White balance

The EOS-10D's automatic white balance was kind of disappointing, especially for a digital SLR. We would have expected Canon's engineers to have made some giant leap forward in automatic white balance, but it appears not. This is a pity, especially when you consider that HP appear to have it nailed on their $500 PhotoSmart 850. The preprogrammed white balances were also just average in their performance, no different than the EOS-D60.

Clearly manual preset white balance is the only choice for anyone concerned about the color balance of an image taken under difficult lighting conditions. Some Kudos however for the addition of the new 'Shade' and 'Kelvin' white balance settings.

Settings: ISO 100, EF 28-70 mm F2.8L, Small/Fine

Daylight: Auto Daylight: Daylight / Cloudy / Shd. Daylight: Manual
Incandescent: Auto Incandescent: Incandescent Incandescent: Manual
Fluorescent: Auto Fluorescent: Fluorescent Fluorescent: Manual

Kelvin temperature White Balance

Just like its big brother the EOS-1Ds the EOS-10D provides a Kelvin white balance preset which can be set to any temperature between 2800 K and 10000 K (in 100 K steps). The samples below demonstrate how useful this can be, especially in a continuous lighting situation where it's important to be able to lock down and reproduce the same white balance time after time. In our case our 800 W tungsten 'red head' lamps appear to be around 2900 K.

Settings: ISO 100, EF 28-70 mm F2.8L, Small/Fine

2800 K (Too blue) 2900 K (Best) 3000 K (Too red)

White Balance Bracketing

Again, just like the EOS-1Ds the EOS-10D can also now perform white balance bracketing. It does so based on just one exposure, when enabled the camera produces three images from the same captured image data, each one at a slightly different white balance, plus or minus the selected white balance.

Settings: ISO 100, EF 28-70 mm F2.8L, Small/Fine

WB -3 WB WB +3

Front / Back Focusing

It's always interesting how members of our discussion forums can home in on a particular issue and examine it at great length and in great detail. Initial owners of the EOS-10D are no doubt very happy with their cameras but we did note a few discussion threads on the subject of front / back focusing issues. Front or Back focusing is where the camera's auto focus system has locked but that the actual focus position is slightly in front or behind that which was locked.

Test setup (viewed from above)

It's difficult to say if this is a problem with the camera's AF system, the lens (and motor) or a combination of the two but what can't be denied is that some owners have managed to consistently reproduce this problem. While I don't intend to linger on something which may only be noticeable one shot in a hundred (and only with certain lenses) it's obviously something that has been raised as a potential issue.

Our test setup was fairly simple. As you can see from the image on the right I arranged six dice (a homage to PMA 2003) a dice thickness (approximately 10 mm) apart and then took a shot of this setup from straight on, focusing on the number three dice.

Aperture was set to the maximum for each of the three lenses; the professional 28-70 F2.8 L, consumer 28-135 mm F3.5 - 5.6, prime 100 mm Macro. Each lens was test with both the EOS-10D and EOS-D60. The shot was taken with the lens pre-focused, this means a half-press of the shutter release to ensure the camera is 'happy' that it is focused (solid green focus indicator in the viewfinder) and then the full shutter release depression to take the shot.

Canon EF 28 - 70 mm F2.8 L @ 70 mm, F2.8

Canon EOS-10D (good)
Canon EOS-D60 (slight back focus)

Canon EF 28 - 135 mm F3.5 - F5.6 @ 135 mm, F5.6

Canon EOS-10D (slight front focus)
Canon EOS-D60 (good)

Canon EF 100 mm Macro F2.8 @ F2.8

Canon EOS-10D (good)
Canon EOS-D60 (back focus)

So what does this tell us? Well two things; firstly that auto focus to the millimeter appears to be a hit or miss. Secondly that the EOS-10D appears to be better than the EOS-D60 in our tests, certainly the 28-70 and 100 mm shots are both better than the EOS-D60. Had I ever noticed this or considered it an issue with the EOS-D60? No.

Overall Image Quality / Specifics

Being based on the same sensor and basic image processing systems we didn't expect very much difference between the EOS-10D and EOS-D60. While this is basically true the EOS-10D does perform much better (lower noise) at higher sensitivities. Resolution is virtually identical, as is dynamic range. Color response has changed slightly (see next page) but not significantly enough to worry existing EOS-D60 owners.

Canon EOS-10D images are detailed and clean with little (if any) noise in large areas of single color (such as sky), Canon's traditionally low sharpening will help this as well as keeping artifacts (sharpening halos) at bay. If you prefer your images a little sharper out of the camera you now have two levels of sharpening to choose from, although even the hardest of these is still very mild compared to other digital SLR's.

Most of the issues we identified in our reviews of the EOS-D30 and EOS-D60 have been resolved, these included visible diagonal jaggies (now made much smoother so as to be virtually undetectable) and strange dots on our resolution chart (gone completely with the EOS-10D).