Nikon D60 Review
Performance - How well does it take pictures?
Ultimately, it is the image quality that makes a camera worth buying. For an SLR, image quality greatly depends on the lens used. While color, noise, exposure and contrast are properties of the camera, distortion, vignetting and chromatic aberrations are properties of the lens. Sharpness depends on the weakest link. That is, the camera cannot capture more details than the lens lets through. Conversely, it is possible for a lens to transmit more details than the sensor can capture.
Note that the Nikon D60 is one of those DSLRs which are only sold with a kit-lens in some markets. This particular lens is an 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 VR lens. It is evident that this lens is far from being of top-quality. Nikon has lenses of varying quality with corresponding prices.
The D60 is tuned to produce bright images because they tend to print better directly. Although exposure is generally accurate, the D60 over-exposes more often than most DSLRs, sometimes by more than one stop. The matrix metering mode seems to strongly favor the center of the frame. This gives a nice exposure to most primary subjects but can easily burn out a bright background.
The Nikon D60 shows good color accuracy. Although some tweaking may be required, the hue adjustment of -9%..+9% gives enough latitude to do so. Our eval unit produced the most realistic colors at normal saturation and hue -6%. There are also several color modes which produce images with different color tones. The Normal mode is the most realistic, while Vivid and More Vivid produce images with greater color saturation for more postcard-like results. More Vivid boosts image contrast in addition to saturation. Softer and Portrait modes wash out colors and details a bit.
The white-balance system performs on par with most DSLR cameras. Preset and custom white-balance are very accurate. Automatic white-balance is generally good except under artificial light. Incandescent and CFL lights were particularly problematic and left a noticeable orange cast. Note that this is no worst than most digital SLRs.
Noise levels are very low until ISO 400 and moderately low but noticeable at ISO 800. At ISO 1600, noise is evident but has a fine grain. One thing that Nikon did well with the D60 is to lay-off noise-reduction. This makes the D60 keep more detail at high-ISO than previous models.
Under bright conditions, ISO 1600 shots were extremely clean while darker images appeared noisy at the same ISO. This is normal because of the way image-sensors work. The point is that high ISO results are very different when used to capture a dark-scene or to freeze action in a reasonably well-lit environment.
Image sharpness is controllable in 5 steps. At the default setting, images appear slightly soft, but this is corrected by increasing sharpness in-camera. It is common for high-end DSLR to produce slightly soft images by default since those images fare better during post-processing. Boosting sharpening to +1 provides much more pleasing results without surrounding details with halos.
In operation, the Nikon D60 is extremely responsive. Most operations are nearly instant, including power-on and the all-important shutter-lag. Focusing speed depends on the lens used. With the kit lens, it is reasonable under bright conditions but a little slow, for a DSLR, in low-light. The continuous drive is also very good and the buffer never seems to fill up. This means you can shoot at 3 FPS until the memory card is full.
The only sub par measurement we had with the D60 is below average battery-life. A nice touch is that the charger has a description of the status light printed right on it. No more doubting if yellow means still charging or done!
The Nikon D60 is a good option for new DSLR owners. It is a well-built camera with very good image quality and excellent speed of operation. Most people upgrading from a fixed-lens camera are looking for speed and image quality. At the same time, the D60 gives users access to the second largest lens lineup of the industry.
Images from the D60 are characterized by low image noise, plenty of details and accurate colors. The only concern with respect to image quality is this camera's tendency to over-expose. This can always be corrected by using exposure-compensation, but it requires more intervention than ideal.
The feature set and ergonomics of the Nikon D60 are very reasonable for an entry-level DSLR. Pros may feel too limited but novices will not find this camera too daunting. The inclusion of the eye-start sensor is incredibly useful and numerous features like spot-metering and white-balance fine-tuning are made to make nearly any result achievable.
In the end, the D60 is impressive because it delivers what novice DSLR users expect from a DSLR: image quality and speed above all. With users building experience on the D60, Nikon can expect improved skills to eventually lead users to higher-end models.
Nikon D60 Facts
|10 Megapixels DSLR||ISO 100-3200|
|Nikon F Mount|
Sensor-Size: 24 x 16mm
Actual size when viewed at 100 DPI
|Full manual controls, including Manual Focus|
|Automatic Eye-Start sensor||Custom white-balance with 2 axis fine-tuning|
|Built-in Dust Reduction||Spot-Metering|
|3 FPS Drive, Unlimited Images||Hot-Shoe|
|3" LCD 230K Pixels||Lithium-Ion Battery|
|Secure Digital High Capacity|
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