It’s been a long wait, but finally Canon has launched its first really serious SLR-style mirrorless camera. Andy Westlake finds out how it stands up in this competitive market
Canon EOS M5 review: Image quality
Canon has equipped the EOS M5 with its latest 24-million-pixel Dual-Pixel CMOS sensor, and as a result it delivers some of the best image quality we’ve seen from any of the firm’s APS-C cameras, matching the EOS 80D. Resolution is high, due to an optical low-pass filter that appears to be relatively weak, and low-ISO dynamic range is very impressive. Indeed, few APS-C models from any brand produce obviously better image quality, aside from at very high ISO settings.
The EOS M5 performs strongly in our resolution chart tests, with numbers very similar to the EOS 80D and rather better than we recorded for the EOS M3 (suggesting a rather weak optical low-pass filter). Looking at standard JPEGs, we see a resolution of around 3,400 lines per picture height at ISO 100, which is very respectable for a 24-million-pixel sensor. Naturally, resolution falls as the ISO is raised and noise impacts the image, to around 2800 l/ph at ISO 1600, 2600 l/ph at ISO 6400, and just 2100 l/ph at ISO 25600.
Multiply the numbers below the lines by 200 to give the resolution in l/ph.
At low ISOs, the EOS M5 gives very clean images, with barely any visible noise. However, in the Standard picture style, unsophisticated sharpening results in a rather mushy rendition of the finest details, and to get the most from the camera you’ll need to either switch to the Fine Detail style, or adjust the sharpening Fineness setting. Image quality remains excellent up to ISO 800, but beyond this, noise starts to have a more visible impact on the files. ISO 1600 and ISO 3200 are still just fine at smaller output sizes, but by ISO 6400 almost all fine detail has been lost, and the shadows appear mushy. At the two highest settings of ISO 12,800 and ISO 25,600, noise overwhelms the image, so these are best left alone unless there’s no other option.
With Canon’s latest APS-C sensor onboard, the EOS M5 delivers an impressive set of results in our Applied Imaging tests. Results close to 13 EV at low ISO indicate that there should be significant scope to recover lots of shadow detail when processing raw files. Naturally, the dynamic range drops as the ISO is raised, but it stays quite respectable up to ISO 3200 at least. However, as we often tend to see, very low figures at the highest two ISO settings indicate their marginal usability, with significant noise and minimal detail likely to be visible in darker tones of the image.