Image Quality

Our latest test scene simulates both daylight and low-light shooting. Pressing the 'lighting' buttons at the top of the widget switches between the two. The daylight scene is manually white balanced to give neutral grays, but the camera is left in its Auto setting for the low-light tests. Raw files are manually corrected. We offer three different viewing sizes: 'Full', 'Print', and 'Comp', with the latter two offering 'normalized' comparisons by using matched viewing sizes. The 'Comp' option chooses the largest-available resolution common to the cameras being compared.

Raw

Raw shows good detail capture at low ISO values, and is broadly competitive with market competition (and is nearly identical to the older EOS M3 at lower ISO values as well).

In lower light and at higher ISO values, the EOS M5 is behind the competition by around one stop, which is a significant disparity at this point.

JPEG

JPEG colors are generally pleasing as we'd expect from Canon, with nicely saturated reds that aren't over the top, and yellows that avoid unpleasant green shifts. As is typical for Canon, though, noise reduction, even at lower ISO values, is clumsy, showing the smearing away of fine detail that's particularly prevalent on low-contrast subjects. Canon's crude sharpening doesn't help bring out fine details either, and can result in unpleasant 'halo-ing' around edges.

These issues are only exacerbated as ISO values climb, and we see the Canon leaving behind significant amounts of noise while continuing to smear away fine detail elsewhere.

Dynamic Range

Dynamic range performance is an area where we've significant gains from Canon in its latest large-sensor cameras, likely due to their move to on-chip analog-to-digital conversion (first seen in their EOS 80D). It's likely that the EOS M5 shares the 80D's sensor, and as such, exposure latitude and ISO invariance performance are identical between the two. In short, that places the Raw dynamic range of the M5 at about halfway between its best peers and Canon's previous APS-C attempts.

Out-of-camera JPEG Processed to taste from Adobe Camera Raw

This is a typical example of how this reviewer would process an image to make the most of a camera's dynamic range without giving in too much to the HDR look. Adjustments for the image above: Daylight white balance, +0.85 exposure, -100 highlights, +80 shadows, +23 whites, -77 blacks, slight bump to sharpening and luminance noise reduction.

For a more in-depth look, check out the EOS 80D's sensor performance for exposure latitude and ISO invariance in that camera's full review.