Canon T6 Image Quality


Color

Saturation & Hue Accuracy
Slightly lower than average mean saturation levels with excellent 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 Rebel T6 produces images with mean saturation levels that are a little lower than most cameras, but not by much. Strong reds, oranges, dark greens, dark brown and dark blues are boosted by minor to moderate amounts, while yellow and cyan are just slightly muted. The mean saturation of 107.4% (7.4% oversaturated) at base ISO is just a bit lower than average these days, and saturation gradually drops as ISO sensitivity increases (likely in an attempt to help suppress chroma noise), to a low of 97.3% at ISO 12,800. Still, pretty good overall results here. 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 T6 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 warm and yellow 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 Rebel T6's hue accuracy is excellent, much 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 only 3.45, which is excellent. 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
 

Indoors, under incandescent lighting, the Canon EOS Rebel T6's default Auto white balance setting struggled, producing a very warm red/orange color cast. The Canon T6 does however have a White Priority option for Auto white balance that should result in more neutral color balance, however we did not test that mode in the lab. The Incandescent setting performed a bit better, but was still too warm. The Manual setting however produced very good white balance here. Note that the Rebel T6 doesn't offer a Kelvin temperature setting like its more expensive siblings, but like all recent Canon DSLRs, you can shift color balance toward more or less green vs magenta or blue vs amber, using a +/-9 step grid format display. The Canon Rebel T6 required +0.3 EV exposure compensation for this shot, which about 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 good, though a tendency towards high contrast under harsh lighting. About average exposure accuracy.

Auto White Balance,
+0.7 EV
Auto White Balance,
0 EV

The Canon T6 produced pleasing, natural-looking Caucasian skin tones in our simulated daylight tests when Auto white balance setting was used. The Rebel T6 required +0.7 EV exposure compensation to keep our mannequin's face bright which is typical for our "Sunlit" Portrait shot. The Canon T6's default contrast is a somewhat high, though, producing quite a few washed-out highlights as well as 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) has pleasing colors, perhaps just a touch cool, but exposure is a tad hot (too bright) likely because of the dark tree, leading to a lot of blown highlights in the building at default exposure. Deep shadows have good detail but are noisy, as we've seen from other Canon DSLRs using older generation sensors.

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

Resolution
~2,400 lines of strong detail from JPEG, about the same from ACR converted RAW.

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

Our laboratory resolution chart in an in-camera best quality JPEG showed sharp, distinct line patterns up to about 2,400 lines per picture height horizontally, and to about 2,400 lines vertically. Some may argue for higher numbers, but lines begin to merge at those resolutions. Extinction of the pattern occurred just past 3,300 lines horizontally but only at about 3,000 lines vertically. An 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
Good sharpness and detail with a sharp lens, though with obvious sharpening artifacts. Some detail loss to noise reduction processing even at low ISOs.

With default sharpening settings, the
Canon Rebel T6'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 Rebel T6's 18-megapixel sensor and processor capture fairly sharp images with good detail when coupled with a sharp lens, though some obvious edge-enhancement artifacts are visible around high-contrast edges such the halos around the lettering and border in the crop above left. This is pretty typical, though, especially for models from Canon. 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, perhaps a bit more than is expected for an APS-C sensor these days, but overall detail is still good. 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 T6 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 9.5 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 in flatter areas such as in the bottle crop. As expected, sharpening halos aren't nearly as strong as default camera output, however the in-camera JPEG image has a bit more "pop" with higher contrast and saturation at default settings. You can of course apply stronger noise reduction (default ACR NR used here) to arrive at your ideal noise versus detail tradeoff, as well as adjust contrast, saturation and other image processing parameters to your liking.

In-camera default JPEG processing isn't bad, but as usual you can do noticeably better by shooting in RAW mode and using a good RAW converter.

ISO & Noise Performance
Good detail versus noise tradeoff up to ISO 1,600.

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

The Canon T6's high ISO performance is good for its class, though as previously mentioned, some loss of fine detail due to noise reduction is already present at base ISO. 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 chroma noise in the darker areas. 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 pretty good. At ISO 3,200 noise grain becomes coarser, blurring stronger, and chroma noise more apparent, resulting in a more noticeable drop in image quality. ISO 6,400 is quite grainy with obvious chroma blotching in dark to middle tones, but there is still some fine detail left. Noise and the effects of noise reduction working hard to keep it under control really become apparent at ISO 12,800, with strong blurring and obvious chroma blotching even in the brighter areas of the mannequin's face. There are also some bright pixels scattered throughout darker areas at the highest ISO.

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

A note about focus for this shot: We used to shoot this image at f/4, however depth of field became so shallow with larger, high-resolution sensors that it was difficult to keep important areas of this shot in focus, so we have since started shooting at f/8, the best compromise between depth of field and sharpness.

Extremes: Sunlit, dynamic range and low light tests
Somewhat high default contrast and 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 Rebel T6 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 default and +0.3 EV settings, so we preferred the image with +0.7 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 these days, indicating mediocre dynamic range compared to the best of recent competitors. Despite the +0.7 EV compensation, there are still some dark shadows, and very deep shadows are on the noisy side. Bottom line: Dynamic range in JPEGs 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.)

Face Detection
Just like most point & shoot cameras these days, the Canon EOS Rebel T6 has the ability to detect faces in Live View mode, and adjust exposure and focus accordingly.

Face Detection
Aperture Priority
Face Detect: Off
0 EV
Aperture Priority
Face Detect: On
0 EV

As you can see from the examples above, face detection works well, as the image with it enabled on the right is better exposed for the face than the left image where face detection was not employed.

Highlight Tone Priority
The Canon T6's Highlight Tone Priority (HTP) option did a good job of toning down highlights, 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 EV)
HTP
Setting:



Off


On

Histogram

Both shots above were captured at the same exposure (default exposure), the only difference being that HTP was enabled for the second shot which necessarily increases the ISO to 200; part of how HTP works. Although few highlights were blown at default exposure, the result is still evident in the histograms and thumbnails above, clearly showing highlights dialed back with little impact to midtones and shadows when HTP is enabled. If you look closely at shadows in the full resolution image, you'll notice an increase in noise and a slight decrease in detail is the price you pay when ISO is boosted from 100 to 200.

Automatic Lighting Optimization
Like previous EOS models, the Canon T6 offers three selectable levels of Automatic Lighting Optimization (ALO), plus Off. In fully automatic, Creative Auto, as well as in all 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

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.

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.

Unfortunately, DxOMark has not tested the Canon T6 at the time of writing. We'll come back and fill this section in after they do, but in the meantime, check out their T5 test results which should be very similar.

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

1.6s, f2.8

25s, f2.8

25s, f2.8
ISO
3200

1/20s, f2.8

0.8s, f2.8

0.8s, f2.8
ISO
6400

1/40s, f2.8

0.4s, f2.8

0.4s, f2.8

Low Light. The Canon T6 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 too objectionable. Noise is a bit high at the maximum native ISO of 6,400 particularly when noise reduction is minimized (right-hand column in the table above), though not too bad and images are still usable.

A few bright pixels can be seen at ISO 3,200 and 6,400 at the lower light level, but nothing to be concerned of. Some very minor banding (pattern noise) can be seen in very deep shadows, and we didn't notice any heat blooming.

Color balance is pretty neutral with Canon Rebel T6's Auto white balance setting at one foot-candle (just a touch cool), though white balance took on a slightly reddish tint at the lower 1/16 foot-candle light levels.

LL AF: When using the optical viewfinder and dedicated phase-detect AF system, the Canon Rebel T6's autofocus system was able to focus on our test subject down to just above the 1/8 foot-candle (-0.9 EV) light level unassisted with an f/2.8 lens, which good for an entry-level DSLR, and it was able to focus in complete darkness with AF assist enabled. In Live View mode, the Canon T6 was able to focus down to below the 1/4 foot-candle (-0.5 EV) light level, which is also good for an entry-level DSLR in Live View mode with an f/2.8 lens.

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.) Digital SLRs like the Canon T6 do much better than point & shoots, but you still shouldn't expect a quick autofocus lock with moving subjects.

Output Quality

Print Quality
A good 24 x 36 inch print at ISO 100/200; a nice 11 x 14 at ISO 1600; and a good 5 x 7 at ISO 6400.

ISO 100/200 images from the Canon T6 look very good up to 24 x 36 inches, with crisp fine detail and nice colors across the board in printed images. At 18 megapixels, you will generally be OK even at 30 x 40 inches for wall display purposes, depending on your viewing distance.

ISO 400 prints look good at 20 x 30 inches. The 24 x 36 inch prints aren't bad at all, and certainly usable in less critical applications, but a bit of noise in flatter areas of our target image prevent us from giving this size our official "good" seal.

ISO 800 shots require a further reduction in size to 16 x 20 inches, where noise is once again well-controlled and minimal. Anything larger has too much apparent noise in certain areas to call good, but 16 x 20 inches is still an impressive size for this ISO, especially given the affordable cost of this camera.

ISO 1600 is where the T6 begins to suffer a bit in the print quality department, as both noise as well as noise reduction artifacts become more apparent in larger prints. Keeping your maximum print size to 11 x 14 inches is advisable here, as that size still retains good color and detail throughout, with very little apparent noise or issues.

ISO 3200 images just pass our good grade at 8 x 10 inches. The overall print is not quite as vibrant, and there is a mild amount of noise visible, as well as some typical softening in our tricky red fabric swatch as well as a few other areas of our test target. We can still give this print our "good" seal overall though.

ISO 6400 can deliver a good 5 x 7 inch print, but as with the 8 x 10 above there is not as much pop in the colors nor fine detail as seen in the lower ISO images, so be advised you may need to adjust for this in post-processing.

ISO 12,800 does not yield a good print and is best avoided for printing purposes.

For its affordable price tag, the Canon T6 certainly holds its own in the print quality department. Producing nice 24 x 36-inch images at the lowest two sensitivities and yet still delivering a good 16 x 20-inch print at ISO 800 is a nice feat at this price. Not surprisingly, the print sizes were similar to the sizes attained by the predecessor model Canon T5, which shares the same imaging pipeline as this latest entry-level Rebel. If 8 x 10-inch prints and under are what you are generally printing, we advise keeping your sensitivity to under either ISO 3200 or 1600-equivalents, depending on your subject matter and overall tastes.

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.)

 

The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Canon EOS Rebel T6 (EOS 1300D) 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 Rebel T6 (EOS 1300D) 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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