, the only thing that keeps the 7D in the “consumer” class of DSLRs is its compact frame. The APS-C has a crop factor of 1.6x, meaning that the focal length of any lens you use with it is effectively increased. This is especially important in wildlife and sports photography, given the longer reach of the camera.
This is why, to my thinking, in the case of the Canon EOS 60D vs. 7D, the 7D is the clear winner.
If you find yourself needing the speed and advanced focusing mechanism of the 7D, the price difference between the 7D and the 60D is worth for a heck of a lot more camera. As we’ve seen, the difference between the 60D and the 7D gets you a much more robust autofocus system, a more solid body and speedier reaction time.