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 / 650D
Canon 60D
Canon Rebel T3i / 600D
Canon EOS 60DCanon Rebel T3i
Amazon Price (body only)$707.71$699.00$499.00
Kit Price
(Body + 18-135 STM / 18-135 orig.)
$979.00$999.00$799.00
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.

Avatar of Matthew Gore

Matthew Gore is the Editor in Chief and Administrator of Light & Matter.

91 Comments

  • Reply March 29, 2014

    Jay

    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.

    • Avatar of Matthew Gore
      Reply March 30, 2014

      Matthew Gore

      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

  • Reply June 5, 2013

    Fer Labastida

    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.

  • Reply May 20, 2013

    Mridul Ghosh

    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

  • Reply May 19, 2013

    Subir Dewan

    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.

  • Reply May 18, 2013

    Les

    I read this week that the 60D gave some owners false messages about a hot-shoe flash was attached when, in fact, it wasn’t. But this prevented the pop-up flash to operate. Any resolution from Canon? Thanks for your fine Q&A service.

    • Avatar of Matthew Gore
      Reply May 18, 2013

      Matthew Gore

      Hi Les,

      Actually, that happened to me while I was shooting a wedding a couple of years ago… luckily the 60D was my backup camera. The problem was with a little switch in the hotshoe; there’s a piece of metal that actuates the switch that sometimes gets bent down by a flash and continues to hold down the button even after the flash is removed. For me, it was a very simple matter to just us a micro-screwdriver and bend it back up… and I guess I was aggressive enough about it that it was never a problem again…. that was over 2 years ago, and it has still never recurred. I was not happy at all when it did occur, though :)

      - Matthew

  • Reply May 10, 2013

    Jen

    I am new to the world of DSLRs, having only used Canon point-and-shoots in the past, or friends’ DSLRs already set up or in auto mode. In comparing the T4i with the 60D, I like the potential ability to “grow into” the 60D, but am wondering if it is going to be too much camera for a beginner. Are there enough presets available to make it user friendly without a lot of training? Is there any reason not to start with a 60D?

    I’ve been advised to purchase only the camera body as opposed to a lens kit, and then pursue something like the 50mm 1.8 lens as a starter. Thanks for your input.

    • Avatar of Matthew Gore
      Reply May 11, 2013

      Matthew Gore

      Hi Jen,

      On either camera, you can set the mode dial to “P” or the green square, and it will be fully automatic, like any point and shoot. That’s pretty simple… I think that any beginner can handle that. They also both have the same “beginner” modes on the dial: action, portrait, close up, landscape, etc, which are equally easy to use… and then you can work on figuring things out a little bit as you go along.

      So, I wouldn’t worry at all about getting the 60D as a beginner. I would certainly avoid the kit lenses available with the 60D (the 18-135 USM and 18-200 USM are both pretty flawed, optically), and the 50mm is a cheap but great little lens to start with. Whether you’ll be satisfied with a single focal length is another question… you might decide to buy a better zoom lens or additional prime lenses.

      - Matthew

      • Reply May 16, 2013

        Don C

        I have the T4i and as a beginner I am quite pleased, but I would recommend the 18-135mm STM as a first lens and research additional lenses as per your personal usage.

  • Reply May 10, 2013

    Subir

    Your comments is better than others,,,I used to photography with Nikon D5100 and I was happy with her but due to some reason I have sold it. Now I am wanting to jump up to Canon 60D. I don’t know how will be logical to take it. Because some are saying its performance not good like 50D. On the other hand after hearing some negative comments I have decided to take Nikon D90. But D90 is going to market out gradually. I am entirely being confused with Canon 60D and D90. Could you please tell me what should be better for me. Its important to say that I am not interested on Video so as a still photographer I strongly give priority to good image quality. So please if possible suggest me which one will be the best.

    Subir

    • Avatar of Matthew Gore
      Reply May 10, 2013

      Matthew Gore

      Hi Subir,

      I’d take the Canon 60D over the D90 any day; but I’d probably prefer the Nikon D7000 or D7100 over either of them. Is there any particular reason that you’re not considering one of them? I suppose there is a price difference.

      - Matthew

      • Reply May 10, 2013

        Laura

        Just curious why you’d prefer either of the 2 Nikons over the Canon?

        • Avatar of Matthew Gore
          Reply May 11, 2013

          Matthew Gore

          Laura,

          The D7000 and D7100 both have superior autofocus systems and metal (partially) body construction, and lower noise sensors than the 60D. I’d still choose the Canon 7D over a D7000. The D7100 has the advantage of being brand new, and has a sensor without an AA filter for extra sharpness.

          All four are great cameras, though… the differences are minor.

          - Matthew

  • Reply May 9, 2013

    Fernando

    Excelent,and helpful review!!! A quick question: If for some reason the touchscreen of the T4i doesn’t work, or I don’t want to use it, can I still access and perform allmthe actions by using the buttons and reading on the viewfinder?

    • Avatar of Matthew Gore
      Reply May 9, 2013

      Matthew Gore

      Hi Fernando,
      That’s right; you can always use the traditional control methods if you don’t want to use the touch screen. The same buttons and dials will also work to navigate the menu and change your settings.
      - Matthew

  • Reply May 5, 2013

    Laura

    This was an awesome post as I too was in a quandry between the 60D and t4i/t5i. I have had a Nikon D60 (thankfully it was stolen!), and currently have a Sony A500 which shows purple fringing at the extreme end of the 70-300 zoom. This was making me crazy! I shoot horses moving and birds and nature, so I wanted crisp and sharp, with great color. Sounds like the 60D will be in my future as I am sure the 70D will be way out of my price point, and probably not significantly better than the 60D. Thank you for this helpful article! The comments and reviews were excellent! Happy Shooting all!!
    lk

    • Avatar of Matthew Gore
      Reply May 7, 2013

      Matthew Gore

      Hey Laura,

      Glad you found the post useful :) Before anything else, let me say that the purple fringing you’re getting from your A500 is actually the fault of the lens, not the camera… and it can probably be removed in post processing, if you use Adobe Lightroom or ACR (with Photoshop). In fact, color is such a subjective thing, it’s really important to learn how to post-process your photos so that you can get accurate, vivid colors regardless of the camera you’re using.

      Anyway… I think the 60D does sound like a great choice :) Hope you enjoy it!

      - Matthew

      • Reply May 10, 2013

        Laura

        Do you think that the 7d would be a better choice for me? Or do you know what Canon is coming out with in the future in this midrange price point? The 7d and 60d are both 3-4 years old, nothing new as far as processors in that middle level camera. I don’t want to go to a Rebel, nor can I afford to go up in the several thousand dollar range!!

        • Avatar of Matthew Gore
          Reply May 11, 2013

          Matthew Gore

          Hi Laura,

          The 7D certainly has some advantages over the 60D, but I’m not sure that it’s a better choice for you at the moment. You’re going to get the same image quality from both of them.

          I expect that Canon will be announcing a new mid-range SLR within the next few months (perhaps on the 31st of this month; Canon has scheduled a press conference for that day)… probably the 70D. I can only speculate about when that will come and how good it will be, though.

          - Matthew

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