That rear screen switches off when you bring your eye up to the viewfinder, but has a clever system where you can still use it to set the autofocus point. In itself, nothing new, but the ability to assign just a portion of the screen to the task? Brilliant. No more accidentally shifting autofocus with your schnozz.
The screen tilts and flips down to face forward, too. You know what that means - selfie time. Flipping out to the side might have been better, though: this design is less useful if you want to use the camera on a tripod, or some other solid surface like a table.
Just because the EOS M5’s got detachable lenses and the word “Canon” scribbled on it, don’t be fooled into thinking that you can attach any of your existing DSLR lenses.
The EOS M mount is smaller - but the good news is an adapter is available. You’ll probably want to avoid using particularly large lenses, as they make the camera feel very unbalanced, but smaller prime lenses work well. It also saves you having to splash out twice on any specialist lenses you might own already.
Canon has done a great job improving focusing speeds for its latest CSC - something its previous efforts seriously struggled with. Now, instead of being on the tardy side, the EOS M5 is much faster - but still not as quick as other system cameras.
How much that bothers you is likely to depend on what kind of things you want to photograph - anything that’s not going to move? You should be fine. For fast-moving subjects, though, you might be better off with the Fuji X-T2 or the Olympus OM-D E-M1 II.
If you’re determined to track moving subjects, switching to AF (Servo) yields decent results with anything moving in a reasonably predictable (and not too rapid) motion, too.
The other area the EOS M5 loses ground on its rivals is with video. Full HD recording at 60fps is nice and all, but Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds cameras have been shooting in 4K for a while now. If movie making is key, the Lumix GH4 could be a better bet.
No big surprises here: the EOS M5 is capable of producing some very nice pictures. It does use the same sensor and processor combination as the much-loved 80D, after all.
Directly from the camera, images have that satisfying amount of punch and vibrancy that Canon has become known for.
Detail is well resolved, but you can push the camera further by using the “Fine Detail” Picture Style setting - something which you can choose from either the quick or the main menu.
Automatic white balance gets it right most of the time, with perhaps a tendency to be a little cooler than we’d like under artificial lighting. All-purpose metering performs well, with nicely balanced exposures in the majority of conditions.
As for noise, everything is well controlled, only starting to become particularly noticeable at ISO 3200 - but you can still use these shots at smaller printing and web sizes. Reserve the very highest ISO 12800 and ISO 25600 settings for those rare occasions when getting the shot is more critical than it being high quality.
Canon EOS M5 Verdict
It’s great to see Canon finally taking CSCs seriously, and coming up with something that competes with big-hitting rivals from Fuji, Olympus and Panasonic. This is a camera that’s more than capable of taking some very nice images, and it’s also enjoyable to use.
If you’re already a Canon user, or perhaps have been in the past and are looking to downsize, it’s very tempting. Fast-moving wildlife, sports or action photography might not be its strength, but it’s still a great option if you like to photograph stationary subjects.
On the other hand, if you’re not already invested in Canon, it’s hard to recommend over more established CSCs - especially at the M5’s launch price.
There’s nothing truly “special” about this camera, and while it’s a good all-rounder, it could do with being a couple of hundred pounds cheaper. Hopefully that’ll be the case in a few months’ time.