Photography & Video

The PeC Review: The Nikon D60 Camera is a Good Value

The Nikon D60 is a full-feature DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera that will capture great product pictures for any ecommerce site.

Three and a half stars for the D60

The D60 has a very good graphical user interface that makes this precision optical instrument easy to understand and use. For example, when you adjust the camera’s aperture (the diameter of the camera’s opening usually expressed in F-numbers) the display shows an aperture graphic getting smaller or larger accordingly, which is a great way to show new photographers what is changing. But, like the Nikon D40x before it, the D60 lacks an auto focus motor, instead requiring powered auto focus lenses for what is now a standard feature on entry-level DSLRs.

Because the Nikon D60 is easy to use (and takes great photos), I am giving this inexpensive camera three and a half out of a possible five stars in this The PeC Review.

The DSLR Advantage

The real advantage with a DSLR is in picture composition. For example, imagine that we have a gourmet food store online. Recently, we created a new relationship with an artisan cheese maker, and we now have several new varieties of cheese to post on our ecommerce shop. In addition to adding the cheese to inventory, creating product pages (depending on how our shopping cart works), and updating category pages, we’ll need some good product images.

We place the cheese up in a light box, use diffused light to get soft shadows—if we have shadows at all—and gaze through the viewfinder ready to take our product pictures. In the case of a DSLR, we see exactly what the camera’s image sensor sees, not just the “preview” that most point-and-shoot cameras display, so we can really compose the image.

In a DSLR light enters the lens and is reflected by a series of mirrors (and a prism) up to the viewfinder, so that a photographer sees exactly what the camera sees. When the DSLR is triggered, the mirror slips out of the way, letting the light travel to the image sensor and momentarily blacking out the viewfinder. Essentially, a DSLR allows you to see exactly what your photo is going to look like right in the viewfinder. This is a distinct advantage for the D60 compared to point-and-shoot cameras.

Simplifying A Complex Instrument

The D60 makes using an otherwise complex device relatively simple, and offers in-camera imaging processing that is similar to what you can do in a software program like Adobe Photoshop.

For example, once you take your product photo with the D60 you can do lighting correction, trim the image down, balance the color, or even overlay copyright information without having extra software or even having to upload the image to your computer. The D60 also has several automatic processing steps that can adjust color and contrast or sharpen your photo with just one click.

Charge Coupled Device Versus CMOS Image Sensor

Digital image sensors (the film, if you will, in digital cameras) are available in two basic technologies, charge coupled devices (CCD) or complementary metal oxide semiconductors (CMOS). Both capture light energy and convert it into the picture you see on a screen or make a print of a photo. And both have their particular strengths and weakness. But, when all other things are equal, CCDs will generally take a slightly better picture than CMOS image sensors. And this is true for the D60. By employing CCD technology, it will take a slightly better image than similarly priced cameras.

Short Battery Life

Unfortunately, one of the trade-offs that come with using a CCD has to do with power consumption. The D60 will take about 500 images before depleting the camera battery. Other similar DSLRs that use CMOS image sensors will take about 5000 images before draining the battery.

Absent Auto Focus

Technically the D60 “has” auto focus, but by “has” Nikon really means it supports auto focus since the electric motor that adjusts the lens on most DSLRs is absent. Instead, you must purchase lenses with their own auto focus motors. While I am not exactly sure why Nikon pushed the motor out to the lens, I suspect it was to lower the cost of camera body (CCDs are also more expensive than CMOS image sensors). Otherwise the D60 might not be price competitive with other 10-megapixel, entry-level DSLRs.

Summing Up

When it comes to capturing great looking product photos, the Nikon D60 is more than capable. It costs less than $600, including a lens. Its 10.2 megapixel resolution is a lot more than you’ll need, and the CCD and simplified user interface make it a solid choice. But I wish Nikon hadn’t offloaded the auto focus (no more buying good used lenses on eBay). All in all the D60 gets three and a half stars in this The PeC Review.

Armando Roggio
Armando Roggio
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