Review: Comparison Canon 5DMk2 Vs. Canon 60D

ShadowReview: Comparison Canon 5D Mk2 Vs. Canon 60D

Canon updated their premium line of DSLR Cameras (noted by the single digit pre-fix) with the 5Dmk2 in 2008. The innovation of full-frame CMOS technology housed within a compact camera body heralded a new wave of DSLR photography and digital filmmaking. It quickly became the industry standard for all other manufacturers to emulate and improve on.

In 2010 Canon introduced a new DSLR model to its second line of cameras (noted by the two digit pre-fix) - the 60D. While both lines have seen additional updates in recent years - the 5Dmk3 (2012) and the 70D (2013) respectively - the 5Dmk2 and the 60D still remain in widespread use by photography and video professionals alike.

And with good quality second hand versions now widely available online at discounted prices, both still remain a viable option for anyone looking to upgrade their Camera kit bag on a budget.

Aim of this Article

Let's be clear from the outset: the 5Dmk2 is a 'technically superior' Camera than the 60D. It has a larger sensor (full-frame) and a more robust build. It is also more widely accepted by the video and photography community as being a 'professional level kit'. But all this kudos comes at a price - more than double the retail or re-sale price of the 60D.

The 60D is designed with the divisive labels of 'Prosumer' and 'Enthusiast' in mind. It is a middle ground camera that offers full manual control for professional level workflows whilst retaining preset shooting modes for versatile shooting scenarios - sport, portrait, landscape, night, macro. And for autofocusing and light metering it offers more advanced options than the 5Dmk2.

So, what is the actual difference between the two models? Let's take a closer look.

5Dmk2 vs 60D

Broadly speaking, the single digit product line of Canon Cameras - 1D, 5D, 6D, 7D - are considered to be the 'Professional Line' of Canon DSLR camera equipment. The two digit product line - 60D, 70D - are often termed the 'Prosumer/Enthusiast' line. Such simple categorization might work well for the Canon marketing team, but my first hand experience with both models has often revealed a more complex reality.

Many Professionals and Enthusiasts are aware of the 5Dmk2's technical range and accomplishments to date. But the 60D is often overlooked as a valid alternative in many shooting scenarios. Indeed, the 60D boasts some unique features that some users might find more advantageous to have, especially in a faster paced shooting environment.

To compare the two cameras we will look at the following factors:

  1. Image quality
  2. Video quality
  3. Design and Build
  4. Software Interface
  5. Price

1. Image Quality

To understand the different results both cameras produce; we first need to look at the sensors inside them and the final Pixel Count of the outputted image.

The 5Dmk2 uses a CMOS 36mm x 24mm sensor. This gives a final image size of 21.1 megapixels. It is often referred to a 'full-frame sensor' given the fact that it covers the same area as a frame of physical film stock. The Canon range of full-frame lenses use the pre-fix EF (i.e. EF 50mm 1.4 USM). These can be used with any full-frame camera with an EF mount.

5D Mk2 Image Quality

5Dmk2 image - Daytime (1/500 f5.6 ISO 100)

The 60D uses a CMOS APS-C 22.3mm x 14.9mm sensor. This gives a final image size of 17.9 megapixels. Canon uses the pre-fix EF-S to designate the specific lenses which can be used with APS-C cameras that use a 'cropped sensor' (i.e. EF-S 55-250mm 4-5.6 IS II).

60D Image Quality

60D image - Daytime (1/400 f5.6 ISO 100) (from same position as above)

Understanding the Cropped Frame

60D frame inside 5D Mk2 frame

5Dmk2 image with 60D image overlaid on top (60D highlighted in red)

The 60D can also use EF lenses but this leads to a cropping effect - 1.62 to be precise. Users will experience a smaller angle of view equivalent to using a lens with a longer focal length. So a 50mm EF lens mounted on a 60D will have the same telescopic effect as a 80mm lens (50 x 1.6 = 80)

This gives the impression of the image being magnified by 1.62 without changing the depth of field of the actual lens, in this case a 50mm.

Full frame vs cropped frame

Full Frame vs Cropped Image Comparison (60D highlighted in red)

The cropped image also reduces the natural lens distortion effect (darkened corners) without the need to use the onboard peripheral illumination correction setting. The final image also occupies a flatter plane as the possibility for potential lens corner distortion is reduced.

Understanding the results a full frame lens will give when used with a cropped sensor can give the experienced user a range of creative options to use in their workflow. For example, having the extra reach in terms of virtual lens focal length can be useful for long range photography or for shooting objects up close when you do not have a suitable Macro lens available. The depth of field will also be affected. The 5Dmk2 will give more of a blurred effect (bokeh) to all objects outside the focal range than the 60D would when compared at the same f-stop and shutter speed.


2. Video Quality

Both cameras shoot video at full HD 1080p at 24 and 25 frames per second (fps). The 60D can also shoot HD footage at 60fps at 720p making it a serious consideration for anyone wishing to shoot for slow motion video.

Low Light Video Shooting

The two things to consider for low light shooting are the image sensor (which should be full frame) and the pixel count (which should be low). A larger sensor with fewer pixels will be able to accumulate more light during an exposure. The 5Dmk2 and the 60D were not specifically designed for low light conditions. Indeed there are other alternatives currently on the market that target this specialized area within a similar price range (Sony A7s, Canon 6D, Nikon D4s).

The cropped sensor on the 60D magnifies the frame by 1.62 therefore giving the image a sharper look due to the extended 'virtual' focal length But the smaller sensor has difficulty capturing the same level of detail in the shadows as the 5Dmk2 when used at the same settings (see comparison shots towards the end of the video).

But both cameras are more than capable of shooting in low light conditions. The difference between them occurs in the lighting range in which background noise will become an issue. Artifacts will start to appear earlier with the 60D than they would if shooting with the 5Dmk2 and settings must be increased in order to capture the same level of light onto the smaller sensor.

3. Design and Build

The 5Dmk2 weighs in at 810g while the 60D 755g. Although the difference in weight in small, the slightly larger size of the 5Dmk2 gives the impression that it could handle more impact than the 60D. That said, I have dropped my 60D on a couple of occasions and thankfully it has withstood all the mistreatment without so much as a scratch (touch wood!).

Creative Shooting Modes

5D mk2 control dial

5Dmk2 Quick Control Dial


60D control dial

60D Quick Control Dial (including presets)

Both Cameras feature the standard settings any Photographer would expect to find on a DSLR camera: Manual; Shutter Priority; Aperture Priority; Bulb; Full-Auto.

The 60D also includes what it terms the 'Creative Modes'. These are preset modes designed to quickly optimize the shutter, aperture, ISO settings, picture profile etc. to automatically match the subject matter in any shooting scenario.

While many professional photographers might not feel the need for such 'helpful' presets, they do have their uses in certain scenarios where set-up time is limited and the need to quickly capture that one perfect image outweighs any outstanding creative notions.

Hardware Feature - Ports

5D mk2 ports

5Dmk2 Ports

60D ports

60D ports

The 60D contains the standard ports for 1) microphone  2)HDMI  3) AV Out (Digital)  4) Remote Control.

60D Additional Hardware

60D build-in flash

1. Built-in Flash. The inclusion of a built-in flash is a useful addition for lighting subjects on the fly. It can also serve as a back up when your external flash fails.

60D fold out screen

2. Fold-out Screen. One of the main selling points of the 60D is its fold out screen. Particularly useful for monitoring high and low angle shots as well as for self-taping scenarios.

4. Software Features


We can see the increased features of the 60D over the 5Dmk2 by simply comparing the menu options:

5Dmk2 Menu Options

5D mk2 menu options 1


5D mk2 menu options 2


5D mk2 menu options 3


5D mk2 menu options 4


60D Menu Options

60D menu options 1


60D menu options 2


60D menu options 3


60D menu options 4


60D menu options 5


60D menu options 6


The 60D also offers more advanced software features such as:

  • Auto Lighting optimizer - this handy feature adjusts the contrast between the blacks and the whites giving the image a more gradual fall off in the mid-tones.
  • Highlight Tone Priority - this feature preserves detail in the highlights. It is basically has the same effect as adding a curve to the image in-camera as opposed to in-post. The downside is that some of the detail in the shadows will be lost.
  • Red-eye reduction - this feature is included with the prosumer in mind.
  • RAW image processing - useful for photographers who need to edit and adjust images in-camera while away from their computer.

Autofocus and Metering

When we compare the specifications of the autofocus and metering for both cameras the 60D edges out the 5D thanks to its advanced onboard software:

  • Autofocusing - 9 Cross Type AF points (60D) | 9 User Points + 6 Assists (5Dmk2)
  • Metering - TTL, Full Aperture 63 Zones (60D) | TTL, Full Aperture 35 Zones (5Dm2)

5. Price

The 5Dmk2 originally retailed for $2,199.00. Current second hand models (body only) retail on websites such as eBay from $1,090.00.

The 60D originally retailed for $899.00. Current second hand models (body only) retail on websites such as eBay from as little as $355.00.


Purists will probably remain unconvinced about the 60D's capabilities and will always opt for the higher range camera regardless of budget considerations. Indeed, there is always the underlying fear that turning up for a paid job with 'sub-standard' equipment can hurt one's professional reputation. And sometimes this can be the case if a picky 'know-it-all' client thinks he or she is not getting the full professional service they are paying for.

I have personally used the 60D on numerous professional jobs (with high quality lenses and grip equipment I must add) and the results have been every bit as good as with the 5Dmk2. If fact there are certain shooting environments where I would consciously choose the 60D as my go to camera of choice, particularly for events where fast shooting is called for. But similarly there are occasions where I would completely by-pass the 60D option and go for the 5Dmk2 or a higher spec camera altogether.

All images by Alan Markey


About the Author

Alan MarkeyFilmmaker, Photographer, and all things in between. www.alanmarkey.comView all posts by Alan Markey →

Leave a Reply

Yours FREE

 450 Pro Lightroom Presets Bundle

Subscribe to receive MediaMaker.Tips updates directly into your mailbox