Nikon Digital SLRs > D60 Guide
Published: October 2008

Nikon D60 Guide

The D60 is the third generation of Nikon's extremely popular entry-level series of cameras (preceded by the D40 and the D40x).

These entry-level cameras distinguish themselves from Nikon's more full-featured units by their ease-of-use, diminutive sizes and relatively low impact on your pocketbook.

The D40, D40x and D60 are all designed to appeal to a certain type of photographer: the beginning digital SLR user.

Nikon's advertising campaigns for these cameras have supported this assumption: two hundred D40s were handed out in a small U.S. town and the D60 is so straightforward that even Ashton Kutcher can figure it out.

But don't let the advertising mislead you - these cameras still have enough features to please even more advanced photographers, and they do offer room for growth as your photographic skill matures.

Having said that, be aware that there is one major limitation to buying a camera like the Nikon D60: autofocus won't work with many older Nikon and third party lenses.

This is because the D60 is so small that it doesn't have a lens focusing motor built in.

nikon d60

Since no focusing motor is built into the camera, the only lenses that will autofocus with the D60 are ones that have their own focusing motors. If you're looking at Nikon lenses, the ones with focusing motors are labeled AF-S or AF-I.

This is clearly a larger issue for anyone with a significant existing collection of older Nikon lenses.

If you're just starting out in the world of digital SLR photography — an assumption that Nikon is making about this type of camera — then you just have to make sure that any new lens you purchase has its own focusing motor.

Quick Overview

  • 10.2 megapixels
  • Compatible with Nikon AF-S and AF-I lenses
  • 3 photos per second
  • ISO settings from 100 to 3200
  • Maximum shutter speed of 1/4000th of a second
  • 1.6 times crop factor
  • Stores photos on SD memory cards
  • 3-point autofocus system
  • Dust control system
  • 2.5 inch LCD
  • Enhanced dynamic range

Key Feature

The key feature on the Nikon D60 is the same one that's available on the D40 and D40x: the LCD screen displays camera information as both graphics and numbers.

The LCD also displays a blinking help icon when it feels you should change the camera settings to improve your image.

All of this is designed to make cryptic digital SLR terms like aperture, ISO, white balance and exposure compensation more accessible to the beginning SLR photographer.


Let's say that you'd like to learn more about the aperture setting (the width of the opening in the lens).

You set the camera to a mode that allows you to change aperture and start fiddling with the dials. On any other digital SLR, you'd just see a number change from f3.5 to f5 to f8 to f11.

But if you're just learning about aperture, these numbers can be pretty meaningless.

No so with the D60: as you change the aperture setting the graphical display shows you the lens aperture opening wider or narrowing down. If you keep an eye on the numbers too, you'll soon figure out that small aperture numbers represent a wide open lens while large aperture numbers indicate a narrow opening.

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Who The Nikon D60 is For

The Nikon D60 is a good digital SLR for you if one or more of the following apply:

  • You're purchasing your first digital SLR ever
  • You want a camera that's easy to operate and works well in AUTO mode
  • You want an SLR that's small and light and easy to carry
  • You want a camera to take travel and family photos
  • You don't want to spend a huge amount of money on a starter SLR

Here's how I like to think of the D60 in a nutshell: it's an advanced point-and-shoot camera that does not have the irritating delay that plagues so many compact digital cameras.


The reason I call it an advanced point-and-shoot is because it doesn't have all the bells, whistles and customized features of some other SLR cameras. For some, this is a limitation.

For beginning SLR photographers, it's fantastic, because it means you can immediately go out and use the camera to take photos without having to take a complete course in SLR photography.

If you do decide to take some lessons at some point in the future, then the D60 provides you with full manual control.

The nice part is that the manual controls are presented in a context that make them easier for beginners to grasp - a good thing when you're trying to get a handle on all those detailed camera settings.

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In Comparison

Nikon D60 vs. D40 vs. D90

The D60 is a follow-up to both the D40 (6.1 megapixel) and the D40x (10 megapixel) — this makes the D60 part of Nikon's line of entry-level digital SLR cameras.

If you want a step up from the D60, then the two mid-level cameras to consider are the D80 and the new D90.

Here's how the D60 stacks up against the D40 and D90:

Release DateMarch 2008December 2006September 2008
Max FPS334.5
AF Points3311
ISO100 - 3200200 - 3200100 - 6400
Max Shutter Speed1/40001/40001/4000
LCD Size2.5 in.2.5 in.3.0 in.
Dust Control 
Image StabilizationWith Lens With Lens
Live View  
Enhanced Dynamic Range 
Movie Mode  
Weight17oz (482g)17oz (482g)21oz (595g)

Yes, the D90 really is a much more advanced SLR but I include it here so that you can see what some of the differences are.


For example, if you'd really like to capture video along with your still images, then the D90 will be a better choice than the D60 (and - in fact - the only choice at the time of writing this Nikon D60 guide).

If you're content to stick it out with Nikon's entry-level SLRs and really don't fancy paying for a lot of features that you'll honestly never leverage, then just compare the D60 and the D40.

Here are some more details to help you do just that:

The D60 has more megapixels than the D40 The higher megapixel count is most important for those who want to make prints larger than 8x10 inches. If you just want to share images online or print at 4x6, then 6 megapixels will do.
The D60 has a dust control system This is a good thing - once dust contaminates a digital sensor (which can happen any time you change the lens) it can be a real pain to get off and shows up in all your photos as little black smudges. The dust control system repels dust from the sensor to keep it clean.
The D60 comes packaged with an image-stabilized kit lens This is also a good thing if you take a lot of photos of non-moving subjects in dim light without flash. Image stabilization ensures that photos taken with slow shutter speeds turn out clear, which also allows you to take some creative images without needing a tripod.
The D60 has enhanced dynamic range The dynamic range control on the D60 (called Active D-Lighting) is a subtle effect, but it does help to balance shadow and highlight in images with lots of contrast. Active D-Lighting is most useful for landscape photography where the quality of the light cannot be controlled.

Bottom Line: if you'd like an easy-to-use Nikon SLR that doesn't cost a bundle but includes dust control, image stabilization and enhanced dynamic range, then the D60 is a better choice than the D40.

Nikon D60 vs. Other Manufacturers

The cameras from other manufacturers that compete with the Nikon D60 include the Canon Rebel XS, Olympus E-420, the Pentax K200D and the Sony DSLR-A200.

There are several advantages and disadvantages of these other camera models relative to the Nikon D60:

Rebel XS
The XS is 100% compatible with tons of Canon EF lenses and a host of third party alternatives. The XS doesn't have the same user-friendly LCD display as the D60.
The E-420 has a live view LCD which the Nikon D60 lacks. The E-420 doesn't include any kind of image stabilization.
The K200D has in-body stabilization, is weather sealed and is compatible with every lens ever made by Pentax. The K200D doesn't have the same user-friendly LCD display as the D60.
In-body stabilization works with every compatible Sony lens. Larger and heavier than the D60.

It breaks down like this:

  • If image stabilization is really important to you, then consider either the Pentax K200D or Sony A200 since the stabilization on those cameras works with every compatible lens (on the D60, stabilization is only achieved with special VR lenses)
  • If you want to use your camera where there's a lot of moisture and/or sand, then consider the Pentax K200D with its weather sealed gaskets
  • If you want a camera that is compatible with a HUGE number of lenses (rather than the limited set available for the D60) then pick up a Canon Rebel XS or Pentax K200D.

However, if you're brand new to the world of digital SLR photography and don't really fancy the idea of a camera that's covered with buttons and dials, then read more of this Nikon D60 guide to see how this camera works.

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How It Works

In Use

When I first picked up the D60 with its lens attached and battery in place, I was impressed with its heft and balance.

Even though the D60 is a small-sized digital SLR camera, it still fills out your hand nicely and doesn't feel cramped or uncomfortable.

While light, the camera also feels quite solid and dense, so you don't get the impression that you've just spent hundreds of dollars on a flimsy piece of contoured plastic.

These two properties make the D60 quite easy to carry around at all times for any type of outing: I spent several hours wandering around a street fair with it and did not feel the neck or wrist strain that can come with using a large bulky DSLR.

Granted, a lot of this has to do with the 18-55mm Vibration Reduction kit lens that comes with the camera which is also quite light.

Had I instead been using a lens like the Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G lens, this would effectively negate the versatility of the D60's minimal form.

Controls and Operation

Unlike some other digital SLR cameras, the Nikon D60 is not covered with buttons and dials.

This is a good thing for the beginning digital SLR photographer (you don't feel overwhelmed just by looking at your new camera), but it can make it somewhat challenging to adjust common camera settings like:

  • ISO
  • Autofocus Mode (one-shot, continuous)
  • Drive Mode (one-shot, continuous, timer, remote)
  • White Balance
  • Color Mode (normal, softer, vivid, etc.)

I've italicized somewhat in the sentence above because it's not really all that hard to change these settings using the camera's menu system and LCD.

The challenge comes when you're in the middle of a photo session, snapping photos one after the other and suddenly feel the need to change the ISO setting. During the several seconds it takes to remind yourself how to change it (vs. having a button right there labeled ISO) a great photo opportunity might be lost.

d60 mode dial

On the other hand, if you have utterly no desire to change any of the settings listed above then it's nice that Nikon hasn't cluttered up the camera body with a bunch of extra buttons.

The top of the camera is dominated by the mode dial: this allows you to select pre-set modes like Portrait, Landscape, Action and Macro or - if you're feeling adventurous - manual modes like Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and full Manual.

Once you've got your main mode selected, there are really only four other buttons on the camera that allow you to control the settings:

Fn This small button near the camera's lens lets you quickly switch back and forth between regular shooting mode and timer mode (where the camera fires after a brief delay). If you don't often use the self-timer mode, you can have this button change other camera settings by changing a custom setting in the D60's menus (so that pressing the button lets you change drive mode, image quality and size, ISO or white balance). d60 func button
AE-L/AF-L The auto-exposure lock / autofocus lock button is most helpful when your primary subject isn't dead center in the viewfinder. The issue here is that the camera might expose and focus on the background rather than your primary subject, if your subject is way off to the side of the frame. With auto-exposure/autofocus lock, you can point the D60 straight at your subject, lock in both exposure and autofocus, and then re-compose to you heart's desire without having to worry about the camera changing settings. d60 ae-l button
Active D-Lighting This button allows you to quickly turn Active D-Lighting on and off. You can read more about the effect that Active D-Lighting has on your images later in this Nikon D60 guide. d60 dlighting button
Exposure Compensation / Aperture Control This button serves a dual purpose: when the camera is not in full manual mode, it allows you to adjust the exposure, forcing the camera either to under or over expose (which is sometimes necessary if the camera's autoexposure isn't getting it right). When the camera is in manual mode, pressing this button while rotating the main command dial lets you change the aperture of the lens (rotating the dial without pressing the button changes the shutter speed). d60 exposure compensation button
LCD Display

Many users of the Nikon D60 will probably be content to use the main control dial and the four buttons that I have listed above (if that).

However, there are some who will want greater camera control (and those who grow into it once they're comfortable using the automatic settings).

For you, the Nikon D60 offers up an LCD screen called the Quick Settings Display.

With a press of the button in the back left corner of the camera (which looks like a magnifying glass with a + in it) the LCD shows you a variety of camera settings that you can customize.

Using the directional keypad and the OK button, you can select and then tweak any one of the following:

Image Quality Choose one of five different image quality settings (higher image quality increases the file size of each image, reducing the number of images that can be saved to a memory card):
  1. RAW (unprocessed)
  2. Fine JPG
  3. Normal JPG
  4. Basic JPG
  5. RAW + Basic JPG
Image Size Choose one of three different image sizes (smaller image sizes create smaller files but limit the size that you can print):
  1. Large (megapixels captured: 10 | max print size: 12 x 16)
  2. Medium (megapixels captured: 5.6 | max print size: 8 x 12)
  3. Small (megapixels captured: 2.5 | max print size: 4 x 6)
White Balance This control affects how the D60 captures color under different lighting conditions. Choose a setting that matches the available light to keep colors looking natural.
  1. AUTO
  2. Incandescent (tungsten)
  3. Fluorescent: choose Sodium-vapor, Warm-white, White, Cool-white, Day White, Daylight, Mercury-vapor
  4. Sunlight
  5. Flash
  6. Cloudy
  7. Shade
  8. Manual
ISO A high ISO mans the sensor is absorbing light faster, allowing you to use faster shutter speeds in dim light. A high ISO also generates more image noise. ISO can be set from 100 to 3200.
Drive Mode Select a drive mode that matches the speed of your subject (or fire the camera with a timer or remote trigger).
  1. Single frame
  2. Continuous (3 photos per second)
  3. 10 second timer
  4. 2 second delayed remote
  5. Remote
Autofocus Drive Mode Like drive mode, the autofocus drive mode needs can be either static (for non-moving subjects) or continuous (for moving subjects).
  1. AF-A (Autofocus - Automatic)
  2. AF-S (Autofocus - Single)
  3. AF-C (Autofocus - Continuous)
  4. MF (Manual Focus)
Autofocus Area The autofocus area setting determines which of the 3 focus points the camera uses.
  1. Closest Subject - the camera automatically selects the point that's over the subject closest to the camera
  2. Dynamic Area - you pick a point, but if the subject moves, the camera selects a different point automatically
  3. Single Point - you select a single focus point that the camera uses all the time
Metering Mode Control the area of the viewfinder used to calculate exposure from the entire viewfinder to a single spot in the center.
  1. Matrix - everything you see in the viewfinder is used to determine exposure
  2. Center-weighted - uses the entire viewfinder but weights exposure for any subject in the center of the viewfinder
  3. Spot - camera will only meter a small area around the selected focus point
Active D-Lighting Turn this setting on and off.
Flash Compensation Reduce or increase the amount of light put out by the camera's built-in flash (can only be used in Program, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority and Manual mode).
Exposure Compensation Intentionally over or under expose photos captured by the camera in Program, Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority modes.
Flash Mode The flash mode you can select depends on the shooting mode selected on the main dial.
In the AUTO modes you can choose between:
  1. AUTO
  2. AUTO with red-eye reduction
  3. Flash off
In Program and Aperture Priority modes you can choose between:
  1. Fill flash
  2. Red-eye reduction
  3. Slow sync
  4. Slow-sync with red-eye reduction
  5. Rear-curtain sync
And in Shutter Priority and Manual modes you can choose between:
  1. Fill flash
  2. Red-eye reduction
  3. Rear-curtain sync
For more info about flash terms see the SLR Flash Glossary.

Phew! That's quite a lot of different settings that you can change.

The important thing to remember here is that you rarely need to change every setting between shots.

More often than not, you can assess your subject and available lighting, make the necessary changes to the various camera settings, and then take a whole cluster of photos without adjusting them further.

Example: you want to take photos of moving subjects inside a gymnasium.

  • Set the White Balance to Fluorescent (and further refine by selecting Sodium-vapor lamps which are often used inside gyms)
  • Set the ISO to 800 (this is necessary to get fast shutter speeds with the dim available light)
  • Set the Drive Mode to continuous (holding down the shutter takes photos one after the other)
  • Set the Autofocus Drive Mode to AF-C (Continuous servo autofocus)
  • Turn Active D-Lighting off

Now your camera is set up to take as many photos as you want inside the gym - ensuring that your shutter speed is fast, your autofocus continuously adjusts for the moving subjects and that the colors will appear natural (even with that nice sodium-vapor lighting).

Once you depart the gym, you'll have to change these settings back to their defaults but for the duration of this one photo shoot you should not have to be making constant adjustments in order to get your images to look good.

ISO Performance

One thing's for sure - in the high ISO range, Nikon digital SLRs rarely disappoint.

Leveraging the ISO feature is one of the easiest ways to take photos in dim light without having to use a flash.

For this Nikon D60 guide, I spent a fair amount of time indoors taking pictures of my kids as they played in the house.

Yes, I could have used the flash for every single one of these pictures, but I really liked the natural light coming through the living room windows and wanted to preserve that in the photos.

At ISO 100 (the default setting) my shutter speed was a slow 1/30th of a second, not nearly fast enough to prevent my fast-moving kids from turning out blurry.


By switching to ISO 800 (allowing the sensor to absorb light faster) I was able to eke out a shutter speed of 1/125th of a second - still not ideal, but resulting in a much higher percentage of clear shots.

With the increase in ISO also comes an increase in image noise: digital speckling of the image.

The good news for anyone considering the Nikon D60 is that - like other Nikons - it does a great job of suppressing image noise at high ISO settings.

At ISO 800, you really have to inspect the image closely on a monitor to see the noise (you may even have to view the image at full size).

By the time you get to ISO 1600 and 3200 noise is readily apparent, but unless you really plan on taking a lot of photos in near dark without flash this shouldn't be a huge problem.

Exposure / Dynamic Range

The Nikon D60 includes a feature called Active D-Lighting.

Despite the rather cryptic-sounding name, all this feature really does is control the balance between highlights and shadows in images with very high contrast.

Imagine that you're taking a photo of a friend on a sunny day at the park. Your friend is standing in partial shade provided by some trees.

Without Active D-Lighting applied to this image, either the sunlit parts of the image will turn out too bright, or the shaded parts will turn out too dark.

With Active D-Lighting turned on, the camera tries to keep the highlights in check while at the same time brightening only the shadows to create an image with a more balanced look.

In the image below, pay special attention to the sky and to the part of the wall that's in shadow. You should see the sky get slightly darker, and you'll also be able to make out more details in that dark wall.

You should also be able to tell (upon close inspection) that the sunlit wall becomes a shade darker with D-Lighting on, resulting in more visible detail.

Three important points need to be made about this setting:

  1. It won't capture scenes exactly the same way that your eyes perceive them
  2. The effect is very subtle
  3. With it turned on, image review slows down considerably

This last one is important if you're in the habit (as most of us are now that digital cameras are so common) of checking the image that you just captured on the LCD.

When Active D-Lighting is turned OFF, the image that you just captured displays immediately on the LCD so that you can check the composition. But with Active D-Lighting turned ON, photos take several seconds before they display on the LCD for review.

In short, this is a nice feature to activate under very bright sunny conditions where there's a lot of contrast, but otherwise you can leave it turned off so that you can quickly review photos right after you take them.

Image Quality and Size

The Nikon D60 captures images in a variety of different sizes and with more or less quality.

The size and quality setting that you choose depend a lot on the final destination of your photos (and how much time you want to spend in front of your computer).

At one end of the spectrum are those people who want to make extremely high-quality large-scale prints of their digital images and at the other those who just want to share quick snapshots online or via e-mail.

Very large high quality printsRAWLarge
High quality images to share via slideshowJPG FineLarge
Good quality images to print at 4x6JPG NormalMedium
Small images to share quickly via e-mailJPG BasicSmall

Let's delve into this a bit deeper: a photo taken with the D60 in the RAW format is a "pure" capture. The photo you wind up with is a direct capture from the camera's sensor.

While it offers a great deal of flexibility when it comes to fine-tuning the look of your image (and also allows you to print at enormous sizes) each and every RAW file you take must go through some type of processing before it can be shared with others.


A D60 JPG image

The disconnect here is that JPG is the standard file format for uploading images to online printers and for sharing your photos in online galleries.

If your intent is to upload your photos or share them via e-mail then you must convert each and every RAW file into a JPG before you can do so.

During the conversion process, you have the opportunity to fine-tune ANY part of the image you're not happy with: color, contrast, clarity, exposure, etc.

But this fine tuning takes time - and a lot of it.

For those who want a more expedient route from captured image to a photo that's easy to share with friends, JPG will be the quality setting of choice.

When you choose the JPG format, there are three different levels of compression you can choose: the more compression, the greater the loss of image quality but the smaller the overall file size.

When you capture images with smaller file sizes, you can cram more of them onto a standard capacity memory card and they are easier to upload to galleries and e-mail to friends.

The number of shots in the table below assumes that you are using a 2GB SD memory card.


Selecting an image quality setting is often a balance between what you'd ultimately like to do with the photos and just how much storage capacity you have.

If you've got a couple of 4GB SD memory cards sitting around, then storage clearly won't be an issue, and you can take photos at maximum quality (RAW or JPG Large Fine).

However, if you're still using the same 1GB SD card that you've been using in your compact digital for years, then you can get more mileage out of it by setting the quality to JPG Med Normal (which will still allow you to make perfectly nice 8x10 prints if you so desire).


One feature of the camera that I wanted to investigate for this Nikon D60 guide is how well the camera captures color.

Past experience using a variety of older Nikon digital SLRs (the D40, D50, D70s and D80) has given me the impression that Nikon cameras excel at rendering colors that are rich and vibrant.


The Nikon D60 further strengthens this assumption.

For all of the digital SLR guides on this web site, I spend a great deal of time photographing subjects that have saturated primary colors.

This helps me get a sense of how the camera captures color "out of the box" and what types of refinements can be made to further enhance color as the need arises.

With no fiddling at all, the images produced by the Nikon D60 were sharp and bright.

Yellows, greens and blues are especially vivid — good news for landscape enthusiasts who really want their images to leap off the computer monitor.

In addition to its default mode, the D60 also offers several other color settings you can choose from (all under the "Optimize Image" label):

NormalA neutral color balance for everyday shots
SofterLess sharpness is often more flattering for portrait subjects
VividCreates images with saturated primary colors
More VividCreates images with a lot of sharpness, contrast and color saturation
PortraitOptimizes the color of skin tones

The D60 offers slightly less color customization than some of its competitors.

On many other digital SLR cameras, you further refine how some of the pre-set modes render color. For example, using the "Vivid" mode as a starting point, you can fine-tune image sharpness either by increasing or decreasing the level.

While you can't make any adjustments to the pre-set modes on the D60, it does provide one "Custom" color mode, which is essentially the same thing.

In Custom mode, you have the ability to select how sharp the image appears, how saturated the colors are, and whether the images are high or low contrast.

Important Note: if you ultimately decide to capture images as RAW files rather than JPG (see "Image Quality" above) then none of these color settings are applied. When you capture a RAW file, no color enhancement is made to the file - any refinement is for you to make later on using image editing software.

Black and White (Monochrome)

There are three different ways you can create black and white images with the Nikon D60:

  1. Use the Monochrome Optimize Image setting
  2. Convert color images to monochrome using the Retouch feature (see below)
  3. Capture images as RAW files, and convert to monochrome with software

The first approach is by far the easiest of the three: it allows you to capture photos in black and white at the moment of exposure without no additional image editing required.

However, there are two drawbacks to this approach:

  1. You don't have a lot of control over how the black and white image appears (using the other two methods you can apply a variety of filters as you convert from color to black and white)
  2. Since the image is saved without any color information, there's no way to convert it into a color image later on

The good news is that the default black and white settings are quite good, resulting in images with nice tonal range.

I snapped a fair number of black and white photos for this Nikon D60 guide, and didn't get the impression that they needed any further adjustment.

The lack of a huge number of filters and toning options is also in-keeping with Nikon's approach of keeping the D60 simple, so that it's accessible to the beginning SLR photographer.

In-Camera Photo Editing

While I didn't use this feature of the Nikon D60 very much for this guide - I prefer to edit my images on the computer - it's definitely worth mentioning.

Any photo that you've taken with the Nikon D60 that is still stored on the memory card can be edited in the camera (no computer required) using Nikon's "Retouch" features.

Quick retouchAutomatically increases contrast and saturation for images that look flat or dull
D-LightingBrings out detail in the shadows (similar to what Active D-Lighting does when you take a photo)
Red-eye correctionRemoves glowing red eyes from portrait subjects
TrimLets you crop photos to remove blank space around your primary subject
MonochromeConverts any color image into black and white, sepia, or cyanotype (blue tinted monochrome)
Filter effectsAllows you to manipulate the colors in your images to enhance reds, greens and blues
Small pictureCreate reduced-size versions of your images at 640 x 480, 320 x 240 or 160 x 120 (great for e-mail)
Image overlayAllows you to combine two RAW files where the end result is a composite of the two original images
RAW ProcessingConverts RAW files into JPG files (allowing you to edit and enhance the RAW image before it is saved)
Stop-motion movieUse a sequence of files (which have to be taken with the D60) to create short animated movies of still images

One of the main reasons why I don't advocate retouching your images this way is because sometimes it's hard to see the results of your editing efforts on the small LCD screen (vs. a nice 17 or 19 inch computer monitor).

Digital SLR LCD screens also aren't 100% accurate when it comes to the display of colors: photos that appear to have bad colors on the LCD screen might look just fine when you view on a monitor.

Finally, fairly inexpensive editing programs like Adobe Elements allow you to make all of the edits I've listed above, plus many more.

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The lens that I used for this Nikon D60 guide is the same one that is included in the typical D60 package: an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S Vibration Reduction zoom.

The Vibration Reduction (VR) feature of the lens is Nikon's version of image stabilization.

If you're not aware of the benefit of stabilization, here it is: an image stabilized lens helps you take clear photos of non-moving subjects at slow shutter speeds when you're holding the camera in your hands.

If that sounds overly specific, it's because image stabilization won't have an impact on EVERY photo that you take.

The biggest variable is your subject: with a static subject, stabilization will definitely help to make your photo look clear. But if your subject is moving all over, ONLY a fast shutter speed will ensure a clear image - in this case, stabilization won't help a bit.

Stabilization is also only effective when the camera is in your hands - it works to counteract the slight motion of the camera when it's not on a solid base of support.

The minute you clamp your D60 to a tripod or place it on a solid surface, this "natural" stabilization takes precedence.

With that information out of the way, the VR included in the kit lens does have its uses, and can be leveraged in any one of the following situations:

  • You're taking photos of a dimly lit building from the inside (example: cathedral)
  • You're capturing street images at night
  • You're taking closeup pictures of plants and flowers on an overcast day
  • You want to take some dramatic falling water shots where the water is blurred and the scenery is clear

In all of these cases, the VR in the lens will allow you to use much slower shutter speeds (while holding the camera in your hands) than would otherwise be possible.

An old rule of thumb about preventing image blur in your photos is that you should use a shutter speed that is faster than 1/[focal length of lens]:

  • With a 50mm lens, minimum shutter speed is 1/60th of a second
  • With a 100mm lens, minimum shutter speed is 1/125th of a second
  • With a 200mm lens, minimum shutter speed is 1/250th of a second

The VR built into the D60's kit lens takes this old rule and tosses it out the window.

For example, the rule states indicates that at 18mm (the wide angle setting of the lens) any shutter speed slower than 1/20th of a second will result in an image that's not 100% sharp.

But with the Nikon D60 kit lens, I was able to use shutter speeds as slow as 1/8th of a second with no noticeable loss of image sharpness.

Zoom Range

The range of the D60 kit lens from 18mm (wide angle) to 55mm (telephoto) is quite common for digital SLR kit lenses (equivalent to a 3x zoom on a compact digital camera).

It works well for a variety of common photographic subjects like landscapes and portraits, but if you're into closeups and wildlife then you're going to need something else.

Here are examples of the field of view at the wide angle and telephoto settings::

nikon-d60-496.JPG nikon-d60-497.JPG

Those seeking more zoom range than the kit lens can offer should consider the exceptional Nikon 18-200mm AF-S VR lens.

No Included Hood

One problem with the D60 kit lens is that there is no included lens hood - a fairly cheap accessory that prevents lens flares.

Lens flares are bright circular spots that can appear when you point your camera in the direction of the sun.

While not essential, a lens hood is a good thing to have if you take a lot of photos in bright sunlight.

Nikon does make a lens hood for this particular lens (called the HB-45), but it's going to cost you extra to get it.

Since many other manufacturers now make it common practice to include lens hoods with their kit lenses, it's unfortunate that Nikon opted to leave it out.

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The Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
  • Compact and light
  • Easy to use in AUTO mode
  • Not cluttered with a lot of buttons
  • Clear, graphic LCD display
  • Kit lens has image stabilization
  • No live view mode
  • Autofocus only works with AF-S and AF-I lenses
  • No hood included with lens

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Overall, the Nikon D60 is a real joy to use.

Easy to control and not cluttered with features, it produces bright, sharp, colorful images that should please the everyday snapshot photographer.

A dust control and an image-stabilized kit lens keeps the D60 competitive within the marketplace and are nice improvements over the D40 and D40x.

The Active D-Lighting feature - while useful - enhances high-contrast images in a very subtle way, which may not be noticeable all the time. Furthermore, it produces a noticeable delay between the time of exposure and when the image displays on the LCD for review.

The best upgrade this camera offers over the D40 and D40x is its image-stabilized lens, which provides you with a lot more creative options and frees you from having to lug around a tripod wherever you go.

Speaking of lugging, that's one thing you DON'T have to do with the D60 — its diminutive size and light weight make this camera easy to carry around at all times.

I would definitely recommend this camera for beginning SLR photographers and anyone who doesn't want to read a 200 page manual just to figure out how to take a few shots.

The helpful LCD display (showing camera settings as both numbers and graphics) is a great learning tool for anyone who wants to understand more about digital SLR settings like aperture, shutter speed, ISO, white balance and more.

Of course, if you have no desire to learn such things, just set the camera to full AUTO mode and fire away - you should be quite happy with the results that you get from the Nikon D60.

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Nikon D60 Photo Samples

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Price Analysis

There are two main Nikon D60 packages that you can get your hands on:

Nikon D60 with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens$ 600
Amazon| Adorama
Nikon D60 with 18-55mm VR and 55-200mm VR lenses$ 850
Amazon| Adorama

As if this weren't enough, there are also plenty of alternate packages that you can consider: some offer a complete package (two lenses, memory card, extra battery, camera case) while others simply offer up a single lens with a spare EN-EL9 battery and a camera bag.

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As is true with many other digital SLR cameras, buying the camera and lens is just the tip of the iceberg.

There are a wide variety of additional accessories that can be paired with the Nikon D60 that will expand and enhance what you can do with the camera.

Memory Card
transcend 8gb sdhc memory card

The first thing that you're going to need for your Nikon D60 is a decent size memory card, since no memory card comes packaged with the camera (unless you buy a special combination kit that includes one).

The D60 uses SD memory cards, and is compatible with both the regular SD cards as well as the SD High Capacity cards (called SDHC).

For maximum write speed to the memory card, you'll be looking for a Class 6 SDHC card, since these cards have the fastest read/write speed of the available SDHC options.

nikon en-el9 battery

The Nikon D60 uses a rechargeable EN-EL9 lithium ion battery.

While it doesn't look like all that much the first time you see it, this tiny lightweight battery holds a charge for an incredibly long time.

Despite the amount of use I put the Nikon D60 through for this guide, the battery charge never ran out.

Remote Control

If you'd like to be included in your photos (family portrait anyone?) or don't want to touch the camera when the shutter is open for a long time (for night photographs), you can trigger the camera with the optional ML-L3 remote.

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