Compact system cameras used to be a real blind spot for Canon, but now they're firmly on the radar.
Last year's EOS M3 was already a huge improvement over its early mirrorless efforts, but the newly-revealed EOS M5 looks set to blow it out of the water.
With an APS-C sensor that wouldn't look out of place on a top SLR, some serious video chops, and all the wireless connectivity you'll need, it could be the premium CSC that Canon fans have been crying out for.
The spec sheet will embarrass lesser kit from established mirrorless brands like Sony, Fuji and Olympus, too. Time to rethink your CSC allegiance?
After getting my hands on an early EOS M5 at a preview event this week, I'm thinking it might be. Here's why.
SMALL BUT MIGHTY
The EOS M5 looks like it means business. Just have a glance at the SLR-like styling. It's all grips, buttons and dials - only ones that have been shrunk to sit in the palm of your hand.
Pick it up and it's still got a reassuring heft to it, but at a significant 50% smaller volume than an EOS 80D, you won't struggle to fit it into a satchel. No dedicated camera bag? No problem.
Canon hasn't made any compromises under the hood to hit those proportions, either. You get a 24.2MP APS-C sensor good for ISO 25600 low-light snaps, paired with a DIGIC 7 image processing chip. That makes it 14x faster at processing your snaps than the EOS M3's DIGIC 6. So plenty fast, in other words.
Focusing speed was a real weakness of earlier EOS CSCs; it's great to see Canon addressing it head on with some super-quick silicon to handle focusing. It certainly felt snappy when I tried rapidly switching between near and far subjects.
It can rattle off JPEGs at pace, too, hitting 7fps continuous shooting with autofocus, or 9fps with fixed AF. That'll be more than enough for some crisp action shots, and dual pixel CMOS AF means it'll keep track with whatever you're pointed at.
PUSH THE BUTTON
CSCs don't have a lot of room for buttons and dials, but photography geeks will tell you that physical controls are just plain better than digging through touchscreen menus. I am one, and will absolutely tell you that if you let me. At length.
It's pretty astounding that Canon has squeezed in so many control wheels onto the top plate, then. There's one around the shutter button, one dedicated to exposure compensation, and a third with a dual function toggle that effectively turns it into a fourth whenever you need it. They're all within easy reach, and you can customise them to pretty much whatever you want.
There's another wheel dedicated to shooting modes on the other side of the top plate, which has a locking switch to stop any accidental setting changes.
A multi-function button and dedicated shortcut near the lens barrel are just as handy, especially as you can reach everything with one hand. The chunky grip gives you more than enough purchase to stop the camera falling out of your mitts while you're fiddling, too. It sits comortably in the hand and doesn't feel cramped, in spite of all the controls dotted around the place.
There's another control wheel on the rear of the camera, along with all the physical buttons you'd expect. The touchscreen has the same simple yet informative menu layout as Canon's other cameras, so it's not exactly a chore to dig out a more obscure setting every once in a while.
It's a shame the whole thing isn't weatherproof like Fuji's similarly-priced X-T2, and the top plate felt like it was made from plastic rather than metal, but it looks and feels every bit the premium camera.
YOU'VE GOT THE TOUCH
You can either use the 3.2in touchscreen or the centrally mounted EVF to line up your shots. Both are excellent, but purists will naturally gravitate towards the viewfinder.
It's a 2.36 million dot display that refreshes at 120fps, which makes it an absolute blast to use. There's no flicker, no distracting banding - it's not quite like looking through glass, but it's still damn good.
The touchscreen is handy when you want to get creative: it tilts 90° up and 180°down, so you can shoot at high or low angles without having to stand on or chair - or get down on your knees. And yes, it flips around for selfies too. If you must.
It was bright enough for outdoor shooting when I tried it out, although it was a typical (ie rainy) September afternoon. I'll have to try it out when the sun's shining before delivering a final verdict.
The same goes for image quality: I wasn't allowed to take any sample shots away from my hands-on session, so there'll be no comparisons with other CSCs until closer to launch day.
Ever since the 5D first introduced a legion of videographers to Canon, EOS snappers have been pulling double duty - so you can bet the M5 isn't just built for shooting stills.
There's no 4K here, which is a bit of a shame, but you do get 1080p recording at 60fps. There's a dedicated microphone input for recording high quality audio, too, but it's the touch and drag autofocus that'll really get filmmakers excited.
You can use the touchscreen to pull focus at any time, but flip touch and drag AF on and you'll be able to do it when you're looking through the viewfinder too. The screen switches off but the touch layer stays active, so you can use your thumb and change the focus point without losing your view of the scene. It's brilliant in action, and something I can see becoming indispensable once you start using it.
You can record remotely, too. The M5 is one of the most well-connected Canon cameras out there, with NFC, Wi-Fi and always-on Bluetooth. That means you can wake it at any time with a smartphone app, change settings and control the shutter without having to reach over and flick it on manually first.
Canon EOS M5 initial verdict, price and release date
It's got the specs to make camera fans drool, and felt fantastic to shoot with when I got to try it out. The EOS M5 looks like Canon is finally doing mirrorless right - and it might even be enough to convince DSLR die-hards to upgrade.
The idea is that the EOS M5 ticks all the boxes for an SLR owner after something a little smaller and lighter, without forcing them to switch to a smaller sensor, or jumping ship to a camera system they're not familiar with.
That's partly why every M5 will ship with an adapter ring for bolting on Canon's larger EF lenses. If you've already got a bag full of glass, you'll be able to bolt one on right out of the box - saving about £200 over buying it separately. There's not a massive selection of M-mount lenses yet either, so this is a sensible move.
Even if you've never held a Canon camera in your life, though, the M5 still looks like it'll give the established CSC crowd a challenge, whether you're shooting stills or video. I can't wait to get one into the office for a full review.
You'll be able to pick one up in November for £1049 body only, or £1149 with the 15-45mm kit lens.