The announcement of the Canon 60D has sparked a large interest in the DSLR filmmaking community. Seen as a halfway point between the prosumer T2i, and professional 7D, the Canon 60D is portrayed as the ideal entry-level DSLR camera for independent filmmakers. What about the 60D is different than its predecessors? The Canon 60D has nearly identical image and video quality, with added features not yet seen on the T2i and 7D.

Which camera, between the 60D, T2i, and 7D, has the best image quality?

To begin this comprehensive comparison, we must examine the most vital aspect of the camera; the quality of the images it takes. Filmmakers may not realize this, but the quality of a camera's still images directly correlates to the quality of the videos it takes.

All three cameras take photos at a maximum resolution of 18 megapixels. Most recent high-end SLRs manufactured by Canon are equipped with an 18 megapixel sensor (the notable exception being the Canon 5D Mark II). It is evident that the image resolution is not going to be a deciding factor in your purchase, seeing as all three cameras are equal in megapixel count.

All three cameras share another quality among their sensors; they are not full-frame sensors. Each imagining sensor in the three cameras is APS-C sized, meaning that the images taken are enlarged and cropped by 1.6x. For example, if using a 50mm lens on one of these cameras, the actual resulting image would be the full-frame equivalent of 80mm. This quality can be seen as both good and bad; users would not need to buy substantially-long focal length lenses to achieve quality telephoto images, but at the same time would need to buy extremely wide lenses to achieve a standard field of view.

So far, it is apparent that there is no clear winner among these three cameras. Perhaps it is best to move on to a different category, in which the cameras differ from one another.

Which camera, between the 60D, T2i, and 7D, has the best audio quality?

Right off the bat, I am ready to deliver unfortunate news to you; absolutely no camera records perfect audio with its built-in microphone. Nothing differs much between the three cameras in this respect. I cannot stress enough that you will need to set aside funds for an external microphone (that will come into play later within this article).

It is the way the cameras process the audio where they are finally set apart. Both the Canon T2i and the Canon 7D automatically monitor and level their audio input, regardless of source (either internal or external). No matter how much money you invest in a top-of-the-line microphone, the cameras' lack of manual audio controls can very well ruin an entire shoot. The newest of the three cameras, the Canon 60D, is set apart from its predecessors, having the manual audio controls that independent filmmakers yearn for.

Which camera, between the 60D, T2i, and 7D, is most ergonomic?

By now, you probably have a pretty good idea which camera you're leaning towards. You are, of course, not yet taking into consideration the ease of using the cameras, which ranges widely due to their different target users.

The build quality of the three cameras ranges from so-so to extremely durable. The Canon T2i, on the low end of this spectrum, is constructed of a mainly plastic body, and is not weather-sealed (weather-sealing being a feature strongly recommended for serious nature photographers, or people working in extreme settings). The 7D, on the opposite end of the build quality spectrum, consists of a durable, weather-sealed aluminum body. Falling right between the two cameras is the 60D, which borrows some of the lesser qualities of the T2i, and the important weather-sealing from the 7D.

Another factor to consider in your camera purchase is the camera's weight. Each of these cameras' weights directly reflects their previously-explained build qualities. The T2i is the lightest, at 18.7 ounces. The 60D falls directly in the middle again, weighing in at 23.8 ounces. The 7D weighs in at 28.9 ounces. There is a clear 10.2 ounce difference between the T2i and the 7D; for casual photographers, a lighter weight is almost always better.

Which camera, between the 60D, T2i, and 7D, is the best value?

To be able to come to a definite conclusion on a camera to purchase is a daunting task, as each increment in price reflects added features that may or may not be vital to your work.

The T2i is the cheapest of the three cameras, currently being listed at $899, including a handy 18-55mm kit lens (a 28-88mm full-frame equivalent). Up until the announcement of the 60D, the T2i was widely publicized as to being the absolute best value for DSLR filmmakers, due to its identical video capabilities compared to the 7D. With the 60D now blurring the once enormous gap in pricing, the T2i's value is slightly harder to justify. The T2i's lack of manual audio controls will require you to purchase an external source, such as the Zoom H4n, to get the same quality audio as the 60D. All in all, if you're looking to purchase a long list of accessories for your camera, the T2i will help you relieve the total cost of that shopping list, while still providing features nearly identical to the other two cameras.

The 60D, being the newest camera to the market, can be justified as relatively overpriced (the other two models, having aged on the market, will have experienced substantial price cuts by the time you are ready to purchase). The 60D rings up at a suggested retail price of $1,099, for the camera's body only (no kit lens this time). The 60D's manual audio controls contribute to its higher price. Of course, the cost of a microphone and external recorder equates to the price difference between the T2i and the 60D. If you have uses for an external recording device other than in conjunction with your camera, then it would be a better investment to purchase the T2i than the 60D.

The 7D, now becoming an outdated and overpriced piece of equipment, cannot be justified in its cost for filmmakers. Both of the lower end cameras have video capability equivalent to the 7D. The only noticeable benefits that the 7D has over the other two cameras is its rugged build quality, and fast burst mode (8 frames per second). The 7D has no manual audio controls, just like the T2i, requiring the expense of an external source. After adding on the accessories you will need for professional use of the 7D, you will notice that its price is not as rational as the lower end models. Only serious photographers needing the few benefits the 7D has should consider its purchase.

I wish you the best of luck in your camera shopping, and hope that you have found this article useful in your decision making. If you are a filmmaker looking for more in-depth camera comparisons, here are two others that I would strongly recommend reading:

Canon T2i vs Canon 7D

Canon HV30 vs Canon T2i