Mirrorless cameras are the rage of our age.
We’ve some stunning examples of the idea in action so it’s fair to say they’re exciting little snappers to look forward to. Canon’s been extremely cautious to jump onto the bandwagon with their DSLRs having an almost religious following. Better late to the party than never, we finally have an entry level mirrorless cam from the brand and it’s no damp squib this.
Aimed at the most active photographers amongst us, smartphone users, the EOS M50 packs a host of firsts for a mirrorless cam from the brand: 4K video recording, a vari-angle touchscreen, a silent shutter mode and the new Digic 8 processor. Enough reasons to get excited then. Question is, are you ready for your first proper camera?
DESIGN: SIMPLE PLEASURES
In order to ease its target users into the transition to a dedicated camera, Canon’s been careful not to build a hulking mass of intimidation. That’s why the M50 comes in a friendly size compared to its DSLR brethren. The chunky grip ensures uncompromised ergonomics while a bundled 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens is plenty to get you started.
Physical buttons have been replaced with touchscreen controls for the most part lending a sense of familiarity to smartphone users. Good thing then that it’s user friendly offering tips on how various settings will affect your final image. Of course, if the spoon-feeding gets overwhelming, you can always switch back to traditional settings.
VIEWFINDER AND SCREEN: KEEPING IT REAL VERSATILE
A traditional optical viewfinder has been swapped out for an electronic one instead. Perks of an EVF include the ability to view how your settings will affect your final image before you click as well as a quick review of your image post shot without taking the camera away from your eye. Large and bright, the EVF switches off automatically when you move away using the required sensors to do so.
Canon’s clever ‘Touch and Drag’ option lets you use the touchscreen to set AF points while you’re using the viewfinder. The screen’s bendy articulation is perfect for shots from awkward angles and helps tremendously when recording video. You can also flip it around to stow it away before chucking it into your backpack.
FEATURES: REFRESHINGLY MODERN
Dual Pixel CMOS AF skills allow th M50 to take excellent shots of moving subjects and let you lock onto your target while taking stills or video. Additionally, the Eye-Detection AF will latch onto subject eyes following them while they move. Here’s the most critical ingredient to this whole recipe: 4K video in a non-professional Canon for the very first time. Victory dance!
Of course, with all that excitement comes unavoidable limitations. For instance, your 4K video will be cropped and Dual Pixel CMOS AF won’t be available in this mode. On the upside, Canon has included a new type of RAW format shooting for the M50, producing CR3 files. These are smaller than standard RAW files, giving you scope to save more to your memory card.
The M50 uses Canon’s M-mount, which means it’s compatible with its range of EF-M lenses.
These are generally very affordable, if slightly lacking in prime options that are rumoured to be coming out later in 2018.
Still, if you already have a stack of Canon lenses from your DSLR, you can also buy the EF-M adaptor to make it compatible with the dozens of EF and EF-S lenses out there.
IMAGE QUALITY: PUNCHY, VIBRANT AND PACKED WITH DETAIL
Canon’s sensor throws back images rich in colour with just the right amount of saturation. Auto and Standard work well for most situations while Fine Detail produces the best results. Combine low ISO with good lighting and you’re golden. Go all the way up to 25600 or 51200 ISO and you’ll invite some unnecessary noise into your images.
Exposure levels are spot on as well, without the need to dial in extra manually. We put the M50 through a variety of lighting conditions that included natural as well as artificial light. We’re happy to report that white balance does its job brilliantly rendering accurate colours on the right side of realistic.
There is one other thing to bear in mind when weighing up whether or not to buy the M50: lenses.
While Canon is starting to catch up with other mirrorless cams, its range of accompanying lenses is (for now, at least) sorely lacking. There are just seven proprietary lenses available for the system, with relatively few primes or ‘specialist’ options available.
The way around this is to use the M50 with an adapter for EF/EF-S glass, but that slightly detracts from the point of having a small system – and is probably only appealing if you already have a collection of Canon lenses.
Canon EOS M50 verdict
There’s a limited selection of lenses available for the M50, but its target audience won’t be aching for more given its quality results. Getting amazingly close to a DSLR, it’ll instantly convert smartphone users with its mirrorless skills. Canon’s been slow to start the mirrorless race but it’s certainly not lagging behind in any way.
Vloggers will appreciate the 4K shenanigans in a consumer level Canon and the host of digital nannies that come along only take the burden off the user. A clean intuitive interface mean you’re not wrestling with the reigns in your hands. With an ecosystem steadily built around the M50, its budding with exciting possibilities for just about everyone.