Canon EOS 7D vs Canon EOS 60D: Image Quality

Canon 60D
Canon 60D Canon EOS 7D

Image Quality

As the most important element of a DSLR's performance it's imperative both cameras offer exemplary image quality.

Canon EOS 60D

Tone and Exposure

Images are well exposed from the 60D in all conditions, and the metering handles even the most extreme lighting with little trouble. In widely contrasting scenes the camera can lose some highlight detail to maintain a balanced scene, however, the use of the Auto Lighting optimiser does help or the Highlight Tone Priority setting.

White Balance and Colour

The auto white balance copes well in most conditions though appears slightly on the cool side under studio lights. Colours in the JPEGs appear to be punchier than older Canons, and more like those from the 7D and 1D Mk4. This makes the images far more useable straight from the camera if needed.

Noise

Noise levels are well controlled though above 800 ISO the noise reduction does become quite noticeable in the JPEG images and from 3200ISO starts to degrade detail from the images. The extended setting of 12,800ISO shows signs of multi-colour noise despite the noise reduction and is best avoided for critical work.

Sharpness and Detail

The 18MP sensor allows an impressive level of detail to be captured. The 17-85mm lens supplied as part of the kit does show some signs of fringing around the edges but using one of Canon's L series lenses, especially one of the prime lenses, show just how good this camera can be.

See test images

Overall score; 18/20

 

Canon EOS 7D

Tone and Exposure

The metering system ensures an extensive tonal range but manages to keep both highlight and shadow details with little problem. For trickier scenes the 7D features a Highlight Tone Priority function to avoid losing highlights by altering the metering before taking the shot, and an Auto Lighting optimiser that can be set to Low, Standard, or Strong and uses processing after the shot to adjust the brightness and contrast

White Balance and Colour

The auto white balance is as reliable as you could ask for, whether shooting indoors, outdoors, in daylight or low light. It was consistently accurate no matter what light source was thrown at it. If anything, tones did verge onto the cool side but this was often against skin tones, which were perfectly balanced. Colours didn't feel as muted as with some EOS models, especially when the Auto Lighting optimiser was used or Raw images were opened into Adobe Lightroom.

RAW/JPEG

JPEG images show definite signs of noise processing, which manages to make even ultra-high ISO values appear usable by removing the nasty colour noise with very little loss in image detail. The unprocessed Raw files show some fairly heavy colour noise above ISO 3200 but in turn retain a little more detail, so by using the Raw file, and adding your own noise reduction, it is possible to get the best of both worlds.

Image Noise and ISO

When examining the Raw files, noise is visible in images above ISO 800. However, this is minor and only shows sign of the more abrasive colour noise above ISO 1600. If you allow the camera to perform noise reduction, however, noise is very minimal in appearance even at ISO 6400, and even the High-1 ISO 12,800 is not beyond use. With this level of quality on output almost no scene is beyond the camera, though for optimum results you should try to stay below ISO 800.

Sharpness and Detail

For most of the testing I used pro L series lenses to ensure the maximum quality from the 7D and I wasn't disappointed. Images were extremely well detailed throughout, and blisteringly sharp even on some of the moving subjects.

See test images

Overall Score; 19/20

 

Conclusion

Even though both cameras have similar sensors and metering systems the EOS 7D is that significant amount better, producing some stunning images.

Winner; Canon EOS 7D