Canon EOS M5 Image Quality Comparison

Below are crops from our laboratory Still Life target comparing Canon M5's image quality to that of its DSLR sibling, the Canon 80D (for those wondering which of these two enthusiast Canon ILCs to get), as well as against several enthusiast ILC models at similar price points or in similar categories: the Nikon D7200, Olympus E-M5 II, Panasonic GX8 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 M5, Canon 80D, Nikon D7200, Panasonic GX8, Olympus E-M5 II 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 M5 to any camera we've ever tested!

Canon EOS M5 vs Canon 80D at Base ISO

Canon EOS M5 at ISO 100
Canon 80D at ISO 100

Since these two siblings share very similar or perhaps even the same 24-megapixel APS-C sensor, we wanted to see how they compare in terms of image quality, since they are also similarly priced. There is a difference in image processors, though, with the M5 employing the newer DIGIC 7 chip versus DIGIC 6 for the 80D. As expected here at base ISO there are only minor differences between the these two Canons, with the 80D producing colors that are a bit warmer. Otherwise, resolution, noise, sharpness and contrast are all very similar indeed.

Canon EOS M5 vs Nikon D7200 at Base ISO

Canon EOS M5 at ISO 100
Nikon D7200 at ISO 100

The image from the Nikon D7200 is sharper, crisper and slightly more detailed than the M5's at base ISO, thanks to the D7200's lack of an AA filter, as well as more aggressive processing. We do see higher luminance noise from the Nikon, though, and both cameras generate obvious sharpening halos. Aliasing artifacts are more visible from the Nikon, however it did a pretty good job at avoiding visible moiré patterns we often see in our notorious red-leaf swatch, while still resolving more of the fine thread pattern. We do see indications that the M5's AA filter is fairly weak, though, as ironically moiré patterns are more visible from the Canon. The Nikon's colors are warmer and more saturated, but not as accurate overall as the Canon's.

Canon EOS M5 vs Olympus E-M5 II at Base ISO

Canon EOS M5 at ISO 100
Olympus E-M5 II at ISO 200

The 24-megapixel APS-C Canon M5 out-resolves the 16-megapixel Micro Four Thirds Olympus E-M5 II, however the Olympus produces a crisper, punchier image. Both produce obvious sharpening haloes but the Olympus' are smaller and tighter. The E-M5 II also doesn't have an optical low-pass filter, so its images are a bit sharper to begin with. Noise from the Olympus is a bit higher in the shadows, but keep in mind the higher base ISO of 200. Both cameras produce pleasing colors with the Canon M5 just a touch more accurate overall.

Canon EOS M5 vs Panasonic GX8 at Base ISO

Canon EOS M5 at ISO 100
Panasonic GX8 at ISO 200

The 24-megapixel Canon M5 has a slight resolution advantage over the 20.2-megapixel Micro Four Thirds Panasonic GX8, but it isn't resolving significantly more detail in most areas here (the majority of the resolution advantage is in the width of the image because of its wider 3:2 aspect ratio). The Panasonic shows slightly higher noise levels (but keep in mind its higher base ISO), yet it does show some artifacts from its area-specific noise reduction already here at base ISO, in the form of rough edges. Color and contrast are more pleasing from the Canon, however the GX8 does noticeably better with fine detail in our red-leaf swatch, and its image is also a bit sharper despite showing less obvious sharpening halos.

Canon EOS M5 vs Sony A6300 at Base ISO

Canon EOS M5 at ISO 100
Sony A6300 at ISO 100

In this comparison, we pit the Canon M5 against Sony's similarly priced 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 default processing produces crisp images without the obvious and unsightly sharpening halos produced by the Canon. We do see stronger aliasing artifacts from the A6300, though, especially in the red-leaf fabric. Color is however noticeably better from the Canon, without the slight yellow to green shift seen from the Sony.

Canon EOS M5 vs Canon 80D at ISO 1600

Canon EOS M5 at ISO 1600
Canon 80D at ISO 1600

As expected, there's very little between these two siblings in terms of image quality at ISO 1600, with just very minor differences in color and contrast.

Canon EOS M5 vs Nikon D7200 at ISO 1600

Canon EOS M5 at ISO 1600
Nikon D7200 at ISO 1600

The Nikon D7200 still manages to produce a sharper, crisper image with better detail in most areas at ISO 1600, however the Canon M5 does noticeably better with our tricky red-leaf fabric. Noise levels are similar, however the Nikon's more aggressive sharpening makes luminance noise somewhat more conspicuous in flatter areas.

Canon EOS M5 vs Olympus E-M5 II at ISO 1600

Canon EOS M5 at ISO 1600
Olympus E-M5 II at ISO 1600

Here at ISO 1600, the Olympus E-M5 II produces a cleaner, crisper image, however the effects of noise reduction are more obvious, with smudging and smearing of fine detail. The Canon on the other hand shows a much stronger noise "grain", but it has a film-like appearance with fewer noise reduction artifacts, though the image is quite a bit softer than at base ISO.

Canon EOS M5 vs Panasonic GX8 at ISO 1600

Canon EOS M5 at ISO 1600
Panasonic GX8 at ISO 1600

It's a similar story here against the GX8, with the Panasonic showing less noise and a tighter grain, but with more obvious noise reduction artifacts as it applies stronger noise suppression in areas with less detail. The Canon continues to produce a brighter, contrastier, more vibrant image, though it's a little soft.

Canon EOS M5 vs Sony A6300 at ISO 1600

Canon EOS M5 at ISO 1600
Sony A6300 at ISO 1600

Like we saw at base ISO, the Sony A6300 delivers a much sharper image with better detail at ISO 1600, though aliasing artifacts are 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.

Canon EOS M5 vs Canon 80D at ISO 3200

Canon EOS M5 at ISO 3200
Canon 80D at ISO 3200

Once again, there is little difference between these two 24-megapixel APS-C Canon ILCs at ISO 3200 despite the different processors. Both produce somewhat soft images with a fairly strong but natural-looking noise "grain" in flatter areas. The 80D however holds on to a touch more detail in our red-leaf fabric.

Canon EOS M5 vs Nikon D7200 at ISO 3200

Canon EOS M5 at ISO 3200
Nikon D7200 at ISO 3200

Once again, the Nikon D7200 delivers a sharper, more detailed image than the M5 at ISO 3200. Overall noise levels appear just a bit lower from the Nikon, but its more aggressive processing means the grain pattern isn't quite as uniform as the Canon's. The Nikon actually renders a bit more fine detail in the red-leaf fabric, but some of it is distorted and false, and contrast is a little better from the Canon.

Canon EOS M5 vs Olympus E-M5 II at ISO 3200

Canon EOS M5 at ISO 3200
Olympus E-M5 II at ISO 3200

Similar to what we saw at ISO 1600, the E-M5 II continues to produce a cleaner, much crisper image, but detail-robbing noise reduction artifacts are much more visible giving the Olympus image a more processed look.

Canon EOS M5 vs Panasonic GX8 at ISO 3200

Canon EOS M5 at ISO 3200
Panasonic GX8 at ISO 3200

The Panasonic GX8 does a bit better than the Canon M5 when it comes to holding onto fine detail while at the same time suppressing luminance noise better, but once again more noise reduction artifacts are a result. Both cameras struggle about equally with our red-leaf swatch, but the Canon continues to produces more pleasing colors while the Panasonic continues to produce a sharper image.

Canon EOS M5 vs Sony A6300 at ISO 3200

Canon EOS M5 at ISO 3200
Sony A6300 at ISO 3200

The Sony A6300 continues to produce a crisper, more detailed image than the Canon M5 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 M5 blurs our tricky red-leaf fabric lot more here at ISO 3200, but much of the Sony's apparent detail in that fabric is false.

Canon EOS M5 vs. Canon 80D, Nikon D7200, Olympus E-M5 II, Panasonic GX8, Sony A6300

Canon
EOS M5
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Canon
80D
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Nikon
D7200
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Olympus
E-M5 II
ISO 200
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Panasonic
GX8
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 the the M5 does about the same as the 80D. Contrast is good, however sharpness trails the pack. The Nikon D7200 produces similar contrast and detail, however sharpness is better but sharpening halos are more visible as well. The Olympus E-M5 II does quite well in terms of sharpness and contrast, but its lower resolution cannot resolve as much detail, particularly at higher ISOs. The Panasonic GX8 performs well in terms of detail even as ISO climbs, but it produces the lowest contrast of the group. The Sony A6300 is the overall winner here, producing excellent sharpness and contrast with almost no degradation as ISO climbs, with hardly visible sharpening halos.
 

Canon M5 Print Quality Analysis

Very nice 30 x 40 inch prints at ISO 100/200/400; a good 16 x 20 inch print at ISO 1600; and a nice 5 x 7 at ISO 12,800.

ISO 100/200 prints are very good at 30 x 40 inches, with abundant fine detail and nice color, yielding a very natural-looking print overall. Wall display prints are certainly possible here at even larger sizes, until you run out of resolution!

ISO 400 images are also quite good at the lofty size of 30 x 40 inches, with only the slightest decrease in overall sharpness, but still a nice print overall. For your most critical prints, the 24 x 36 inch prints will very much deliver the goods here.

ISO 800 shots look really good at 20 x 30 inches, with only a minor trace of noise in some of the flatter areas of our test target, and a mild hint of softening in the red channel. Subtle contrast detail is still very good though, and colors look terrific. 24 x 36 inch prints will also work here for less critical applications.

ISO 1600 prints pass our "good" seal at 16 x 20 inches, although there is now more noticeable noise in flatter areas of our test target. So while we can certainly call these prints good, for your most critical work at this ISO sensitivity 13 x 19 inch (or smaller) prints are advised.

ISO 3200 yields a good overall print at 11 x 14 inches. There is still sufficient fine detail and full color representation throughout most of the image, and the trace of noise apparent in a few areas is very finely grained in appearance, making for a nice all around print at this size.

ISO 6400 delivers an 8 x 10 similar to the 11 x 14 inch print at ISO 3200, with only mild and acceptable noise in a few areas, but still a solid printed image in general.

ISO 12,800 prints are quite good at 5 x 7 inches, which really isn't bad for an APS-C sensor at this lofty ISO! There is sufficient fine detail and color remaining in this image to most assuredly call it good.

ISO 25,600 surprisingly yields a solid 4 x 6 inch print, and we salute all manufacturers who can achieve a good 4 x 6 at the highest native ISO, as it seems at least half of the cameras that we test simply cannot. Nice work to Canon on this worthwhile achievement!

Canon has once again brought good image quality to the table in yet another EOS M series camera. While the EOS M5 didn't surpass any of the predecessor EOS M3 print sizes, it still delivers results that are on par with most, though certainly not all, of the best APS-C cameras out there. Remaining at ISO 400 and below yields almost unlimited printing freedom and you can expect very natural printed images, while even ISO 3200 can output a solid 11 x 14 inch print which is as large as most photographers tend to go. A solid effort all around in the print quality department once again here from Canon.

 



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