Canon T6i Image Quality Comparison

Below are crops from our laboratory Still Life target comparing the Canon T6i's image quality to its predecessor, the T5i, as well as against several competing APS-C models -- and one Micro Four Thirds camera for good measure -- which all sit at similar price points or product categories: the Nikon D5500, Olympus E-PL7, Samsung NX500 and Sony A6000.

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 T6i, Canon T5i, Nikon D5500, Olympus E-PL7, Samsung NX500 and Sony A6000 -- 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 T6i to any camera we've ever tested!


Canon T6i vs Canon T5i at Base ISO

Canon T6i at ISO 100
Canon T5i at ISO 100

The Canon T6i brings a new, higher-res 24-megapixel APS-C sensor to the 'Rebel' series over the 18-megapixel sensor in the T5i. At base ISO, both cameras display a lot of fine, crisp detail, but minute details such as in the mosaic tile and fabrics are more apparent from the T6i due to the increase in resolution.

Canon T6i vs Nikon D5500 at Base ISO

Canon T6i at ISO 100
Nikon D5500 at ISO 100

While both cameras here feature 24-megapixel APS-C sensors, the Nikon D5500's sensor lacks an optical low-pass filter, unlike the T6i which includes one. This, along with different approaches to default sharpening, allows the D5500 to resolve crisper fine detail than the T6i here in this base ISO comparison.

Canon T6i vs Olympus E-PL7 at Base ISO

Canon T6i at ISO 100
Olympus E-PL7 at ISO 200

Overall, both cameras do well here at base ISO. Details look a bit cleaner and more natural from the T6i. The 16-megapixel Micro Four Thirds E-PL7 on the other hand displays some minor noise reduction artifacts upon close inspection in shadow areas (such as in the bottle crop), but keep in mind its higher base ISO.

Canon T6i vs Samsung NX500 at Base ISO

Canon T6i at ISO 100
Samsung NX500 at ISO 100

The 28-megapixel APS-C Samsung NX500 edges out the Canon T6i in resolution here at base ISO. Details are crisp, shadow areas are clean and oft-difficult areas like the fabric swatches look pretty good from both cameras, though NX500 gets the nod here for crisper, more natural detail overall. The Samsung does however show more noticeable moiré patterns in the red-leaf fabric, thanks to its lack of an optical low-pass filter, as well as less saturated colors

Canon T6i vs Sony A6000 at Base ISO

Canon T6i at ISO 100
Sony A6000 at ISO 100

Here we have another 24-megapixel APS-C sensor head-to-head match up. Again, both cameras do very well at base ISO with resolving lots of detail, though the Sony A6000 produces much sharper images here at its default parameters for in-camera JPEG processing, while at the same time producing less haloing along high-contrast edges.

Canon T6i vs Canon T5i at ISO 1600

Canon T6i at ISO 1600
Canon T5i at ISO 1600

Apart from the relatively minor resolution difference, both Canons here display very similar image quality at ISO 1600. Detail is slightly better from the T6i, particularly in the fabric swatches, though both cameras still struggle with resolving the actual leaf pattern in the red fabric at this sensitivity.

Canon T6i vs Nikon D5500 at ISO 1600

Canon T6i at ISO 1600
Nikon D5500 at ISO 1600

While the Nikon struggles more with the red-leaf fabric at ISO 1600, its shadow noise is more pleasing and finely-grained compared to the Canon's. Fine detail in the mosaic crop is slightly more natural-looking from the Nikon as well.

Canon T6i vs Olympus E-PL7 at ISO 1600

Canon T6i at ISO 1600
Olympus E-PL7 at ISO 1600

Higher contrast detail certainly does well from both cameras at this higher ISO, and the E-PL7's noise reduction works well to smooth out and remove shadow noise more so than the T6i's, however the Canon continues to resolve more fine detail. Both cameras have a tough time with the fabric swatches, but the edge goes to the Canon.

Canon T6i vs Samsung NX500 at ISO 1600

Canon T6i at ISO 1600
Samsung NX500 at ISO 1600

Upon close inspection, the NR processing appears a bit more heavy-handed from the NX500, especially in the red-leaf fabric swatch, but otherwise, the Samsung has the edge over the Canon here at ISO 1600 with more detail and less noise. Colors from the Samsung continue to be less saturated, though.

Canon T6i vs Sony A6000 at ISO 1600

Canon T6i at ISO 1600
Sony A6000 at ISO 1600

The NR processing from the Sony is a bit more aggressive than Canon's -- it removes more noise from the shadows, but its area-specific algorithm can produce more artifacts, such as in the pink fabric. Noise from the Canon T6i, while more visible, is more uniform and natural-looking. Fine detail overall, however, is quite good from both cameras.

Canon T6i vs Canon T5i at ISO 3200

Canon T6i at ISO 3200
Canon T5i at ISO 3200

Apart from the resolution difference, the image quality from these two cameras at ISO 3200 is very similar. Noise and NR processing is certainly impacting detail, especially in the fabric swatches, but higher contrast detail in the mosaic looks quite good. Noise in the shadows of the bottle crop is visible, but not overly objectionable.

Canon T6i vs Nikon D5500 at ISO 3200

Canon T6i at ISO 3200
Nikon D5500 at ISO 3200

Fine detail in the mosaic crop looks very similar between these two cameras here, but up in the bottle crop, the D5500 has better noise control than the T6i. The fabric swatches cause trouble for both cameras. The Canon shows some semblance of the red-leaf pattern, while the Nikon manages to show more subtle, noisy detail, but overall, both camera have a tough time here.

Canon T6i vs Olympus E-PL7 at ISO 3200

Canon T6i at ISO 3200
Olympus E-PL7 at ISO 3200

The noise reduction processing from the E-PL7 does really well at removing a lot of noise, while the T6i displays more, however keep in mind we are dealing with a 24-megapixel APS-C chip in the Canon and a 16-megapixel Four Thirds one in the Olympus. Despite the significant resolution difference, image quality is good from both cameras, though the Canon looks a bit more detailed and natural in the mosaic crop. Both cameras struggle with the fabrics.

Canon T6i vs Samsung NX500 at ISO 3200

Canon T6i at ISO 3200
Samsung NX500 at ISO 3200

At ISO 3200, the NX500 has the edge with better noise control than the T6i, and fine details in the mosaic crop appear more natural from the Samsung as well. Both cameras have trouble with the fabric swatches, but the NX500 fares a bit better with detail in the pink fabric, though it appears quite faded.

Canon T6i vs Sony A6000 at ISO 3200

Canon T6i at ISO 3200
Sony A6000 at ISO 3200

The Sony A6000's NR processing does well to remove more noise than the Canon's, but it appears more aggressive and less natural, and is particularly noticeable in flatter areas such as in the bottle crop. Very fine detail in the mosaic crop looks slightly better from the Canon, though both cameras are quite close in performance here. Our infamous fabric swatches prove troublesome for both cameras with NR impacting detail in different ways from each camera.

Canon T6i vs. Canon T5i, Nikon D5500, Olympus E-PL7, Samsung NX500, Sony A6000

ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
ISO 200
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Detail comparison. We also like to take a look at high-contrast detail, and while the Canon T6i is a decent performer, it doesn't enter the winner's circle here against the competition. At base ISO, detail from the T6i looks quite good, but the D5500, NX500 and A6000 all get top marks with crisper, sharper detail. As sensitivity rises, contrast drops in the Canon images. The T6i clearly does much better than its predecessor here, but against some of the other competitors, particularly the D5500 and NX500, the T6i lags behind.


Canon T6i Print Quality Analysis

High-quality prints up to 30 x 40 inches at ISO 100-400; Nice 13 x 19 inch prints at ISO 3200; and 4 x 6 inch prints just pass muster at ISO 25,600.

ISO 100/200/400 images look impressive up to a whopping 30 x 40 inches. At all three sensitivities, prints of our Still Life test images look very good with lots of fine detail and pleasing colors. 30 x 40 prints are quite large, and the largest we test-print now at IR. You're really only limited by how much you want to push the 24-megapixel sensor's resolution should you wish to print larger sizes.

ISO 800 prints still look very, very good, and in fact, quite close to the previous three ISOs at 24 x 36 inches. However, we can see that subtle shadow noise has become more apparent at this sensitivity, making a 20 x 30 inch print the largest size with our stamp of approval. That said, colors and detail are still very good, so a 24 x 36 print could do well for less critical applications.

ISO 1600 images look great up to 16 x 20 inches. Noise in the shadows is more visible now, though finely grained, but overall, prints at this size show a lot of detail and pleasing colors.

ISO 3200 prints do nicely up until 13 x 19 inches. At this point, noise is heavier, though it still has a fine-grained quality to it, but nevertheless it prevents us from calling larger print sizes acceptable. Fine detail and colors are still quite good at this print size, though.

ISO 6400 images look great up to 8 x 10 inches. Naturally, noise is stronger and more apparent at this ISO now, but there's still a good amount of detail, and colors are pleasing.

ISO 12,800 prints max-out at 5 x 7 inches. Detail becomes too soft due to noise to really consider any larger print sizes acceptable.

ISO 25,600 images manage to squeak out a rather pleasant 4 x 6 inch print. Colors still look surprisingly good, and there's just enough detail to make a decent print at this size.

Sporting the highest-resolution APS-C sensor ever packed into a Rebel-series camera, the 24-megapixel Canon T6i has an impressive showing in the print department. Surprisingly, prints from ISO 100 up to 400 look practically identical with tons of detail and great colors allowing for very large prints up to 30 x 40 inches. Hitting the middle ISO ranges, the T6i does very well to control noise and balance NR processing with a good amount of fine detail. At ISO 3200, the T6i manages a nice 13 x 19 inch print. And even at the tip-top of the ISO scale, this new Canon Rebel achieves a good 5 x 7 at ISO 12,800 and a 4 x 6 at 25,600.

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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