Canon EOS 60D: Video and Image Quality

by Jim Keenan Reads (526)
Editor's Rating
8.00

TG Ratings Breakdown

    • Image/Video Quality
    • 8
    • Features
    • 8
    • Design / Ease of Use
    • 7
    • Performance
    • 8
    • Expandability
    • 9
    • Total Score:
    • 8.00
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

Video Quality
The 60D allows 1080 HD video capture and image quality is good. The camera makes use of a CMOS sensor so rolling shutter effect is a consideration, but the effect is well controlled. The 60D will make you long for the cameras with the one-touch video capture feature, however.

First you have to switch the mode dial to Movie capture and there’s that somewhat awkward locking button to deal with. Then you need to acquire focus with either the shutter button or the AF-ON button, and the 60D is just plain slow to acquire AF for movie capture (and Live View capture in general). The best time I ever saw was around two seconds or a bit longer, and trying to acquire on a moving subject can be an exercise in frustration. I had a shot at a great video of a Marine Corps V-22 Osprey as it cruised south over San Diego harbor at about 500 feet with its rotors in “airplane” mode, but by the time I got the mode dial swung from aperture priority to movie and acquired focus, the Osprey was a speck receding into the morning sun. Continuous AF on moving subjects is not available either, so your initial focus is what you’re stuck with unless you’d care to try again in the middle of a capture.

The video in the player above has been compressed and re-encoded for streaming online. To download the original file in its native resolution and format, click the link below.

Sample Video File Download

The 60D captures mono sound with its built-in microphone but can accept an external microphone to permit stereo recording. There is also the capability for manual audio control as well as exposure. A wind cut feature is available and there is also an in-camera editing suite that allows you to shorten clips without resorting to outside software. File size is limited to 4 gigabytes or 29 minutes and 59 seconds – videos to the 4GB size at HD run about 12 minutes. The camera may shut off before either the size or time limits are reached due to internal temperature.

Image Quality
Still images, not video, are where a DSLR earns its pay and you can take 60D images to the bank. Good quality and color fidelity – I found the default sharpening a bit soft for my taste but that proved an easy fix in the manual shooting modes.

Canon 60D Sample Image Canon 60D Sample Image
Canon 60D Sample Image Canon 60D Sample Image

The picture style color palette offers 6 preset color options as well as 3 user-defined custom settings for creative zone shooters. Here’re the presets, which can be further user-modified for sharpness, contrast, saturation and color tone.

Canon 60D Sample Image
Standard
Canon 60D Sample Image
Neutral
Canon 60D Sample Image
Faithful
Canon 60D Sample Image
Portrait
Canon 60D Sample Image
Landscape
Canon 60D Sample Image
Monochrome

Auto white balance was used for the majority of shots in the review and did a good job overall while shooting on the warm side with incandescent light. The 60D also provides daylight, shade, cloudy, tungsten, white fluorescent, and flash presets along with custom and Kelvin temperature options.

Canon 60D Sample Image
Auto White Balance, 5500k fluorescent light

Evaluative metering is the camera default and does a good job overall with normally lit scenes – the 60D would lose highlights on occasion when dealing with high contrast dark/light scenes. The camera comes with its “auto lighting optimizer” set to “standard” as a default, but the feature may be set to low or high levels or disabled altogether. I found little to distinguish visually using each setting on the same scene, and histograms were only slightly different. There are partial, spot and center-weighted options available as well.

Noise performance was a pleasant surprise – with the increase in resolution on the same physical-sized sensor, noise performance could logically be expected to suffer, but the 60D looks to be very competitive with the best cropped-sensor cameras I’ve shot with regard to high ISO noise performance. ISO 100 and 200 are basically indistinguishable from one another, and 400 picks up a slight amount of graininess over 200, but will be hard to tell apart except in big enlargements and perhaps not even then.

Canon 60D Sample Image
ISO 100
Canon 60D Sample Image
ISO 100, 100% crop
Canon 60D Sample Image
ISO 200
Canon 60D Sample Image
ISO 200, 100% crop
Canon 60D Sample Image
ISO 400
Canon 60D Sample Image
ISO 400, 100% crop
Canon 60D Sample Image
ISO 800
Canon 60D Sample Image
ISO 800, 100% crop
Canon 60D Sample Image
ISO 1600
Canon 60D Sample Image
ISO 1600, 100% crop
Canon 60D Sample Image
ISO 3200
Canon 60D Sample Image
ISO 3200, 100% crop
Canon 60D Sample Image
ISO 6400
Canon 60D Sample Image
ISO 6400, 100% crop

ISO 800 is a bit grainier than 400, and 1600 worse than 800 to about the same degree as 800/400. ISO 3200 takes the most dramatic drop of any step so far with graininess increasing and fine details beginning to lose ground. ISO 6400 is by far the biggest drop off, with grain on the increase and fine details beginning to smudge fairly noticeably in some areas.

Having shot the Nikon D7000 not too long ago, the 60D impresses me as having very similar high ISO noise performance, and that’s not a bad thing at all. At 6400 the D7000 image looks a bit grainier to me than the 60D, but has sharper details.

In any event, somebody shooting either of these cameras looks to be enjoying state of the art high ISO noise performance from a cropped sensor unless my eyes are playing tricks on me.

Additional Sample Images

Canon 60D Sample Image Canon 60D Sample Image
Canon 60D Sample Image Canon 60D Sample Image
Canon 60D Sample Image Canon 60D Sample Image


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