In September 2016, Canon announced its flagship M-series camera, the M5. Almost 18 months later, Canon announced the M50, a more-similar-than-different camera with a feature many M5 customers craved – 4K video recording. Even though the M50 is positioned lower than the M5 in Canon's M-series lineup, I think you'll be surprised to see just how close these cameras are to one another. Instead of siblings divided by years, they're more like fraternal twins.
Let's look at these two mirrorless camera offerings from Canon to see which might represent the best camera for your kit.
Canon EOS M5 and M50 Shared Primary Features:
* Dual Pixel CMOS sensor AF benefits unavailable during 4K recording (M50).
Primary Advantages of the Canon EOS M5:
- Dual Pixel CMOS AF Sensor*
- Resolution: 6000 x 4000 pixels (24 MP)
- Crop Factor: 1.6x (APS-C sensor)
- Exposure Compensation: +/-3 EV in 1/3 stop increments
- Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB): 3 shots, +/- 2 EV, 1/3-stop increments
- Shutter Speed Range: 30 - 1/4000 sec (1/3 stop increments)
- Viewfinder: 0.39-type OLED electronic viewfinder, approx. 2,360,000 dots
- Flash x-sync: 1/200 sec
- Pop-up Flash: GN 5, 15mm coverage
- Memory Card Support: SD, SDHC, SDXC (UHS-I compatible)
- Built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC
Primary Advantages of the Canon EOS M50:
- Larger Auto ISO Range: 100 - 25600 vs. 100 - 6400
- Larger RAW Buffer: 17 vs. 10
- Larger / Higher Resolution LCD Screen: 8.0 cm (3.2”) ClearView II touchscreen LCD (TFT), approx. 1,620,000 dots. vs. 7.5 cm (3.0”) touchscreen LCD (TFT), approx. 1,040,000 dots.
- More Customization Options: 12 customizable buttons/ dials vs. 9
- Longer Battery Life: approx. 295 shots (420 shots with Eco Mode On) vs. Approx. 235 shots (370 shots with Eco Mode On)
- Wider Operating Environment: 14 – 104 °F (-10 – 40 °C) vs. 32 – 104 °F (0 – 40°C)
- Compatible with E3, infrared and Bluetooth remotes vs. Bluetooth only
Who should opt for the Canon EOS M5?
- New Image Processor: DIGIC 8 vs. DIGIC 7
- More AF Points: max 143 vs. 49
- More Sensitive AF: EV -2 – 18 vs. EV -1 – 18
- Expanded AF Area: max 88% x 100% (W x H) sensor coverage vs. 80% x 80%
- Better Face Tracking AF: eye detection vs. standard face tracking
- Larger Metering Range: EV 0 – 20 vs. EV 1 – 20
- Higher Resolution Video: 3840 x 2160 (4K UHD, 23.98 fps) / 1920 x 1080 (Full HD, 59.94 fps) vs. 1920 x 1080 (Full HD, 59.94 fps) only
- More White Balance Options: ambience/white priority vs. ambience only
- Faster Continuous Shooting: 10 fps (7.4 fps with Servo AF) vs. 9 (7 with Servo AF)
- Vari-angle LCD vs. tilting only
- Lower cost
Unlike many of our comparisons, the feature gap between the EOS M5 and the EOS M50 is quite narrow, relatively speaking. However, there are a few differences between the two cameras that may prove pivotal in one's decision making process.
If you're a seasoned photographer who appreciates having a myriad of easily accessible controls, then you'll really appreciate the M5's user interface. To see what I mean, flip between the two cameras in our Camera Top View Comparison
. The two most prominent M5 features you'll likely notice are the Exposure Compensation and Quick Control dials, both of which are missing on the M50. Also absent on the M50 are the M5's custom shooting modes, located on the Mode Dial.
Those shooting in cold conditions will certainly benefit from the M5's wider environmental operating range and longer battery life. Many will appreciate the M5's higher resolution LCD, larger RAW buffer and plentiful remote options.
Who should opt for the Canon EOS M50?
In short – everyone else. The M50's feature set will make it especially handy for vacations, social gatherings and general purpose photography and videography. With its advanced and more sensitive AF system, capturing in-focus images of human subjects – even in low light – will be easier than ever so you can focus less on photography and more on the time spent with family and friends. Although you don't get the benefits of Dual Pixel CMOS Movie Servo AF in 4K mode, the ability to shoot 4K combined with the M50's vari-angle LCD and small size/weight will make it an extremely useful tool for filmmaking, especially for vloggers or one-man crews. If outputting to 1080p video, set a tripod-mounted M50 to record 4K video and then pan around the frame in post for high quality b-roll, or otherwise reap the benefits of automatic and smooth Dual Pixel Movie Servo AF when recording 1080p video (the latter benefit is identical to the M5).
As we mentioned in the beginning of this comparison, these cameras are very similar. While their names may suggest a clear hierarchy, the cameras' feature sets belie simplistic categorization. Both cameras will likely serve most interested consumers very well, with the handful of differences above – and the benefits they bring to select shooting conditions – will ultimately determine which camera fits one's needs best.