Review Canon EOS M50: Canon system camera with 4K
The Canon EOS M50 is a mirrorless system camera with a good electronic viewfinder, a tilting and turning touchscreen and fast, accurate dual pixel AF. It is also the first Canon system camera with which you can film in 4K. The Canon M50 also does action photography well, with a 24-megapixel sensor with which you can get 10 frames per second, or 7.1 shots per second with continuous AF.
The Canon M50 is compact, sleekly designed and has Wi-Fi & Bluetooth for fast and easy sharing of images on social media.
READY TO SHARE: Canon EOS M50
The Canon M50 is compact, sleekly designed and has Wi-Fi & Bluetooth for fast and easy sharing of images on social media. It is the first Canon that can automatically send the picture to your smartphone after every shot. The Canon M50 has the same 24-megapixel sensor as previous Canon M cameras, but the image quality might still be a bit better. A big part of the improvement of image quality with digital cameras in recent years namely comes not only from more modern sensors, but significantly from smart use of the higher processing power of modern sensors. The new DIGIC 8 image processor supports improvements in autofocus, Auto Lighting Optimizer, Digital Lens Optimizer and Highlight Tone Priority.
If you already have a Canon SLR camera, it’s important to know that your current lenses will not fit directly on the M50. The Canon M-series has a different mount, and Canon is working on new, more compact and lighter lenses for the M-series. Canon is aiming with the M50 for photographers who have outgrown their smartphones and compact cameras and who want to expand their photography options by telling stories they can be proud of with a light, easily portable camera with interchangeable lenses.
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With 4K video, dual pixel AF and a built-in viewfinder, this is a system camera that can stand up to the competition. This is a real hybrid camera from and for the next generation, with which you can create high-quality photos and videos. The Canon M50 not only has Canon's most modern processor (DIGIC 8), it also has various other firsts, like the new C-RAW compression format, which is 40% smaller than a conventional RAW file.
Canon EOS M50 VERSUS Canon EOS M5 AND M100
The Canon EOS M50 fills the gap in the Canon range between the M5 and the M100. The M100 is a real starter model and does not have an electronic viewfinder. The M5 is more high-end, with a more solid body and separate wheels for changing shutter time, aperture and exposure correction. On the other hand, the M50 can film in 4K, be it with some limitations, has a later-generation DIGIC processor and can shoot in a smaller RAW format so that more shots fit on a card.
Canon EOS M50 VERSUS Panasonic G80/G85
The Canon M50 is in about the same price class as the Panasonic G80. The Panasonic has a smaller M43 sensor with fewer pixels (16 Mp). The body of the G80 is a big bigger and heavier (453 grams versus the 351 grams of the M50, without battery), and it has an extra setting wheel and a bigger battery. The G80 also has built-in image stabilization that can be combined with the image stabilization of the Panasonic lenses. That is more effective than the digital image stabilization of the M50. On the other hand, the Canon M50 has a bigger sensor with 50% more pixels and the outstanding phase detection Dual Pixel AF. The M50, with 7.4 frames per second, is also a just a bit faster than the 6 frames per second of the G80, and the M50 works better with smartphones.
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Canon EOS M50 BODY
The Canon EOS M50 is a starter model. You see that in the single setting wheel and the materials used. The body of the M50 is largely made of high-quality plastics. That is not a problem for a compact camera like this one. The M50 feels sturdy, and the use of plastic not only brings down the price, but also the weight. At 351 grams, the M50 is a camera that you can easily have hanging from your neck all day without being bothered by it. The M50 shares the single setting wheel with the slightly simpler M100. But where the M100 is pretty much a rectangular box, the M50 has more of the design of a classic SLR, complete with the bulge in the idle where the electronic viewfinder is located and a grip that is missing on the M100. The grip is not very big, but it does let you wrap your fingers around it, so that you can more easily operate the camera with one hand. The camera is nice and sleek. That is naturally also because there are not many operating elements on it. That doesn’t mean that the camera is sparsely equipped. It has, for example, a microphone jack. The plastic exterior has a softer, ribbed surface on the entire right side, which gives good grip. This plastic, with a leather pattern, is also on the back of the screen.
SCREEN AND VIEWFINDER
The viewfinder has 2.36 megapixels. Two or three years ago, that was high end; now it’s just good. The rendering is great, with deep, saturated colors. It shows 100% of the image, and the magnification is good. Below the viewfinder, we find a slider for setting the diopter. The 7.6 cm screen has 1.04 megapixels, tilts and turns, and is touch-sensitive. Because it turns freely, you can easily make selfies and vlogs. And because it is touch-sensitive, you can both select the focal point and operate the menus with it. Nice. For transport, you can also turn the screen backwards, so that the screen side is protected.
MENU AND OPERATION
The camera is beautifully designed. The top is sleek, without control elements on the left side. On the right, we find the release button with a wheel around it, the start button for video, a function button and a large wheel for choosing the shooting mode (Av, Tv, P, M, video, etc.). On the corner is the on/off switch. On the front is only the release button for the mount. On the right is a cover for the USB connection and the mini HDMI port and a push-button for connecting the camera with a smartphone. The USB port unfortunately cannot be used to charge the camera, and that’s a pity, since you always have to bring along a separate charger when travelling. On the left-hand side is a cover over the microphone jack. Great! With the Canon EOS M50, you can thus film with an external microphone. On the back, we find the usual buttons for menu, playback and info, and a four-way controller with a set button in the middle. You cannot turn this controller. The EOS M50 thus really only has one wheel. Fortunately, you can also easily change settings with the touchscreen.
The touchscreen is a pleasure to work with. A simple tick on the screen suffices to change the placement of the autofocus point, even if you’re holding the camera to your eye. You can also easily operate the menus with it. Canon’s menu structure has for years been one of the best, and Canon has added a couple of things on the newest generation to make the operation even simpler. For example, in the ‘green’ beginner’s mode, you no longer have to deal with things like aperture or shutter time, but can choose to make the background blurrier or sharper, the image harder or softer, or the colors warmer or cooler – all using icons. The effects of the changes of course immediately appear on the screen. This is ideal for people switching from a smartphone to a system camera. Viewing and enlarging photos you have taken is simply a matter of swiping your fingers over the screen.
One of the innovations in the Canon EOS M50 is an improved connection with smartphones and tablets. Previous Canon models already used a smart connection via WiFi and Bluetooth, where an energy-efficient Bluetooth connection ensures that the camera always stays in contact with the smartphone, and a fast WiFi connection is made when that’s needed to send data. The M50 goes one step further, if you want, by immediately sending to your smartphone. You no longer have to select what you want to share on the camera but can send or upload directly from your phone to social media.
The Canon EOS M50 has a modern 24-megapixel APS-C sensor. The image quality that you can achieve with this sensor is high. Of course, for the maximum sharpness, you do need lenses that get the best out of the sensor. That doesn’t mean zooms with a big zoom range, which are always a compromise between ease of use and image quality, but try combining the EOS M50 with the new 28mm EF-M Macro or the 22mm pancake and you immediately get a good impression of what is possible with this sensor.
Canon has released a whole new generation of sensors in recent years. That started in APS-C with the EOS 80D. The dynamic range in these sensors is significantly improved, relative to the previous generation. It cannot yet quite match the very best APS-C sensors from Nikon, for example, but for everyday use, you won’t notice the difference. In practice, the dynamic range is fine, and you can easily bridge substantial differences between light and dark areas.
The color reproduction in jpeg is typical Canon, with full, saturated colors that still come across as natural and beautiful skin tints. The contrast is rather high in the standard color profile, but that can of course be adjusted. The color reproduction is just a bit different than on previous models, with slightly fuller greens and slightly less saturated red colors. On the whole, the reproduction is very pleasant and a reason why many Canon users remain loyal to the brand.
Canon’s 24-megapixel sensor is now familiar. In the M50, though, it’s paired with a new DIGIC 8 processor. You won’t see much of that extra processing power in RAW. In jpeg, the noise at higher ISOs is a bit less, and there seems to be a bit more detail in the pictures than with previous cameras. The noise is a fraction higher than with some competitors, but it’s not much, and the difference will hardly be visible in practice.
There are two sides to filming with the Canon EOS M50. It is Canon’s first beginner’s camera with which you can film in 4K. The EOS 5D Mark IV and the EOS 1DX Mark II, for example, also have that capability. They film 4K in Mpeg, and that produces beautiful but very big files. The M50 does it differently. The EOS M50 films 4K in UHD (3840 x 2160 pixels) in 25 frames per second and uses an H.264 codec for the compression. That results in much smaller files, and that’s nice. That’s where the good news ends, though, as far as 4K is concerned. The EOS M50 does not use Canon’s ace in the hole for 4K video: Dual Pixel AF. This autofocus system ensures precise focus and good tracking, and it makes very simple focus pulls possible. But not in 4K. Another disadvantage of filming in 4K is that the M50 can only do it with a hefty crop, of 1.7x without electronic image stabilization and 2.25x with the expanded electronic image stabilization. Those who want to film a bird or a lion from a great distance will be happy with that extra ‘teleconverter’, but for daily use, it’s a pain. And to make it a bit more unattractive, the quality of the 4K image is not as good as with comparable models from the competition or Canon’s own full-frame cameras. Fortunately, it’s very different when filming in full HD. Then you can use the Dual Pixel AF, with facial recognition and tracking, and the image quality is outstanding. Add to that the nice tilting and turning touchscreen with which you can easily move the autofocus point and the ability to connect an external microphone, and you have the EOS M50, an outstanding video camera for full-HD videos and vlogs. With the M50, you can film very well… as long as you don’t want to do that in 4K.
The Canon EOS M50 has digital image stabilization. This is something very different than the IBIS (In Body Image Stabilization) that we find on Panasonic, Olympus and Sony, for example. With IBIS, the whole sensor moves to keep the image stable and sharp. For the digital image stabilization, the camera cancels out the movement by having a crop of the image, as it were, move within the sensor. Of course that is less effective than the actual stabilization of the sensor. The sensor cannot tilt or turn, while the most advanced IBIS systems can. With Canon, the digital image stabilization does work with the optical image stabilization in the lens, thus creating a five-axis system on paper. In practice, this meant that you could use about two to three stops slower shutter speeds when shooting by hand. This is useful, but not as good as the best systems, which produce an advantage of up to nearly six stops. In video, you have a choice with Canon of not one, but even two modes for digital image stabilization. Compared to an unstabilized recording, you lose a bit of sharpness in mode 1, the standard setting, but you get a quieter picture in return. Mode 2 - Enlarge - stabilizes even more, but the loss of quality is then considerable. Of course, whether you find that acceptable depends on your own requirements.
The Dual Pixel AF system is one of Canon's strong points. With this system, you get phase detection autofocus on the sensor. It works fast and accurately. So fast that the starter SLR cameras from Canon focus faster and better in live view with Dual Pixel AF than with the phase detection system in the viewfinder. On a system camera like the M50, of course, you only use Dual Pixel AF, both on the screen and in the viewfinder. And that's very nice. The system has been improved over previous models and can now focus from top of the image to the bottom. Only on the far edges is there now about 6% on the left and right where there are no focus points. The focus system can use Eye Detection, but only in S-AF. For example, tracking an eye in a portrait session is not yet possible. Focusing in low light is also something that the Dual Pixel AF system of the EOS M50 has no problem with.
The EOS M50 includes two innovations that are very welcome for the intended user. The first is the extensive wireless capabilities. The EOS M50 has, like its predecessors, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC. But the Auto Transfer function is new. With this, you can automatically have all your photos taken in jpeg sent to your phone. You can also use the function to automatically send photos, in both RAW and jpeg, and video recordings, to your computer as soon as the camera is on the same Wi-Fi network. Another innovation is the CR3 RAW format. This option can store photos in a compressed RAW format (C-RAW). C-RAW is about 40% smaller than the standard RAW format, and the difference in image quality is "minimal" according to Canon. In practice, we say: not perceptible.
EOS-M EF/EF-S converter
Some of the practice shots, such as those at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, were made with the EOS-M EF converter, with which you can use Canon EF and Canon EF-S lenses on a Canon EOS M50. For a little over a hundred euros, you enormously increase the number of lenses you can use on the Canon EOS M bodies. It works perfectly, and the AF of the lenses we used (like the EF-S 18-135mm STM and EF-S 10-22mm) was fast and accurate.
Conclusion: Canon EOS M50 review
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