Overall the D60's white balance performed as we'd expected it to, but certainly no better than the D30. As is fairly typical with most digital cameras auto white balance worked best under natural light (sunlight, shade, partial cloud etc.) and less well under artificial light. The D60's pre-programmed white balance settings are useful for getting 'somewhere near' to artificial light but of course because of the variety of bulb types it's never possible to be exact with these. I was however very impressed with manual white balance preset which measures white balance from a white / grey card shot (only uses the area of the image within partial metering circle in the center of the viewfinder).
Settings: ISO 100, EF 50 mm F1.4, Small/Fine
|Daylight: Auto||Daylight: Cloudy||Daylight: Manual|
|Incandescent: Auto||Incandescent: Incandescent||Incandescent: Manual|
|Fluorescent: Auto||Fluorescent: Fluorescent||Fluorescent: Manual|
Manual preset white balance example
Shooting for the samples gallery (at the Victoria & Albert museum, London) many of the exhibits were behind glass, in particular the Japan section used very dim incandescent lighting. It was almost impossible for the D60 to automatically measure this. The example below shows the kind of shot used to first get a 'white sample' which can be used for manual white balance and then the results of then re-shooting using this manual preset.
Settings: ISO 1000, EF 28-70 mm F2.8L, Large/Fine
Overall Image Quality / Specifics
What can I say, when I first got my hands on the D30 back in August 1999 I was stunned at the superb image quality from this digital SLR. Its excellent resolution, silky smooth noise free images and colour reproduction were immediately associated with the fact that the camera uses a unique Canon designed CMOS sensor. Here we are eighteen months after that with twice the number of pixels and I'm happy to report that the D60 continues the tradition for excellent resolution, silky smooth noise free images and even better colour reproduction.
Canon has clearly tweaked colour since the D30 (more of this in the compared to section later), most notably slightly less saturated blues and greens and stronger reds. One thing notable about the D30 is its preference for blue skies, the D60 can still produce nice blue skies but treats them with a little more neutrality. Reds are better, more saturated but still handled carefully. Red is the first colour to become over-saturated (thanks to the sRGB colour space) and Canon appear to have got the balance just right with the D60. If you want more colour you can simply create a parameter set with a 'saturation +1' setting.
|Less saturated blues but the D60 can still produce very nice blue skies||Better red saturation but carefully under the point at which the red channel is 'blown out'|
Smooth yet detailed
This is something I first noted with the D30. The D60 has an uncanny smoothness to its images. Where there should be a smooth panel of colour, there is, not a hint of noise at all. And yet despite this ability to create beautiful smooth areas of colour / shade there is absolutely no loss in detail. This smoothness is summed up in the ISO noise level tests earlier in this review, the D60 has very low noise all the way up to ISO 400, beyond that noise is visible at 100% zoom but is still certainly lower than most other digital SLR's.
Here's something I only noticed about the D30 after I'd published my review, however I also caught it in my PowerShot G2 review. This is clearly something to do with the Bayer interpolation algorithm Canon is using across some of their digital cameras. It occurs like this: if a line of detail is at a certain angle (within about 10 degrees of a perfect 45 degree line) the line becomes jagged and made up of multiple 45 degree diagonal lines.
I wouldn't flag this as an 'issue' per-se, it appears only in a certain set of circumstances (quite seldom in a normal shoot) and typically isn't visible at normal viewing magnifications or in print.
Just like the D30 the D60 also exhibits the strange 'drop out' pixels sprinkled between high frequency lines. We're sure this is a CMOS artifact and doesn't seem to occur any more than it did in the D30. I looked long and hard through our few thousand D60 photos and couldn't find a good example of this occurring in a 'real life' shot.