Canon EOS Rebel SL1 / 100D review - Quality

Quality

Canon EOS SL1 100D Multi-shot Noise Reduction

Canon’s EOS SL1 / 100D inherits the composite shooting options of the EOS T4i / 650D and EOS M to reduce noise levels. The Multi-shot Noise Reduction mode takes a leaf from Sony by not only combining multiple shots, but also letting you manually choose the ISO sensitivity. The earlier Handheld Night Shot preset, still available in the Scene menu of the SL1 / 100D, operated with auto ISO, often choosing a higher value than you’d want.

Multi-shot Noise Reduction is selected from the High ISO Noise Reduction menu, but is greyed-out when the image quality is set to RAW or RAW+JPEG; this option is only available when the quality is set to JPEG alone. Once selected the camera operates as normal, letting you manually choose the sensitivity if desired. But when the shutter is triggered, the camera takes four consecutive shots and automatically combines them into one a few seconds later.

To put it to the test I captured images for the entire sensitivity range for single frame JPEGs and those with Multi-shot Noise Reduction applied. Between 100 and 400 ISO I’d say there’s no benefit to using Multi-shot Noise Reduction, although at least there’s no evidence of the softening we saw in previous tests compared to the single frame versions.

What is in common with earlier tests though is a difference in visible noise from 800 ISO and up. At 800 ISO the single frame JPEG has visible noise artefacts in flat areas which remain smooth on the version with Multi-shot Noise Reduction. Somewhere between 1600 and 3200 ISO, noise artefacts become apparent on the composite versions too, but less so than the single frames. This continues up to the maximum sensitivity but arguably with little more than a stop advantage over the single frame versions in noise levels. Like other composite modes, Multi-shot Noise Reduction isn’t creating new detail, but acts as a good smoother of noise without compromising detail in the frame.

I’d say it’s worth using above 800 ISO for subjects which are static, but it’s shame it only applies to JPEGs. If you’re after the ultimate quality you may find it better to shoot a single RAW frame and use more sophisticated noise reduction in software later.

Now let’s check out a selection of Canon EOS SL1 / 100D sample images taken with the new EF-S 18-55mm STM kit lens!

 

Canon EOS SL1 / 100D JPEG
Canon EOS SL1 / 100D Multi-shot Noise Reduction
100 ISO
100 ISO MFNR
200 ISO
200 ISO MFNR
400 ISO
400 ISO MFNR
800 ISO
800 ISO MFNR
1600 ISO
1600 ISO MFNR
3200 ISO
3200 ISO MFNR
6400 ISO
6400 ISO MFNR
12800 ISO
12800 ISO MFNR

Canon EOS SL1 100D vs Panasonic Lumix G3 Quality RAW

To compare real-life RAW performance I shot this scene with the Canon EOS SL1 / 100D and the Panasonic Lumix G3, within a few moments of each other using their RAW modes; my noise comparison is on the next page. I plan on repeating the test with a Lumix G6 when they become available.

The Canon EOS SL1 / 100D was fitted with the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 STM kit lens and the Lumix G3 with the Lumix G 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 kit lens. Both lenses were adjusted to deliver the same picture width as seen opposite. The narrower 4:3 aspect ratio of the Lumix G3 meant a small strip of grass at the bottom and sky at the top was cropped from its composition. Image stabilisation was disabled for this tripod-mounted test and all other settings were left on the defaults.

The image above was taken with the Canon EOS SL1 / 100D. The camera was set to f5.6 in Aperture priority mode and the sensitivity to 100 ISO; I’d previously confirmed that f5.6 delivered the sharpest result with the new EF-S 18-55mm STM kit lens. I used the same aperture for the Lumix G3, again having pre-determined this to deliver the best results.

I processed both files in Adobe Camera RAW using identical settings: Sharpening at 70 / 0.5 / 36 / 10, Luminance and Colour Noise Reduction both set to zero, the White Balance set to 4800K and the Process to 2012 with the Adobe Standard profile. These settings were chosen to reveal the differences in sensor quality and isolate them from in-camera processing. The high degree of sharpening with a small radius enhances the finest details without causing undesirable artefacts, while the zero noise reduction unveils what’s really going on behind the scenes.

The Canon features 18 Megapixels across a 3:2 aspect ratio frame, while the Panasonic features 16 Megapixels across a squarer 4:3 shaped frame. I matched their coverage across the short axis (horizontally for this composition), so the Lumix G3 cropped a little from the top and bottom of the Canon’s original coverage. As such, both cameras were sharing roughly the same pixel density across the areas evaluated, and hence show similar magnification in the crops. Speaking of which, I took four crops from each image, indicated by the red squares in the image above right and reproduced them at 100% below.

When comparing out-of-camera JPEGs on the previous page, the Canon displayed a much punchier approach to processing with noticeably higher sharpening and contrast to the Panasonic. This time the same settings have placed them on a level playing field and the differences are down to their respective sensors and optics, plus any processing at the pre-RAW stage.

In terms of detail, both cameras look essentially the same, even with strong pixel-peeing, but two main differences stand out.

Looking at the first crop, the Lumix G3 exhibits a higher degree of background noise as you might expect from its slightly smaller sensor, although it’s worth noting you’re comparing 100 against 160 ISO here, so the Panasonic is two thirds of a stop more sensitive at its base ISO. To be fair, you wouldn’t normally see this amount of noise on a typical shot, it’s just that I’ve chosen a very high degree of sharpening with zero noise reduction. Tone the former down and the latter up a tad and you’ll enjoy smooth results from either camera, but I wanted to see what data each was starting with for this results page.

Looking at the second and fourth crops, the new Canon kit lens exhibits a little coloured fringing, but it’s pretty minor and easily corrected in software, either at the RAW processing stage or in-camera on JPEGs. Note that I didn’t apply any lens corrections to the Lumix G3 image, but the camera performs it automatically prior to recording or processing the RAW data, so that’s why its images are bereft of fringing. The bottom line is coloured fringing isn’t an issue for either camera / lens combination tested here, although pixel peepers may be a little concerned by the small but undesirable stepping artefact on the inside edge of the arch in the final crop. This wasn’t visible in the in-camera JPEG, so I’m guessing it was introduced in the processing by Adobe Camera RAW.

So judging from these crops I’d say the EOS SL1 / 100D delivers similar results to the Lumix G3 when both are equipped with their kit lenses, with a minor advantage in noise to the Canon. But before moving on, it’s once again important to comment on the impact of the new EF-S 18-55mm STM kit lens. The earlier EF-S 18-55mm IS often exhibited uneven sharpness in my tests, ultimately letting down the EOS bodies which were sold with it, but the new EF-S 18-55mm STM looks much more promising with uniform sharpness across the frame, not to mention a decent degree of detail. I plan on conducting a more detailed examination of its performance in the future.

But now it’s time to check out my Canon EOS SL1 / 100D noise results!

 

Canon EOS SL1 / 100D RAW
Panasonic Lumix G3 RAW
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 160 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 160 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 160 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 160 ISO

Canon EOS SL1 100D vs Panasonic Lumix G3 Noise RAW

To compare RAW noise levels under real-life conditions, I shot this scene with the Canon EOS SL1 / 100D and the Panasonic Lumix G3, within a few moments of each other using their RAW modes at each of their ISO sensitivity settings; my Multi-Shot Noise Reduction results are on the next page. I plan to repeat this test with the Lumix G6 when it becomes available.

The Canon EOS SL1 / 100D was fitted with the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 STM kit lens and the Lumix G3 with the Lumix G 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 kit lens. Both lenses were adjusted to deliver the same picture height as seen opposite. The narrower 4:3 aspect ratio of the Lumix G3 meant small strips were cropped from either side of the composition compared to the Canon.

The image above was taken with the Canon EOS SL1 / 100D. The camera was set to f5.6 in Aperture priority mode and the sensitivity to 100 ISO; I’d previously confirmed that f5.6 delivered the sharpest result with the new EF-S 18-55mm STM kit lens. I used the same aperture for the Lumix G3, again having pre-determined this to deliver the best results.

I processed all files in Adobe Camera RAW using identical settings: Sharpening at 70 / 0.5 / 36 / 10, Luminance and Colour Noise Reduction both set to zero, the White Balance set to 3800K and the Process to 2012 with the Adobe Standard profile. These settings were chosen to reveal the differences in sensor quality and isolate them from in-camera processing. The high degree of sharpening with a small radius enhances the finest details without causing undesirable artefacts, while the zero noise reduction unveils what’s really going on behind the scenes – as such the visible noise levels at higher ISOs will be much greater than you’re used to seeing in many comparisons, but again it’s an approach that’s designed to show the actual detail that’s being recorded before you start work on processing and cleaning it up if desired.

The Canon features 18 Megapixels across a 3:2 aspect ratio frame, while the Panasonic features 16 Megapixels across a squarer 4:3 shaped frame. I adjusted their lenses to deliver the same picture height, so the Lumix G3 cropped a little from the sides of the Canon’s original coverage. As such, both cameras were sharing roughly the same pixel density across the area evaluated, and hence show similar magnification in the crops. Speaking of which, I took the same crop from each image, indicated by the red square in the photo above left and reproduced them at 100% below.

One quick note before analyzing the results: both cameras metered the same exposures, but the Lumix G3 delivered slightly darker images as a result. So to match the brightness below I applied +0.3EV to a subsequent set of Lumix G3 exposures, but this in turn implies the Panasonic is approximately 0.3EV less sensitive at each ISO value.

Looking at the crops below, you’ll notice a very faint sprinkling of noise at even the lowest sensitivities – this is normal when you turn the noise reduction off and turn the sharpening up. But in terms of real-life detail I’d say they’re pretty much neck-in-neck at the start of this test.

As we saw on the JPEG comparison, the noise levels don’t change a great deal at 200 ISO, or indeed 400 ISO for that matter. At 800 and 1600 ISO you could arguably say the noise speckles are more defined on the Panasonic samples, but the actual degree of noise looks quite similar on both cameras. At 3200 ISO and above, the noise again looks a tad more defined on the Lumix G3 than the EOS SL1 / 100D, but it’s really close.

Even with 0.3EV compensation applied, I reckon the Lumix G3 images are still a tad darker than those from the EOS SL1 / 100D, implying a sensitivity difference closer to 0.5EV in the favour of the Canon. But the slightly darker samples below from the Panasonic are perhaps responsible for the slightly more obvious noise speckles. I reckon there’s definitely a hint of greater chroma noise from the Panasonic, but again we’re talking about pixel-peeping here.

I’d say from the results below there’s essentially no difference in the resolved detail and noise levels at the RAW level between the Canon EOS SL1 / 100D and the Panasonic Lumix G3, at least up to 3200 ISO. Most of the differences you see between them concern alternative processing strategies for in-camera JPEGs with Canon going for its usual punchier approach with higher contrast and sharpening by default.

Before I wrap-up my results though I have one more page to share, demonstrating the Canon EOS SL1 / 100D Multi-shot Noise Reduction feature. Alternatively if you’ve seen enough, head on over to my extended Canon EOS SL1 / 100D sample images.

 

Canon EOS SL1 / 100D RAW
Panasonic Lumix G3 RAW
100 ISO
160 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
3200 ISO
3200 ISO
6400 ISO
6400 ISO
12800 ISO
12800 ISO not available

Canon EOS SL1 100D vs Panasonic Lumix G3 Quality

To compare real-life performance I shot this scene with the Canon EOS SL1 / 100D and the Panasonic Lumix G3, within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings; my RAW comparison is on the next page. I plan on repeating the test with a Lumix G6 when they become available.

The Canon EOS SL1 / 100D was fitted with the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 STM kit lens and the Lumix G3 with the Lumix G 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 kit lens. Both lenses were adjusted to deliver the same picture width as seen opposite. The narrower 4:3 aspect ratio of the Lumix G3 meant a small strip of grass at the bottom and sky at the top was cropped from its composition. Image stabilisation was disabled for this tripod-mounted test and all other settings were left on the defaults.

The image above was taken with the Canon EOS SL1 / 100D. The camera was set to f5.6 in Aperture priority mode and the sensitivity to 100 ISO; I’d previously confirmed that f5.6 delivered the sharpest result with the new EF-S 18-55mm STM kit lens. I used the same aperture for the Lumix G3, again having pre-determined this to deliver the best results. Both cameras were using their default settings for picture styles, contrast enhancements and lens corrections; you’re basically looking at out-of-camera JPEGs below, although I have a second comparison using RAW files on the next page.

The Canon features 18 Megapixels across a 3:2 aspect ratio frame, while the Panasonic features 16 Megapixels across a squarer 4:3 shaped frame. I matched their coverage across the short axis (horizontally for this composition), so the Lumix G3 cropped a little from the top and bottom of the Canon’s original coverage. As such, both cameras were sharing roughly the same pixel density across the areas evaluated, and hence show similar magnification in the crops. Speaking of which, I took four crops from each image, indicated by the red squares in the image above right and reproduced them at 100% below.

At first glance, the crops from the Canon EOS SL1 / 100D look preferable to the Lumix G3 with sharper details and a punchier appearance, but it’s important to consider how much of this is due to processing as opposed to actual recorded detail. Canon has a reputation for applying fairly high degrees of sharpness and contrast by default, especially on its consumer cameras, and this is apparent on the crops from the EOS SL1 / 100D below.

In contrast the crops from the Lumix G3 look relatively soft and subdued in comparison, but once again this is down to their respective processing strategies more than anything else. On my Canon EOS SL1 / 100D RAW quality results page you’ll see how they compare when both share the same approach to processing. But in the meantime anyone coming from a point-and-shoot camera will probably prefer the punchier approach of the EOS SL1 / 100D for its in-camera JPEGs, but remember you can easily boost the sharpness and contrast on the Lumix G3 if you prefer this style, or of course tone-down the Canon if desired.

Before moving on, it’s important to evaluate the impact of the new EF-S 18-55mm STM kit lens. The earlier EF-S 18-55mm IS often exhibited uneven sharpness in my tests, ultimately letting down the EOS bodies which were sold with it, but the new EF-S 18-55mm STM looks much more promising with uniform sharpness across the frame, not to mention a decent degree of detail. I plan on conducting a more detailed examination of its performance in the future.

Right, now let’s get onto those Canon EOS SL1 / 100D RAW quality results.

 

Canon EOS SL1 / 100D JPEG
Panasonic Lumix G3 JPEG
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 160 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 160 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 160 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 160 ISO

Canon EOS SL1 100D vs Panasonic Lumix G3 Noise

To compare noise levels under real-life conditions, I shot this scene with the Canon EOS SL1 / 100D and the Panasonic Lumix G3, within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings at each of their ISO sensitivity settings; my RAW comparison is on the next page. I plan to repeat this test with the Lumix G6 when it becomes available.

The Canon EOS SL1 / 100D was fitted with the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 STM kit lens and the Lumix G3 with the Lumix G 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 kit lens. Both lenses were adjusted to deliver the same picture height as seen opposite. The narrower 4:3 aspect ratio of the Lumix G3 meant small strips were cropped from either side of the composition compared to the Canon.

The image above was taken with the Canon EOS SL1 / 100D. The camera was set to f5.6 in Aperture priority mode and the sensitivity to 100 ISO; I’d previously confirmed that f5.6 delivered the sharpest result with the new EF-S 18-55mm STM kit lens. I used the same aperture for the Lumix G3, again having pre-determined this to deliver the best results. I disabled Auto Lighting Optimiser and any other contrast enhancers as they can artificially increase noise levels; note I have a second comparison using RAW files on the next page.

The Canon features 18 Megapixels across a 3:2 aspect ratio frame, while the Panasonic features 16 Megapixels across a squarer 4:3 shaped frame. I adjusted their lenses to deliver the same picture height, so the Lumix G3 cropped a little from the sides of the Canon’s original coverage. As such, both cameras were sharing roughly the same pixel density across the area evaluated, and hence show similar magnification in the crops. Speaking of which, I took the same crop from each image, indicated by the red square in the photo above left and reproduced them at 100% below.

One quick note before analyzing the results: both cameras metered the same exposures, but the Lumix G3 delivered slightly darker images as a result. So to match the brightness below I applied +0.3EV to a subsequent set of Lumix G3 exposures, but this in turn implies the Panasonic is approximately 0.3EV less sensitive at each ISO value.

Glancing at the crops below the most obvious difference is the white balance automatically selected by each camera, with the Canon delivering a much warmer-looking result under the same lighting conditions. You can of course manually set the White Balance in-camera, or indeed enter it manually when processing RAW files and that’s what I’ve done for my RAW results on the next page.

You’ll also see the Canon crops are punchier than those from the Lumix G3 using their default settings. We saw on the previous pages that Canon prefers a punchier approach to processing for out-of-camera JPEGs, but it’s easy to match the style with another camera or vice versa if desired. So on this page you’ll need to try and look beyond their respective processing strategies to evaluate their performance.

From their base sensitivities up to 200 ISO I’d say there’s little to choose between the two cameras. Both are displaying similar levels of detail and clean backgrounds with minimal noise artefacts. At 400 ISO pixel-peepers may notice a minor increase in noise on the Lumix G3 over the EOS SL1 / 100D, but it’s really nothing to worry about yet.

From 800 ISO upwards, both cameras exhibit increasing noise artefacts, and while those from the Lumix G are slightly more obvious, it doesn’t take more than a second glance to spot them on the Canon too. I’d say the Canon enjoys an edge over the Panasonic at 800 ISO and above, but it really is a minor edge and much of the difference you see below is down to their respective processing strategies.

So what happens when you lift this? Find out in my Canon EOS SL1 / 100D RAW noise results where I’ll process files from both cameras using the same settings to really see what’s happening.

 

Canon EOS SL1 / 100D JPEG
Panasonic Lumix G3 JPEG
100 ISO
160 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
3200 ISO
3200 ISO
6400 ISO
6400 ISO
12800 ISO
12800 ISO not available
Canon EOS SL1 / 100D JPEG
Canon EOS SL1 / 100D Handheld Night Shot
Single frame at 1600 ISO
Handheld Night Shot at 1600 ISO
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