Canon R50 Review

Camera Reviews / Canon Cameras / Canon EOS i Hands-On Preview
Basic Specifications
Full model name: Canon EOS R50
Resolution: 24.20 Megapixels
Sensor size: APS-C
(22.3mm x 14.9mm)
Kit Lens: 2.50x zoom
(28.8-72mm eq.)
Viewfinder: EVF / LCD
Native ISO: 100 - 32,000
Extended ISO: 100 - 51,200
Shutter: 1/8000 - 30 sec
Dimensions: 4.8 x 3.5 x 3.3 in.
(123 x 88 x 83 mm)
Weight: 15.1 oz (429 g)
includes batteries
MSRP: $680
Availability: TBD
Manufacturer: Canon

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Canon R50 Hands-on Preview

Canon's most affordable R-series camera offers an impressive entry in their mirrorless system

by William Brawley | Preview posted: 02/07/2023

Canon is going full-steam ahead with their R-series of mirrorless cameras, continuing to broaden their customer base with two new models aimed towards more beginner and advanced amateur creators. Last year, Canon introduced the R10 and R7 mirrorless cameras, the first R-series cameras with APS-C sensors, and we now have a third option, the Canon EOS R50. Announced alongside a new EOS R8 full-frame model, this new ultra-compact APS-C R50 model sits right below the EOS R10 in the Canon R-series lineup and is, at this time, the most entry-level and affordable model with a body-only price of under $700.

The new R50 is what Canon is considering an "advanced entry-level" camera, one that's designed for the beginner photographer or video shooter but a camera that still has a little more features and flexibility that customers with some experience and knowledge of cameras will feel at home with this model, too. They are squarely pushing this camera towards those looking to step up from a smartphone camera and get better image quality and more versatility to capture different kinds of images and video.

R50 + RF100-400mm F5.6-8 IS USM: 100mm, F8, 1/200s, ISO 3200, -0.6EV

Canon's R series lineup is getting a bit crowded, which is a bit surprising given the system's fairly young age overall, especially when you look at the full-frame offerings. However, the situation with Canon's APS-C mirrorless cameras is also a little confusing, as the R7, R10 and now the R50 going up against Canon's existing M-series of APS-C mirrorless cameras. Canon says that the new R50 is, in fact, aimed at the same target audience as the popular EOS M50 Mark II (which has been selling like gangbusters, though Canon wouldn't tell us actual sales figures). There is definitely some overlap now in Canon's camera offerings, with models like the new R50 and R10 competing directly with cameras like the M50 II and M200. However, Canon was quick to state that the R50 was, for example, not directly replacing the M50 Mark II, nor is the M-series being discontinued. The M50 II and M200 would remain in Canon's camera lineup for now.

We're speculating a bit, but it seems obvious the Canon M-series cameras' days are numbered. We're not likely to see any new models or lenses for that platform, but Canon will most likely continue to sell these products as stock remains. How long that process will last, we do not know. However, it's clear that Canon is trying to focus its camera lines down to a one-lens mount arrangement, at least when it comes to their mirrorless cameras. For Canon, when it comes to mirrorless, the R series and the RF-mount is the future.

R50 + RF-S18-45mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM: 32mm, F5.6, 1/200s, ISO 100, -0.3EV

Getting back to the Canon R50 itself, we had an opportunity to test out the new APS-C mirrorless camera for a couple of days, along with the new Canon R8 as well, at a Canon-organized press event. If you're curious to see what this new compact and impressively small and light APS-C camera can do, read on for an in-depth, hands-on preview and an array of real-world gallery images.

Unfortunately, we couldn't hang onto the camera at this time, so a full hands-on review and lab testing will be added here as soon as we get a review sample.

With that, let's dive in...

Key Features & Specs

  • Compact, advanced entry-level RF-mount mirrorless camera
  • 24.2MP APS-C CMOS image sensor
  • DIGIC X image processor
  • ISO range: 100-32000 (native); Expanded high: ISO 51,200
  • No mechanical shutter: only 1st curtain electronic shutter & all-electronic shutter
  • Continuous shooting rates: 15fps (1st curtain elec.), 12fps (electronic shutter)
  • 4K 30p video uncropped
  • Full HD 60p
  • High-speed video up to 1080p 120fps
  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF with People, Animal, Vehicle Subject Detection
  • Camera designed for full-automatic shooting with more Automatic Assist shooting modes
  • Body-only: $679.99; RF 18-45mm Kit: $799.99; Two Lens Kit: $1029.99

Design & Handling

While the Canon R50 may not use the "Rebel" branding like their entry-level DSLRs, the new R50 looks and feels like a spiritual successor in a way to Canon's advanced Rebel cameras, such as the T8i, or even the tiny Rebel SL3 when you consider the R50's physical dimensions. The R50's design is ultra-light and compact, and the controls and buttons are dialed back to provide a more simplified user experience. Though the R50 doesn't technically replace the EOS M50 Mark II, it's targeted towards the same audience: casual users who want something that's not super bare-bones and entry-level, but are still wanting a camera for photos and video that can offer better quality and more versatility than their smartphone. A camera with higher quality but still a streamlined, easy-to-use experience.

Alongside the new R8, I had a chance to test out the svelte Canon R50 for a couple of days, and as you might expect, the first thing you notice when you pick up the camera is just how small and lightweight it is. The camera is impressively small, despite the large-diameter RF-mount and APS-C sensor. The large RF-mount flange dominates the front of the camera. The R50 weighs just 375g (0.83 lbs.) for the body alone (and battery), and when paired with the RF-S 18-45mm kit lens -- itself weighing a paltry 130g (4.6oz) -- the R50 kit weighs less than the Canon Rebel SL3. The R50 is also smaller than the SL3!

Despite the small size, the R50 still has a nice, prominent handgrip for this class of camera, though it certainly doesn't fill my hand like a larger camera would. Nonetheless, the camera's grip has good contouring and overall pleasing ergonomics for an ultra-compact interchangeable lens camera, at least from a pure handling standpoint. When it comes to the control layout, however, this is where you start to see compromises and omissions, especially if you're someone like me who's accustomed to more advanced cameras with lots of physical controls and dials.

Looking around the camera, it's a much more simplistic experience regarding the buttons and dials. On the top of the camera, you have just a basic cluster of controls on the right side, and that's all. There's the shutter release button and a mode dial, as you'd expect. But apart from the on/off switch, there are only three other buttons: a single control dial, a movie record button and an ISO button. I do think the dedicated ISO button is a nice touch, especially for those photographers already have some experience with cameras and photography basics.

However, a couple of things threw me off when using this camera for the first time. For one thing, there is only a single command dial on the top of the camera, and while that's not really that uncommon for a camera of this class, I am just so used to having at least one more control dial on the camera somewhere. I am so used to this that I found myself accidentally rotating the Mode Dial with my thumb thinking I was changing an exposure parameter. The placement of the Mode Dial here towards the back edge of the camera didn't help, either; it's right above the rear thumb grip and was easy to adjust inadvertently with my thumb. A new user or someone picking up this type of camera for the first time would probably not have this issue, but it's certainly something I noticed right away.

Moving to the back of the camera, we again see only a small selection of buttons, all of which are located off to the right side of the camera. However, the standard set of controls are all there, including a Menu button, Info button, Playback button, plus a Quick Menu/SET button surrounded by a 4-way directional control with various pre-assigned mode options. Finally, the AEL/AFL and AF point/area adjustment buttons are both placed within easy reach right next to the thumb rest. It's a very familiar and easy-to-use control layout, but more advanced users may notice a distinct last of a critical control: a joystick.

I remember a time when cameras didn't come with multi-directional or joystick-style control (my Olympus E-M1 II doesn't have one, for example). Still, it seems like almost every camera has this type of control these days. It's an excellent control for instantly moving the AF point around, and with a mirrorless camera, you can usually put the AF point/area essentially anywhere in the frame. So, when a new camera is lacking this now-common control, it feels especially noticeable, at least to me.

Canon has really pushed the R50 to be used via its touchscreen LCD, which is fine and certainly a familiar way to interact with the camera if you're coming from a smartphone. It's also designed to be used in Automatic shooting modes, which sometimes doesn't allow you to manually select the AF point to begin with. The lack of a joystick to move the AF point around can be a little frustrating for those who like some control. The new R8 lacks a joystick, too, but you are allowed to reprogram the camera's 4-way directional controls to instantly control the placement of the AF point. However, the R50, oddly, does not have this functionality.

In terms of displays, the EOS R50 has both an EVF and a vari-angle LCD touchscreen. The EVF in the R50 is essentially the same as one the one in the R10, with a 0.39-inch OLED panel with 2.36-million dots of resolution and a 0.95x magnification factor or approximately a 28-degree field of view, a 22mm eye point, and provides about 100% frame coverage. For a more entry-level-focused camera, the EVF looks pretty good in the field, with decent sharpness and feels fairly large for this class of camera. The LCD panel is also similar to the one on the R10, though the R50's has a bit more resolution at 1.62-million dots compared to 1.04-million on the R10. The overall display is still a 3.0-inch TFT LCD with adjustable brightness and vari-angle articulation.

Overall, the Canon R50 offers a good user experience for the most part when it comes to handling and usability. The camera is incredible small and highly-portable yet still has that characteristically well-built Canon quality that we've come to expect. It's not the most rugged camera, but still feels solid and nicely built. The controls are stripped down to just the essentials, which is perfect for a more beginner-oriented camera. There are a few controls, such as the joystick, that more advanced users will certainly miss on this camera. However, if you're a beginner or used to a more touchscreen-oriented way of interacting with your camera, the EOS R50 works very well.

R50 + RF100-400mm F5.6-8 IS USM: 400mm, F8, 1/640s, ISO 1000

Image Quality

When it comes to the imaging pipeline of the new Canon R50, this new model is essentially the same as the Canon R10. They share the same newly-designed 24.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor and use the same latest-generation DIGIC X image processor. Both cameras offers the same ISO range, as well, with a native range spanning 100 - 32,000, with expandable ISOs down to a low ISO 50 and up to ISO 51,200. Overall, the image quality performance should be similar, if not the same, as the R10.

In terms of just the sensor, Canon makes several other crop-sensor cameras with a 24.2MP resolution, such as the M50 Mark II. Now, officially Canon isn't saying the R50 replaces the M50 Mark II, but this camera is targeted towards the same customer and it's very likely the R50 will become the de-facto successor. Despite having the same resolution, Canon states that 24MP sensor in the R50 (and R10) is a newly-designed chip. Plus, when combined with the newer imaging processor, users should see improved image quality performance and better High ISO quality. Canon stated that customers should expect noticeable improvements in image quality compared to the M50 Mark II.

In addition to the usual RAW and RAW+JPEG image capture modes, the R50 also offers HDR shooting and HDR-PQ options for displaying higher dynamic range images on specialized HDR10-compatible devices, such as iPad Pros and the latest iPhones. You can also save higher-quality 10-bit HEIF images from RAW files.

R50 + RF100-400mm F5.6-8 IS USM: 400mm, F8, 1/800s, ISO 800, -0.6EV

Now, while you can shoot in RAW, as you would with most Canon EOS cameras, Canon stressed that R50 was designed for fully automatic shooting as well. If you want to pick up the camera and a kit lens and start shooting and perhaps you're not familiar with apertures or shutter speeds or how to adjust the camera to get nice blurry backgrounds, for instance, the R50 has several built-in automatic shooting modes to help the more novice photographer capture the images they want.

The Creative Assist mode, within the A+ ("Green Box") shooting mode, has a variety of on-screen options that will guide you visually in the adjustments and changes you can make to help you achieve the photo you're after. The camera also has a Creative Bracketing mode that will capture a single frame but will save several other version with different looks and filters applied (it'll still work with RAW+JPEG enabled, so you have a RAW file, too).

The R50 also introduces a new "Advanced A+" mode that is and sort of isn't a "computational photography" shooting mode. Canon was a little coy in straight-up calling this mode a computational photography mode, oddly enough. However, if you enable this full-automatic shooting mode via the on-screen icon and fire off a shot, the camera will actually take several images rapidly, analyze the results, and automatically adjust things to make a final image. The camera assess shadows and highlights, adjust for under-exposures or boost contrast, or even analyze the scene for greater depth of field. We're not sure how it all works yet, as Canon didn't describe it much in-depth.

R50 + RF-S18-45mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM: 42mm, F9, 1/320s, ISO 100 - Advanced A+

R50 + RF-S18-45mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM: 18mm, F5, 1/320s, ISO 100 - Advanced A+

In use, you definitely notice the fully-automatic nature of shooting mode. It's really a point-and-shoot experience; you can't adjust your focusing point, for instance. It's all automatic. As you compose your scene, the camera will pick the focus mode and what to focus on, adjust and indicate the kind of scene it thinks you're trying to photograph, such as a macro shot, landscape, etc. When you finally fire off a shot, there is a brief pause and the camera will say "BUSY" on the LCD while image processing is happening. It's a very brief pause, fortunately, but it's certainly not a mode to use if you're capturing fast action.

Overall, from my time with the camera so far, the image quality performance is quite good out of this tiny little camera. Similar to my colleague Jeremy Gray's experience with the Canon R8, we only had a very short time with these new cameras. RAW file support is also not yet available beyond just a pre-production version of Canon's in-house raw processing software. So this initial assessment is based on just JPEG images, but images look very good straight out of camera, at both low and higher ISOs.

R50 + RF-S18-45mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM: 18mm, F4.5, 1/2000s, ISO 100, -0.6EV

Images at low ISOs display a lot of fine detail, pleasing, accurate colors, and good contrast. I had the chance to shoot at higher ISOs quite a bit, thanks to some slower-aperture lenses I tried and the cloudy, overcast conditions we shot in on the first day. Fortunately, the little R50 does well at higher ISO, too. The high ISO images are quite impressive for an APS-C camera of this class. Noise is very well controlled at the R50's default level of NR processing. Of course, if you zoom-in you can definitely see the NR processing at work, and to my eye, the noise reduction is a bit strong for my personal taste. However, it still does a good job and removing a lot of egregious noise while preserving some nice, sharp detail.

Once we get a R50 in-house and raw processing software is updated to handle these new RAW files, we'll take a deeper dive into the image quality performance. So stayed tuned for our in-depth review!

R50 + RF100-400mm F5.6-8 IS USM: 400mm, F8, 1/800s, ISO 5000, -0.6EV

Autofocus & Performance

Even though the R50 is a sub-$700 camera designed for more entry-level creators, Canon didn't shy away from giving it a fairly impressive autofocusing system, including intelligence subject-detection modes. Like pretty much all of Canon's modern mirrorless cameras, the new EOS R50 features Dual Pixel CMOS AF with on-sensor phase-detection autofocusing. Autofocus coverage spans the entire sensor area, so no matter where your subject is in the frame, the camera should be able to focus on it; face-detection and Tracking AF work across the entire sensor area.

If you want to manually select your AF point, the R50 has selectable AF points across 90% of the horizontal and 100% of the vertical area. The camera has 4503 selectable AF point positions (79 x 57), and for automatic AF zone selection, the camera offers 651 zones in a 31 x 21 grid. Autofocusing is rated low-light situations down -4EV.

The camera offers a wide array of AF point options, including Spot AF and Single-point AF, a couple of Expand AF area modes, three Flexible Zone AF modes and Whole Area AF. The camera also includes subject-tracking AF with its continuous AF (Servo AF) mode.

Beyond manual subject tracking, the R50 also features intelligent subject-detection modes, much like their higher-end mirrorless cameras. The system here isn't as advanced as the EOS R7 or R6 II, for example, but the R50 can still automatically detect and track People (faces, eyes), Animals (dogs, cats, birds), and Vehicles (cars, motorcycles). The camera is even sophisticated enough to have an Auto mode and will automatically switch subject-detection preset upon detecting that type of object in the scene. Overall, it's quite impressive the amount of AF tech put into this little entry-level camera, and it works quite well from what I've seen so far.

R50 + RF100-400mm F5.6-8 IS USM: 400mm, F8, 1/640s, ISO 500, -0.3EV

Dual Pixel CMOS AF inside the R50 is very fast, accurate and responsive for general shooting both with single-shot AF and Servo AF, just like I've experienced with other Canon cameras that have Dual Pixel CMOS AF. The addition of subject detection makes the camera even easier to use. The camera could quickly and accurately detect the faces and eyes of various subjects, both with people and animals, and continued to track as they moved or as I moved to recompose my shots. Further testing is needed for a definitive verdict, but so far, the R50's AF system works very well.

Now, in terms of burst performance, the Canon R50 is pretty good, but as you can imagine, it's not a speed demon designed for intense sports and action subjects. Continuous shooting speeds vary depending on the shutter mode used, and they are pretty decent overall, but it's the buffer depth that will hamper burst performance for serious sports and action pursuits. It's just not that category of camera.

Like the R8, the Canon R50 lacks a fully mechanical shutter mode, opting just for an Electronic 1st-curtain Shutter mode and a fully-electronic shutter mode. In 1st curtain shutter mode, the maximum burst rate is a still-decent 12fps with either One-Shot AF and Servo AF. Switching to Electronic Shutter mode will give you a little speed boost up to 15fps with both One-shot and Servo AF. (Note: the 12fps 1st-curtain maximum burst mode will work with Servo AF, but AE, flash metering, and white balance will not change past the first frame during a burst sequence.)

R50 + RF100-400mm F5.6-8 IS USM: 335mm, F8, 1/800s, ISO 200, -0.3EV

On the other hand, Buffer depths are pretty restrictive, but you must keep in mind the class of camera here. With the 12fps 1st-curtain maximum burst mode, buffer capacity is rated up to 42 JPEG frames, or 28 JPEG frames in the 15fps electronic shutter burst mode. Enabling RAW or RAW+JPEG severely restricts buffer capacity to just 7 frames with RAW or RAW+JPEG (or RAW+HEIF). Opting for Canon's compressed C-RAW format will give you a bit more room with up to 15 frames for just C-RAW or 13 frames for C-RAW+JPEG/HEIF.

It's also worth pointing out that the R50 has just a single UHS-I-speed SD card slots (the higher-end R10 has a UHS-II card slot).

Video: First Canon APS-C camera with uncropped 4K video

The little Canon R50 isn't a video creator's ideal camera by any means, but it's no slouch for casual creators who want high-quality 4K video without spending an arm and leg. In fact, the R50 is Canon's first entry-level EOS APS-C camera with uncropped 4K video. Indeed, 4K video can be recorded at up to 30fps using the full-width of the sensor and is derived from a 6K oversampled signal.

Full HD video is also available at standard recording (with audio) up to 60fps, or High Frame Rate shooting at up to 120fps (no audio recorded).

Unlike the R7 or R8 cameras, the Canon R50 does not have a headphone jack, but it does include a 3.5mm microphone input jack.

Dual Pixel CMOS AF also functions during video recording, and you still have access to the handy subject-detection systems as you have in photo modes. You can track people, animals and vehicles in video as well.

R50 + RF-S18-45mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM: 28mm, F5, 1/1000s, ISO 100, -0.3EV

Pricing & Availability

The Canon EOS R50 camera body will be available for an estimated retail price $679.99. The EOS R50 with the RF-S 18-45mm 4.5-6.3 IS STM lens kit will be available for an estimated retail price of $799.99. The EOS R50 with the RF-S 18-45mm 4.5-6.3 IS STM and RF-S 55-210mm F5-7.1 IS STM lenses will be available for an estimated retail price of $1,029.00.

The RF-S55-210mm F5-7.1 IS STM lens will also be sold on its own, and will have an estimated retail price of $349.99.

All products are currently scheduled to be available in Spring 2023.

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