Canon T4i vs 60D: Is the T4i the Better Buy?

Canon t4i vs 60D Comparison

New T4i vs Aging 60D: Which is the Better Buy?

The powerful new Canon Rebel T4i surpasses the T3i in several ways, but how does it compare to the Canon 60D, the mid-level but slightly aged SLR? Surprisingly well, actually. With its new auto-focus system and processor, the T4i has caught up to the 60D in a couple of important respects, and bested it in others. The fact remains, though, that the 60D is a mid-level camera while the T4i is an entry-level model. How much difference will this make to a photographer who is progressing beyond being a novice? Enough that for some photographers the Canon 60D will still be the right choice, while for others, the T4i will be just as good or better. Let me explain.

As usual, a glance at the comparison table may be a useful place to start. To see the whole table at once, choose “50” from the drop-down menu in the upper left corner.

 Canon Rebel T4i / 650DCanon 60DCanon Rebel T3i / 600D
Canon EOS 60DCanon Rebel T3i
Amazon Price (body only)$649.98$759.00Price Not Found
Kit Price
(Body + 18-135 STM / 18-135 orig.)
$630.00$949.00Price Not Found
Body MaterialPolycarbonate, Fiberglass Resin and Stainless SteelPolycarbonate, Aluminum, Fiberglass, and Stainless SteelPolycarbonate, Fiberglass Resin and Stainless Steel
LCD Size / Resolution3.0"
1,040,000 pixels
3.0"
1,040,000 pixels
3.0"
1,040,000 pixels
LCD Articulated?YesYesYes
LCD Touch Sensitive?YesNoNo
Sensor Size14.9 x 22.3mm (APS-C)14.9 x 22.3mm (APS-C)14.9 x 22.3mm (APS-C)
Crop Factor1.6x1.6x1.6x
Sensor Resolution18 Megapixels17.9 Megapixels17.9 Megapixels
ISO Range100-12800
+25600
100-6400
+12800
100-6400
+12800
Total AF Focus Points999
Cross-Type AF Sensors991
AF Light Level Range-.05 to +18 EV-.05 to +18 EV-.05 to +18 EV
Metering System63 Zone Point Linked Evaluative
9% Center Weighted
4% Spot
63 Zone Point Linked Evaluative
6.5% Center Weighted
2.8% Spot
63 Zone Point Linked Evaluative
9% Center Weighted
4% Spot
Exposure Compensation1/2 or 1/3 stops1/2 or 1/3 stops1/2 or 1/3 stops
Max Frame Rate : RAW (14-bit)~55.33.7
Max Burst Duration RAW (at highest frame rate)6166
Max Burst Duration JPG (at highest frame rate)305834
Shutter Speed Range1/4000th - 30 sec.
+bulb
1/8000th - 30 sec.
+bulb
1/4000th - 30 sec.
+bulb
Maximum Flash Sync Shutter Speed (standard flash)1/200th sec.1/250th sec.1/200th sec.
HD Video Resolutions1080p, 720p1080p, 720p1080p, 720p
Available HD Video Frame RatesPAL and NTSC
24/25, 30 at 1080p
50, 60 at 720p
PAL and NTSC
24/25, 30 at 1080p
50, 60 at 720p
PAL and NTSC
24/25, 30 at 1080p
50, 60 at 720p
Firmware Sidecar AvailableUnknownWorking: Magic LanternWorking: Magic Lantern
Media TypeSD / SDHC / SDXC
UHS-I compliant
SD / SDHC / SDXCSD / SDHC / SDXC
Weight575g (including battery)675g (body only)570g (including battery)
Viewfinder Coverage95%
.85x magnification
96% Frame,
.95x magnification
95%
0.87x magnification
Built-In Wireless Strobe ControlYesYesYes

Speed

At first glance, the cameras appear to be quite close in this regard; thanks to its new Digic 5 processor, the Rebel now shoots at approximately 5 frames per second, while the 60D shoots at 5.3. However, the T4i did not receive a buffer memory upgrade along with its processor, so after 6 continuous RAW shots (just over a second), the T4i will have a full buffer, and shooting will slow to a crawl until the buffer data is fully written to the SD card. The 60D, on the other hand, can shoot for nearly 3 continuous seconds (16 RAW shots), or more likely, several shorter bursts within 4 or 5 seconds, before the buffer is filled. For both cameras, that number can be increased dramatically by shooting JPG, but of course, subject to the equally dramatic loss of image information that is stored (8-bit JPG files can record only ~1.5% of the data stored in a 14-bit RAW file).

When it comes to shutter speed and flash sync speed, the Canon 60D still holds the advantage. The top shutter speed of the 60D is 1/8000th of second, vs the 1/4000th sec. of the T4i. Despite the appearance, this is probably less significant than it seems; it is rare that photographers are able to shoot at their camera’s top shutter speed due to the bright light requirements, and there are few shooting situations in which a 1/8000th sec. shutter speed would freeze the action but 1/4000th would not. The flash sync speed, though, is slightly more significant: 1/250th on the 60D compared to 1/200th on the T4i. For photographers using flash (without high speed sync) mixed with ambient light to shoot action, such as basketball in a poorly lit gym, any loss of shutter speed below 1/500th of a second can contribute to partially blurred images. Very few amateur photographers shoot with off camera flash mixed with ambient light, however, because of the technical knowledge required. If you’re not interested in learning how to use complex flash setups, or if you only shoot with ambient light, this can be ignored when making your decision.

Features for Serious Shooters

One of the things that differentiates a serious photographer from a novice is the willingness to over-ride the camera’s suggested exposure and dial in something better, a process better known as “exposure compensation”. Indeed, for professionals (and particularly event photographers), the skill is critical. Both the T4i and the 60D are capable of exposure compensation, as are all modern SLRs, but the 60D follows the tradition of all professional-level EOS cameras since the late 1980s and provides the photographer with a thumb wheel on the back of the camera that instantly allows them to add or subtract up to 3 f-stops of exposure. To do the same thing on the T4i, the photographer must first locate and press the exposure compensation button [+/-] on the rear of the camera and then remove their finger from the shutter button to adjust the exposure, then return to it to take the photo. That may sound simple (and I suppose it is), but it is time consuming… and when wasting time means missing an important moment in an event, timing is everything.

Canon 60D vs T4i / Exposure Compensation and Rear Focus Button

Similarly, the top LCD panel on the 60D adds an extra convenience when time is tight; at a glance, you can check all of your camera’s important settings while lifting your camera to your eye. This is something that I usually take for granted, but every time I test an entry level camera, I recognize how much I rely on it. Of course, a display of all of these settings are also available on the T4i by simply pressing the “Q” [Quick Control Settings] button and looking at the rear LCD, but again, it takes time and a conscious effort.

Finally, the 60D also has a rear auto-focus button which allows the photographer to de-couple focus and shutter release. This is a feature that is ignored even by many advanced photographers, but many professional sports and wildlife photographers swear by it. An explanation of why it’s so popular is, unfortunately, beyond the scope of a comparison like this, but a it is well explained on by Canon’s Digital Learning Center. Again, this feature is available on the T4i by using a custom function to assign focusing to another button, but there isn’t a dedicated button for it.

Canon T4i and 60D TOP LCD Panel

Where Does the T4i Excel?

Even as an entry level camera, the Canon T4i has an advantage over the 60D by being a brand-new model, and consequently containing some of Canon’s newest technology. Though it provides several advantages over the older T3i, it holds only two real advantages over the 60D: the touch screen and the new video focusing system. The T4i’s new sensor also provides an additional f-stop of native high-ISO performance (ISO 12800 vs the 6400 of the 60D).

Initial opinions of the T4i’s touch screen have been mixed, but I think that it will generally be appreciated by photographers who are moving up from point-and-shoot cameras and iPhones. Users with large fingertips may, at times, find the menu layout more difficult to navigate than the interfaces of popular smart phones and tablets, as the menu items are relatively small, but this should not be a serious problem for most users, and browsing through photos and videos should be a snap.

Canon t4i Auto Focus Sensor

More important, though, is the ability to use an SLR for video in the same, easy way that most people would use a video camera: with fast, full-time auto-focus. All other Canon SLRs can focus (very) slowly while shooting video when the shutter button is pressed, but the AF system must search for the correct focal plane, then focus past it, and then back to it to make sure that it’s found the sharpest focus. This system is so slow and frustrating that casual video shooting has never been popular with Canon SLRs.

The T4i will change all of that. Not only is the continuous AF system capable of detecting and tracking faces, it is quite fast and no longer has to hunt past the correct focal plane to pull focus with its hybrid phase-detection system [from my limited experience, it still seems substantially slower the camera’s AF performance while shooting still photos, though].

It is also worth mentioning that the T4i has a new AF system for still photography as well, having upgraded all of its 9 AF points to cross-type sensors. As such, the T4i is right on par with the formerly superior AF system of the 60D.

Conclusion: Who Should Buy the T4i?

For the casual photographer, the Canon T4i is a very attractive option.

I recommend the T4i to photographers who:

  • want to shoot cinema quality HD video with the convenience of a video camera. The camera is perfect for video bloggers and others who need to record themselves, unassisted.
  • would appreciate the convenience of a touch screen LCD, and are willing to take the necessary precautions to keep it from breaking.
  • need fast performance, but do not shoot fast bursts of shots very frequently (ie, several times a minute)

However, I’d still recommend the 60D to photographers who:

  • shoot events and need quick access to exposure compensation
  • are not interested in shooting video or
  • prefer to shoot video with manual focus (as many film students or professionals will)
  • are not intimidated by browsing through the camera’s menu with buttons and arrows
  • frequently photograph action in RAW format and require frequent high-speed bursts of shots

If you do decide on the 60D, I’d strongly recommend NOT buying it with the old 18-135mm lens. Instead, buy the body alone and purchase the superior new 18-135mm IS STM version of the lens separately instead.

Also keep in mind that there are some tactile differences between the cameras. The 60D is physically larger and a little heavier, and it’s viewfinder provides a slightly larger image to view. Some photographers, especially those with larger hands, prefer the feel of the larger camera, while others will find the T4i’s compact size an advantage (especially those who need to pack light for travel or conceal a camera).

I’ve tried to keep this comparison brief and focused on the most important differences between the cameras, but if you have still have any questions, please feel free to ask me in the comments section below.

100 Comments

  • Fyan says:

    Hi Matthew…. awesome review btw. I’m very appreciated for it.
    I’m still confuse which one I must buy between both cameras (T4i/T5i or 60D), especially I realize 70D is better than the other one (70D have new sensor, dual AF, touch screen, build in wifi, etc.). I’m a beginner in photography, I like taking fisherman fishing (part of my hobbies), landscapes, children playing and wildlife photograph. I usually take them with my hand phone camera, but I don’t get my expectation (off course

    • My general advice is always this: buy the least expensive camera that will meet your needs, and buy the best lenses that you can afford. From what you’ve said, it sounds like shooting with a T5i would be a big step up from shooting with a phone, and there’s nothing that you’ve mentioned that the camera wouldn’t be able to handle, although ANY slr will have a bit of a learning curve, and it takes practice before you’ll get the perfect picture every time. (OK, nobody gets the perfect picture every time… but you should be able to get something you’re satisfied with). Unless, of course, you want to shoot a lot of video with it, in which case you might consider the 70D.

      So, I’d go with the Canon T5i, probably with the 18-135 STM to start with, and then get specialized lenses according to what you like to shoot. Good luck!

      – Matthew

      • Fyan says:

        Thank you for your fast response and advice, I really appreciate it. I have one more question, since in T5i is no weather shield feature, how is effect to the weather changes?

  • Marc says:

    Mathew nice review and I never get a straight answer about the 60D does it have something that takes a good shot. I took some sample shots at best buy with the 60D and the speed that it locks in and the range of celerity of the image is amazing. Am I right about this camera and that was with a 18-135 lens I cant imagine what it could do with 24-105 lens. TY

    • Hi Marc,

      Yes, the Canon 60D is capable of taking great shots with a wide variety of lenses. I used a Canon 60D for years as a backup camera while shooting weddings and portraits, and it was great.

      The old 18-135mm kit lens that came with the 60D is not particularly sharp, optically, though it’s not terrible. The newer 18-135mm STM lens is much sharper and faster, and on an APS-C camera like the 60D, it will perform better than the 24-105 f/4L.

      You’ll get even better performance from some prime lenses, and of course L lenses like the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II.

      – Matthew

  • Very useful article, but I find your comment about JPEG having 1.5% of RAW very suspect. Care to explain your math? (Don’t forget JPEG has 24 bits per pixel versus the 14 bits per pixel in a Canon RAW!)

    • Hi Pete,

      Actually, JPGs are 8-bit per channel, with 3 channels…. so there are 256 possible values in each channel. That’s a total of about 16.8 million colors possible (256 x 256 x 256) .

      Canon RAW files are 14-bit per channel. That’s a possible 16384 values per channel. The total number of possible colors, then, is 16384 x 16384 x 16384…

      But I was only referring to a per/channel basis… that is 256/16384= .0156

      Hope that helps.

      – Matthew

  • Alanna says:

    THank you for the wonderful article! But I am curious, I currently use the 60d and although it works well I just seem to have SO many problems with images coming out very noisy and grainy even at very low ISOs (just a week or so ago at a shoot I used between 200-400 and the images were terrible). So I was wondering if you’d suggest switching to the t4i or if you have any tips on getting less grainy images?

    • Hi Alanna,

      Grainy images can be caused by high ISO, of course, but it can also be caused by post processing (if you’re shooting RAW) or your camera’s image settings (if you’re shooting JPG). If you’re shooting JPG, stop. Shoot RAW.

      If you’re shooting RAW, here are a few things to keep in mind:

      • apply some noise reduction in lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw (I find that a setting between 15-20 is usually about right, sometimes I’ll go as high as 30).
      • Apply masking to the sharpening that’s already applied in ACR/LR (if you’re not sure how to do that, watch my video on the subject on YouTube, here.
      • If you under expose when shooting and add exposure in post processing, the effect on the noise/grain is the same (or often worse) than shooting at a higher ISO, so make sure you’re exposing properly in camera. This is especially true for shadow detail.
      • In photoshop, sharpening should be the last step of your workflow, especially if you’re outputting for the web. When you reduce the image size, fine detail like noise may disappear, so it will not be affected by sharpening
      • Increasing contrast in post processing will make the grain more prominent, as will adding sharpening or “Clarity”. Use them in moderation, or only on select areas of the image.

      If you shoot JPG, make sure that your camera’s noise reduction is set to the correct level, make sure that the contrast, color, and sharpening settings are set to a conservative level… and it’s even more important with JPG to expose correctly.

      Regardless of whether you shoot JPG or RAW, it’s also worth keeping in mind that the more you crop your image, the worse the noise will be, so make sure that you fill the frame with your subject as much as possible when shooting.

      Hope that helps! (Getting a T4i or any other current Canon APS-C camera will not make a significant difference in image quality).

      If you’re already doing these things, please feel free to send me an image or two (preferably full resolution) via email and I’ll take a look and see if they seem abnormal to me. My email is matthew@lightandmatter.org

      – Matthew

  • Jay says:

    What would you recommend between the 2 for Private investigators?

    Keep in mind that most pictures and videos are taken in the day time; however in some occasion, we have to do it at night and a higher ISO is always recommended with obviously a good lens.

    Seeing that the 60d has a lower ISO max then the T4i pushes my decision towards the T4i; however seeing that the 60d has a penta prism vs penta mirror(T4i) pushes my decision towards the 60d….

    I guess you can see my dilemma here!!!! Your input would be truly appreciated.

    • Hi Jay,

      Despite the stated ISOs of the cameras, they both use virtually the same sensor to capture… actually, the 60D’s will give you slightly better image quality, though the difference is probably not visible except in lab conditions. Although the T4i can potentially be set 1 f-stop higher, the image quality isn’t actually going to be any better there than if you shot the 60D at the same ISO (you can achieve higher ISO’s simply by setting the 60D to ISO12800 [H] and using the big dial on the back of the 60D and dial in a -1 or -2, and then add exposure in post processing). And you should ALWAYS shoot RAW when using high ISO;  you’ll capture and be able to recover much more information from the frame; it will just take a little more work in post-processing (lightroom or your chosen developing module).

      That said, I wouldn’t shoot either camera above about ISO6400 if you need the image quality to be sufficient to use the images as evidence. The image quality gets bad really fast at high ISO… it gets blotchy and smeary, with weird green shifts with pink… in addition to the expected graininess. But that depends on your needs, of course.

      The brighter viewfinder of the 60D would probably make a difference in your line of work, but otherwise, I don’t see any major advantage of going for the 60D over the T4i. Maybe if you’re going to shoot long bursts of RAW files. Otherwise, I’d save the money for a large-aperture telephoto lens; you’ll need it.

      – Matthew

  • Fer Labastida says:

    Hi Thanks for the information,
    I while I’m using canon for photography, but it will soon be studying film and I want to change my team, really I’ll stay with my camera for photos, but I can not decide between these two cameras specifically for video, need good resolution and D60 makes me more professional, however I was reviewing videos in slow motion and other tests, and I found it quite optimal t4i, I want a professional camera and my budget option gives me these two do you recommend the D60 to cinema? And what could have video defects using a t4i? I need that cinematic look no video blogger.

  • Mridul Ghosh says:

    Very informative review. Thanks!
    I have an Xsi with 18-55, 55-250 and 50mm 1.8 . I am planning a lens and body upgrade this year. I am trying to decide between these two combo :

    1. Canon EFS 15-85 USM with xsi for now and 60D ( or 70D) if it comes out later and within $1000 body
    2. T4i with 18-135STM . This will help my video ( i use a canon HD camcorder and Iphone sometime but too much equipment to carry)

    My top subjects are my busy bee toddler, landscape and some portraits ( dont do telephoto too much except occasional zoo pics). I would appreciate if you coulsd suggest which of the above combo will be better for me for a long time ( 5 years+).

    thanks
    MG

  • Hello Matthew I have bought Canon 60D last month and everything was fine but a great problem I have sought out in viewfinder. When I am looking out with full zoom in the sky then its show noisy look even after focus fixed but it does not affect to the picture. At first I thought it was the problem of body, I went to the shop and tried another body but problem is same. Such day I have exchanged my camera and back to my old one. I don’t know Canon informed or not about the problem. I tried to submit a quarries to them but sending report shown me error. So I request to them who going to purchase Canon 60D. At first try to find out the problem. If you think that its tolerable then fine.

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