Canon EOS 60D Gordon Laing, October 2010
 

Canon EOS 60D results : Real-life resolution JPEG / RAW / High ISO Noise JPEG

Canon EOS 60D vs Canon EOS 50D High ISO Noise (JPEGs using default settings)

 
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To compare noise levels under real-life conditions we shot this scene with the Canon EOS 60D and EOS 50D within a few moments of each other using their best-quality JPEG settings and at each of their ISO settings.

Both cameras were fitted with the same Canon EF 24-105mm f4L IS lens, set to 24mm f8 and focused on the target area using Live View at 10x.


The image above was taken with the Canon EOS 60D at 100 ISO with an exposure of 0.6 seconds and with the lens set to 24mm f8; the original Large Fine JPEG measured 5.41MB. The crops below are taken from the area marked with a red square and presented here at 100%; the 60D crops show a smaller area because of its higher resolution. High ISO Noise reduction was set to the default Standard on both cameras, but the Auto Lighting Optimizer was disabled on each camera as it can artificially introduce noise.

You don't need to be a pixel-peeper to spot a major difference between the Canon EOS 60D and 50D images below: the crops from the former are much sharper, leaving the earlier model looking quite soft in comparison. Indeed the 50D images look almost as if they're out of focus or taken with a different lens.

We can however assure you both cameras used exactly the same lens with the same aperture setting and both were focused and confirmed using magnified assistance in Live View. A brief glance may then have you concluding that the EOS 60D delivers superior quality, but what you're seeing here is a difference in image processing using the default settings.

The EOS 60D, like the EOS 550D / T2i and EOS 7D before it, employs quite punchy image processing by default on its in-camera JPEGs. A reasonable degree of sharpening and contrast is applied by default, delivering consumer-friendly JPEGs which need little extra processing. In contrast, the EOS 50D comes from an older school of thinking for DSLRs where the image processing was fairly restrained. As such the in-camera JPEGs using the default settings on the EOS 50D can look relatively soft compared to more recent models.

While it's useful to compare the output from both cameras using their default settings – especially as that's how a mid-range model like the EOS 60D will most commonly be used – it's also important to place both cameras on a level playing field to make overall judgments. It may be hard to believe from the crops below, but by applying a little extra sharpening to the 50D images, they can actually look a lot like those from the EOS 60D – and the same applies if you reduce the sharpening on the EOS 60D.

While greater sharpening will bring out the finest details, it'll also make any noise artefacts more apparent. It's really a personal choice and the settings on both cameras can be adjusted to deliver the JPEG style you prefer. Alternatively you can shoot in RAW and apply more sophisticated image processing after the event, and we've done just that on our High ISO Noise RAW results page (coming in our final review), where you'll see the sharpness can easily be matched on both the EOS 50D and EOS 60D.

But once again a comparison of the default settings still has value as this is how many owners will use their cameras – it also serves to illustrate how Canon's DSLR processing style has changed in the two years between the two cameras. So on with the analysis.

The sequence below starts with both cameras at 100 ISO where both unsurprisingly deliver detailed, noise-free results when viewed at 100%. Again the punchier processing of the EOS 60D has brought-out more fine detail, but once the sharpening on the 50D is matched, there's not a huge difference in actual resolved detail here; the EOS 60D enjoys a small advantage, but it's less than you might think in this example.

The softer processing of the EOS 50D is however more forgiving on visible noise, and this becomes apparent as the sensitivity is increased. At 200 ISO, pixel peepers may strain to notice a fractional increase in background textures on the EOS 60D, and while it's nothing to be worried about, the modestly-sharpened 50D avoids it.

At 400 ISO both cameras are exhibiting minor noise textures, but again nothing to be overly concerned about. With the sensitivity increased to 800 ISO, these increase again a little, but most would still be very happy with the output. It is however worth noting the EOS 50D crop is a tad softer than the one at 400 ISO, whereas the EOS 60D is maintaining its sharpness level, at least on in-camera JPEGs.

At 1600 ISO the EOS 50D takes a noticeable turn for the worse, while the EOS 60D holds it together a little better. We'd say the EOS 60D JPEG at 1600 ISO is still very usable. At 3200 ISO though, the EOS 60D image has noticeably softened while suffering from greater noise levels. That said it's still preferred to the EOS 50D JPEG with the default settings.

At 6400 ISO, both cameras take a significant turn for the worse with high noise levels and a number of hot pixels. Likewise at their maximum 12800 ISO settings, where both deliver noisy images with greatly reduced detail.

Overall if you want consumer-friendly images out of the camera without changing any settings, the EOS 60D's output is preferred to the EOS 50D. Greater sharpening and contrast brings out the detail at lower sensitivities, while careful management of the processing ensures the quality up to 1600 ISO remains punchy and usable. Side-by-side, the earlier EOS 50D looks soft. But again it's important to note this is only the result when the in-camera defaults are used. Adjust the settings or process RAW files and you'll find both cameras will deliver similar degrees of sharpness with only a very minor advantage in real-life detail for the new model.

If you're having a feeling of déjà-vu at this point, do not be alarmed: this is exactly the same conclusion we came to when comparing the EOS 50D against the EOS 7D, and that's not surprising since the EOS 60D and EOS 7D share essentially the same image quality; likewise for the EOS 550D / T2i.

Now lets see more real-life images in our Canon EOS 60D sample images gallery, where you'll also be able to download several files for evaluation on your own computers.


Canon EOS 60D (JPEG using in-camera defaults)
with Canon EF 24-105mm f4L IS USM
 
Canon EOS 50D (JPEG using in-camera defaults)
with Canon EF 24-105mm f4L IS USM
100 ISO
100 ISO
     
200 ISO
200 ISO
     
400 ISO
400 ISO
     
800 ISO
800 ISO
     
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
     
3200 ISO
3200 ISO
     
6400 ISO
H1 (6400 ISO)
     
H1 (12800 ISO)
H2 (12800 ISO)


Canon EOS 60D results : Real-life resolution JPEG / RAW / High ISO Noise JPEG


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