Canon EOS M50 Review

Introduction

The Canon EOS M50, initially release spring 2018, marks another installment in Canon’s mirrorless lineup of APS-C sized cameras. It competes primarily with the Panasonic GH5, Fujifilm X-T30, Sony a 6400 and the Canon EOS M5. Canon classifies this as an entry-level hybrid camera marketed towards both beginning photographers and videographers alike. It comes with a 24.1-megapixel CMOS sensor and the latest Digic 8 imaging processor, oh happy day. It offers a similar look and feel to the EOS M5, with a straightforward control scheme identical to the M100, it’s a lower-end cousin. However, don’t be fooled, the Digic 8 process is the identical processor found in Canon’s highest-end mirrorless flagship, the EOS R.
There was, and still is, quite frankly, much hype surrounding the release of this particular camera. Today’s we uncover this hype and revisit how it’s held up over the past year since release.

Canon-EOS-M50-Mirrorless-APS-C-Camera


What are some of the goods, bads, and the uglies of the Canon EOS M50?

Pros

Image Quality

It inherits the identical 24.1-megapixel sensor from the Canon 80D and 77D. This sensor is renown for magnificent contrast and color reproduction straight in-camera, delivering excellent results that remove the need for excessive post-production. No question, the image quality this camera produces is comparable to higher-end digital SLRs and is more than adequate for the beginning photographer.

Video Quality

It shoots video at 720p, 1080p and 4K. This camera is Canon’s first mirrorless that delivers 4K, quite an accomplishment on their part. The maximum frame rates available for each are as follows: 720p @ 120 FPS, 1080p @ 60 FPS, and 4K @ 24 FPS. In all modes, the video recording time is maxed out at 30 minutes, industry standard. Video quality in all modes is excellent but has a few caveats as discussed in the con’s section below. However, the fact that this level of quality accompanies such a small and compact body is quite outstanding.

Exposure is also fully adjustable while filming, a feature surprisingly many cameras in this price range lack.

Low Light Performance

Low light performance is excellent, considering the price point of this camera. It has a native ISO range from ISO 100 to 25,600 that, surprisingly, delivers usable images and videos up to ISO 3,200 before noticeable noise occurs. It can supply usable footage at even ISO 6,400. This level of performance is the result of the new Digic 8 image processor of this camera. Overall, this addition has made its low light performance quite competitive for an entry-level camera of this size.

Focusing Performance

Focusing performance is superior to the competition, hands down. It offers 99 selectable AF points, increasing to a maximum of 143 depending on the lens used, wh cover roughly 80% of the frame. Not only that, but Dual Pixel AF (DPAF) is on this camera which supplies brilliant AF performance that’s both smooth and confident. Since the LCD is a touchscreen, users can focus the camera through several touch gestures, namely either: touch to focus or touch and drag focus. The combination of DPAF, along with the touch gestures allows users to create cinematic transitions between focus points and makes focus pulling while filming second nature.

The overall AF performance delivered by this camera is similar to the Canon 80D and T7i. However, it deliveries a feature both these cameras lack, Eye Detect AF, another first for Canon. This feature combines with DPAF and subject tracking to further critically focus subjects eyes while shooting. While this feature may only work in one shot with face + tracking and AF servo modes, it does work incredibly well and is a unique selling point for this particular camera.

DPAF remains among the most reliable and best-performing AF system on the market; this camera surely upholds that reputation. AF performance both during adequate and even low light is also excellent. This camera can focus at even ISO 6,400 for both stills and video, provided the subjects have reasonable contrast, without a hitch.

Display & Viewfinder

It has a 3″ vari-angle touchscreen display, making it the first EOS M series camera to inherit this distinct feature. The touch screen supports touch focus, drag focus, and navigating menus. Due to the compact nature of this camera, it lacks several physical buttons commonplace within the APS-C sized camera. It makes up for this lack with touch gestures and a cleverly designed user interface. Nearly every adjustment imaginable is alterable through the touchscreen. Furthermore navigating and making adjustments via touch is both comfortable and intuitive, no complaints here.

Something interesting to note, as the LCD articulates, users can flip out the screen and use touch focus even when composing through the viewfinder. This feature is not something most consider initially, but in practice, it makes adjust AF points very fast.

Lastly, the electronic viewfinder itself is excellent and equivalent to the competition as it provides a resolution of 2.6 million dots. It’s quick, responsive, and the addition of OLED completely removes any challenges that occur when viewing during bright sunlight. The addition of an EVF also means users can film directly through the viewfinder as well, something not possible with optical viewfinders.

User Interface

The user interface on this camera is excellent and well-tailored to beginning photographers, especially. This camera has a dedicated GUIDE mode, which simplifies the standard menu. It compresses the menu into the following settings: shooting, playback, display levels, and functions. Overall, this additional mode makes the interface both simple and straightforward, one highly geared to accommodating the beginner. Not only that, like its predecessors, this camera also incorporates a customizable “My Menu” tab, which allows users to make a fully custom menu tailored to their specific shooting style. Outside of this, the touchscreen controls work well. The touch controls are intuitively setup and make navigation as a whole very easy.

Physical layout and ergonomics

This camera is incredibly small and compact. It weighs less than a single pound, coming in at 387 grams. Surprisingly, it is so tiny that it even fits into cargo pants pockets. Size is a significant strength of this camera for those desiring a compact, easy-going camera.

Niche features offered/Extras

Users can pull still images from videos, applicable to all three of its video formats.

It has manual focus peaking.

It has a feature called “Creative Assist,” which functions as an in-camera image processing engine that allows users to adjust: white balance, dynamic range, HSL, sharpness, and add filters. The ability to process images in-camera is a necessity for those completely foreign to post-production or lack the required software yet still craving adjustments.

It has a new compressed RAW format, C RAW, which compresses RAW images supplied by the camera and saves space. This feature reduces file sizes by up to 40%.

It has an entirely silent shutter mode, a first in Canon’s mirrorless lineup.

The Camera to Connect app supports full remote control of the camera in both photo and video modes. Users can adjust nearly every feature as well. Here is a small list of some of the available features: AF points, focusing, white balance, display levels, shutter speed, aperture, and iso. There’s a slight latency, however, during remote shooting between what the app displays versus what the camera does. Outside of that, it functions flawlessly.

The camera can automatically transfer images to both a paired smartphone or paired computer, assuming you’ve downloaded and installed Canon’s Image Transfer Utility II or Camera to Connect.

It shoots 4K time-lapses. Surprisingly, this was one of the only cameras that had this feature at the time of the release, not even the 5D Mark IV had this particular feature.

It has a burst rate of 7.4 FPS in AF continuous mode, a result of the updated Digic 8 processor. However, the buffer does fill after 7-8 frames when shooting RAW. With that, it’s a camera that supplies quick but short bursts. The burst rate can be further increased to 10 FPS when shot in the single-point AF mode.

It supports both Canon EF and EF-S lenses through a lens adapter. The addition of this adapter does not comprise focusing performance speed or accuracy whatsoever. While this does mean more money will be spent to gain access to these ecosystems, no drawbacks to focusing performance occur when using adapted lenses. One thing we did notice, using Canon L quality lenses did significantly improve image sharpness. So, if you’re a user that already has access to Canon EF and EFS lenses, seriously consider getting that adapter.

It has a dedicated Wi-Fi button, which once pressed directs users to the cameras Wi-Fi settings for immediate access to pairing.

It has 5-axis digital stabilization, which works well but not as well as the in-body stabilization to compensate for camera shake. The stabilization only occurs through software, and it creates artifacts when used on extreme settings.

Cons:

Video Quality

While this camera can shoot in 4K and is Canon’s first mirrorless camera to offer this format, the 4K footage in many respects is not usable. There are several significant issues when shooting in this format. Firstly, once enabled, it further increases the cameras native APS-C crop factor from 1.6x to 2.45x crop. This additional crop increases the magnification of the entire frame, which means users now cannot use the full width of the sensor. Instead, they are using only the central 8 megapixels. In all, this forces users to both recompose and adjust their technique whiling filming. While this may not be the end of the world, it does mean that it is incredibly challenging to compose wide-angle shots. Outside of the magnification that occurs, the camera has excessive and quite disorienting rolling shutter when shooting in 4K as well. Thankfully, this is only experienced in 4K and not in 1080p or 720p formats.

Nonetheless, the combination of increased magnification and rolling shutter make filming fast-moving subjects or fast-paced VLOGging unusable. If you need 4K for a project, then it remains available for use. So long as you use a tripod or gimbal and aren’t shooting fast action, the results provided are quite good. While it’s typically best to film in 4K then downsampled to 1080p, as it produces cleaner images with less moiré and artifacts, it’s not encouraged in this case. Not only that, it only shoots 4K resolution at 24 FPS. The addition of 4K is a marketed selling point for the camera, but it’s undoubtedly not a strength of the camera compared to the competition here.

Outside of 4K, the 720p and 120 FPS is also not good. Videos are found to soft, noisy, and have aliasing. If you’re looking for a professional-level super-slow-motion camera, look elsewhere. For casual needs, it would be sufficient, however.

Focusing Performance

While focusing performance is brilliant on this camera, it has several downfalls. The first being: Eye Detect AF doesn’t provide continuous tracking. What happens is that when the shutter is half depressed, the point becomes locked. While this may be sufficient for a beginner, it will not be enough for the advanced or professional level photographer who focus recomposes, especially those shooting movement. By the time you’ve locked focus and recomposed, your subject has probably moved already.

Secondly, DPAF does not work during 4K, which is a central component of the camera. When shooting in 4K, the camera defaults to use contrast-detect AF only. With DPAF lacking, the camera aggressively struggles to lock and maintain focus. Excessive hunting occurs both in front and behind subjects as the camera attempts to achieve critical focus. Sadly, making overall focusing jelly-like and significantly hindered. In all, using AF when shooting 4K is futile and somewhat pointless, manual focus is a far superior option here.

User Interface

Canon rates battery life at 235 shots, rough. You will need additional batteries. However, it does have an Eco mode which boosts the battery life to 370 shots. This eco mode is a necessity, as it makes the battery life more comparable to the competition. While this camera offers Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and NFC connectivity, these features consume excessive amounts of battery life and make us seriously question how often or practical this will be for users.

Layout and ergonomics

Due to size, the camera has only one adjustment wheel, which defaults to changing either Shutter Speed or Aperture depending on the mode — changing exposure when shooting manual occurs through a separate button that alters the default behavior of the wheel. While we don’t necessarily expect additional dials on cameras of these sizes, it’s important to note that this makes switching between Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO more involved and could easily be the difference between you getting the shot in a critical moment or not. Undoubtedly, it’s an aspect that slows down workflow, especially for those with larger hands as the buttons are on the smaller side. Thankfully, the touch screen can be used to bypass this inconvenience.

The viewfinder is also tiny, in part due to the size of the camera. Viewing through the viewfinder is cumbersome as there is little space between it and the touchscreen LCD.

Build quality lacks, somewhat expected, though, and the camera has a very cheap plasticky feel. The number of gripping surfaces and their size is also lacking. Hand cramping will occur after prolonged use.

Features removed

It lacks a headphone input jack.

It lacks a panorama mode.

The electronic level is disabled during 4K video recording.

It lacks a clean HDMI output. If you desire this feature to live stream, you will have to use the workarounds discovered online.

It lacks zebras for exposure clipping.

It uses the EF-M mounting platform. Sadly, Canon lacks sufficient lenses needed for professional-level work on this platform and, overall, the lens selection is still relatively limited.

The tripod plate blocks the battery compartment door, causing frustration as it significantly inhibits the ability to swap batteries, or SD cards quickly when mounted on a tripod or gimbal.

It lacks GPS. Geotagging is done through the paired smartphone instead.

The camera cannot charge via USB.

Is the Canon M50 a good starting camera?

Yes, surely. It is a popular choice for bloggers as it offers fantastic performance in a lightweight body. Keep in mind, this is an entry-level camera, so it’ll lack flagship performance found in Canon’s higher-end digital SLRs. It also has limited lens options, so if you desire to blog in 4K, this is not the riItght camera. Overall, 4K on this camera is a marketing ploy that feels both rushed to market and purposefully limited. Of course, we expected this, though, as all manufactures desire users to purchase high-end equipment, but this could have been the perfect camera with a few of these limitations lifted.

Nonetheless, the camera is excellent overall. The vari-angle touchscreen is ideal for blogging and vlogging, not to mention the camera weights under 1 pound. For those desiring more of a hybrid camera, it is also sufficient in that regard as well due to the 24.1-megapixel sensor inherited from the Canon 80D. In many respects, this is a small, robust update of Canon’s 80D and 77D. While it lacks physical buttons, it surely has the feature set and performance of Canon’s higher-end cameras. Bar none, it the most capable mirrorless platform below the EOS R in Cannon’s lineup to date.

What are the best lenses for the Canon M50?

General Photography: 

Canon EF-M 18-150mm

Specifically for Macro Photography:

Canon EF-M 28mm

Specifically for Landscape Photography:

Canon-EF-M-22mm

Specifically for Portrait Photography:

Canon-EF-M-18-150mm

Canon-55-200mm

Best bundles for the Canon M50

m50 bundle

Is the Canon M50 a good camera for you?

Yes, it’s undoubtedly one to consider in 2019. It is an ideal camera for YouTube, Vlogging, and blogging. It’s a camera excellently targeted at beginning video content creators, merely just starting and embarking on their journeys. It removes many of the complexities required to deliver compelling footage and provides an excellent introduction to the world of visual content creation.

While native lenses for this platform are lacking, the creation of an EF mount adapter dramatically increases the flexibility of this camera even though it comes with an additional cost and weight. Nonetheless, it is still a compelling camera overall. For the professional who is serious about video, at this price, it’s best to look at equivalent Sony or Panasonic cameras instead as they both offer more compelling performance in that regard. Kudos to Canon for keeping the price point of this camera down, but it’s not low enough to compete with older generation versions of its competition, for example, the Sony a6300. Thus, this camera is forced to compete with newer iterations like the Fuji X-T30’s and Sony a6400’s. As a result, it will not be sufficient to please the hardcore enthusiast or professional looking for the best bang for the buck and feature-rich camera. However, it is still an excellent choice for beginners, albeit at a higher price point.

Many reviewers have claimed the addition of 4K, while welcomed, castrates users from taking advantage of this feature as it removed DPAF and we agree. Users will be forced to use manual focusing when filming 4K. Thankfully third-party lens adapters can be used so its at least a cheaper alternative to get manual only lenses. The additional crop factor and effects of rolling shutter in 4K are circumventable. If you’re willing to compromise by shooting manually and being gentle while panning, this can be an excellent choice for the professional videographer aspiring a smaller, more compact camera. The 4K AF performance is lacking and is not suitable for professional use. We also agree that this is a prime example of Canon rushing a product to the market. However, it’s respectable to see them pushing into the mirrorless domain and this market share. This camera has some seriously fierce competition in its price range, but the value offered makes this a success in the end on Canon’s end. While this camera may not be entirely thrilling to the professional, it gives us hope knowing Canon is diving further into the mirrorless realm of cameras. In all, the EOS M50 is a robust budget-friendly option that offers a comprehensive feature set and is amongst Canon’s best cameras to date. It’s an excellent beginning camera and one that provides tons that even advanced users appreciate.

Canon-M5-vs-Canon-M50-cameras-comparison

Overview
  • Image Quality
  • Video Quality
  • Focusing Performance
  • Low Light Performance
  • Dynamic Range
  • Battery Performance
  • Display & Viewfinder
  • User Interface
  • Physical Layout & Ergonomics
3.6

Summary

The Canon EOS M50, initially release spring 2018, marks another installment in Canon’s mirrorless lineup of APS-C sized cameras. It competes with some pretty competitive cameras, yet is one that uniquely holds its own amongst the competition. It is a popular choice for bloggers as it offers fantastic performance in a lightweight body. While it has limited lens options and some gripes with its hastily released 4K capabilities. It’s an excellent camera overall. In many respects, this is a small, robust update of Canon’s 80D and 77D. While it lacks physical buttons, it surely has the feature set and performance of Canon’s higher-end cameras. Bar none, it the most capable mirrorless platform below the EOS R in Cannon’s lineup to date. It’s a camera excellently targeted at beginning video content creators, merely just starting and embarking on their journeys. It removes many of the complexities required to deliver compelling footage and provides an excellent introduction to the world of visual content creation. While this camera may not be entirely thrilling to the professional, it gives us hope knowing Canon is diving further into the mirrorless realm of cameras. In all, the EOS M50 is a robust budget-friendly option that offers a comprehensive feature set and is amongst Canon’s best cameras to date.