The actual sensitivity of each indicated ISO is measured using the same shots as are used to measure ISO noise levels, we simply compare the exposure for each shot to the metered light level (using a calibrated Sekonic L-358), middle gray matched. We estimate the accuracy of these results to be +/- 1/6 EV (the margin of error given in the ISO specifications). Note that these tests are based on the sRGB JPEG output of the cameras, in accordance with ISO 12232:2006, the standard used by camera manufacturers.
The Canon EOS 60D's measured ISO is within +/- 1/6 EV of the indicated ISO, across its entire sensitivity range.
Noise and Noise Reduction (JPEG)
This is our standard studio scene comparison shot taken from exactly the same tripod position. Lighting: daylight simulation, >98% CRI. Crops are 100%. Ambient temperature was approximately 22°C (~72°F).
Note: this page features our new interactive noise comparison widget. By default, we show you the default noise reduction settings of the camera tested, and three other models of the same class. You can select from all available NR options, and from other cameras. The 'tricolor' patches beneath the familiar gray/black/portrait images are taken from the same test chart, and show how noise impacts upon blue, green and red areas of a scene.
At its default 'Standard' noise reduction setting, the Canon does a good job of keeping noise on very similar terms to its peers. And, despite its higher pixel count (which would count against it in per-pixel assessments such as this), it produces less noise than its 15MP predecessor at higher ISO settings. Even more impressively, this continues to be the case with noise reduction set to its lowest level.
At standard settings fine detail is well retained up to ISO 1600, after which point the effects of noise reduction kick in. Above this level noise is higher than the D7000's (which will gain some advantage from having fewer pixels), but so is its apparent detail retention. If you compare the 60D with standard noise reduction to the D7000 with noise reduction turned to minimum, both the detail levels and the noise are fairly similar.
RAW noise (ACR 6.3 - noise reduction set to zero)
The similarity of both the figures and the appearance of these crops suggests they tell us as much about Adobe's ability to normalize the various cameras' outputs as about the cameras themselves. Despite this, though, there's no doubt the 60D's results are impressive and stand up to scrutiny against both its predecessor and its peers. At very high ISOs (3200 and above) it's retaining visibly more detail than the 50D; at 12800 the results illustrate graphically just now much noise the cameras' JPEG engines are having to contend with.