Expert Recommendation

Best Digital SLR Camera Overall Under $700
By Fotoguy
Expert (27 Recommendations and 7 Compliments)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
December 4, 2008 Updated: January 21, 2009

The 10.1 megapixel Nikon D60 DSLR with its AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f3.5-5.6G VR kit lens is a more upscale entry level DSLR than its 6 megapixel brother, the D40, and a direct replacement for the D40X. With more resolution, a kit lens with in-the-lens image stabilization; a compact, easy handling body; great build quality and a reasonable price all go to make the D60 a Best-in-Class pick.

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My Best In Class Pick
Nikon D60 (with 18-55mm VR Lens)

The Nikon D60 is a major upgrade from the Nikon D40, which is still in production, but only a minor one to the D40X, which has been discontinued. Externally, there is little difference between the D60 and the D40, the branding being the most apparent. The real improvements are all inside like a 10.1 megapixel CCD sensor, the newer, faster EXPEED image processing concept adapted from Nikon’s more expensive D300 and D3 cameras; a faster frame rate of 3.0 per second (up from 2.5), image sensor cleaning using airflow instead of vibrating the sensor, automatic camera rotation detection, an eye sensor to control the screen display, an electronic “rangefinder” for manual focusing, in-camera RAW processing, and a stop motion movie function to mention a few.

Even with all the new, additional features, Nikon has still maintained the “less is more” philosophy established with the D40 to keep production costs low and quality high by not including features that most users will never use like exposure/white balance auto-bracketing, the Status Display LCD (the main LCD does double duty), and a dozen autofocus recticles cluttering the viewfinder when three are good enough. Standard features carried over from the D40 and D40X include Five Image quality modes, three Color Spaces, four Lens Servo modes, including Manual; Eleven Exposure modes, three Metering modes, eight White Balance presets, six Image Parameter presets with user setable Tone, plus Custom Curve; and, of course, Saturation, Hue, and Sharpness along with the most important feature of all: Nikon’s Active D-Lighting, which automatically controls excessive contrast, and can turn an otherwise useless, impossibly contrasty shot into a usable one.

Added to all this, the D60 comes with an improved kit lens, the AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f3.5-5.6G VR, with built-in image stabilization. Like its non-image stabilized brother that comes in the D40 kit, it has a plastic barrel and a plastic lens mount, too, but feels solid with fast, quiet autofocusing. Optically, it is sharp corner to corner with image distortion of 1% or less across the entire zoom range. Not what one would normally expect to find in an inexpensive kit lens. As with most Nikon camera bodies, the D60 will take most Nikon and Nikon-type lenses made for the past thirty years starting with the AI. There is one caveat; however: Only AF-I and AF-S type lenses with built-in AF motors will autofocus with the D60, since unlike some other AF Nikons neither it nor the D40 and D40X have in-camera drive motors.

So, if you’re looking for a small, compact DSLR that’s sturdy and comfortable to hold, produces sharp, low noise, fully stabilized images; has the features you need and none of the ones you don’t; is a joy to use; holds up to the occasional hard knocks; and won’t break the bank, then the Nikon D60 is the camera for you.

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    Interchangeable lenses
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    Full Auto or Manual control
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    Active D-Lighting
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    Small and Compact (for an SLR)
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    Auto-focuses only with AF-I and AF-S lenses (manual with the others)
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    In-lens Image Stabilization only
Nikon D60 (with 18-55mm VR Lens) is the Best Digital SLR Camera Overall Under $700
Where to buy
Nikon D60 (with 18-55mm VR Lens)
  • Best Price: $949
    Amazon See It »
  • Zoom: 3.0x
  • Wide-Angle Lens: 27mm (30% wider)
  • Resolution: 10.2MP
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (3 reviews)
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Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

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Nikon D60 (with 18-55mm VR Lens)
Customer Rating
Price $949.00
Camera Format SLR
Sensor Type
Sensor Size
23.6 x 15.8 mm
Effective Sensor Resolution
10.2 megapixels
Sensor Raw Format Available Yes
Max Shooting Speed (continuous) 3.0 frames/sec
Max Shooting Speed (burst) 3.0 frames/sec
Image Stabilization Available
Compatible Lenses Nikon F
Min ISO Setting 100
Max ISO Setting 3200
Aperture Priority Mode Available Yes
Shutter Priority Mode Available Yes
Full Manual Exposure Mode Available Yes
Exposure Compensation +/- 5.0 EV
Dioptric Adjustment Available Yes
LCD Screen Size
2.5 in.
LCD Screen Resolution 230000 pixels
Storage Media SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card
Size (W x H x D) 5.0 x 3.7 x 2.5 in.
Weight (with batteries) 18.4 oz

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