Need to buy a gift for somebody who loves technology but you can’t afford the big ticket items?
- Sharp pictures, great colour, Active D-Lighting, dust reduction, low price, comfortable to hold
- Some minor chromatic aberration issues, no live view
Nikon's D60 is a fantastic entry-level SLR that takes brilliant pictures and offers a robust feature set. It is ideal for users looking to take the plunge into more creative photography.
Price$ 1,199.00 (AUD)
Once upon a time if you were after a digital SLR your decision was relatively simple. There were a handful of models, usually two or three, from a select few companies, and probably only one or two of them were in your price range. These days, however, the SLR market is booming, with companies releasing multiple tiers of units at every conceivable price point. Nikon's D60 is the latest model to enter the fray, replacing the D40x and sitting between the entry-level D40 and the more advanced D80. While it doesn't really offer enough improvements to justify an upgrade for D40x owners it is a fantastic camera, combining SLR functionality with brilliant pictures and ease of use.
Like its predecessor, the D60 packs in a 10.2-megapixel sensor and comes bundled with an 18-55mm lens complete with vibration reduction. This definitely did a good job of eliminating handshake and blurring at slow shutter speeds.
We had no doubt the D60 would capture fantastic shots and of course we were not disappointed. Its performance was par for the course for Nikon SLRs. Our shots were razor sharp and looked fantastic. There was a little corner softening and flaring towards the corners of our shots, symptomatic of the chromatic aberration issues that often plague SLRs using the stock lens, but it wasn't too severe.
Colour balance was spot on with this model tending towards strong saturation, but this can be tweaked using the shooting modes option (vivid, natural, etc). Exposure was well handled aside from the aforementioned haloing issues. This is assisted by the inclusion of Active D-Lighting which helps compensate for difficult lighting conditions. It is one of the only features to be passed down from Nikon's latest professional models, the D300 and D3, and is a big boon in some shooting scenarios.
Image noise is the one area the D60 didn't perform flawlessly in, but it still did pretty well. Noise is kept well under control up until ISO 800 and even then you'll be hard pressed to spot it at most print magnifications. Still, we have seen other SLRs perform better in this category.
One of the defining features of an SLR is its speed of operation and the D60 continues this trend. It is ready to go in an instant and there is no noticeable shutter lag or delay between shots. Operating at four frames per second, the burst mode is more than speedy enough for most user's needs.
The feature set is fairly robust, meeting expectations of a unit in this price range. The white balance presets work nicely and a custom mode is included although there is no full manual option. ISO sensitivities extend to ISO 1600 which is adequate for most uses and the usual array of manual shooting options are on offer. Dust reduction also makes a welcome return, cleaning the sensor when the camera starts up to ensure your shots are clean and splotch free.
While there is no sensor based image stabilisation, Nikon has a number of lenses with Vibration Reduction built in which works well. As mentioned before, Active D-Lighting is also included which is a useful addition. Some users may note the lack of Live View, which is becoming increasingly common on D-SLRs. While it definitely is a nifty feature and we'd love to have seen it here, its absence is far from a big deal.
Design wise this model is billed as one of Nikon's smallest SLRs and it certainly conforms to this. It is one of the tiniest units on the market, rivalling offerings from Olympus in size. That said, the kit lens is far from small, so don't think you'll be carrying an SLR in your pocket just yet. What it is perfect for is the frequent traveller who wants something that is relatively compact but also takes great snaps.
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