Canon 60D High ISO RAW
Canon EOS 60D RAW Image Quality
We've recently started looking at RAW files converted with dcraw, an excellent freeware raw converter. dcraw usually offers timely support for the latest cameras, but more importantly, it does not apply any noise-reduction, sharpening or other corrections such as geometric distortion correction to the output files. (We found that Adobe Camera Raw still applies some limited noise-reduction when its NR settings are set to zero, and it also applies other corrections depending on the make and model of the camera). There will always be differences between RAW converters, in terms of the sort of de-mosaicing algorithms they use (the processes by which they convert the separate Red, Green, and Blue data sets to an array of full-color RGB pixels), but dcraw seems to use a fairly generic algorithm that delivers good sharpness with relatively few artifacts, and can be counted on to not apply any noise reduction if you don't want it to. (That said, looking at the ISO 6,400 and above examples below, it's clear that dcraw's de-mosaicing approach does have some tendency to produce rectilinear artifacts in response to high noise levels.)
Below are crops from Canon 60D's 14-bit RAW files compared to RAW files from other prosumer SLRs, converted with dcraw.
The crops above compare the Canon 60D's RAW noise performance to that of its predecessor, as well as to other popular prosumer models, the Nikon D7000 and Pentax K-7. All cameras were equipped with our Sigma 70mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro reference lenses, stopped down to f/8 for maximum sharpness. As you can see, RAW results roughly echo the results we saw from the JPEGs, with the Canon 60D and Nikon D7000 fairly closely matched in terms of noise, though the 60D's higher resolution is clearly evident. The Canon 50D and Pentax K-7 are both quite a bit noisier at the same ISOs.
Here's a comparison with the 60D's two immediate siblings in the current Canon SLR lineup:
Again, RAW results echo those of the JPEGs with the Canon 60D and T2i producing similar results and both performing better in terms of noise than the faster Canon 7D.
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