Canon EOS M10 Image Quality Comparison

Below are crops from our laboratory Still Life target comparing Canon EOS M10 image quality to the original EOS M (sorry, the M2 was not released in the US and thus didn't make it into our lab), its more expensive sibling the EOS M3, as well as against several other entry-level mirrorless cameras: the Olympus E-PL7, Panasonic GF7 and Sony A5100.

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 EOS M10, Canon EOS M, Canon EOS M3, Olympus E-PL7, Panasonic GF7 and Sony A5100 -- 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 EOS M10 to any camera we've ever tested!

Canon EOS M10 vs Canon EOS M at Base ISO

Canon EOS M10 at ISO 100
Canon EOS M at ISO 100

Here, we compare the original 18-megapixel Canon EOS M which came out in 2012 to the 18-megapixel Canon EOS M10. As you can see, apart from brighter, more pleasing colors from the newer model, image quality is very similar here at base ISO.

Canon EOS M10 vs Canon EOS M3 at Base ISO

Canon EOS M10 at ISO 100
Canon EOS M3 at ISO 100

Above we compare the M10 to its bigger brother, the 24-megapixel EOS M3. The M3 does resolve a bit more detail as expected, but the M10 produces slightly nicer colors. Otherwise image quality is quite similar although the M10 renders the red-leaf pattern a bit better than the M3. The latter resolves more of the fine thread pattern which likely gets treated as noise, degrading the leaf pattern a little more than the M10.

Canon EOS M10 vs Olympus E-PL7 at Base ISO

Canon EOS M10 at ISO 100
Olympus E-PL7 at ISO 200

Here we compare the 18-megapixel APS-C M10 to the 16-megapixel Micro Four Thirds Olympus E-PL7. These two cameras actually have identical vertical resolutions which is how this scene is framed, so the Canon doesn't have a resolution advantage in this comparison. In fact, the E-PL7's weaker anti-aliasing filter and better default sharpening give it an edge in terms of detail and crispness. Colors are more pleasing from the Canon, though, and noise slightly more visible from the Olympus, but keep in mind the E-PL7's higher base ISO of 200.

Canon EOS M10 vs Panasonic GF7 at Base ISO

Canon EOS M10 at ISO 100
Panasonic GF7 at ISO 200

Here's another comparison with a 16-megapixel Micro Four Thirds camera, the Panasonic GF7. Again, both cameras have very similar vertical resolutions and therefore resolve very similar levels of detail, but the Panasonic's more conservative default sharpening and contrast make its image look a bit soft and less punchy compared to the Canon's, and again the M10 produces better color.

Canon EOS M10 vs Sony A5100 at Base ISO

Canon EOS M10 at ISO 100
Sony A5100 at ISO 100

The 24-megapixel APS-C Sony A5100 does resolve more detail than the 18-megapixel M10 here at base ISO, and its more advanced sharpening algorithm produces crisper fine detail while at the same time producing noticeably lower sharpening halos along high-contrast edges. Noise levels are however slightly higher from the Sony, and again, the Canon produces more pleasing colors.

Canon EOS M10 vs Canon EOS M at ISO 1600

Canon EOS M10 at ISO 1600
Canon EOS M at ISO 1600

The M10 does show slightly less noise than the original M at ISO 1600, as well as some refinement in how it treats edges and transitions between different subject matter, but other than the improved color, there's not a huge difference in image quality. Both cameras smear a lot of detail away in our tricky red-leaf swatch though contrast is a bit better from the older camera.

Canon EOS M10 vs Canon EOS M3 at ISO 1600

Canon EOS M10 at ISO 1600
Canon EOS M3 at ISO 1600

The M3 continues to resolve a bit more detail than the M10 here at ISO 1600, though the difference isn't as much as at base ISO. Noise levels are however higher from the M3 and again the M10 produces more pleasing colors.

Canon EOS M10 vs Olympus E-PL7 at ISO 1600

Canon EOS M10 at ISO 1600
Olympus E-PL7 at ISO 1600

The E-PL7 continues to produce a crisper image at ISO 1600 along with lower luminance noise levels, but chrominance noise is a bit higher in the shadows and noise reduction artifacts distort fine details a bit more than from the Canon. Color remains more pleasing from the Canon.

Canon EOS M10 vs Panasonic GF7 at ISO 1600

Canon EOS M10 at ISO 1600
Panasonic GF7 at ISO 1600

Noise in flatter areas is actually lower and more fine-grained from the Panasonic, but its area-specific noise reduction leaves more noise in areas with fine detail and along edges, making them appear grainer but with slightly better detail than the Canon. Color and contrast are still superior from the Canon.

Canon EOS M10 vs Sony A5100 at ISO 1600

Canon EOS M10 at ISO 1600
Sony A5100 at ISO 1600

It's tough to pick a winner in this comparison. The Sony still resolves more detail, but while its heavy-handed noise reduction keeps noise lower than the M10, it starts to produce unwanted artifacts and softens much of the image. The Sony does a little better in our tricky fabrics, however much of the detail is distorted. And once again, the Canon produces better color.

Canon EOS M10 vs Canon EOS M at ISO 3200

Canon EOS M10 at ISO 3200
Canon EOS M at ISO 3200

Similar to what we saw at ISO 1600, the M10 produces a slightly more refined-looking image with better colors, but image quality is otherwise similar.

Canon EOS M10 vs Canon EOS M3 at ISO 3200

Canon EOS M10 at ISO 3200
Canon EOS M3 at ISO 3200

The Canon M3 is still able to resolve more high-contrast detail, but higher noise and more aggressive noise reduction negates the resolution advantage in areas with subtle detail, especially noticeable in our red-leaf fabric which has much stronger blurring than from the M10. Again, the M10 produces slightly better colors overall.

Canon EOS M10 vs Olympus E-PL7 at ISO 3200

Canon EOS M10 at ISO 3200
Olympus E-PL7 at ISO 3200

The Olympus still produces a crisper, more contrasty, yet smoother image with a finer noise "grain" here at ISO 3200, but it's obviously working hard to suppress noise, producing more unwanted noise reduction artifacts. Colors continue to be more pleasing from the Canon.

Canon EOS M10 vs Panasonic GF7 at ISO 3200

Canon EOS M10 at ISO 3200
Panasonic GF7 at ISO 3200

Also similar to what we saw at ISO 1600 between these two cameras, the GF7 leaves behind less noise in shadow areas but subject matter with fine detail is grainier thanks to its area-specific noise reduction compared to Canon's more traditional approach to noise reduction. It's a tough call as to which is better overall, but we give the edge to the Canon, which has better color as well.

Canon EOS M10 vs Sony A5100 at ISO 3200

Canon EOS M10 at ISO 3200
Sony A5100 at ISO 3200

Very heavy-handed noise reduction from the A5100 makes its image quite soft and fuzzy, with a much more processed looked in flatter areas as well. Although detail looks better in our troublesome red-leaf fabric, much of it is false. And the M10 continues to produce better color.

Canon EOS M10 vs. Canon EOS M, Canon EOS M3, Olympus E-PL7, Panasonic GF7, Sony A5100

Canon
EOS M10
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Canon
EOS M
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Canon
EOS M3
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Olympus
E-PL7
ISO 200
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Panasonic
GF7
ISO 200
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Sony
A5100
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 can see the Canon M10 is just slightly improved over the Canon M at ISO 3200 and 6400, but the difference is very minor. At base ISO, the Sony A5100 comes out on top, with the Canon M3 a close second, but both degrade as ISO rises. The Olympus E-PL7 does very well, with very little degradation as ISO is increased. The Panasonic GF7 starts off with the lowest contrast, but it doesn't degrade much either at higher ISOs.

 

Canon EOS M10 Print Quality Analysis

Very nice, high-resolution prints up to 24 x 36 inches at ISO 100-400; Pleasing 8 x 10 inch prints at ISO 3200; and usable 4 x 6 inch prints at ISO 12,800.

ISO 100 through 400 images all look great up to an impressive 24 x 36 inches. Despite the 18-megapixel sensor, the camera can produce prints that push its resolving power quite a bit. Fine detail is there, yet not overly sharpened. There is very mild pixelation if you look closely, but at normal viewing distances for prints of this size, it's not much of an issue. We'd also be okay with a 30 x 40 inch print for wall display, too.

ISO 800 prints are a bit tricky. We'll play it safe here and call it at 20 x 30 inches as there's a slight loss in detail in some areas due to the minor increase in noise. Noise here is very mild and primarily visible in the shadow areas. For less critical applications, we'd be okay with a 24 x 36 inch print at this ISO sensitivity.

ISO 1600 images show a noticeable jump in shadow noise, which limits our print size to only 11 x 14. Colors and detail are both still pleasing, but the shadow noise is a little strong for our tastes at higher print sizes. Perhaps with some careful raw processing, you could get a usable print at 16 x 20.

ISO 3200 prints top-out at 8 x 10 inches. There's still a good amount of fine detail, decent color, and well-behaved noise at this print size. There's quite a bit of shadow noise that discourages us from printing any larger.

ISO 6400 images, again, display a lot of shadow noise, and now, quite a bit of detail loss that prevents us from calling anything "good" above 5 x 7 inches.

ISO 12,800 prints just pass muster at 4 x 6 inches. At this ISO, detail is very lacking and the strong noise significantly impacts making prints at larger sizes.

ISO 25,600 images are unfortunately too soft and noisy to be considered usable.

The diminutive EOS M10, Canon's entry-level mirrorless model, has a strong showing in the print department, despite its humble size and price point. Sporting a familiar 18-megapixel APS-C sensor but a relatively new, faster DIGIC 6 image processor, the camera is capable of sharp, detailed images that can make for some very large prints, especially at lower ISOs. From base ISO to ISO 400, images look by and large nearly identical and make the cut at up to 24 x 36 inches. Noise is very gradual to make an appearance up until about ISO 1600, at which point we observe stronger shadow noise, which limits prints to a still-respectable 11 x 14 inches. Print sizes steadily decrease as ISO rises, where we call the finale at a 4 x 6 print at ISO 12,800. The maximum ISO of 25,600 is best avoided if you're looking to make prints.

About our print-quality testing: Our "Reference Printer"

Testing hundreds of digital cameras, we've found that you can only tell 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, which we named our "Printer of the Year" in our 2015 COTY awards.

The Canon PRO-1000 has a lot of characteristics that make it a natural to use for our "reference printer." When it comes to judging how well a camera's photos print, resolution and precise rendering are paramount. The PRO-1000's more than 18,000 individual nozzles combine with an air feeding system that provides exceptional droplet-placement accuracy. Its 11-color LUCIA PRO ink system delivers a wide color gamut and dense blacks, giving us a true sense of the cameras' image quality. To best see fine details, we've always printed on glossy paper, so the PRO-1000's "Chroma Optimizer" overcoat that minimizes "bronzing" or gloss differential is important to us. (Prior to the PRO-1000, we've always used dye-based printers, in part to avoid the bronzing problems with pigment-based inks.) Finally, we just don't have time to deal with clogged inkjet heads, and the PRO-1000 does better in that respect than any printer we've ever used. If you don't run them every day or two, inkjet printers tend to clog. Canon's thermal-inkjet technology is inherently less clog-prone than other approaches, but the PRO-1000 takes this a step further, with sensors that monitor every inkjet nozzle. If one clogs, it will assign another to take over its duties. In exchange for a tiny amount of print speed, this lets you defer cleaning cycles, which translates into significant ink savings. In our normal workflow, we'll often crank out a hundred or more letter-size prints in a session, but then leave the printer to sit for anywhere from days to weeks before the next camera comes along. In over a year of use, we've never had to run a nozzle-cleaning cycle on our PRO-1000.

See our Canon PRO-1000 review for a full overview of the printer from the viewpoint of a fine-art photographer.

*Disclosure: Canon provided us with the PRO-1000 and a supply of ink to use in our testing, and we receive advertising consideration for including this mention when we talk about camera print quality. Our decision to use the PRO-1000 was driven by the printer itself, though, prior to any discussion with Canon on the topic. (We'd actually been using an old Pixma PRO 9500II dye-based printer for years previously, and paying for our own ink, until we decided that the PRO-1000 was the next-generation printer we'd been waiting for.)

 



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