Canon EOS M6 Image Quality Comparison

Below are crops from our laboratory Still Life target comparing Canon M6's image quality to that of its predecessor's, the M3, and also to its larger EVF-equipped sibling, the Canon M5. We've also compared the M6 to several other mirrorless competitors in its class or price range: the Fuji X-T20, Panasonic G85 and Sony A6300.

NOTE: These images are from best quality JPEGs straight out of the camera, at default settings including noise reduction and using the camera's actual base ISO (not extended ISO settings). All cameras in this comparison were shot with our very sharp reference lenses. Clicking any crop will take you to a carrier page where you can click once again to access the full resolution image as delivered straight from the camera. For those interested in working with the RAW files involved, click these links to visit each camera's respective sample image thumbnail page: Canon M6, Canon M3, Canon M5, Fuji X-T20, Panasonic G85 and Sony A6300 -- links to the RAW files appear beneath those for the JPEG images, wherever we have them. And remember, you can always go to our world-renowned Comparometer to compare the Canon M6 to any camera we've ever tested!

Canon EOS M6 vs Canon EOS M3 at Base ISO

100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 100
Canon EOS M6 at ISO 100
Canon EOS M3 at ISO 100

Above we compare the M6 to its predecessor, the M3. Both use 24-megapixel APS-C sensors but the M3 uses a previous generation sensor and processor. The M5 image has somewhat lower noise as well as slightly more accurate colors, and our tricky red-leaf swatch shows some moiré patterns that the M3's images does not (which could indicate a slightly weaker anti-aliasing filter on the newer model), but otherwise image quality is very similar here at ISO 100.

Canon EOS M6 vs Canon EOS M5 at Base ISO

100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Canon EOS M5 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Canon EOS M5 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Canon EOS M5 test image taken at ISO 100
Canon EOS M6 at ISO 100
Canon EOS M5 at ISO 100

The Canon M6 and M5 share the same image sensor and processer, so it's no surprise image quality is essentially the same from these two siblings, with just minor differences in color which is likely due to slightly different custom white balance.

Canon EOS M6 vs Fujifilm X-T20 at Base ISO

100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Fujifilm X-T20 test image taken at ISO 200
100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Fujifilm X-T20 test image taken at ISO 200
100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Fujifilm X-T20 test image taken at ISO 200
Canon EOS M6 at ISO 100
Fujifilm X-T20 at ISO 200

Here we compare the M6 to another 24-megapixel APS-C mirrorless, the Fuji X-T20. The X-T20 uses Fujifilm's proprietary X-Trans color filter, though, while the Canon uses a traditional Bayer filter. When looking closely at the images, you can see than the X-T20 image has higher luma noise than the M6 in the shadows, but keep in mind its higher base ISO. The X-T20 image however has lower chroma noise. Both images show noticeable sharpening halos, however the X-T20 image is crisper overall. Resolving power is similar as you'd expect given the identical pixel counts, however the X-T20 doesn't do quite as well with certain types of detail such as the fine text in the beer bottle label or the green fabric swatch, likely because of its more "random" color filter array and the more complex demosaicing it requires. Contrast is much higher from the Canon in our tricky red-leaf swatch and subtle detail is a bit better too, which may be the result of the Fuji's stronger chroma noise suppression. Both cameras produce pleasing color but the Canon pumps reds a bit more.

Canon EOS M6 vs Panasonic G85 at Base ISO

100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Panasonic G85 test image taken at ISO 200
100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Panasonic G85 test image taken at ISO 200
100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Panasonic G85 test image taken at ISO 200
Canon EOS M6 at ISO 100
Panasonic G85 at ISO 200

Above we compare the M6 to a 16-megapixel Micro Four Thirds camera, the Panasonic G85. With a smaller, lower-resolution sensor and a higher base ISO, we might expect the M6 to easily trounce the G85, and it does in sheer resolving power, but the G85 otherwise competes quite well producing a crisper image with more refined sharpening. However if you look very closely, you can see signs of its area-specific noise reduction already here at ISO 200. The G85 also does better with reproducing fine detail in our troublesome red-leaf swatch, however the M6 produces more accurate colors and has a more pleasing tone curve as well.

Canon EOS M6 vs Sony A6300 at Base ISO

100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Sony A6300 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Sony A6300 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Sony A6300 test image taken at ISO 100
Canon EOS M6 at ISO 100
Sony A6300 at ISO 100

In this comparison, we pit the Canon M6 against Sony's popular 24-megapixel APS-C mirrorless, the A6300. It has either a very weak or no AA filter which helps maximize sharpness and detail, and Sony's processing produces a crisper, more detailed image without the obvious and unsightly sharpening halos produced by the Canon's default settings. However we do see stronger aliasing artifacts from the A6300, especially in the red-leaf fabric. Color is noticeably better from the Canon, though.

Canon EOS M6 vs Canon EOS M3 at ISO 1600

100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 1600
Canon EOS M6 at ISO 1600
Canon EOS M3 at ISO 1600

Here at ISO 1600, we can see a greater improvement in image quality from the newer M6, as its image contains slightly lower noise yet still manages to hold onto much more detail in our tricky red-leaf swatch. Color continues to be slightly more pleasant and neutral from the newer model as well.

Canon EOS M6 vs Canon EOS M5 at ISO 1600

100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Canon EOS M5 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Canon EOS M5 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Canon EOS M5 test image taken at ISO 1600
Canon EOS M6 at ISO 1600
Canon EOS M5 at ISO 1600

As expected, there is virtually no difference in image quality between these two closely related siblings at ISO 1600.

Canon EOS M6 vs Fujifilm X-T20 at ISO 1600

100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Fujifilm X-T20 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Fujifilm X-T20 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Fujifilm X-T20 test image taken at ISO 1600
Canon EOS M6 at ISO 1600
Fujifilm X-T20 at ISO 1600

The Fuji X-T20 still comes out ahead here at ISO 1600, with a crisper image, finer detail and less smearing by noise reduction. Luma noise is however a bit higher and less consistent, and while subtle detail in our troublesome red-leaf swatch is better than the M6's, contrast is still much lower.

Canon EOS M6 vs Panasonic G85 at ISO 1600

100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Panasonic G85 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Panasonic G85 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Panasonic G85 test image taken at ISO 1600
Canon EOS M6 at ISO 1600
Panasonic G85 at ISO 1600

The Panasonic G85 does surprisingly well here at ISO 1600 against the M6. The G85 image is crisper, has lower noise in the shadows that is more finely grained, and fine detail is better in our mosaic crop with less smudging due to noise reduction. The G85 image does however look a bit more processed with some rectilinear artifacts in flatter areas and along some edges. Both cameras smudge our red-leaf swatch about equally, but the Canon holds onto a touch more detail there. Colors are still much better from the Canon.

Canon EOS M6 vs Sony A6300 at ISO 1600

100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Sony A6300 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Sony A6300 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Sony A6300 test image taken at ISO 1600
Canon EOS M6 at ISO 1600
Sony A6300 at ISO 1600

The Sony A6300 continues to deliver a sharper image with better detail at ISO 1600, though aliasing artifacts are still more visible. Noise levels are comparable, however the noise "grain" from the Canon is more consistent and film-like, while the Sony's noise reduction processing produces some darker pixels and other artifacts which give flatter areas a less natural look. Color is still better from the Canon.

Canon EOS M6 vs Canon EOS M3 at ISO 3200

100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 3200
Canon EOS M6 at ISO 3200
Canon EOS M3 at ISO 3200

The Canon M6 still comes out ahead of its predecessor here at ISO 3200, though both cameras begin to struggle with noise and noise reduction artifacts. Noise levels are similar but perhaps just a touch lower from the M6. Both cameras smear fine detail in the mosaic crop with the M6 producing a slightly softer rendition but with fewer noise reduction artifacts. The M6 continues to do noticeably better with our red-leaf swatch, retaining much more of the leaf pattern than the M3.

Canon EOS M6 vs Canon EOS M5 at ISO 3200

100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon EOS M5 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon EOS M5 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon EOS M5 test image taken at ISO 3200
Canon EOS M6 at ISO 3200
Canon EOS M5 at ISO 3200

Once again, virtually identical image quality from the M6 and M5 here at ISO 3200, as expected.

Canon EOS M6 vs Fujifilm X-T20 at ISO 3200

100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Fujifilm X-T20 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Fujifilm X-T20 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Fujifilm X-T20 test image taken at ISO 3200
Canon EOS M6 at ISO 3200
Fujifilm X-T20 at ISO 3200

Here at ISO 3200, the Fuji X-T20 pulls farther ahead of the M6 with a much crisper, more detailed image. Noise is also lower and more tightly grained from the X-T20, though some edges look smoother and a bit more natural from M6. The Canon still produces higher contrast in our red-leaf swatch though the Fuji still manages to hold onto more subtle detail.

Canon EOS M6 vs Panasonic G85 at ISO 3200

100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Panasonic G85 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Panasonic G85 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Panasonic G85 test image taken at ISO 3200
Canon EOS M6 at ISO 3200
Panasonic G85 at ISO 3200

In the crops above at ISO 3200 we can see the Panasonic G85 is working very hard to keep pace with the M6. Noise is still lower and fine detail is less smudged than the Canon, but the G85's image looks more processed and digital with a slightly unnatural-looking noise grain and some rough edges. Both smudge our tricky red-leaf swatch quite a bit, but the Canon holds onto a bit more detail there while the G85 retains more detail in the pink fabric. Color and contrast are still better from the Canon.

Canon EOS M6 vs Sony A6300 at ISO 3200

100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony A6300 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony A6300 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony A6300 test image taken at ISO 3200
Canon EOS M6 at ISO 3200
Sony A6300 at ISO 3200

The Sony A6300 continues to produce a crisper, more detailed image than the M6 at ISO 3200, however its area-specific noise reduction generates more artifacts in flatter areas and along edges than Canon's more traditional approach to noise reduction. The M6 blurs our tricky red-leaf fabric heavily at ISO 3200, but much of the Sony's apparent detail in that fabric is false. Overall, though, we continue to give Sony the advantage here.

Canon EOS M6 vs. Canon EOS M3, Canon EOS M5, Fujifilm X-T20, Panasonic G85, Sony A6300

100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Canon EOS M5 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Fujifilm X-T20 test image taken at ISO 200100% crop from Panasonic G85 test image taken at ISO 200100% crop from Sony A6300 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon EOS M5 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Fujifilm X-T20 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Panasonic G85 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony A6300 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon EOS M6 test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Canon EOS M5 test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Fujifilm X-T20 test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Panasonic G85 test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Sony A6300 test image taken at ISO 6400
Canon
EOS M6
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Canon
EOS M3
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Canon
EOS M5
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Fujifilm
X-T20
ISO 200
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Panasonic
G85
ISO 200
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Sony
A6300
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Detail comparison. High-contrast detail is also important, pushing the camera in different ways, so we like to look at it, too. Here we see again that the M6 is slightly improved over the M3 at higher ISOs, and does about the same as the M5 at all three ISOs. The Fuji-X-T20 produces similar contrast and detail, however sharpness is a bit better, but sharpening halos are more visible as well. The Panasonic G85 does quite well in terms of crispness and detail especially considering its lower resolution, however contrast is the lowest of the bunch. The Sony A6300 is the overall winner in this group, producing excellent sharpness and contrast with almost no degradation as ISO climbs, and with hardly any sharpening halos.
 

Canon M6 Print Quality Analysis

Very nice 30 x 40 inch prints up to ISO 400; a good 16 x 20 inch print at ISO 1600; and a nice 5 x 7 at ISO 12,800.

Canon PRO-1000 Printer ImageISO 100/200 prints are quite good at 30 x 40 inches and larger, until you run out of resolution. The prints here yield nice colors, very good fine detail and balanced contrast.

ISO 400 images are good at 30 x 40 inches, with only the slightest decrease in overall sharpness, but still a nice print overall. 24 x 36 inch prints are even better, showing little to no evidence that the gain has been increased.

ISO 800 yields images at 20 x 30 inches that definitely pass our "good" seal of approval, with plenty of fine detail and good color saturation. There is a typical softening and loss of contrast detail in our tricky red-leaf fabric swatch, and a mild amount of noise in flatter areas of our target, but still a good print. For super-critical printing we recommend 16 x 20 inch prints here which will iron out even these mild issues nicely.

ISO 1600 prints just meet our "good" grade at 16 x 20 inches. There are mild issues evident, including a softening in the red channel and some minor noise in certain areas, but good detail and full colors are retained throughout.

ISO 3200 delivers a good 11 x 14 inch print, with only mild issues similar to the 16 x 20 inch print at ISO 1600.

ISO 6400 tends to be where most APS-C cameras begin to show real signs of ISO strain, and the EOS M6 is no exception. You can achieve good 8 x 10 inch prints here, but there is a general softening to the image and a slight muting of colors in general. It's still a good print overall, but for critical work we recommend remaining at ISO 3200 and lower.

ISO 12,800 shots can certainly be printed up to 5 x 7 inches, which really isn't bad for such a lofty sensitivity. The softening mentioned at ISO 6400 is still present, but for general-purpose use these prints will do the trick without any serious issues.

ISO 25,600 delivers a good 4 x 6 inch print, which is something not all APS-C cameras can boast. We always applaud when any camera can deliver a good 4 x 6 at its highest available gain setting, which is a sign that it's not artificially pumped just to pad the specs. (Hey, some cameras do this!)

The Canon EOS M6 yields print size results across the ISO range as we'd expect for this sensor size and resolution, and delivers a solid performance overall. Print quality is quite good up to ISO 800, offering the ability to print very large sizes, and the Canon M6 continues to offer the ability to print a good 11 x 14 up to ISO 3200. Once again, a solid effort all around in the print quality department here from Canon.

Testing hundreds of digital cameras, we've found that you can only tell just so much about a camera's image quality by viewing its images on-screen. Ultimately, there's no substitute for printing a lot of images and examining them closely. For this reason, we routinely print sample images from the cameras we test on our Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 printer. (See our Canon PRO-1000 review for details on that model.)

 



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