Canon EOS 60D Review
Highlight clipping / dynamic range
The Canon's metering system is generally very reliable. Occasionally there are circumstances where it appears to rely too heavily on the selected AF point - skewing the exposure too far to accommodate the selected subject. But this is a problem we only experienced a couple of times in the hundreds of shots we took.
When it does clip you can usually recover up to about a stop of highlight detail if you've shot RAW. However, this entirely depends on which of the color channels have clipped so, even within that 1 extra EV, you may find you regain only textural information and lose some degree of color accuracy.
|JPEG - Metered Exposure|
|RAW - Metered Exposure, -0.45EV correction|
|RAW - +0.67EV Exposure, -1.15EV correction|
Here we've taken a shot with a small slightly over-exposed area ( the highlight on the right edge of the leaf, which is hue-shifted to yellow and has lost texture) which we've checked should be recoverable (it appears correctly in images that were intentionally shot under-exposed). We've then recovered the detail and color from the over-exposed region using -0.45EV of digital correction in Adobe Camera Raw, which gives a convincing rendition of the detail and maintains the correct colour.
Then we tried to adjust another shot, taken with 0.67EV brighter exposure, down to the same corrected brightness. As you can see, the brightest region cannot now be accurately recovered - all the texture has been lost.
Overall Image Quality / Specifics
The Canon EOS 60D presents very few image quality surprises, which itself is not exactly unexpected. Not only does it represent the latest in a evolutionary procession of cameras, it also features a sensor we've encountered twice already. The results are impressive up to ISO settings that would have seemed utterly unreasonable not long ago. It's not really until ISO 3200 that the effects of noise or noise reduction become particularly noticeable. As is often the case shooting RAW will give you more control over exactly what type and extent of noise reduction you wish to apply, so it's worth considering, particularly for high ISO work.
In general though the results are predictable and usually very good. As we've demonstrated, you can get more fine detail out of files by applying more sophisticated sharpened in post processing (either by shooting RAW or turning the JPEG sharpening down and post-processing the output in any good image processing software), but the default JPEGs are ready for most uses.
Our only other complaint is one we've leveled at Canons many times over the years - the Auto White Balance does a poor job of correcting color under artificial lights, particularly traditional tungsten light bulbs. While there is an argument that auto white balance shouldn't try to fully balance-out the color cast of very low color temperature sources like these, to retain some of the 'atmosphere' of the scene, we think the 60D takes this too far - leaving an excessively orange tinge to many indoor shots.