A Nikon D7000 and a Canon 60D, each with battery grip

Canon 60D vs Nikon D7000: Best Midrange SLRs?

If you’re trying to decide which new camera to buy, your decision just got substantially harder. Yesterday’s announcement of the Nikon D7000 comes only a few short weeks after the unveiling of the Canon 60D, a camera that seems to be its closest competitor. With the D7000, Nikon has made some important improvements over their previous mid-line models (D90, D5000), and consequently, has produced one of their most impressive cameras in years.

[For more information about the 60D and how it compares to other Canon models, click HERE or use the article menu on the home page. For a comparison of the D7000 and the Canon 7D, click the preceding link.]

The Nikon D7000\’s LCD and rear controls.

To begin with, Nikon has finally increased the resolution of their mid-range APS-C sensor from 12.2 up to 16.2 megapixels. This is still shy of the 18 megapixels found in Canon’s most recent 3 bodies (the 7D, Rebel T2i, and the 60D), but it’s getting quite close and is a very respectable resolution. With a lower pixel density (Nikon’s sensor is also slightly larger than the Canon, as usual), Nikon has the potential for improved high ISO performance, though time and tests with production models will tell what the practical difference really is. In the past, Nikons have performed quite well in low light.

The Canon 60D and Nikon D7000 both use AF systems based on 9 cross-type AF sensors, but the Nikon adds and additional 30 focusing points, and couples them with a 2016 pixel RGB sensor and 3D processor that can theoretically track a subject by its color in addition to its direction of movement. A similar system has been used in the Nikon D3 with some success.

Nikon has also made a significant leap forward in video functionality. The D7000 now offers full high-definition video (1080p) recording, though only at 24 fps. This will be sufficient for many people who are interested in film making, but standard video frame-rate in the USA is 30fps for most broadcast quality work, which may make it difficult to edit video from the D7000 in with video shot from professional video camera footage for news work. Still, even this will be a very welcome development to those who use their SLR for video, as most previous models (with the exception of the D3100) had been limited to 720p. Unfortunately for those interested in slow-mo video, the D7000 does not yet offer 60fps at 720p as Canons do, but this may change with firmware updates in the future (just as 24 fps was added to the Canon 5D Mark II). Furthermore, the D7000 offers full time auto-focus for video mode. [Update: Initial reviews of the D7000’s video AF have been luke-warm, at best]

Magnesium body frame of Nikon D7000 and Grip
Much of the D7000 frame is magnesium, in addition to the light-weight polycarbonate.

While Canon seems to have backed-off of the professional market slightly with the 60D, the D7000 seems like a bulked up version of the D90, similar in many ways to the D300s.  The 60D dropped the 50D’s magnesium alloy body in favor of a plastic one, while the D7000 has a body that is mostly metal, an upgrade over the D90’s plastic.  Similarly, the new battery grip for the D7000 (which also sports a new model of battery) has metal reinforcements for strength and proper weight distribution. In addition, the rubber grip material on the D90 is heavier, with a more comfortable, durable feel. However, the D7000 is still relatively small compared to the D300s and Canon 7D, much closer in size to the D90.

The D7000 also sports a pentaprism viewfinder that is larger, brighter and easier to use than those of entry level models (eg, D3100), and similar to those found on the Canon 7D and 60D. Also like the 60D (and 7D), Nikon has added an electronic level in the viewfinder to help keep your shots from being skewed, which helps reduce cropping and the associated resolution loss.

As Canon did with the 60D, Nikon opted for the use of SD cards instead of the larger Compact Flash. The D7000, however, is endowed with two SD slots, with the option of recording RAW to one and JPG to the other.

Here’s a comparison of some of the standard features:

 Canon 60DNikon D7000Canon 7D
Body Price
(Amazon)
[aprice asin=B0040JHVCC][aprice asin=B0042X9LC4][aprice asin=B002NEGTTW]
Kit Price[aprice asin=B0040JHVC2][aprice asin=B0042X9LCO][aprice asin=B003BM7X6I]
Body MaterialPolycarbonate and Stainless SteelMagnesium Alloy & PolycarbonateMagnesium Alloy
LCD Size / Resolution3.0"
1,040,000 pixels
3.0"
921,000 pixels
3.0"
920,000 pixels
LCD Articulated?YesNoNo
Sensor Size14.9 x 22.3mm (APS-C)15.8 x 23.6mm (APS-C)14.9 x 22.3mm (APS-C)
Crop Factor1.6x1.5x1.6x
Sensor Resolution18 Megapixels16 Megapixels18 Megapixels
ISO Range100-6400
+12800
100-6400
+12800
+25600
100-6400
+12800
Total AF Focus Points93919
Cross-Type AF Sensors9919 (dual diagonal)
AF Light Level Range-.05 to +18 EV-1 to +19 EV-.05 to +18 EV
Metering System63 Zone Point Linked Evaluative
6.5% Center Weighted
2.8% Spot
2016 pixel RGB Metering Sensor63 Zone Point Linked Evaluative
9.4% Center Weighted
2.3% Spot
Exposure Compensation1/2 or 1/3 stops via thumb dial1/2 or 1/3 stops via button-dial combo1/2 or 1/3 stops via thumb dial
Max Frame Rate : RAW (14-bit)5.3 fps?8 fps
Max Frame Rate : RAW (12-bit)n/a6?n/a
Max Frame Rate : JPG5.3 fps6?8 fps
Max Burst Duration RAW (at highest frame rate)16100?15
Max Burst Duration JPG (at highest frame rate)5810094
Shutter Speed Range1/8000th - 30 sec.
+bulb
1/8000th - 30 sec.
+bulb
1/8000th - 30 sec.
+bulb
Maximum Flash Sync Shutter Speed (standard flash)1/250th sec.1/250th sec.1/250th sec.
HD Video Resolutions1080p, 720p1080p, 720p1080p, 720p
Available HD Video Frame RatesPAL and NTSC
24/25, 30 at 1080p
24/25, 30, 60 at 720p
24 fps at 1080p,
24, 30 fps at 720p
PAL and NTSC
24/25, 30 at 1080p
24/25, 30, 60 at 720p
Firmware Sidecar AvailableNoNoUnder Development
Media TypeSD / SDHC / SDXCSD / SDHC / SDXC
(2 slots)
Compact Flash
Weight675g (body only)690g (body only)
780g with battery
820g (body only)
Viewfinder Coverage96% Frame,
.95x magnification
100% Frame,
.95x magnification
100% Frame,
1.0x magnification

Tentative Conclusions

Camera top controls of the Nikon D7000

As I Nikon shooter, I’d probably pass over the D300s to snatch up one of the new D7000s. It has the construction of a pro-camera (or at least, a very high quality semi-pro), a great new sensor and processor, an excellent viewfinder, improved video performance, and a great auto-focus system (technically, it has fewer focusing points than the D300s, but it’s a small enough difference as to be negligible in practical use). The controls should be familiar to Nikon users, though any new camera will require a little adjustment. Between the D90 and the D7000 there is no comparison; the D7000 is simply a better class of camera…. a pro’s machine compared to an advanced amateur’s.

As a Canon shooter, I’d be impressed with the D7000, but probably not enough to switch to Nikon, especially if I’d already invested in Canon lenses. Although the Nikon has a more heavy-duty build, the Canon 60D is still superior in couple of important ways: it offers a higher resolution sensor, better video capabilities, and of course, an articulated LCD. Semi-pros may be interested in a metal body of the D7000, but many advanced amateurs will be happy not to carry the extra weight. If a magnesium body were of particular importance to me, then it’s worth noting that the Nikon will cost about $1200, while the Canon 7D now costs only $1529, and is an even better camera than the 60D.

The Nikon D7000\’s dual SD card slots.

If I had no initial bias towards Nikon or Canon, and were deciding between the D7000 and the Canon 60D, I might give my decision to the D7000. For a minimal price difference ($100), the D7000 provides the metal body, faster shooting bursts,  dual card slots, continuous AF for video and a very impressive looking AF system for still shooting, and very similar features otherwise. My only major reservation would be the lower resolution sensor, since I expect that within 2 years, the higher end SLRs will be using 40 megapixel sensors; it’s a shame to be starting off on the low end of the spectrum in that regard. For most practical purposes, though, 16 megapixels will be more than enough, so I’d be confident in purchasing it.

Since neither camera has been released yet to the general public, a lot remains to be said about the real world use of each. Time and testing will give us further details, but I think that it is clear that we’ve come to an age in which the differences in image quality and substantive features between most digital SLRs within the same class are becoming very minor issues. It’s time to simply get a camera and start shooting… and let what really matters shine though: the person behind the camera!

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23 Comments

  • I want to do wedding photography. please advice which camera will be the best Nikon D7000 or Canon 60D for low light photography at high ISO…..

  • Thanks Mathew, i have been using Nikon d5000 from past 2 yrs along with 55-200mm and 35mm lens, and is pretty happy with it.. However planning to upgrade it… This blog makes me feel i should go for nikon d7000, still on a fnal note wld like to know, once again…. Nikon d7000 or Canon EOS 60d

    • Hello Vaibhav,
      My assessment still stands: I’d prefer the D7000 to the 60D. Keep in mind, though, that both cameras now have updates… the Nikon D7100 and the Canon 70D, though the 70D is not shipping yet. You might ask yourself this question, though: what is it about your current camera that you feel like you’re missing or would like to improve? Frequently you’ll get better results by buying new lenses than by upgrading your body, unless you’re making lots of prints and know that you need a new sensor.

      – Matthew

  • I have a Nikon 300, which I really never liked. I had issues with the flash and delayed shutter actuation and lost a number of good shots. So I’m back in the market and am torn between the Nikon D7000 and the Canon 60D. I understand I can purchase an adapter for my Nikon lenses to work on the Canon (I have two). I do like to shoot video and slow motion (I have a Casio Exilim FH150, but it doesn’t replace an SLR for speed and functionality.

    BTW I’m an amateur.

    What should I do?

    • Hi Davod,

      I’m afraid that if you weren’t satisfied with the performance of the D300, you probably won’t be any happier with the D7000 or 60D, as they’re both aimed at a more amateur market. The D300 had a shutter lag of 45ms, compared to the 50-60 of the D7000 and 60D. Actually, though, these lag times are all pretty good… more than anything else, it’s probably a matter of getting comfortable with the timing, and making sure that you’re using an AF mode that isn’t blocking your shutter from firing until focus is attained.

      The Canon 7D feels more responsive in my hands than either the D7000 or the 60D, but I’m not sure how that would hold up to rigorous testing, and of course, the Canons both have 60fps video capability at 720p.

      Adapting lenses is always an option, but watch out… many adapters limit the functionality of the lens; sometimes you lose AF, sometimes you lose features that are based on lens-electronics (distance based flash exposure calculations, etc). If it came down to a choice between these two bodies, and I had Nikon lenses, I’d probably choose the Nikon D7000. However, you might consider going to your local BestBuy or Camera shop, and spending some time playing around with a demo 60D. If it feels better to you and seems to perform better, that should help make the decision for you.

      Sorry I can’t be of more help :)

      – Matthew

  • hi Matthew, loads of thanks for the well reasoned review.
    A few days back I was almost certain that I wanted to get the D7000 because i am more into photography than videography. I have gotten cold feet ever since i have heard about the dead pixel issues with d7000.
    Now i think i might get a 60d.
    what do you say??
    Besides how do the autofocus SPEED and ACCURACY of both the cameras compare??
    please help me decide

    • Hi Prabit,

      Don’t know how I missed your post for so long… I’m sure that this is coming too late to be of any practical use, but:

      If you’re primarily interested in photography, I’d probably lean towards the D7000… assuming that you don’t have a previous investment in Canon lenses, and perhaps more importantly, you can find a D7000. I’ve started to wonder recently whether the supply problem with the D7000 is related to the hot-pixel issue; they may be making changes to production or quality control.

      That said, I’ve used both cameras now, and while the D7000 has minimally better high ISO performance, they’re both very responsive and fast, and it’s a toss-up as to which is really superior. It may come down to personal preference; for example, I absolutely love the thumb wheel for exposure compensation on the back of Canon cameras. I’ve used it since I had a Canon A2 back in 1993… but I know that’s the sort of thing that not everyone will care about.

      Good luck!

      – Matthew

  • Hi,

    Great write-ups and clear comments. I am in the process of selecting and buying my first DSLR and I am in all aspects a ‘newbie’ :).

    So, here are my options: for the identical price I can get either:
    Nikon D7000 with their 18-105 lens or
    Canon EOS 60D with their EFS 18-200 IS lens.

    My main purpose for the camera is higher quality pictures that will likely be focused around my kid ‘doing things’ and perhaps some scenery when on vacation.

    I held both camera’s and felt that the Canon was more comfortable and fit my hands really well. However, I have also been told that the 18-200 lens from Canon is not such a great lens.

    Finally, I know that whatever I buy will be what I will use for the next years and I know I am unlikely to buy additional lenses and carry them around with me.

    So,……Canon EOS 60D with the 18-200 or Nikon D7000 with the 18-105.

    Any insights of people that know what they are talking about is appreciated :)

    Thanks,
    Peter

    • The 18-105VR is nothing special. I think you’ll be much happier with the range of the 18-200 (which I have used for over three years now), or even the Canon 18-135 (which is better on the IQ front). If you’ll be taking shots of your kid, then I think it’s highly worth considering the 50 1.8 or the Nikon for the 35 1.8 and the D7000’s insane high ISO performance. The 60D is no slouch either. Like you said, the 60D feels more comfortable, and that is also a very important factor.

    • The tricky issue is that the more convenience and greater zoom range that you want, the harder it is to get design a lens with top notch image quality. This means that you’re either going to get compromised lenses, or they’re going to be really expensive, or both. When it comes to image quality, you’re almost always better off with a couple of zooms lenses to cover a range rather than one.

      However, since you’ve expressed that you don’t want to lug around a bunch of lenses, which is understandable (and why full range zooms are so popular), the question is simply how important it is to you to have super-sharp pictures. If you’re displaying pictures on a monitor or HDTV (1080p resolution = 2 megapixels), you won’t notice the loss of resolution with a lens like the 18-200. If you crop in quite a bit, you might though. Similarly, if you’re making prints in the 8×10 and smaller range, you probably won’t notice a resolution difference between these lenses.

      If you decide to go with the 60D, you might also keep in mind that other lens makers might make lenses that are just as good at Canon’s in this zoom range (since Canon’s is not spectacular in this case). You should check out the offerings from Sigma and Tamron and see how their zooms compare to what you’re looking for.

      Good luck!

      – Matthew

      • Thanks guys,

        I guess bottom line of what you are saying is that for me (the newbie ;) ) I probably won’t go wrong either way, lenses are similar and the pictures will look great with either of them.

        So, I am on a 90-10 split decision in favor of the 60D, will do some final hands-on playing in the shop and just buy :)

        Thanks again.

        Cheers,
        Peter

  • I’ve field tested both the 60D and D7000. Image quality is all down to users expectations. The 60D produced better images for me over the D7000 while I understand why people like the D7000. Usability was easy to decide. The 60D and it’s lighter environmental body was so much more easy to use than the D7000. Access to functions the brilliant vari angle screen for Macro and Video work was unparalleled over the D7000 which was clunky and heavy to use. As for focusing. Shooting birds was a breeze for both cameras. I’m always surprised that Nikons extra focusing points don’t really give a real benefit over Canons system.
    Again the right camera comes down to users requirements and expectations and at least Canon and Nikon are ahead of the wannabies out there. You know who you are..

    • Thanks for the insight :) I guess that I’m not surprised that you get better images with the 60D; at least, that’s what I’d expect in good light. I do expect the D7000 to have an advantage at high ISO, since it’s a slightly larger sensor with fewer pixels, and of course, Nikon has been really good at handling noise for the past few years. I’ve heard reports that the image quality (as far as noise is concerned) is similar up to about 3200, but that the D7000 is better above that.

      – Matthew

  • Totally agree on what you have said. “It’s time to simply get a camera and start shooting… and let what really matters shine though: the person behind the camera!” Well done.

  • Matthew:

    after all, if i have the budget for both nikon d7000 and canon 60d, is the nikon d7000 a definite win? and is there any difference between the color saturation of both nikon and canon because im about to get my first DSLR, so i have to be very very careful when choosing one. hope we can discuss more and please assist me to buy the first DSLR, since the argument between canon and nikon fanboy is just one sided.

    • Gan,

      There won’t be a significant difference in color saturation; a little bit of a tweak one way or the other in post processing will be much more important. The choice will really come down to which features are the most important to you. The Canon’s video features are better, but the Nikon’s going to be a better camera for action photography. They’re very closely matched otherwise. What type of photography will you be doing? Will you be shooting video?

      – Matthew

  • Can anyone tell me about the possibilty of het in camera retouche possibility for both the 60D and D7000?
    I know the D90 has it, but i can’t find it for these camera’s.
    Thanks in advance!

    AhdV

    • The 7D doesn’t offer much in the way of in-camera editing. You can rotate images, and you can make minor video edits, but that’s about it. I believe that the 60D and D7000 both allow some in-camera editing of RAW images (creating smaller jpgs and the like), but I’m afraid I don’t pay much attention to these sorts of details. When it comes to image processing, I do as little as possible in the camera, leaving the work for the better processors and software in my computers.

      Sorry I can’t be more helpful on this point.

      – Matthew

      • Thank you.

        Ik expect the D7000 to have it, because the D90 has it, but i’m curious for the 60D.
        One of them ( D7000 of D60 ) will be my first DSRL, so i want to make the right choise.
        I know there’s software to use, but it seems quite handy when ik use this option.
        Actually both camera’s cost al lot more than i wanted to spent. Ik was first lookin at both the 550D or the D90, but since ik can’t decide anyway.

        Thanks again, Ahdv

  • Hi Matthew, that was, as I expected a wellconsidered, quick comparison that could help any one with doubts to decide what choice to make. Well done and thanks it’s definately going to help me. Regards.

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