Choosing and buying a new Canon DSLR or upgrading from a dated model is no easy chore. Both the EOS 550D (Rebel T2i) and the 50D are both great tools. With the introduction of the EOS 60D choosing just got a little bit more confusing. The 60D is a new design and not an update of the 50D. In modernizing the 60D Canon had to leave some good features out for the addition of new ones.

The most obvious change from the 50D to 60D is the newly designed body. It has now become smaller and lighter-by about 100 grams. Many of the buttons have been placed elsewhere on the body or tucked into the menu system to make way for Canon’s very first rear Vari-angle LCD screen-it’s most significant feature. The new 3 inch LCD monitor can rotate and lets you see almost every thinkable shooting angle. There were many situations where I wished this was on the 50D and 7D. Especially in crowded groups when composing a shot meant reaching up and aiming the camera downward. Sometimes luck would give the right shot but mostly just photos with headless people.

50d_backOn the 50D (7D and 5D) the rear multi-controller or thumb joystick was a convenient way to navigate the menu and features selection. It was located perfectly right beside the thumb rest always there when needed. On the 60D the multi-controller is replaced with a multi directional push wheel located inside the dial (Multi Control Dial). If you are used to the EOS line up then this is something new to get used to. It isn’t a big deal but when you use more than one EOS to shoot this will get a bit confusing when least expected.

60d backAnother feature introduced in the 50D but left out of the 60D is auto focus micro adjustment. While not a deal breaker is a great feature to have when the lens needs to have a slight calibration but can’t get to a service center in time. Admittedly, on the 50D, this feature has only been used to micro adjust 2 lenses (on a EF 50mm f/1.4 and a battered EF 70-200 f/4L). But it ultimately made a difference when it mattered. With the omission of the AF micro adjust feature on the 60D Canon has further emphasized the replacement of the 50D in the 7D.

While both 50/60D bodies have practically the same weather seals the latter is made up of modern plastics as opposed to the magnesium alloy on the 50D. Although the 60D is great to hold for bigger hands the new BG-E9 battery grip is still a necessity for optimum comfort. Especially when factoring body weight to lens weight ratio. (I personally like a heavier body to balance out the brick L lenses.) With the 50D a new grip was also introduced but rendered useless with the newly designed 60D. Purchasing a new grip for every new DSLR is just not very economical.

Shooting speed on the 60D has also been reduced to 5.3 frames/second as opposed to 6.3 frames/second on the 50D. Does shooting off 58 continues frames (60D) or 60 continues frames (50D) on jpeg actually make a difference? I highly doubt it. In most situations popping off 10-20 frames will suffice.

2 great add ons to the 60D are the EOS 7D‘s auto focus system and wireless flash controller. Learning to use the fairly new AF system will be a great advantage in many shooting scenarios. Most often the center focus point is still your greatest ally. With the wireless flash system, master control of 1 or more Speedlites are now possible. Get that light source off camera for more artistic photography. This is extremely convenient for a quick portrait or product shot without the hassle of putting together lighting gear.

My biggest gripe with the release of the 60D is the switch-a-roo of the CF card to a SD card file storage system like the EOS 550D (Rebel T2i). With a collection of CF cards from over the years it won’t be easy to add SD cards into the mix. Carrying 1 type of storage system is convenient when a situation demands a quick change. SD cards are smaller and more prone to the drop and disappear sort of situation. Not to mention needing one more pocket or storage pouch for SD cards-just to make them easier to find.

The 60D is altogether a new and different model than just an upgrade of the 50D but the changes somehow points towards an upgrade of the 550D (Rebel T2i) rather than the 50D. Thereby dividing the EOS line, for now, right in the middle. 7D, 5D, 1D for serious hobbyist, semi-pro and pro use while the 1000D, 550D (Rebel T2i) and 60D aimed at the beginner to semi-serious hobbyist.

While the body only 50D (USD930) is still cheaper than the new 60D (USD1,099/PHP57,000) at a small difference, the 60D is a better purchase. Owners of the 550D (Rebel T2i) upgrading to the 60D is definitely a good step up but for the 40D/50D user, naturally, the 7D is the way to go.