The 60D image quality revisited

Started Nov 27, 2010 | Discussions thread
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Andreas Helke Senior Member • Posts: 1,204
The 60D image quality revisited

In the discussions about the recent advances in DSLR image quality I spend a few days with defending myself against attacks of a lot of people who don´t understand digital camera technology very well. I don´t get any attacks from people that know this stuff because they know that I am right with the basic facts.

So the only thing even worth talking about is the relevance of the differences for actual photography. And of course the reliability of the DxO data.

I talked about dynamic range first because the advances there was the first thing I noticed about the new cameras. And because I have a lot of problems with the poor quality of the shadows even at low ISO that my Canon 5D produces.

But I now consider the improved dynamic range the least important of the advances because you still need to do HDR if you have a scene with really high contrast. And if you have a low contrast scene the old low DR cameras work equally well as the new high DR ones.

The only real advantage of the high DR part of the improvements in the new cameras is an improved quality in the shadows that you only notice if you use fill light in your post processing. And you will almost never have to blow out a highlight in high ISO photos because you get the same image quality if you take it as an underexposed low ISO photo instead.

The most important thing I learned in the last few days is that the DxOMark numbers are correct. I did not trust them because I could not imagine that the Nikon D90 could do much better than the Canon cameras. The advantage of the D90 was not big enough to be easily noticeable when I tried to figure out image quality differences from what I could find on the web.

With the latest generation of cameras like the Pentax K5 the Nikon D7000 and Sony Alpha 580 the image quality differences are now big enough to be easily visible. And the Nikon D90 fell nicely into the middle between the new improved cameras and all cameras from Canon and the older models of the other manufacturers.

After I figured out that the DxO numbers are correct it was trivially easy to figure out the real image quality differences between today's cameras. When I found out from comparing the DxO numbers that the image quality of the 60D is on average 1 stop less than that of the well working competition I abandoned my plan to buy the camera.

Canon can´t afford to introduce any more professional cameras using its old image quality level. I think this is the reason that why we still have no Canon 1Ds 4 available.

And if Canon has to fix the flaws of their current technology anyway it makes not much sense to keep using the old technology in any of their new cameras. So it may well be that the 60D is the last camera that Canon introduces using the old performance level.

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