The ink on Nikon's D3100 announcement has hardly dried, and here we are with some stiff competition. It's not really news anymore that a DSLR shoots full HD (1080p), and all three of these cameras qualify in that category. The new Canon 60D brings with it manual audio, and Canon's flexible video recording options of 1080p20/25/24 and 720p60/50. Meanwhile the Sony A55 and A33 claim some interesting new "phase detection" autofocus technology thanks to a translucent mirror. From most expensive to cheapest, the Canon 60D will be $1,100 (body only), and the Sony A55 and A33 will be $750 and $650, respectively. All three cameras sport APS-C sensors. However, while the Canon looks like a winner, I think the Sonys will fail filmmakers for one main reason:
Lack of 24p. As I've noted in the past, Sony seems dead-set on reserving 24p for their Pro line, and while the A55 does offer 25p (which is easy enough to convert into 24p, though it's wrapped in an interlaced file), it's too competitive of a marketplace for one manufacturer to arbitrarily exclude such a feature. The A55 and A33 also shoot 1440x1080 and then upscale to 1920x1080, which I'd be okay with -- provided there is no ugly line-skipping. For more on the A55's movie mode, see this review, which includes more info on format and datarate (as you can guess, it's low).
Of course, others might find that the Sonys scratch their itch, so there's really only one way to find out how these cameras do in the real world: shoot with every camera. I don't have the cash to buy all these cameras, but thanks to No Film School partner B&H Photo, I'll be testing most if not all of these cameras soon. In fact, anyone in New York City want to help me test out the 60D, Nikon D3100, and other new DSLRs? Let me know in the comments!
So, let's move onto the Canon. Don't they already have enough DSLRs in their lineup? Won't the 60D just confuse consumers? I know I was scratching my head, so here's DPreview with the underlying logic:
The 50D (and by extension the X0D range) was starting to look somewhat redundant: expensive (and in some ways outdated) compared to the rebel T2i (EOS 550D), underpowered compared to the EOS 7D. It seemed obvious that Canon needed something to balance out the EOS range to fill the big gap between the Rebel and the 7D. And so we have this, the EOS 60D. With the 60D Canon has unashamedly moved the X0D range out of the 'semi pro' bracket and instead focused on the enthusiast photographer looking to upgrade from their Rebel. As a result, it's not the obvious continuation of the 30D - 40D - 50D pattern that its naming might suggest. Rather than being a direct upgrade replacement for the 50D, it's perhaps better understood as a 'Super Rebel.'
Here's a video of the Canon 60D in action:
It's pretty hard to tell anything from that, so here are some actual sample movies. As I said, I'm going to be getting my hands on the 60D, so I'll have more on the new Canon soon. One feature that will be great for filmmakers to have, however? As seen in the photos, articulating LCD screens, which should make high and low shots much easier if you don't have a field monitor. The Canon 60D and Sony A33 are due in September, and the A55 in October.