What started as a single model has now filled out into an entire line of MILCs (Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Cameras). Canon has been adding to their EOS M lineup and the M50 is now a very attractive addition to that camera series. Though positioned as an entry-level model, the M50 is considerably feature-filled. Headlining those features is the first-for-M-Series 4K video capabilities, Canon's excellent 24 MP imaging sensor and the M50 also gets the M5's excellent OLED EVF (Electronic Viewfinder).
Here is a quick history of the M Series. When Canon introduced their first mirrorless ILC, the EOS M model, we had the great Canon DSLR image quality we have grown to love in a tiny camera body. While the M's image quality per square inch (cm) and per lb (g) was a big hit and that nearly Canon's entire lineup of DSLR accessories were available for it made it enticing, there were some aspects of this camera that left many of us wanting more. I purchased and still own an original "M".
Subsequently, an M2 model became available in some locales and the EOS M3 was (eventually) released globally. The M3 brought about some welcomed changes, including multiple dials on the top making some setting changes easier and faster, an improved AF system, a tilting LCD, a built-in flash and a better grip. I still have an M3, and while the improvements were quite positive, I still struggled with it in some aspects.
Even though it was faster than the EOS M, the M3 still seemed a bit slow and lacked responsiveness. Using the LCD for composition in bright sunlight was very difficult, the increasing need for reading glasses added to my challenge even in good light and not having an eyepiece against my eyebrow made handheld shooting less steady. While using the M3's optional EVF (Electronic Viewfinder) significantly improved the experience, I never got around to buying an EVF of my own.
An M10, positioned as an entry-level, ultra-compact model, also hit the streets around the same time as the M3.
The Canon EOS M5, introduced as the flagship M model, was the upgrade I (and many others) had been looking for. It was only a matter of time before Canon's excellent, fast, imaging-sensor-based phase-detection AF system made its way to the M series and a DIGIC 7 processor driving 7 fps high-speed continuous shooting exceeded the capabilities of many full-sized DSLRs. A built-in high quality OLED EVF took care of my mentioned issue regarding rear LCD composition. A further-expanded set of controls on top provided DSLR-level access to camera settings, a more significant grip improved control of the camera and many other new features made this model very attractive.
Next out was the EOS M6, sharing a nearly identical feature set with the EOS M5. For the M6, the M5's built-in EVF was replaced with an optional one with Touch & Drag AF and the Stacked Quick Control Dial was omitted. The M6 dropped some of the top control dials and was given a lower grade LCD that tilted 180° up (usually preferred) vs 180° down. As expected, the M6 had a smaller size, lighter weight and lower price tag (unless the optional EVF was factored in).
"EOS" of course refers to Canon's interchangeable lens camera models and the "M" line refers to the mirrorless variants. But, after "M", "M2" and "M3" came in succession, the model naming within the M line became confusing and it was difficult to slot models into the lineup without the help of a guru. That issue is, at least for now, settling out with lower numbers indicating higher end models.
As of review time, the M6 is the next-higher-end model to the M50 with the EVF-equipped M5 being the flagship model. In many regards, as the M5 is to the M6, the M50 is to the M100. The M100 is the low-cost, entry-level model with the EVF-equipped M50 being positioned next-up. While the M50 is positioned between the M100 and the M6, it is priced closer to the M6. EVFs are not inexpensive and that fact is reflected in the price comparison. But, EVFs are extremely valuable and I am much happier when the M-series model I'm using has one.
Here is a summary of the features found in the M50:
Following is a chart that shows a variety of specifications for the many of Canon's recent EOS camera offerings.
|Canon EOS M5||1.6x||22.3 x 14.9mm||3.7µm||6000 x 4000||24.2||100%||f/6.0|
|Canon EOS M6||1.6x||22.3 x 14.9mm||3.7µm||6000 x 4000||24.2||opt||100%||f/6.0|
|Canon EOS M50||1.6x||22.3 x 14.9mm||3.7µm||6000 x 4000||24.1||100%||f/6.0|
|Canon EOS M100||1.6x||22.3 x 14.9mm||3.7µm||6000 x 4000||24.2||n/a||n/a||f/6.0|
|Canon EOS M10||1.6x||22.3 x 14.9mm||4.3µm||5184 x 3456||18.0||n/a||n/a||f/6.8|
|Canon EOS M||1.6x||22.3 x 14.9mm||4.3µm||5184 x 3456||18.0||f/6.8|
|Canon EOS Rebel SL2 / 200D||1.6x||22.3 x 14.9mm||3.7µm||6000 x 4000||24.2||.87x||95%||f/6.0|
|Canon EOS Rebel T7i / 800D||1.6x||22.3 x 14.9mm||3.7µm||6000 x 4000||24.2||.82x||95%||f/6.0|
|Canon EOS Rebel T7 / 2000D||1.6x||22.3 x 14.9mm||3.7µm||6000 x 4000||24.1||.80x||95%||f/6.8|
|Canon EOS 77D||1.6x||22.3 x 14.9mm||3.7µm||6000 x 4000||24.2||.82x||95%||f/6.0|
|Canon EOS 80D||1.6x||22.3 x 14.9mm||3.7µm||6000 x 4000||24.2||.95x||100%||f/6.0|
EOS M cameras natively mount EF-M lenses and, with an EF-EOS M Adapter, Canon's huge lineup of EF-S, EF, TS-E and MP-E series lenses become compatible. Note that, as with all APS-C format cameras, a selected lens' focal length will provide an angle of view similar to that of a 1.6x longer focal length mounted on a full frame sensor camera (including when using EF-M and other APS-C-only lenses such as the EF-S series).
Obviously, the APS-C format is huge relative to the size of the imaging sensors in mobile phones and point-and-shoot variety cameras. Image quality, especially in low light, is an especially huge advantage they bring.
The EOS M50 inherits the same imaging sensor found in ... most of Canon's other current APS-C sensor format cameras. That is a very positive feature as this is a great sensor and Canon makes use of volume production for cost efficiencies that all of us appreciate.
You will notice that the M50's effective MP count drops by 0.1. Canon informed us of the reason for this change is that some of the pixels are taking on a supporting role, being used for other purposes, such as AF. Twenty-four megapixels has become Canon's APS-C standard issue at this time and this resolution is very high (higher than found in all-but-3 of Canon's full frame models to date).
Having the same imaging sensor, my expectation was that the M50 would share the same image quality as the M5, M6, M100, T7i, 77D, 80D, etc. And, it does.
Resolution is a key image quality factor to evaluate and the site's image quality tool is well-suited for that. I pre-loaded that link with a comparison using the M5 as the base comparison camera. The M50 performs the same.
I set the apertures in that comparison to f/5.6. With APS-C 24.2/24.1 MP imaging sensors having a 3.7µm pixel pitch, diffraction begins impacting sharpness when apertures narrower than f/6.0 are selected. Results at f/8 begin to show very modest softening and at f/11, you are going to see the difference in your images. This is not to say that you should not use f/11, but you should be aware of the penalty being paid for using narrower apertures and be discerning with your exposure choices. Use the tool to learn how diffraction affects sharpness and you will be prepared to make a knowledgeable decision in the field.
Another consideration for the use of cameras with pixel-dense sensors is the shutter speed required to stop camera or subject motion. Because the pixel density in camera sensors has been increasing over the years, blur and a loss of pixel-level sharpness are increasingly likely due to camera shake and subject motion causing subject details to cross over pixels at a faster rate on the more-dense sensors. That is unless a faster minimum shutter speed is used for handholding (image stabilization also plays an important role) and for photographing fast-moving subjects.
The old 1/(focal length * 1.6) rule to determine one's shortest shutter speed for handholding an APS-C camera (without the aid of image stabilization) may not be adequate for everyone. While this formula uses the easy-to-remember 1.6 factor that matches the APS-C sensor angle of view difference, the pixel density of the imaging sensor is the real reason the faster speed has been needed. You may prefer to use the 1/(focal length * 2) as a better base estimate for handholding the M50.
A nice sharpness-aiding feature of mirrorless cameras is ... the lack of a mirror, eliminating that potential source of vibration. Another consideration for getting the most from a high resolution camera is the quality of the lens placed in front of it. Increased resolution will magnify any lens aberrations present. As always, the better the lens, the better the image quality.
As pixel density increases, the signal-to-noise ratio per-pixel decreases unless other technological advances are involved. Canon has been standardized on 24 MP APS-C sensors for years and this sensor has been delivering very nice results in regards to noise.
The Kodak Color Control Patches shown in the standard ISO noise test results are generated from RAW images with (this is a key) no noise reduction (unless specifically indicated by the result set). These evenly-colored patches are brutal on sensor noise, making it readily apparent if it exists. Keep in mind that many real world subjects are more detailed and better hide noise – these samples represent a worst-case scenario.
How apparent is the difference between camera models is the big question. If you can't see the difference in the color blocks, you will not likely discern it in your images either.
The M50's ISO 100 results are very clean – this is normal for EOS cameras. As always, increasing the ISO setting increases the apparent noise. My personal tolerance for current APS-C sensor noise is ISO 3200. Results at ISO 6400 are noisy, but they can be usable. More of a last resort is ISO 12800 and a significant percentage of the details get lost in the low signal-to-noise ratio at ISO 25600. The purposes for ISO 51200 seem strongly marketing-related.
Many M50 test image sets in addition to the standard RAW-captured set are provided in the site's noise tool. One additional set explores the in-camera JPG file format. This set again utilizes the Standard Picture Style, but the default settings are used. The most obvious (and only) difference I see in the JPG-captured set is the significantly increased sharpness and I say that noticeable over-sharpening is dialed in. This creates halos and increased noise levels.
Three sets of with-noise-reduction JPG results are included, illustrating the difference that noise reduction processing makes. That difference can be big in some images, but the tradeoff is in destruction of image details and reduced sharpness. I typically use no noise reduction for low ISO-captured images and a low amount for higher ISO-captured images. As with the amount of sharpness selected, you can adjust noise reduction to your personal preference. Noise reduction is available in-camera or during post processing.
Six sets of the M50 noise results were captured at full stop intervals between -3 EV and +3 Ev. These RAW-format images were very significantly under and over-exposed, then adjusted to the proper brightness in Canon Digital Photo Professional (software included with the camera) and are useful for evaluating image quality, including the system's dynamic range.
In the -2 EV captures, I see the M50 showing decreased noise levels compared to the 80D, indicating that there has been some improvement made in the imaging pipeline. Capturing a brighter RAW exposure than desired and reducing the brightness during post processing typically results in lower noise levels than an image captured at the correct final brightness. This is the ETTR (Expose to the Right) concept. The problem occurs when one or more color channels get clipped with details lost. In these results, the M50 is performing quite well, perhaps very slightly better than the 80D.
Overall, this camera is delivering very nice image quality, arguably-at-least-equally-best-in-class Canon APS-C image quality, despite its tiny size.
The following table shows comparative RAW file sizes for a photo of a standard in-studio setup with a moderately-high amount of detail taken with the referenced Canon EOS DSLR body.
|Model / File Size in MB @ ISO:||(MP)||100||200||400||800||1600||3200||6400||12800||25600||51200||102400||204800||409600|
|Canon EOS M5||(24.2)||33.8||34.7||35.7||37.1||39.0||41.3||44.7||46.5||52.8|
|Canon EOS M6||(24.2)||34.1||34.8||35.9||37.6||39.6||42.0||45.1||46.9||53.0|
|Canon EOS M50||(24.1)||30.4||31.3||32.4||33.7||35.3||37.0||38.9||40.6||43.2||45.9|
|Canon EOS M100||(24.2)||34.0||34.8||35.7||37.2||38.9||40.7||43.5||45.5||50.9|
|Canon EOS Rebel SL2||(24.2)||30.6||31.3||32.2||33.4||33.4||35.0||37.0||39.5||42.4||47.0||50.9|
|Canon EOS Rebel T7i / 800D||(24.0)||30.6||31.2||32.1||33.3||34.9||37.0||39.6||42.4||47.0||51.1|
|Canon EOS 77D||(24.0)||30.6||31.2||32.1||33.3||34.9||37.0||39.6||42.4||47.0||51.1|
|Canon EOS 80D||(24.2)||31.2||31.9||32.7||34.0||35.9||37.9||40.6||43.7||47.5|
High resolution images create large files, especially when captured in (strongly recommended) RAW format (vs. JPG). For an ISO 100 21.1 MP EOS M50 image, you can estimate roughly 1.3MB in RAW file size per megapixel of resolution for a file size of just under 31 MB.
New with the M50 is the .CR3 RAW format that provides new features including the C-RAW format (compressed RAW with lossy compression). Instead of the not-full-featured small and medium RAW formats Canon formerly offered, C-RAW provides full RAW file support along with a 40% file size reduction. That math adds up quickly. What started as a quick evalulation of this new feature turned into a sizeable project. Check out the article: Should I Use Canon's C-RAW Image File Format?
The Canon EOS M50 writes the 6000 x 4000 pixel image files to an SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS-I) memory card. Memory cards are now very inexpensive and large files sizes are only a minor problem. Buy plenty of capacity and multiple cards.
I recommend rotating memory cards to maintain a backup set until, minimally, you are able to get the images safely into your formal backup strategy (which includes off-site storage). If your computer storage is lacking hard drive space, simply add external storage.
The M50 gets a rather-fast 7.4 fps frame rate and, if your application permits One Shot AF mode, a very fast 10 fps rate becomes available. These numbers surpass all M models before it, including the flagship M5. While the M50 can capture as many as 47 JPG images in a rated-speed burst, a solid figure, it has a miserly 10 RAW image buffer capacity spec.
|Model||FPS||Max JPG||Max RAW||Shutter Lag||VF Blackout|
|Canon EOS M5||7/9||26||17||n/a|
|Canon EOS M6||7/9||26||17||n/a|
|Canon EOS M50||7.4/10||33/47||10||n/a|
|Canon EOS M100||4/6.1||89/1000||21||n/a|
|Canon EOS Rebel SL2 / 200D||5.0||Full||6|
|Canon EOS Rebel T7i / 800D||6.0||190/Full||21/27||70ms|
|Canon EOS Rebel T7 / 2000D||3.0||1110||6||120ms||170ms|
|Canon EOS 77D||6.0||190/Full||21/27||70ms|
|Canon EOS 80D||7.0||77/110||20/25||60ms||n/a|
To test the Canon EOS M50's drive mode speed and RAW file buffer specs, the camera was configured to use ISO 100, a fast shutter speed (no waiting for the shutter operation) and a wide open aperture (no time lost due to aperture blades closing). A freshly-formatted fast memory card (Lexar 128GB Professional 1000x UHS-II SDXC U3) was loaded.
In AI Servo AF mode, the AF mode most frequently used with high speed burst drive mode, the EOS M50 captured 13 RAW frames in 1.637 seconds before filling the buffer for a 7.33 fps rate experienced. Using this card, an additional frame was captured in about .35 second intervals after the buffer filled. It should be noted that this is a UHS-II card instead of a rated-for UHS-I card.
Using the same card with the camera in One Shot AF mode with the lens cap on (insuring a black image with the smallest file size), the EOS M50 repeatedly captured 15 RAW frames in 1.40 seconds to precisely match the 10 fps rated drive speed. Additional frames were captured approximately every .25 seconds upon filling the buffer with longer pauses interspersed and eventually, more full-rate bursts.
Your in-the-field results will likely vary modestly and the speed of the memory card makes a difference. In AI Servo AF mode using a mid-speed card, the EOS M50 captured a substantially lower 9 RAW frames before filling the buffer and post-buffer-full performance was also lower. Testing with the slower card revealed little difference (-1) in the One-Shot AF buffer depth, but showed a much greater difference in the post-buffer-filled rate, capturing additional frames at a substantially slower pace.
A fast frame rate is frequently used for photographing action and photographing action frequently means tracking a subject in AI Servo AF mode, meaning that the 7.4 fps figure will often be what is realized. However, there are times when a fast frame rate can be helpful in One Shot AF mode, such as when doing HDR photography in reasonably bright lighting conditions. I say "reasonably bright" because bracketed exposures captured for HDR photography often utilize some frames with exposures long enough to push back even a slow max available frame rate.
I always find it helpful to see a visual sample of a specified frame rate in use. Drag your mouse over the labels under the following image for a visual look at the similar-performing M5's 7 fps rate at an indoor track meet.
Canon has not published a shutter lag spec for this camera. With no mirror flipping up to start an exposure and with an electronic first curtain shutter (shutter sound is made at the end of the exposure), the perception (vs. reality) of the M-series shutter lag duration has historically seemed increased and the M50 continues this perception. I should note that the M50 provides great tactile feedback to let you know the precise moment when the shutter release has taken place.
The M-series cameras are very quiet to use, but the M50 promised to break new ground with a completely silent mode. When I came to this point in the review, I began to think this announced feature didn't make it into the production camera. After going through all menu options multiple times, I still had not located silent mode.
I resorted to searching the owner's manual and only then was I able to find silent mode, hidden as one of the SCN (Special Scenes) modes. The decision to implement silent mode in this way immediately limits its usefulness as only the fully automatic exposure mode is supported. As this camera is geared toward beginners and amateurs, that decision will likely have few ramifications.
In silent mode, with a wide open aperture, you only feel the slight click of the shutter release and see a white frame border quickly flash in the OVF/LCD. Because Canon EOS cameras utilize a wide open aperture until the image is captured, the aperture blades must be closed to their specified opening size at image capture and that movement creates a slight noise. So, in this case, "nearly silent" would be more accurate.
This stealthy feature is a huge advantage for photographers wanting to avoid attention, such as when they are photographing wildlife, a quiet event or even a sleeping child (if you have young babies/kids, these moments are precious to capture).
Silent shooting mode requires a full electronic shutter (both first and second curtain) and that comes with both advantages and disadvantages.
Let's start with the positives. With no mechanical shutter being used, there are no moving parts, shutter failure is not possible, there is no shutter vibration to be concerned with and, relevant to the just-finished discussion, the camera can be operated in absolute silence, full stealth mode (at least nearly so). Again, wildlife and event photographers should take careful note of that last benefit.
The downsides of an electronic shutter are primarily related to the current-technology line-by-line reading of the imaging sensor – a rolling shutter. Fast side-to-side subject or camera movement results in a very-strongly angular-shifted image with vertically straight lines becoming noticeably slanted (with the camera in horizontal orientation). Thus, the M50's silent mode is best used for still scenes.
Here are the M50 sound clips:
Camera sounds are recorded using a Tascam DR-07mkII Portable Digital Audio Recorder with record levels set to 50% at -12db gain and positioned 1" (2.5cm) behind the rear LCD.
I had been anxiously awaiting the arrival of Canon's excellent Dual Pixel AF system to the M-series and now all 4 most-current models feature this excellent-performing system.
Live View and Movie focusing modes include what has become the Canon standard for Dual Pixel CMOS AF: Face Detection with Tracking, Zone AF (no longer Smooth Zone AF or FlexiZone Multi), and 1-point AF (no longer FlexiZone Single). On the recent-previous models, all focus modes work very well, and the (human) face detection tracking combined with the ability to influence which face is selected is especially impressive.
New "Eye Detection AF", when enabled in the menu (requires Face Detection with Tracking mode), adds an additional layer of focus point selection within face detection. When a person's face is large in the frame, only part of their face may be rendered in focus due to inadequate depth of field. In that case, it is crucial that the eyes are in focus. Eye Detection AF locates the subject's eyes and displays a smaller AF point within the larger face detection AF point. Both of these AF point sizes change with the size of the person's head in the frame. Eye Detection AF is a logical progression of Face Detection AF and it worked very well for me.
The AF zone coverage in previous Dual Pixel AF implementations was approximately 80% of the frame with 49 AF points available. New with the EOS M50 is that, with certain lenses, approximately 88% of the frame horizontally and 100% of the frame vertically along with 143 individual AF points can be utilized for AF. Those lenses not making the list still provide 80% coverage with 99 AF points. More points and greater coverage means that recomposing is needed less frequently and an AF point can be held on subject closer to the edge of the frame for fast shutter release timing or for motion tracking in AI servo AF mode. The improvement sounds nice in words, but it is really nice in use.
AF is possible with max. apertures of f/11 or wider. This AF system impresses with its EV -2 - 18 working range.
The M50 inherits the M5's capacitive touchscreen, allowing for Touch Focus during both Live View still photography and before/during video recording. Just tap your finger on the LCD where you want the camera to focus and it happens – smoothly. It's super easy – I love it.
New with the M5 and also-inherited by the M50 is Touch & Drag AF, permitting the entire LCD or a specific portion of it to be used as a trackpad to position the AF point. As with any major new feature, it must be trained into one's workflow and this one was very easy to adjust to. By touching and dragging on the LCD, the active AF point can be very quickly repositioned, either absolutely based on the touch location within the LCD (or selected portion of the LCD) or moved relative to drag direction.
Like most, I use my right eye in the viewfinder and find that my right thumb most comfortably reaches the top right corner of the LCD. So, with the M5, I selected the top right area for Touch & Drag AF, disabling nose-focusing (which didn't seem to be a problem for me even with the entire LCD activated). With the M50, I availed the entire LCD from the initial setup and have not changed that setting. I opted for the "Relative" option vs. "Absolute".
The speed of use provided by the Touch & Drag AF feature is great and, overall, the M50's AF system is a huge asset.
With each new camera that Canon has introduced since the ground-breaking EOS 5D Mark II, creating high quality videos has become incrementally easier. The M50's video feature set builds upon its traditional DSLR and mirrorless EOS predecessors with the inclusion of Canon's very impressive Dual Pixel CMOS AF and – in a first for Canon's M-series cameras – 4K video recording.
The value of being able to record 4K video cannot be understated, even if your typical output is only Full HD 1080p. The additional resolution captured in 4K recording is substantial. The illustration below demonstrates the difference between Full HD and 4K resolutions.
If outputting to 1080p, you can easily downsample the 4K video (with very slight cropping on the right and left sides), crop the frame to provide a tighter angle of view or even pan your FHD video within the confines of the 4K captured frame. You can also mimic zooming in and out of a scene to add even more production value to your 1080p movies.
Of course, creating 4K content is the primary benefit of purchasing a 4K-capable camera. 4K video offers more than 4x the resolution of Full HD, allowing for beautifully sharp and detail rich movies that will remain impressive on resolution-hungry devices. Note that the M50's 4K recording is cropped vs. down-sampled.
The M50 offers video recording in .MP4 format using the MPEG-4 AVC / H.264 codec, with audio being recorded in AAC (.MP4, stereo) via its front dual microphones or the 3.5mm stereo input jack.
Available frame rates and compression include:
3840 x 2160 (4K): 24 fps (23.98 fps)
1920 x 1080 (Full HD): 60 fps (59.94 fps) / 30 fps (29.97 fps) / 25 fps / 24 fps (23.98 fps)
1280 x 720 (HD): 120 fps (119.9 fps) / 60 fps (59.94 fps)
Movie recording modes are fully automatic or manual. Auto ISO with exposure compensation is available in manual mode for a balance of manual and automatic control. The M50 also supports Time-Lapse Movie creation in movie mode.
The EOS M50's ability to capture high-quality video is greatly aided by its Dual Pixel CMOS AF sensor. Unfortunately, however, the benefits of DPAF are limited to 1080p (and lower resolution) recording. In 4K mode, the M50 continues to support movie servo AF, but the camera relies on slower and less-precise contrast detection AF.
The M50’s Vari-Angle LCD is a feature that videographers will greatly appreciate, making filming from low or high angles – or for filming oneself for video log purposes – a breeze.
Also designed to aid video quality is Canon's newly developed in-body 5-axis image stabilization system, combining in-lens optical stabilization with in-camera digital image stabilization. This system can be set to one of three settings (Enabled, Enhanced and Disabled) and can provide stabilization for non-stabilized lenses or increase the stabilization capabilities of lenses featuring traditional IS systems. Maximum stabilization is achieved using one Canon lenses featuring Combination IS (at review time, only the EF-M 18–150mm f/3.5–6.3 IS STM and EF-M 15–45mm f/3.5–6.3 IS STM).
In my limited tests using the Canon EF-M 15–45mm f/3.5–6.3 IS STM Lens, the in-lens IS worked extremely well, while the digital IS feature has again left me unimpressed, as it has with past similarly-featured cameras I've tested. My handheld results captured with digital IS enabled are not as smooth as the in-lens-only IS produces. The in-lens IS alone is great and sufficient for my needs.
The rolling shutter/jello effect is rather noticeable when panning at medium and fast speeds during M50 video capture, but more-stationary shooting delivers superb results. Overall, the EOS M50's video-specific features make it a less compelling option for videographers when compared to the other cameras such as the EOS 80D, which offers more features, including .MOV recording (in addition to .MP4), user selectable compression and more time lapse movie options. However, the EOS M50 will deliver more than sufficient video quality for the majority of its users, and with the ability to record 4K, this camera will likely play minimally a pivotal backup/second/third camera role in even serious videographers' kits.
If you have not already done so and are not completely familiar with EVFs, you will likely find the Comparing Electronic Viewfinders to Optical Viewfinders article worth reading.
From my perspective, the addition of a built-in high-resolution 2.36M dots OLED EVF to an M-series camera is a great advancement. With an EVF, an M-series camera is far easier to use, especially in bright light, than any of its siblings without an EVF, either built-in or accessory-attached. And, the built-in version of the EVF, although it makes the M5 and M50 slightly larger than the sans-EVF models, is both convenient and compact relative to using an optional EVF. The built-in EVF also leaves the flash hot shoe available for use and appears much more durable.
The quality of the M5's EVF is very good with a very high resolution and the M50 gets the same EVF. I did not notice pixelation (it can be distracting) and I seldom saw the pixels appear to flicker as I panned around a scene. The size of the viewfinder image is very nice and the rear-extended position of the eyecup is also comfortable.
One of the specific negative aspects of an EVF vs. an OVF (Optical Viewfinder) is that the dynamic range is somewhat limited. But, it is also somewhat limited even in a RAW file.
Another mentioned issue that I specifically encountered with this EVF on the M50 was the blackout time/stop-motion view through the viewfinder when shooting at high frame rates. When photographing subjects in action , I could frame them as they approached directly toward the camera, but as soon as they began moving laterally, I had to guess where they might be. The viewfinder does not keeping up with the scene while capturing images. For this reason alone, I do not recommend this camera for serious action photography.
Especially useful to me is the dual axis electronic level helping me keep horizons level. Great also is the amount of additional information available for display and that this information is highly customizable. On the M50, the EVF proximity sensor does a nice job at turning on/off the appropriate LCD based on how the camera is being used.
Important is that this EVF has a diopter, but it is not so easy to set in its under-the-viewfinder location. However, it is also harder to inadvertently change.
While EVFs have some drawbacks relative to OVFs, they also have some advantages and I greatly appreciate having an EVF vs. only the rear LCD.
The EOS M line is all about delivering big camera image quality from a tiny package and next we will look at some of the physical attributes of the camera. One differentiator between EOS M models is the available controls, with the M100 having few and the M5 having many. The M50 falls between those two models.
While I have some differences to talk about, the back of the M50 is very similar to the M5 and M6.
To compare the M50 with many more Canon EOS camera models, use the site's camera body comparison tool.
The buttons on the back of the M50 are the same as the M5 and M6 and those are well-positioned, useful, well-labeled and nicely located with space remaining mostly for the LCD. The M5 and M6 have a rear control dial while the M50 has cross-key-functionality at that location. Though small, this round-shaped control is very easy to use with location and direction especially aided by raised nubs on each of the four sides. It is not nearly as easy to tactilely find the four flush-mounted buttons surrounding the rear controller and it is especially challenging to use them with gloves on.
Big on the back is always the LCD and the M50's LCD, the same as the M100 and M6, is a nice one. This is Canon's 3" (7.5cm) Clear View LCD II monitor, featuring capacitive touch and high resolution with approx. 1,040,000 dots (note that the M5 gets 1,620,000 dots). A change for the M series is that this model has a side-pivoting and twisting Vari-Angle LCD as featured on many EOS DSLRs vs. the up-and-down-pivoting LCD on some of the other M models. Only the mic port is on the left side, so wires obscuring the view should not be an issue and the forward-facing position as shown above will be greatly appreciated by video bloggers. The LCD holds snugly in the closed position with a small spring-loaded clip working to keep it in place.
The LCD's touch capability (electrostatic capacitance) provides great control over camera settings. Pinch, tap, double tap, flick, etc. gestures are supported.
While looking at the back view of the camera, I want to point out the neck strap attachment design. Prior to the M5 and M6, all of Canon's EOS camera neck straps were threaded through wide loops on the sides of the top of the camera. The M5 and M6 utilize a U-shaped wire that attaches to the neck strap with a plastic piece locking the connection in place. The M100 and M50 retain the more-conventional neck strap attachment design, again featuring wide loops for the strap to be attached to.
All of Canon's interchangeable lens cameras feature easy-to-use, logically-laid-out menu systems. A series of tabbed menus are especially quickly accessed using the touch screen and the My Menu provides a customizable list of frequently used options. Pressing the "Q" button provides a substantial list of camera settings that, via touch, can be very rapidly changed with little time spent looking for a most-used feature.
From a top-of-the-camera perspective, the M5, M6, M50 and M100 start to show their positions in the lineup, with decreasing controls showing on each next-lower-end model.
The camera product images comparison tool allows comparison of many additional Canon EOS models.
The M50's mode dial is not as fully-loaded as the M6, but it has a solid subset of the options. M50 shooting modes range from extremely-easy and smart point-and-shoot to fully manual with most everything in between covered including a wide range of special effects that can be applied while shooting. Notably present on the M6 but not on the M50 are the stacked exposure and programmable quick control dials. Still, one switch, two dials and three buttons are fit into a compact space to the right of the EVF and pop-up flash.
That switch is a feature I want to mention. The M50, like the M5 and M6, unlike all of the previous M models, has a power switch vs. a button. I like the switch functionality much better.
On the left side of the camera is an NFC touch-point and, under a flexible port cover that pulls open and rotates out of the way, a microphone port. The right/grip side of the camera features an HDMI OUT terminal (type D) and A/V digital out (Micro USB 2.0) port.
Certainly you've been noticing how small this camera is relative to the non-M series models being compared in the product images. Small size and light weight are hallmarks of the entire EOS M series and, while the M50 remains tiny, there is a small size and weight penalty for its additional features, primarily the EVF.
|Model||Body Dimensions||CIPA Weight|
|Canon EOS M5||4.6 x 3.5 x 2.4"||(115.6 x 89.2 x 60.6mm)||15.1 oz (427g)|
|Canon EOS M6||4.4 x 2.7 x 1.8"||(112.0 x 68.0 x 44.5mm)||13.8 oz (390g)|
|Canon EOS M3||4.4 x 2.7 x 1.8"||(110.9 x 68.0 x 44.4mm)||12.9 oz (366g)|
|Canon EOS M50||4.6 x 3.5 x 2.3"||(116.3 x 88.1 x 58.7mm)||13.7 oz (387g)|
|Canon EOS M100||4.3 x 2.6 x 1.4"||(108.2 x 67.1 x 35.1mm)||11.3 oz (320g)|
|Canon EOS M10||4.3 x 2.6 x 1.4"||(108.0 x 66.6 x 35mm)||10.6 oz (301g)|
|Canon EOS M||4.3 x 2.6 x 1.3"||(108.6 x 66.5 x 32.3mm)||10.5 oz (298g)|
|Canon EOS Rebel SL2 / 200D||4.8 x 3.6 x 2.7"||(122.4 x 92.6 x 69.8mm)||16.0 oz (453g)|
|Canon EOS Rebel T7i / 800D||5.2 x 3.9 x 3.0"||(131.0 × 99.9 × 76.2mm)||18.8 oz (532g)|
|Canon EOS Rebel T7 / 2000D||5.1 x 4.0 x 3.1"||(129.0 x 101.3 x 77.6mm)||16.8 oz (475g)|
|Canon EOS 77D||5.2 x 3.9 x 3.0"||(131.0 × 99.9 × 76.2mm)||19.0 oz (540g)|
|Canon EOS 80D||5.5 x 4.1 x 3.1"||(139.0 x 105.2 x 78.5mm)||25.8 oz (730g)|
My take is that the small size and weight gain for the M5 and M50 over the other Ms is completely worth the EVF advantage. The EOS M100 is smaller and lighter, but it has very little grip surface. When the absolute smallest option is needed, that model may be the best choice. But, the increased grip size found on the M5, M6 and M50 make these cameras much easier to hold onto and, if much time is spent with the camera in hand, these models are a better choice for this reason alone. The M50's grip is nicely designed and it works well despite the diminutive size.
Note how close the M5 and M50's size and weight are to the EOS SL2, the tiniest DSLR currently available. While these cameras retain some significant differences, they are both targeting a similar market – those looking for great image quality and camera performance in a small and light package.
All models in the entire current Canon EOS line (and most discontinued models as well) feature very nice build quality and even the least expensive models appear this way. Construction is always tight with dials and buttons assuredly clicking affirmation of use. As usual for EOS models, Canon has ergonomically rounded most of the camera and especially the areas intended to be gripped are void of sharp corners. Unless the retro look is what you are going for, you will likely find this design aesthetically pleasing.
Like most of Canon's recently released EOS models, the M50 has built-in Wi-Fi and NFC (Near Field Communications). Only the latest EOS models released have Bluetooth low energy wireless technology included and the M50 joins this group.
These technologies provide easy transfer of images and movies to compatible devices. Transfer images and movies to smartphones and tablets, to web services such as Canon's Image Gateway, to media players such as DLNA-compatible TVs, to PictBridge-compatible printers, to the Canon Connect Station CS100 photo and video storage and sharing device or send them directly to another Canon Wi-Fi-compatible camera.
Smartphone and tablets connect using Canon's free Camera Connect app. In addition to transferring movies and still images, this app provides some remote camera control features and provides a live view display of the scene. Camera Connect has a lot of untapped potential with the current feature set being somewhat basic.
Bluetooth is a relatively new EOS technology feature. However, the M50's Bluetooth is only useful as a wireless remote release using, for example, Canon Connect, to simply initiating a still photo capture or starting and stopping movie recording. Attempting to access the other Canon Connect App options, including image transfer, initiates a Wi-Fi connection. Able to utilize the camera's Bluetooth capability is the Canon BR-E1 Bluetooth Remote.
Sometimes entry level cameras get the new technology first and that is the case with the M50. New is that the M50 can automatically transfer images to a wirelessly-connected device as they are captured via Canon Camera Connect. Also, Image Transfer Utility 2 can be configured to automatically upload images to a computer when a camera connects to the same network. Arrive home late from a hard day of shooting, tired and ready for bed? No worries. The images on your memory card can automatically be copied wirelessly across the network.
Now common is for Canon's latest EOS DSLRs to feature built in RAW conversion to JPG, complete with many adjustments available for doing so and the M50 once again supports this feature. While shooting in RAW format insures the highest image quality, this file format is not so welcomed by many of the wirelessly-connected devices. With built-in RAW conversion, you can photograph in RAW format, create a JPG file in-camera and then wirelessly transfer it. Note that C-RAW is supported by this feature.
This camera does not feature a built-in GPS. The Canon Connect App is able to serve as a GPS logger, though battery drain will be high on the logging device. While the M50 does not directly support the Canon GP-E2 GPS Receiver, the GP-E2's logging function can also be used to geotag images later (accuracy depends on the camera's date and time being accurately set).
The EOS M50 has a self-cleaning sensor system, referred to as the EOS integrated cleaning system. I very strongly dislike imaging sensor dust and similarly dislike cleaning imaging sensors. Fortunately, the M50's imaging sensor stayed very clean. If cleaning is needed, the lens can simply be removed and, without a mirror or shutter in the way and with a shallow lens mount depth, the imaging sensor is right there, easily accessible for cleaning.
The M50 utilizes the LP-E12 lithium ion battery pack, the same battery shipping with EOS M100.
This battery is very small, light and convenient. But, in a mirrorless camera, this battery's approx. 235 shots rating is likely to leave you wanting. There are many factors that affect battery life (including drive mode, flash use and temperature), but enabling the M50's Eco Mode extends the rating to 370 shots. The key is to take enough charged batteries with you to satisfy your needs (and keep an eye on the battery level indicator to make sure the battery change happens at a convenient time).
Slightly annoying is that the M50's battery slot is not keyed to stop insertion until the battery is nearly fully seated. Just because the battery goes into the slot does not mean that it will fully click into place.
When you buy a Canon EOS camera, you are buying into an incredible family of lenses, flashes and other accessories. The camera body (or multiple bodies) is the base your system is built on and a lens is the next essential piece of kit. The Canon EOS M50 is available (in black or white) as a body-only kit, in a kit with the very small Canon EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens or in a kit with the 15-45 IS STM and the Canon EF-M 55-200mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM Lens.
Those opting to purchase the M50 are likely choosing it in part because of its great image quality and small size. To realize the great image quality part requires a high quality lens. The APS-C image sensor is large and large imaging sensors require a large image circle to cover them. This means that lenses, at least those with wide apertures, may not be able to completely scale down relative to this camera's size.
Canon's EF-M Lenses are very compact and they can all be good choices for this camera. Along with many others, I used the EF-M 15-45 on this and previous EOS M models and appreciated this lens' smaller retracted size and wider angle of view compared to the EF-M 18-55mm lenses I have on my M and M3. To remain as similarly compact as the M cameras, the currently available EF-M lenses have narrow max apertures with one exception – the Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM Lens pancake-style lens shown mounted below.
Via the EF-EOS M Adapter, all Canon EF-S, EF, TS-E and MP-E lenses can be mounted on any of the M models. While only a small percentage of these lenses retain the small size and light weight spirit of the M's, having them available is a huge asset, especially for those already having (or planning to have) a larger EOS model in their kits.
As discussed, the M50 is an entry-level EOS M model and along with entry-level status comes a low price. But, the inclusion of a high-grade EVF adds necessary cost and the initial street price is very close to that of the next-up M6. Of course, the M6 lacks an EVF and the optional EVF places a solid price difference between these models. Compared to the M5, the M50 is looking like a bargain.
Today, all EOS cameras hold a huge array of features and reviewing these cameras can be a daunting and time-consuming task. One could write many books about using this camera and getting the most from it. Hopefully I've given you the basics needed for decision making.
To dig deeper into this camera's capabilities, I recommend reading the owner's manual (a link to the manual is provided with this review). While I'm not a big fan of this camera's owner's manual, there is still good information contained in it and it will tell you all about a huge array of features not even mentioned in this review.
Owning a Canon product gives you access to Canon support and the support I have been provided by Canon's USA division is excellent (sorry, I have no experience with the other Canon divisions). When I call for support, I get an intelligent person who sincerely wants to help me with whatever my question or problem is (I do give them challenges sometimes). Canon repair service, though I seldom need it, is very fast and reliable.
The EOS M50 used for this review was online retail-acquired.
Should I get the Canon EOS M5? That is of course the question to ask and the number of alternatives available certainly makes the answer harder. Check the links at the end of this review to read detailed comparisons between some of the logical options.
It was an unusual day that started with a moderately heavy spring snow storm. I didn't have much time to go out and photograph the storm, but the M50 was handy with the Canon EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens already mounted. I grabbed it and photographed from under the deck roof for a few minutes. That was long enough to create a nice stack of images that I really liked.
Not long afterwards, wind gusts blew much of the snow off of the tree branches, and not long after that, my daughter, home from college for the short Easter break, called me to the window to see two male cardinals battling it out in the front yard. The M50 was grab-and-go-ready to record the story of this unusual-to-witness event.
I'll title this one "Bad Day" because, I think being pounded into the snow and having your feathers pulled out (including your crest) by a member of your own species qualifies as that. No worries – after being pulled out of the snow (it was either stuck, exhausted or recovering from a concussion), the battle loser slowly regained strength and a short time later, flew away – still looking rather shabby and for sure, looking for a new neighborhood.
Having a camera handy will, alone, result in more images captured and the M50 is super-easy to keep handy. I took this little camera along on several short trips and can say that its convenience factor is really high.
Hallmarks of the feature-filled M50 include great image quality and an excellent Dual Pixel AF system (intelligent, quickly controllable and good speed) in a compact package with the high-grade EVF making this camera even more usable than the M100 counterpart, especially under bright lighting. Of course, the 4K video feature will not go overlooked and the entry-level price, considering the EVF inclusion, is itself quite attractive.
While a complete beginner can use this camera to simply capture very high quality images, the advanced user who takes the time to learn this camera's more advanced features can have great control over their imagery. And, with Canon's entire EOS system accessories behind it, the M50's capabilities are practically unlimited.
Whether it is tucked into a pocket, in a camera case for backup purposes or used as an always-in-hand primary camera, the Canon EOS M50 can always be there for you with professional-grade image quality.
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