The EOS M50 is Canon's latest mirrorless camera, extending its M-series range from three to four. While it has a similar silhouette to the flagship EOS M5, the M50 sits further down the range, slotting in between the entry-level EOS M100 and the more mid-range EOS M6, and is designed to appeal to those looking to upgrade from a smartphone or basic compact camera.
The EOS M50 borrows some features and ideas from existing models, but it also has a few innovations of its own – so is this Canon's most well-rounded mirrorless camera yet?
- First Canon camera to get the DIGIC 8 processor
- 4K video capture
- Improved Dual Pixel CMOS AF system
The EOS M50 features a 24.1MP APS-C CMOS sensor, with a sensitivity range running from ISO100-25,600, which can be expanded to 51,200. Canon says this is the same sensor as in the EOS M5, M6 and M100, and that the slight difference in the number of effective pixels is due to the presence of a new image processor: the M50 is the first Canon camera – DSLR, compact or mirrorless – to feature the company's latest DIGIC 8 image processor.
The arrival of the new processor means the camera is capable of shooting 4K movie footage (up to 24fps) – something that's been lacking in a lot of recent Canon cameras. It also enables the M50 to shoot 4K timelapse footage, and allows users to pull stills from 4K footage, with the files equivalent to 8MP.
That's the good news. The bad news is that footage when captured in 4K doesn't use the entire breadth of the sensor – there's a 1.6x crop. That's going to be a little restrictive for one market Canon is directing the EOS M50 at: vloggers.
The standard 15-45mm lens is equivalent to 24-72mm thanks to the 1.6x crop factor of the APS-C sensor, but then apply a further 1.6x crop for 4K video capture and it becomes equivalent to 38.4-115.2mm – great for tight portraits, but not great for filming at arms length or in a confined space. There is the option to use Canon's EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM lens, but even at its widest setting, when shooting 4K you'll only have an equivalent field of view of 28mm.
If that's a bit of a let-down, Canon's Dual Pixel CMOS AF system shouldn't be. It's a system that's always impressed when we've tested it on other models, and the arrival of the DIGIC 8 processor has enabled Canon to improve AF performance further.
Those improvements include greater coverage of the frame, while there are now 143 AF points at your disposal (the top-of-the range EOS M5 has 49 points). There's also Eye AF, which as the name suggests can lock onto a subject's eyes – useful for portraits, and handy for selfies or vlogging (provided you're not shooting 4K).
On the rear of the EOS M50 is a vari-angle touchscreen display that's hinged at the side of the body and can be pulled outwards to face a subject, while it can also be angled through a wide arc of positions to suit pretty much any shooting angle. There's also a built-in electronic viewfinder, with a 2.36 million-dot resolution that appears to equal that of the pricier EOS M5.
The M50 has a wealth of connectivity options, with Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth Low Energy all present. The latter enables a low-power, constant connection to be maintained between the camera and a smart device for seamless transfer of images.
Another first for a Canon camera is the move to the CR3 14-bit raw file format, while there's also a new C-RAW option, which creates full-resolution raw files while saving approximately 30% to 40% on the size of standard raw files.
Build and handling
- Limited body-mounted controls
- Excellent touchscreen
- Refined user interface
The EOS M50 borrows many styling cues from the EOS M5, primarily the central positioning of the electronic viewfinder (EVF). There’s also a small built-in flash tucked away in the raised hump where the EVF sits.
With the chassis constructed from strong polycarbonate, the M50 weighs only a little less than the EOS M5, and as with some of Canon's entry-level DSLRs the exterior finish has quite a plasticky feel. The build quality is very good though, while the leatherette-effect textured handgrip is nicely proportioned for the camera.
While the M5 is focused more towards the enthusiast photographer, with a host of body-mounted controls, the more beginner-friendly EOS M50 is a little more sparse in this respect.
Rather than three dials on the top of the camera, the M50 just has a single mode dial (even the dedicated exposure compensation dial seen on the EOS M6 has disappeared), making it feel very accessible for the new user.
The controls have also been streamlined on the rear of the camera. There's no rear scroll wheel; instead there's a four-way control pad and a couple of other dedicated controls, including AF, but most of the M50's shooting settings are accessed via either the 'Q' (for quick menu) button or the touchscreen.
The EOS M50 also gets Canon's overhauled graphical user interface, which we first saw on the EOS Rebel T7i / EOS 800D. Designed to help new users, the interface explains settings, and what effect different adjustments will have on the final shot. It's possible to disable this feature in the menu if you wish, and stick with Canon's more traditional menu system.
- Brisk AF performance
- Improved focusing coverage
- Touch and drag AF works well
Canon got a bit of stick for the autofocus performance of its original EOS M mirrorless camera, but things have come a long way since.
The uprated Dual Pixel CMOS AF system in the EOS M50 performs very well indeed. Focusing is brisk, while there's also the option to touch and drag the AF point with your thumb on the rear display while you have the camera raised to your eye; this makes quick AF area selection straightforward, while you don't have to use the entire screen real estate either – if you want, you can set this function to fill half or a quarter of the display in the menu.
The M50 delivers a pretty sound performances when it comes to AF tracking too. As long as you're not trying to track something that's moving very fast or erratically, the Dual Pixel CMOS AF system will do a solid job of following your subject provided it's pretty prominent in the frame.
- Decent burst shooting speeds
- Large and bright EVF
- Battery life could be better
Thanks to the new DIGIC 8 image processor the EOS M50 can shoot at up to 10fps in Single AF mode, and should you want to track your subject using Continuous AF this drops to a still very strong 7.4fps. The new camera actually performs better than the EOS M5 in this respect.
The electronic viewfinder on the M50 is also very good: the refresh rate delivers a smooth display, while the decent magnification means it doesn't feel too cramped. As we've found on other Canon cameras, from compacts to DSLRs, the touchscreen interface on the rear display works well. It's very responsive, and swiping to scroll through images is a breeze, while tapping to adjust the AF point works a treat.
The built-in Image Stabilization (IS) system on the supplied 15-45mm lens works well (Canon doesn't use in-body IS systems), although we'd recommend setting the camera to auto ISO or increasing the ISO manually in low light to reduce the risk of camera shake – the f/6.3 maximum aperture at the long end of the zoom is a stop slower than a lot of rivals, which means there's an increased risk of camera shake as longer shutter speeds will be required to obtain a good exposure.
The battery life of the EOS M50 is a little disappointing. It's just 235 shots, so you're probably going to want to get a second battery if you're planning on shooting for extended periods.
- Images display very good detail
- Noise nicely controlled
- Good dynamic range enables recovery of detail
The 24.2MP APS-C sensor at the heart of the EOS M50 delivers clean and crisp images. You should have no issues producing decent-quality A3+ prints from the images you capture, while you should be able to get away with some pretty serious cropping if needed thanks to the densely populated sensor.
The sensor also delivers very good low-light performance, with noise well controlled even at higher ISO settings. Raw files hold up very well even at ISO6400, with minimal luminance (grain-like) noise and hardly a sign of any chroma (color) noise.
The EOS M50 also puts in a solid performance when it comes to dynamic range. While not quite offering the same latitude as more advanced cameras when you're processing raw files, for the price it puts in one of the best performances going, enabling you to recover a good amount of otherwise-lost detail.
In many ways the Canon EOS M50 is a better-specced camera than the EOS M5, with faster burst shooting, an improved AF system, and 4K video capture (more on that in a moment). The vari-angle screen also offers that bit more in the way of flexibility over the EOS M5's tilt-angle mechanism.
The relative lack of body-mounted controls may be a bit of a disappointment for more experienced users, but for the M50's target market of novice users it does make the camera feel very accessible, and the touchscreen interface is one of the best around.
We've been waiting a while to see 4K video capture make it onto EOS cameras other than Canon's high-end models, and while it's great to finally see it on the EOS M50, we can't help but feel short-changed, as the 1.6x crop factor means its effectiveness with the 15-45mm kit lens is rather compromised. The alternative is to use another lens, but with Canon's EF-M range of lenses still pretty limited, and rivals offering superior 4K capture, there are better solutions out there.
The finish could also be a bit nicer, with the plasticky exterior not matching up to rivals, while the battery life is going to be pretty limiting without a spare.
If you're looking for a mirrorless camera that offers great image quality, is easy to use and has a decent autofocus system, the EOS M50 is an excellent choice. If, however, you're looking for a more rounded camera with a greater breadth of features and system support, there are better options out there.