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Canon EOS 60D Digital Camera Review$1,099.00
Our first test looks at the color accuracy of a camera: how accurately can it capture the range of colors that form photos? To test this, we photograph a color chart with 24 color patches and compare the captured image with the original chart. In this test, we found that the 60D captured extremely accurate color in most of the picture modes it offers, with the Faithful mode being the most accurate by a whisker. The only colors that it struggled to capture were the some of the blues and reds, both of which were a little more vivid than the subtle originals. The 60D aced this test, though, getting one of the highest scores for color accuracy that we have ever seen. More on how we test color.
NOTE: Because of the way computer monitors reproduce colors, the images above do not exactly match the originals found on the chart or in the captured images. The chart should be used to judge the relative color shift, not the absolute captured colors.
In comparison with other cameras, you can see that the 60D was the winner by a significant margin, outscoring even the more expensive Canon 7D and earning a higher score than the Nikon and Sony cameras.
The 60D offers only a limited selection of color modes: 6 preset ones and three user defined ones. The 6 presets (which Canon refers to as Picture Modes) are Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral, Faithful and Monochrome, while the 3 user defined ones can be customized by changing settings for sharpness, contrast, saturation and color tone. These color modes are different to the similarly named scene modes that are available from the mode dial, although a scene mode may include a picture mode. Sample crops from a Gretag Macbeth color chart shot in 5 of the modes (the presets, excluding monochrome) are shown below.
White balance is how a camera compensates for different lighting sources. If a camera can correctly white balance, the colors will look the same as the original. If it can't, images will come out with an orange or blue color cast. We test this by photographing a color chart under a variety of lighting sources, and analyzing the resulting images. We found that the 60D was generally able to white balance correctly, but it struggled with incandescent lighting.
Automatic White Balance ()
Our first test looks at the auto white balance setting, where the camera judges the white balance after taking a photo and compensates. We found a low color shift with the simulated daylight and fluorescent light sources, but there was a fairly significant shift with incandescent lighting: the whites had a distinct orange cast to them.
If we compare the performance of the 60D to other cameras, we see that most had no problem with the simulated daylight in our tests: all had a low color error. All of them struggled with the incandescent lighting, though, and all produced images with a significant color error. The 60D had a more significant color error with the fluorescent light source than the other cameras, but this is not a huge concern: the color error is still minor.
Custom White Balance ()
Next, we test with using a custom white balance, where we take a photo of a white card and allow the camera to use this to calculate the correct color balance. This produced much smaller color errors than the automatic setting, and it underlines the benefit of using a custom white balance where possible.
White Balance Options
The 60D offers a good selection of white balance presets and custom features, with 6 presets (listed below) and a direct entry setting. Unusually for a high-end SLR, there is only one custom white balance memory spot, so you can't store several different settings to use in different locations.
In our long exposure test, we look at how the color accuracy and noise levels change as the camera takes images with exposure times of between 1 and 30 seconds. Many cameras struggle here, but we found that the 60D did well: shooting in low light with an ISO of 400, the noise actually seemed to decrease as the exposure time increased. We also look at if the cameras built-in long exposure noise reduction reduced the image noise: the answer for the 60D was that it did reduce the noise, but only very slightly. More on how we test long exposure.
We found that the color error did climb as the shutter speed got longer, with the largest color error at a 30 second exposure. But the climb was minor, and the color error remained comparatively low across the shutter speed range.
We also look at the amount of noise in our test images, and we found that the amount of noise fell as the shutter speed increased. Enabling the long exposure noise reduction did reduce the amount of noise in images, but only by a small amount. It also slows the shooting speed, as it works by taking another exposure with the shutter closed and subtracting this from the real image (a technique called dark field subtraction). This means that, with a 30 second exposure, you have to wait another 30 seconds after the shot is taken for the camera to take the second one before you can see the final image or shoot another one.