Canon Optura 60

The Canon Optura 60 is similar to the discontinued Optura 40 (   ; November 2004 ), our previous Editor’s Choice. It offers some enhancements, such as optical image stabilization, but low light performance is somewhat disappointing.

The Optura 60 feels comfortably solid in your hand, with most controls logically arranged within easy reach. The exceptions are the Set dial and Function buttons used to navigate menus, which are placed in front of the LCD, making them a bit awkward to manipulate. A mode dial, similar to those found on still cameras, provides quick access to modes without having to search menus. You can brighten the 2.5-inch LCD display by turning on an LCD backlight, which improves visibility on sunny days.

The 14x optical zoom lens adjusts smoothly and quietly (an optional tele-converter and wide-converter are also available), and the optical image stabilization feature does an excellent job of smoothing the jitters without degrading your image (it works when you’re taking still shots, too). The 16:9 widescreen mode records to the full width of the sensor, rather than compressing the image, for optimal image quality. You can switch to manual focus at the touch of a button (unless you’re shooting in Auto mode), and the lens-mounted focus ring eases fine-tuning.

You have plenty of creative control with the Optura 60. The mode dial allows you to quickly switch between Auto and Program, Shutter Priority, and Aperture Priority modes, as well as six scene modes (including Portrait, Landscape, Sports, and Night modes) and six special scene modes (including Foliage and Fireworks).

Some camera noise is inevitable with a built-in microphone, and I heard a moderate amount of distracting motor noise. The hot-shoe can accommodate a light or microphone, and microphone and headphone jacks let you record audio away from the camera (you can also set audio levels manually). You can use the wireless controller with a tripod to further minimize shake and noise, and it’s handy for controlling the camera during playback.

The Optura 60’s video quality is excellent for shooting outside on a sunny afternoon, with colors that are accurate and vibrant, but indoors the video appeared slightly darker than it should be. And while the Night modes do a respectable job of capturing images in the dark while preserving some color, with a built-in mini video light providing illumination for shooting in extreme low-light situations, boosting CCD sensitivity and lowering the shutter speed results in ghostly, noisy video.

The Optura 60 does a good job of taking still pictures, with very good color and moderate noise, though at only 2.2 megapixels, it won’t replace a good digital camera. It has full manual controls, built-in flash, and a continuous shooting mode that can take three frames per second. It can also capture video to the card, but only at 320 by 240 and 15 frames per second.

Macworld’s Buying Advice

The Optura 60 shoots excellent video (provided you have enough light), snaps decent still images, and offers a full range of creative flexibility, making it a solid choice.

Jury Tests

Video Tests
Color Quality—Accuracy Excellent
Clarity—Detail, Noise Good
Stabilization Excellent
Digital Stills
Color Quality—Accuracy Excellent
Clarity—Detail, Noise Good

Scale = Excellent, Very Good, Good, Flawed, Unacceptable

Specifications

Optical/Digital Zoom 14x/280x
LCD Screen Size 2.5 inches
Still Image Resolution 2.2
Weight 1.2 lb.
Dimensions (wxhxd) 2.8 x 3.2 x 5.2

[ Robert Ellis is a photography enthusiast with a growing collection of digital cameras. He is a frequent contributor to Macworld and maintains the blog Futurosity.]

Canon Optura 60

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