Canon EOS M10 Image Quality


Color

Saturation & Hue Accuracy
Typical saturation levels with very good hue accuracy.

ISO Sensitivity
100
200
400
800
In the diagram above, the squares show the original color, and the circles show the color that the camera captured. More saturated colors are located toward the periphery of the graph. Hue changes as you travel around the center. Thus, hue-accurate, highly saturated colors appear as lines radiating from the center. Mouse over the links above to compare ISOs, and click to load a larger version.

Saturation. The Canon EOS M10 produces images with mean saturation levels that are quite typical. Strong reds, oranges, dark greens, dark brown and dark blues are pushed by minor to moderate amounts, while yellow, light green and cyan are just slightly muted. The mean saturation of 110.6% (10.6% oversaturated) at base ISO about average for cameras we've tested, and mean saturation is quite stable as ISO rises to 3200, but falls off to a low of 103.2% at extended ISO 25,600. That's also typical, though, and overall saturation levels are quite pleasing. Most consumer digital cameras produce color that's more highly saturated (more intense) than found in the original subjects. This is simply because most people like their color a bit brighter than life.

Skin tones. The Canon EOS M10 produced pleasing, natural-looking Caucasian skin tones in our simulated daylight tests when Auto white balance setting was used. Interestingly, Manual white balance produced skin tones that were a bit too saturated for our tastes. Where oversaturation is most problematic is on Caucasian skin tones, as it's very easy for these "memory colors" to be seen as too bright, too pink, too yellow, etc.

Hue. The Canon EOS M10's hue accuracy is better than average. There are the usual shifts in cyan toward blue (actually quite small), red toward orange, and orange toward yellow, but all are fairly minor. (The cyan to blue shift is very common among the digital cameras we test; we think it's a deliberate choice by camera engineers to produce better-looking sky colors.) Average "delta-C" color error at base ISO is 4.18, which is very good. Delta-C color error increases with sensitivity, but remains better than average across the ISO range. Hue is "what color" the color is.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Sensor

Exposure and White Balance

Indoors, incandescent lighting
Auto and Incandescent white balance settings both struggled with household incandescent lighting, though Manual white balance worked well. Average exposure compensation required.

Auto White Balance
+0.3 EV
Incandescent White Balance
+0.3 EV
 
Manual White Balance
+0.3 EV
 

Color balance indoors under incandescent lighting was pretty awful with Auto white balance setting, producing a strong red/magenta cast. The Incandescent white balance option was better, but too warm, with a strong yellow/orange cast. The Manual setting however produced very good white balance here. The Canon EOS M10 required +0.3 EV exposure compensation for this shot, which is average among the cameras we've tested. (Our test lighting for this shot is a mixture of 60 and 100 watt household incandescent bulbs, a pretty yellow light source, but a very common one in typical home settings here in the U.S.)

Outdoors, daylight
Color and saturation are very good, though a tendency towards slightly cool colors and somewhat high contrast under harsh lighting. Slightly below average exposure accuracy.

Auto White Balance,
+1.0 EV
Auto White Balance,
0 EV

Outdoors, the Canon EOS M10 tended toward a slightly cool color balance, though overall color was generally very pleasing. The Canon EOS M10 required +1.0 EV exposure compensation to keep our mannequin's face bright, a little more than the typical +0.7 EV we're accustomed to needing for our "Sunlit" Portrait shot. The Canon EOS M10's default contrast is a little high, producing some washed-out highlights and dark shadows under the deliberately harsh lighting of our portrait test shown above left, though the camera's contrast can always be adjusted, and more advanced features like Auto Lighting Optimizer and Highlight Tone Priority do help with high contrast scenes like these. See below for examples of this. The Far-field shot (above right) is also a touch cool, and default exposure a tad dim, though the camera did a good job of avoiding blown highlights at default exposure. Deep shadows are however a little noisy and discolored, as we've seen from other previous generation Canons (models with newer sensors general have improved shadow noise), but they contain good detail.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Resolution
~2,350 to 2,400 lines of strong detail from JPEGs, about the same from RAW.

Strong detail to
~2,400 lines horizontal
In-Camera JPEG
Strong detail to
~2,350 lines vertical
In-Camera JPEG
Strong detail to
~2,400 lines horizontal
ACR Converted RAW
Strong detail to
~2,350 lines vertical
ACR Converted RAW

An in-camera JPEG image of our laboratory resolution chart contains sharp, distinct line patterns up to about 2,400 lines per picture height horizontally and about 2,350 lines vertically. Some may argue for higher numbers, but lines begin to merge at these resolutions. Extinction of the pattern occurred just past 3,200 lines horizontally and at about 3,000 lines vertically. A matching Adobe Camera Raw converted .CR2 file does not show any higher resolution than the in-camera JPEG, however ACR produced more moiré and false colors than in-camera JPEGs, especially in vertical lines. Use these numbers to compare with other cameras of similar resolution, or use them to see just what higher resolution can mean in terms of potential detail.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Sharpness & Detail
Decent sharpness and detail with a sharp lens, though with moderate sharpening artifacts. Some minor detail loss to noise reduction processing even at low ISOs.

With default sharpening settings, the
Canon EOS M10's JPEG files show good sharpness but with some moderate sharpening artifacts.
Subtle detail: Hair
Noise suppression blurs
detail in areas of subtle contrast,
as in the darker parts of
the model's hair here.

Sharpness. The Canon EOS M10's 18-megapixel sensor and processor capture reasonably sharp images with good detail when coupled with a sharp lens, though they aren't as crisp as images from some competitors, and edge-enhancement artifacts are visible around high-contrast edges, such as the halos around the lettering and border in the crop above left. This is typical for models from Canon at default settings, though. Edge enhancement creates the illusion of sharpness by enhancing colors and tones right at the edge of a rapid transition in color or tone.

Detail. The crop above right shows some detail loss due to noise suppression in darker areas and in areas with low contrast, but that's to be expected for this class. Typical performance for a Canon 18-megapixel APS-C sensor. Noise-suppression systems in digital cameras tend to flatten-out detail in areas of subtle contrast. The effects can often be seen in shots of human hair, where the individual strands are lost and an almost "watercolor" look appears.

RAW vs In-Camera JPEGs
As noted above the Canon EOS M10 produces reasonably sharp JPEG images with good detail. With a good RAW converter, additional detail can often be extracted with fewer sharpening artifacts. See below:

Base ISO (100)
Camera JPEG, defaults
RAW via Adobe Camera Raw

In the table above, we compare a best quality in-camera JPEG taken at base ISO using default noise reduction and sharpening (on the left) to the matching RAW file converted with Adobe Camera Raw 9.1 via DNG Converter 9.4 using default noise reduction with some strong but tight unsharp masking applied in Photoshop (300%, radius of 0.3 pixels, and a threshold of 0).

Looking closely at the images, we can see ACR extracts additional detail that isn't present in the JPEG from the camera, particularly in the red-leaf swatch where the fine thread pattern is likely treated as noise by the JPEG engine. Fine detail in the mosaic crop is also improved, but as is often the case, more noise can be seen. You can of course apply stronger noise reduction (default ACR NR used here) to arrive at your ideal noise versus detail tradeoff. And, as expected, sharpening haloes aren't nearly as strong as default camera output. Still, not bad in-camera default JPEG processing, but as usual you can do noticeably better by shooting in RAW mode and using a good RAW converter.

ISO & Noise Performance
Very good detail versus noise up to ISO 1,600, though detail suffers at higher ISOs.

Default High ISO Noise Reduction
ISO 100 ISO 200 ISO 400
ISO 800 ISO 1,600 ISO 3,200
ISO 6,400 ISO 12,800 ISO 25,600

The Canon EOS M10's high ISO performance is fairly good, very similar to Canon's more recent 18-megapixel DSLRs. Images are quite clean at ISOs 100 through 400, with just a tiny amount of luminance noise seen in the shadows, as well as what looks to be chrominance noise in the darker areas, though chroma noise appears well controlled. Noise "grain" is slightly more evident at ISO 800, but detail remains strong despite stronger blurring due to noise reduction. ISO 1,600 is of course noisier, but fine detail is still quite good. At ISO 3,200 noise grain becomes coarser, blurring stronger, and chroma noise is more apparent in the hair, but still under control. ISO 6,400 is quite grainy with obvious chroma blotching in dark to mid tones, but there is still some fine detail left. At ISO 12,800 fine detail is heavily blurred, however the noise grain becomes tighter and chroma noise is actually lower than at ISO 6400, indicating a change in noise reduction. ISO 25,600 is however very noisy with little detail and more noticeable chroma blotching.

Overall though, not a bad performance for an entry-level mirrorless camera. See the Print Quality section below for our evaluation of maximum print sizes at each ISO setting.

Note that we now shoot this series at f/8 instead of f/4, for increased depth of field (at f/4, it was very difficult to focus for maximum sharpness in the crop area while maintaining consistent focus between models).

Extremes: Sunlit, dynamic range and low light tests
Somewhat high default contrast with unremarkable dynamic range. Highlight Tone Priority and Auto Lighting Optimization options help with tough lighting. Good low-light performance, but autofocus can struggle at lower light levels.

+0.3 EV +0.7 EV +1.0 EV

The Canon EOS M10 struggled a bit here, producing moderately high contrast with some washed-out highlights and deep shadows under the deliberately harsh lighting of the test above. Our mannequin's face was too dim at the +0.3 EV and +0.7 EV settings, so we preferred the image with +1.0 EV exposure compensation here. This resulted in more clipped highlights in the shirt and flowers than we're used to seeing from an APS-C sensor lately, indicating mediocre dynamic range compared to the best of recent competitors. Despite the +1.0 EV exposure compensation, there are still some dark shadows and very deep shadows are on the noisy side, though they contain good detail. Bottom line: Dynamic range isn't as good as some competing models, at least not without features such as HTP and ALO enabled (see below).

Because digital cameras are more like slide film than negative film (in that they tend to have a more limited tonal range), we test them in the harshest situations to see how they handle scenes with bright highlights and dark shadows, as well as what kind of sensitivity they have in low light. The shot above is designed to mimic the very harsh, contrasty effect of direct noonday sunlight, a very tough challenge for most digital cameras. (You can read details of this test here. In actual shooting conditions, be sure to use fill flash in situations like the one shown here; it's better to shoot in open shade whenever possible.)

Highlight Tone Priority
The Canon EOS M10's Highlight Tone Priority (HTP) option did a good job of preserving highlight detail without impacting shadows and midtones much, as shown below. (Mouse over the Off and On links to load the corresponding thumbnail and histogram, and click on the links to load full resolution images.)

Highlight Tone Priority (+0.3 EV)
HTP
Setting:



Off


On

Histogram

Both shots above were captured at the same exposure (+0.3 EV), the only difference being that HTP was enabled for the second shot which necessarily increases the ISO to 200; part of how HTP works. The result is evident in the histograms and thumbnails above, clearly showing the superior highlight preservation when HTP is enabled, while shadows were only slightly affected. If you look closely at shadows in the full resolution images, though, you'll notice an increase in noise is the price you pay when ISO is boosted from 100 to 200. Except in the very deepest shadows, though, overall noise is low enough at ISO 200 that this is really a negligible trade-off for all but the most critical applications.

Far-field Highlight Tone Priority (0 EV)
Off
On

Here, you can see HTP at work on our Far-field shot. There weren't many highlights blown to begin with though, so the effect on highlights is quite subtle.

Automatic Lighting Optimization
Like most EOS models, the Canon EOS M10 offers three selectable levels of Automatic Lighting Optimization (ALO), plus Off. In fully automatic, M, Av, Tv, P and some scene modes, ALO is automatically enabled. Again, mouse over the links below to load the associated thumbnail and histogram, and click on the links to load full resolution images.

Automatic Lighting Optimization (+0.3 EV)

As you can see above, ALO has the effect of shifting shadows and midtones in the histograms to the right, brightening shadows and indeed most of the image without clipping too many additional highlights. ISO is not boosted for ALO so increased noise is not an issue, though it may be slightly more visible in shadows that have been boosted significantly.

Far-field Automatic Lighting Optimization (0 EV)
Off
Low

As you can see above, ALO had a similar effect on our Far-field shot.

Dynamic Range Analysis (RAW mode)
While we once performed our own dynamic range measurements based on in-camera JPEGs as well as converted RAW images (when the camera was supported by Adobe Camera Raw), we've switched to using DxO Labs' results from their DxOMark website. As technology advanced, the dynamic range of modern high-end cameras in some cases exceeded the range of the Stouffer T4110 density scale that we used for our own measurements. DxO's approach based on RAW data before demosaicing is also more revealing, because it measures the fundamental dynamic range of the sensor, irrespective of whatever processing is applied to JPEGs, or to RAW data by off-the-shelf conversion software.

In the following, we use DxO's "Print" dynamic range results, which are scaled based on camera resolution. As the name suggests, this scaling corresponds to the situation in which you print at a given size, regardless of how many megapixels the camera might have. (In other words, if you've decided to make a 13x19 inch print, that's the size you're printing, whether the camera's resolution is 16 or 300 megapixels.) For the technically-minded, you can find a discussion of the reasoning behind this here on the DxOMark website. Also note that DxO Labs uses a signal-to-noise (SNR) threshold of 1 when defining the lower boundary of acceptable luminance noise in their dynamic range measurements, which corresponds to the "Low Quality" threshold of the Imatest software we used to use for this measurement.

Here, we decided to compare the 18-megapixel Canon EOS M10's dynamic range (in orange) to its 24-megapixel sibling's, the M3 (red), and also to the Sony A5100 (yellow), a competing entry-level mirrorless camera that also has a 24-megapixel APS-C sensor. You can always compare other models on DxOMark.com.

As you can see from the above graph (click for a larger version), the Canon EOS M10's dynamic range is lower than the M3's across the board, peaking only at about 11.4 EV at base ISO, versus 11.8 EV for the M3. The M3's higher resolution helps it in this regard, since noise is reduced more when downsampled to the same size as these results are. Still, the difference is significant when printing at the same size.

Compared to the Sony A5100, the M10's dynamic range is even lower, as the Sony managed about 12.7 EV at base ISO. However the A5100's advantage falls to roughly match the M3's advantage at moderate to high ISOs.

Bottom line: Like older generation Canons that share the same or similar 18-megapixel APS-C sensor, the EOS M10 offers less dynamic range than most competing models, meaning shadows are noisier and/or highlights are more easily clipped compared to most peers. Click here to visit the DxOMark page for the Canon EOS M10 for more of their test results and additional comparisons.


  1 fc
11 lux
1/16 fc
0.67 lux
1/16 fc
Minimum NR
ISO
100

2s, f2.8

25s, f2.8

25s, f2.8
ISO
3200

1/15s, f2.8

1s, f2.8

1s, f2.8
ISO
12800

1/60s, f2.8

1/5s, f2.8

1/5s, f2.8

Low Light. The Canon EOS M10 performed fairly well in our low-light imaging test, capturing bright images at the lowest light level we test (1/16 foot-candle), even with the lowest sensitivity setting (ISO 100). As expected, noise is visible at ISO 3,200, but it's quite fine grained, and not at all objectionable. As expected, images at the EOS M10's top native ISO of 12,800 are quite grainy particularly when noise reduction is minimized (right column in the table above), but may still usable after being resized for web use or for small prints.

We didn't see any significant issues with hot/bright pixels or heat blooming, though some minor banding (fixed pattern noise) can be seen in deep shadows.

Color balance is pretty neutral with Canon EOS M10's Auto white balance setting, just a touch cool a very slight magenta or cyan tint depending on the light level and ISO.

Low Light AF: The Canon EOS M10's autofocus system was able to focus on our low-contrast test AF target down to just below the 1/8 foot-candle light level (down to -1.2 EV) unassisted with an f/2.8 lens, which is fair performance, however it was able to focus down to below 1/16 foot-candle (-2.4 EV) unassisted with our high-contrast AF target, which is pretty good. Both results are actually better than Canon's specification. The EOS M10 has a built-in AF illuminator which lets it autofocus in complete darkness when the subject is within range and has sufficient contrast.

As always, keep in mind that the longer shutter speeds here demand the use of a tripod to prevent any blurring from camera movement. (A useful trick is to just prop the camera on a convenient surface, and use its self-timer to release the shutter. This avoids any jiggling from your finger pressing the shutter button, and can work quite well when you don't have a tripod handy.)

How bright is this? The one foot-candle light level that this test begins at roughly corresponds to the brightness of typical city street-lighting at night. Cameras performing well at that level should be able to snap good-looking photos of street-lit scenes.

NOTE: This low light test is conducted with a stationary subject, and the camera mounted on a sturdy tripod. Most digital cameras will fail miserably when faced with a moving subject in dim lighting. (For example, a child's ballet recital or a holiday pageant in a gymnasium.) Mirrorless cameras like the Canon EOS M10 generally do much better than point & shoots thanks to its hybrid autofocus and larger sensor, but you still shouldn't expect a quick autofocus lock with moving subjects.

Output Quality

Print Quality
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.

 

The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Canon EOS M10 Photo Gallery .

Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Canon EOS M10 with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!



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