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Canon 1D versus D60
written by Fred Miranda

Many advanced professional studio, catalog and landscape photographers wonder if they should invest the money to buy a more expensive Canon 1D or purchase a less expensive D60 body.
Each camera is intended for specific usage. In a perfect world, one could alternate between the two cameras using them each for their intended purpose since these cameras do not compete with each other in terms of features and build quality. In this article, I will touch on what I find to be the best features and limitations of both cameras.


Neither camera is widely available just yet, and therefore not many photographers have had the opportunity to shoot with them. Let me start by stating that I own both the Canon 1D and a D30 and I just received the D60 for a two-week period.
There are quite a few in-depth reviews on these cameras currently available on the net and I will not bore you with technical specifications, or any other information found on Canon's website. My main objective during this article/review is to share my personal experience with both cameras.

Feature comparison

Canon 1D
Canon D60
Autofocus System
TTL-Area-SIR CMOS Sensor. One-shot and AI Servo AF with Focus Prediction. Manual focusing confirmation possible with EF lenses. TTL-CT-SIR Multi-BASIS. One-shot and AI Servo AF with Focus Prediction. Manual focusing confirmation possible with EOS lenses. Automatic and manual focusing point selection
Number of focusing points
Forty-five (Area AF Ellipse) Three
AF sensitivity
EV 0-18 (at ISO 100) EV 0.5-18 (at ISO 100)
AF Auxiliary Light built-in
n/a Yes
Shutter Speeds
30-1/16,000 sec. 30-1/4000 sec
Max Flash Syncronization speed
1/500 sec 1/200 sec.
Compact flash compatibility
Type I and II Type I and II
Focal length multiplier
1.3x 1.6x
Sensor size
28.7 x 19.1 mm

24.9 x 18.1 mm

Pixel size
11 x 11µm 7.4 x 7.4µm
Color spaces
  • sRGB natural
  • sRGB portrait
  • sRGB high chroma
  • Adobe RGB
  • sRGB wide
  • sRGB
Linear Mode
Yes Yes
ISO sensitivities

ISO 200, 250, 320, 400, 500, 640, 800, 1000, 1250, 1600
ISO expand:

L = ISO 100, H = ISO 3200

ISO 100, 200, 400, 800, 1000
Imager ratio
3:2 3:2
Canon NP-E3 1650mAh, 12V Ni-MH rechargeable battery

Battery Pack BP-511 (lithium ion rechargeable battery)

LCD monitor size
2.0in 1.8in
Frames per second
Single, 3fps and 8fps 3fps
Exposure modes
  • Shutter-priority AE
  • Aperture-priority AE
  • Depth-of-Field AE
  • Intelligent Program AE with variable shift
  • Manual
  • E-TTL Flash AE
  • Flash Metered Manual
  • Bulb
  • Shutter-priority AE
  • Aperture-priority AE
  • Depth-of-Field AE
  • Intelligent Program AE with variable shift
  • Manual
  • E-TTL Flash AE
  • Programmed Image Control (5 settings)
  • Bulb
Fixed eye-level pentaprism Fixed eye-level pentaprism
Viewfinder information
  • Shutter speed
  • Aperture value
  • AE lock
  • FE lock
  • Depth-of field AE
  • Manual exposure level
  • Remaining frames in burst
  • Exposure compensation
  • Flash compensation
  • ISO speed
  • Exposure level | Flash exposure level
  • Jpeg indication
  • Shutter speed
  • Aperture value
  • AE lock
  • FE lock
  • AF frame indicator
  • Exposure level scale
  • Flash status
  • FP mode indicator (High-speed sync)
  • AF in-focus indicator
Focusing Screens
Laser-matte screen Ec-C III, with AF ellipse, focusing points and fine spot metering circle provided as the standard screen (Interchangeable with Ec-series focusing screens) Laser-matte screen marked with focusing points and partial metering circle (Non-interchangeable)
Special features
  • 4.1 million pixel CCD Digital SLR
  • Maximum continuous shooting speed of 8 fps
  • Built-in 2.0 inch color monitor
  • Custom functions (21 custom functions with 67 settings)
  • Simultaneous RAW and Jpeg image capture
  • Depth-of-field Preview
  • Mirror lock
  • Sealed body
  • 6.3 million pixel CMOS Digital SLR
  • Retractable built-in flash
  • Max continuous shooting of 3 fps
  • Custom functions (14 selectable features)
  • Simultaneous RAW and Jpeg image capture
  • Depth-of-field Preview
  • Mirror lock
  • Quick control dial
Electronic controlled with 2 or 10sec delay Electronic controlled with 10 sec delay
Body dimensions (W x H x D)
6.1 x 6.2 x 3.1 in. / 156 x 157.6 x 79.9 mm 5.9 x 4.2 x 3.0 in. / 149.5 x 106.5 x 75 mm
Weight (body only)
44.1 oz / 1250g 27.5 oz / 780g
Street price
$5500 $2100


Image quality

Let's start with the EOS 1D SLR professional digital camera. This camera is clearly geared towards professional photojournalists and sport shooters. For those accustomed to shooting with the film version Canon 1V, now there is the option of jumping into the digital photography world with minimal sacrifices.
You may already know that the Canon 1D suffered from negative feedback when it was first introduced. The main issue was noise banding. There were attempts made to correct the problem via firmware updates but Canon finally had to correct the issue by recalling the cameras for a hardware upgrade.
So, is the banding finally gone? Yes, if the final image is not underexposed.

When shooting high contrast images, and using moderate highlight metering (sometimes underexposing your shots), you still need to be careful when bringing back up the shadow detail in post production. Depending on the number of f/stop compensation needed, you may unintentionally bring the hidden banding pattern up to a visible level.
Here is an exaggerated example of how the banding pattern looks underneath any ISO setting:

Extreme levels tweak

Normal non-linear image


As you can see from the above image, even this ISO 200 file has a clear noise banding characteristic underneath. This was taken with a 1D-firmware v.1.3
Bottom line, when taking well-exposed shots or even correcting minor underexposure, you probably will not find any banding on 1D files. I should also comment that this noise characteristic is not seen in D30/D60 images even when pushing the files above extreme levels. I am sure these differences can be attributed to the CMOS and CCD sensor design.

Another issue considering mentioning is moiré. These moiré patterns are probably due to the 1D's use of a weaker anti-alias filter in front of the sensor and a larger pixel size. However, the larger pixels size (11x11µm) and excellent algorithms developed by Canon make the 1D capable of exceptional dynamic range along with very clean, low noise files even at high ISO settings.


1D | Evaluative | 560mm | f4

The new Canon 1D digital SLR is no different than its film version Canon 1V when it comes to autofocus. They probably share the best AF system in the world. It produces very precise focusing for all Canon EF lenses.
Some photographers have reported an issue commonly known as "front focusing". This is similar to a problem I had when I bought my 1V film body. The camera had a tendency to focus in front of the subject. Not all 1D and 1V bodies have this miscalibration, which happens in One-shot and AI Servo AF modes. If you have encountered this problem with your camera, Canon will fine-tune your body for a more accurate autofocus.

Fortunately this isn't a problem with the Canon D30 or D60, even with their inferior autofocus system. Accuracy seems excellent in One-shot mode, however autofocus speed especially for action and low light photography leaves too much to be desired. Many pro photographers didn't take the D30/D60 route because of its inferior autofocus speed and tracking ability when compared to more advanced Canon bodies.

45-point AF vs. 3-point AF

The fantastic 45-point AF found on the 1V, EOS 3 and 1D bodies are a necessity for photojournalists, sport shooters and wildlife photographers, especially when shooting in Servo mode. The camera's built-in computer predicts the location from frame to frame, and calculates the location between the time that focus is achieved and the camera shutter actually fires.
However, in my opinion, this feature is overkill for studio, still life and for those landscape photographers adventuring to leave their medium format cameras and going digital. They won't need 45 points. Or in certain landscape, or macro photography they may not even need AF at all.

Having said that, the AF system provided by the D60 is suitable for its target photography field, which is studio photography. The new D60 has advantages from its predecessor D30 with its new laser matte focusing screen and highlighted AF points in viewfinder view.

Photographers may be dissatisfied by the D60 AF performance. Which by the way, is identical to the D30. Keep in mind that both D60 and 1D AF systems are passive. This means that they respond to the brightness and contrast of the subject and react to the ambient light the subject is reflecting. Because of this, the AF system works best with brightly illuminated and/or contrasty subjects. Both 1D and D60 AF can fail with dull, low-contrast or smooth, untextured subjects. So don't expect that just because you have a 1D, you will be able to auto-focus in any condition.

Most modern film or digital SLR cameras share the same limitations when shooting in low light. Experienced photographers know that what is crucial in low light photography is having fast lenses and being able to find the points of contrast in your subjects.

AF Point Registration and Switching is a great feature offered by the Canon 1D. This option gives you the opportunity to pre-select a focusing point and switch for example from Auto focusing to that specifically created point.
I find it to be a great time saver when switching from Automatic selection to Manual selection. For example you can assign the "Assist button" to engage automatic selection of the focusing points and the "AE lock" button to engage your manually selected point. For more info and instruction on how to register and switch a point, read page 69 of the manual.


Depth-of-field mode

D60 | Centerweighted average | 16mm | f/16

I rarely use this mode when shooting with my D30 or D60. It could be helpful when the subject(s) are covered by the 3 focusing points but unfortunately this rarely happens, especially with landscape photography. The 1D's depth-of-field mode is extremely useful in contrast. It lets photographers assign which subjects are to be in focus and then calculates the depth of field for you. In my opinion, it is a great feature and very helpful especially for those learning about depth of field. This is not to be confused with Depth of Field preview, which both 1D and D60 have as a feature.

Light metering system

1D | Evaluative mode | 400mm | f/4

It's not a secret that the D60 evaluative mode rarely gives us perfect exposure, unless with low contrast subjects. But, I have had substantial success using Centerweighted average metering mode and adjusting EV(exposure compensation) when necessary.

Another complaint about the D60 metering system is the non-inclusion of spot metering which is helpful in certain lighting settings.
I think that metering is not as critical for digital as it is for film photography, even though film has a higher dynamic range. With digital you can rely on the built-in histogram. It's a tool that safely offers an option to tweak your exposure output on the spot.
The histogram however, isn't the route to go if you are shooting for photojournalism, sport photography or any other situation where the photographer doesn't have time to fine-tune the camera's exposure settings. In this case the 1D is a much better and accurate alternative.


Long exposure photography

The new Canon D60 really shines in comparison to the 1D when taking long exposure shots. Due to its physical design, the 1D has limitations and compromises image quality as the exposure gets longer.
The legend of "purple upper corners" reported by many 1D photographers is true.
And the sad fact remains, that a firmware update to correct this issue is impossible to accomplish since this is a design compromise and more of a hardware issue.
The D60 on the other hand is capable of producing virtually noiseless images up to 4:30 minute exposure. This is quite remarkable considering that it is the first digital camera to ever produce such results.

I compared the 1D versus D60 with an exposure time of 3 minutes and lens cap on. Here are the results:
All shot at ISO 100 (for lowest noise possible)
1D's picture at 25s starts to show purple noise on the upper corners and noise starts to become apparent around the frame.

D60: It is remarkable at long exposures. It's truly the first digital camera that could work for amateur astronomy photographers because it provides noiseless files even with up to 4-minute exposure.

This is what Chuck Westfall had to say about the 1D and long exposure shots, in an email he recently sent to me. "Canon Inc.'s response has not been publicly posted, but the bottom line is that the issue cannot be resolved via firmware. It is a by-product of the CCD design. Here is a translation of Canon Inc.'s statement:

The CCD used in the EOS-1D incorporates a simultaneous-retrieval multi-line system in order to achieve approximately eight frames per second in continuous shooting mode. Therefore, two exits are designed in the CCD, and also two amplifiers with two different circuits are applied to the inside. The electric charge, which is generated with the photodiode (Photo detector) in the CCD, is transferred vertically and horizontally in a bucket brigade way, and composes an external output of picture signal by converting it into voltage with the amplifier near the exit.
The generated electric charge includes the noise components of both the signal data, which is proportional to the incident light, and the dark current, which is produced by the photodiode itself. It is known that the longer the exposure is, and the higher the environmental temperature gets, the larger the noise component with the dark current becomes.

The magenta-colored noise, which appears on both upper corners of the frame in images taken at slow shutter speeds, is due to the fact that heat caused by the amplifiers, which are positioned close to the sections of the CCD where the picture signal is read out, is higher than in other parts of the CCD. As result, the dark current, which occurs at the photodiode near the amplifier, is also increased. This phenomenon can be seen in other digital cameras as well, however, in case of slow shutter speed photography, we recommend you not to use the camera continuously, but turn it on just before taking pictures."

He also wrote that, the D60 does not have the same issue for several reasons; mainly the signal amplification and readout method are totally different with a CMOS chip compared to a CCD.
We should not expect anything better from the EOS-1D. It is not a matter of money; it is a matter of design priorities. The overriding design priorities on the 1D were maximum performance at shooting speeds up to 8 fps, together with unsurpassed weather resistance and customization (white balance, color space, custom tone curves, variable JPEG compression, etc.).
When judged on these merits, it succeeds magnificently. The fact that it may not perform as well as some digital SLRs for time exposures longer than 30 seconds is simply a fact of life that can be overcome by using other cameras more suited to this task, such as the EOS D60.

In my opinion, as much as we would all like to have a single camera that surpasses the performance of all others in every respect that has not happened just yet.



Here are some questions you should ask yourself before going the 1D route:

Do you need clean high ISO images?
Do you need 8 frames per second?
Do you shoot sports or any type of action including wildlife?
Do you need a strong and sealed body?
Do you need spot metering?
Do you need AF working with lenses + extenders with max aperture of f/8?

Here are some questions you should ask yourself before deciding on the D60:

How often do you shoot with long exposures?
Do you often use ISO 100?
Do you need 11x17in prints without any interpolation?
Does price plays a role on your purchase decision?
Is resolution more important than frames per second?


Overall, it's clear that Canon released two different cameras for different photography needs. Photojournalists and sport shooters should embrace the 1D and now have the first viable alternative to film in their hands. With the introduction of the 6.3 MP D60, studio photographers now can print up to 11x17in without interpolating their files. Both cameras are great choices. The ultimate decision is yours and I recommend evaluating your anticipated needs carefully before choosing one over the other. Happy Shooting!