Canon EOS M50 Review
|Full model name:||Canon EOS M50|
(22.3mm x 14.9mm)
|Viewfinder:||EVF / LCD|
|Native ISO:||100 - 25,600|
|Extended ISO:||100 - 51,200|
|Shutter:||1/4000 - 30 seconds|
|Max Aperture:||3.5 (kit lens)|
4.6 x 3.5 x 2.3 in.
(116 x 88 x 59 mm)
includes batteries, kit lens
|Full specs:||Canon EOS M50 specifications|
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Canon M50 Hands-on Preview
by Jeremy Gray
The Canon EOS M5 was released in November of 2016 and when we reviewed it, we asked if it was the mirrorless camera that Canon enthusiasts had been waiting for. For us, it came close and was certainly Canon's best and most well-rounded mirrorless camera yet. The newly-announced Canon EOS M50 continues the trend of M-series improvement and appears to be addressing some of the M5's small list of issues, though it doesn't replace the M5, but instead slots below it in Canon's lineup.
The Canon M50 marks a number of firsts for Canon. It is the first Canon camera with the new DIGIC 8 image processor. It's the first Canon M camera to include 4K video recording. Further, the Dual Pixel CMOS AF has been improved, which is significant considering how good it already was. While these are notable additions, the M50 shares a lot with its more expensive sibling too, such as the same 24-megapixel APS-C image sensor. Canon is still positioning it as an entry-level camera in general, though, but it's one which is more full-featured than prior entry-level M cameras. Let's take a closer look at what's new, and what you can expect when the M50 hits stores this spring.
Canon M50 Key Features
- 24.3-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
- Native ISO range of 100-25,600
- First Canon camera with new DIGIC 8 image processor
- Up to 10 frames per second continuous shooting
- Improved Dual Pixel CMOS AF
- 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen
- 0.39-inch OLED electronic viewfinder
- 4K UHD video recording
- Built-in Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth
Camera Body and Design
There are stylistic similarities between the new Canon M50 and its bigger brother, but there are many differences when you look closer. Starting on the rear of the camera, the M50 has a slightly smaller display than the M5 (3 inches versus 3.2 inches), but this comes with the tradeoff that the M50 has a vari-angle display whereas the M5 has just a tilting display. In both cases, they offer touch functionality. The M50's 3-inch display has approximately 1.04 million dots while the M5's has 1.62 million. The M50 doesn't have a control dial around the 4-way pad and the power switch has been relocated. Further, the dedicated movie record button has been moved from the back of the camera to the top deck on the M50.
Speaking of the top of the camera, this is where the two cameras vary the most. The M5 has a main dial around the shutter button, a multi-function button, an exposure compensation dial, a function dial with central button, a flash release button, and a locking mode dial. The M50 simplifies things greatly by removing the exposure compensation and function dials, and the flash release button. There is a main dial, a multi-function button and a non-locking mode dial, but to the left of the electronic viewfinder, there are no dials or buttons whatsoever. We will need to get more hands-on time with the camera out in the field to determine how this affects overall usability.
The M50 has dimensions (width x height x depth) of 4.58 inches (116.3 millimeters) x 3.47 inches (88.1 millimeters) x 2.31 inches (58.7 millimeters) and it weighs 13.7 ounces (387 grams) with the battery and an SD memory card inserted. The white version weighs three grams more. By comparison, the M5 is 4.55 x 3.51 x 2.39 inches (115.6 x 89.2 x 60.6 mm), a little narrower despite having more dials, but a little taller and deeper. The M5 is around 1.3 ounces or 37 grams heavier as well.
Sensor and image quality
The M50 employs the same 24.1-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor as its sibling. It has the same native ISO range as the M5 of 100 to 25,600, however, it can now be expanded to ISO 51,200. Further, the M50 supports the next-generation CR3 RAW format and it offers a new C-RAW lossy compression RAW option. C-RAW image files are about 40 percent smaller in size when compared to lossless compressed RAW files. This leads to some performance gains, as we can see in the next section.
Performance improvements driven by first DIGIC 8 processor
As the first camera with a DIGIC 8 processor, you might expect big performance improvements across the board for the M50. There are speed improvements, but they aren't massive. The camera can shoot at up to 10 frames per second with one-shot autofocus and 7.4 frames per second with continuous autofocus. This is about a frame per second faster than the M5 for one-shot AF and 0.4 fps faster for continuous AF.
According to Canon, the M50 can shoot 10 RAW or 33 JPEG images at 10 fps before it slows. However, by shooting in the new lossy compressed C-RAW format you can increase RAW buffer depth to 16 frames at 10 fps. The M5 managed only 27 JPEGs in the lab at just over 9 frames per second, but its lossless RAW buffer depth was still deeper than the M50's C-RAW buffer at 18 frames, however keep in mind the slightly slower frame rate.
When looking at autofocus, the Dual Pixel CMOS AF system in the M50 has also been upgraded compared to its sibling. It now includes 143 points, although there's a catch, not every EF-M lens can utilize all 143 points. The EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM, EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM and EF-M 55-200mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM lenses can all use 143 points, which covers 88% of the horizontal image area and 100% of the vertical image area. The rest of the EF-M lenses, including the standard EF-M 15-45mm kit lens, can only use 99 points which covers the same 80% width and 80% height of prior Dual Pixel CMOS AF cameras. There are also many EF and EF-S lenses which can use 143 points when adapted to the EOS M50 with the optional Canon-sold adapter.
The M50 also offers Eye Detect autofocus and touch and drag autofocus features, the latter via its rear touchscreen. The working range of the autofocus system is rated as -2 to 18 EV and the M50 has a built-in AF assist LED lamp. Further, if you want to use manual focus, the M50 does offer focus peaking.
Overall, the DIGIC 8 is an interesting update to the M50 and it does deliver some improved performance, although perhaps not quite as much as you might expect from a next-generation processor.
The Canon M50 includes numerous shooting modes and has been designed to be accessible for users new to photography, or at least new to an interchangeable lens camera, but it also offers advanced users intuitive physical controls. In addition to standard program, aperture priority (Av), shutter speed priority (Tv) and manual shooting modes, there are also scene modes and the camera includes a new silent mode as part of its scene mode selection. The silent mode results in there being no shutter sound whatsoever.
If you want to process your RAW files in the camera, the M50 now offers that feature. If you'd like to transfer your images, you can do so via the M50's built-in Wi-Fi with NFC and Bluetooth. You can transfer images automatically as well.
Canon EOS M50 Wi-Fi Demo Video
With respect to shooting specs, the M50 has a shutter speed range of 30 seconds to 1/4,000s in P, Av, Tv and M modes, although some shooting modes have different limitations. The camera has a built-in flash which has a flash sync of 1/200s and a guide number of 5 m / 16.4 ft. at ISO 100. The camera relies upon a 384-zone metering system and offers evaluative, partial, spot and center-weighted average metering modes.
Video: Canon EOS M50 is the first M-series camera with 4K video
4K video has been a long time coming to the Canon EOS M series and it finally arrives with the M50. Let's look at the good news first: the camera can record 4K UHD video at 24 (23.98) frames per second. Further, the camera can shoot Full HD video at up to 60 fps and HD video at up to 120 fps.
When recording 4K UHD video, which has four times the pixels than Full HD video, the M50 can still record for up to 29 minutes and 59 seconds, which is an impressive recording limit for 4K in this class. The bit rate of 4K video is 120 Mbps. There are some downsides, though. 4K is limited to 24p, it's cropped from the center by a factor of about 1.6x on top of Canon's 1.6x APS-C crop, and autofocus is contrast-detect only.
When recording Full HD video, Dual Pixel AF is available, the bit rate drops to 60 Mbps at 60p, and the maximum clip length remains the same, 29'59". For the high speed HD video mode at 120 fps, the clip length tops out at 7'29" at 52 Mbps. Further, the M50 records stereo sound with its dual internal mics, and includes an external mic input, which is nice. It's worth noting that the maximum ISO during 4K video is 6400 while for 1080p and below, the maximum ISO is 25,600.
While there are some drawbacks with the M50's implementation of 4K video and we don't know what the video quality will be, it's fantastic that Canon has finally included it in an M-series camera and we're excited to try it out.
Ports, storage and connectivity
The M50 has a Micro-B USB 2.0 port, a Micro HDMI Type-D port -- which supports HDMI output of the shooting screen without sound while recording -- and a 3.5mm stereo microphone jack. It does not however have the M5's wired remote jack. Images and video are stored on SD/SDHC/SDXC cards via a single card slot with support for UHS-I, just like the M5.
The M50 uses Canon's 7.2V 875mAh LP-E12 lithium-ion battery pack, which is CIPA-rated to 235 shots in regular shooting with either display, and 370 shots in Eco Mode. The M5 utilizes a larger 1040mAh LP-E17 battery, which is rated for 60 more shots in regular shooting modes.
Sibling Rivalry: Where does the M50 sit in Canon's lineup?
The M50 is an interesting camera for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that Canon is positioning it as an entry-level camera in its press materials. When you look at its specs and feature set, it's somewhat surprising to see it described as entry-level. It has a 24-megapixel APS-C sensor, 10 frames per second shooting, Dual Pixel CMOS AF, 4K video, Vari-angle touchscreen and a built-in electronic viewfinder. Build quality felt solid on the pre-production unit we handled, and despite losing some physical controls compared to its more expensive big brother, it is arguably the most capable M-series camera Canon has released to date.
For Canon shooters with an array of EF and EF-S lenses, the M50 will presumably work as well with the adapted lenses as other M-series cameras have and that will help alleviate the biggest weakness of the M system, the lack of good native glass. With that said, there's a lot to like about the M50. If this is the new entry-level EOS M, we like where Canon appears to be headed with the line.
Canon M50 Price and Availability
The Canon EOS M50 will be available in April in multiple configurations and black and white colorways. The M50 body itself will be available for US$779.99. The most affordable kit comes with an EF-M 15-45mm lens and that will retail for $899.99. For $1,249, you can purchase the M50 with the 15-45mm lens and an EF-M 55-200mm zoom, which will be available only in black. Finally, there's a Video Creator Kit for $999.99 which includes a Rode on-camera mic and a 32GB SD card in addition to the 15-45mm lens.
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