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Canon EOS M50 Review 2020 – Entry Level Beast?

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The Canon EOS M50 is an entry-level mirrorless camera that packs a punch. It is surprising how the M50 manages to pack so much tech in its compact body- the camera comes equipped with a built-in electronic viewfinder, a fully articulating touchscreen, a 24 MP APS-C sensor, and Canon’s latest DIGIC 8 processor. It also features expanded Dual Pixel AF coverage, supports 4K/24p video capture, along with WiFi, Bluetooth, and NFC for seamless connectivity.

In many ways, the M50 is a beefier, more powerful version of the affordable and extremely user-friendly Canon EOS M100. Just like the M100, it is intended for entry-level photographers looking for an affordable camera with powerful features.

The Canon M50 is a mid-range mirrorless camera known for its accessibility, intuitive controls, and versatility. The M50 is an interesting camera for several reasons. When you look at the specs and features, it is hard to believe that Canon positioned the M50 as an entry-level camera. In fact, the EOS M50 is definitely one of the most capable cameras in the M-series.

The M50 is a great upgrade from a smartphone or a basic compact camera, albeit the limitations. If you’re looking for a mid-range camera that offers a professional image quality with a decent autofocus system and ergonomic design, the M50 is for you. Read our Canon M50 detailed review for a detailed breakdown of every aspect of the camera so you can make the right choice when you decide to get one.

canon m50 review

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Canon EOS M50 Specifications

  • Camera Sensor: 22.3 mm x 14.9 mm APS-C CMOS
  • Resolution: 25.8 MP total, 24.1 MP effective
  • Lens Mount: EF-M (EF and EF-S via an EF-EOS M adapter)
  • Stabilization: In-built digital stabilization compatible with IS lenses
  • Shutter: 30-1/4000 sec bulb, electronic shutter
  • Focusing type: Dual Pixel CMOS AF Phase-detection. Contrast detection during 4K movie and Servo AF
  • AF modes: One-Shot AF and Servo AF
  • AF points: 143 or 99 depending on the lenses
  • AF tracking: Face tracking plus Eye AF is available in One-Shot AF
  • ISO Range: 100 – 6400 or 100 – 25600 extended in ⅓ stop increments.
  • Battery: LP-E12 Lithium-ion battery
  • Dimensions: 116.3 x 88.1 x 58.7 mm (4.6 x 3.5 x 2.3 inches)
  • Weight: 387 g (13.7 oz) includes the battery and memory card.
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Camera Design And Handling

Camera Design Pros

  • Strong and robust build quality
  • Excellent touch functionality
  • A refined user interface
  • Accessible and easy to use

Camera Design Cons

  • Poor battery life
  • Plasticky finish and exterior
  • Limited body-mounted controls

1. Build

The EOS M50 looks much like the EOS M5 and borrows several styling cues from its predecessor. The camera is definitely on the smaller side and fits snugly in your hands. Similar to the M100, it features one control dial, ideal for novice photographers. However, the M50 also comes equipped with an EVF, mode dial, and hot shoe, which are often seen in high-end cameras.

While not as compact and featherweight as the M100, the M50, which weighs around 350 grams, is definitely a lightweight camera. Also, without the EVF hump and grip attached, it is roughly the same size as the M100.

Despite being larger and heavier than the M100, we noticed that the M50 is much easier to hold, thanks to the handgrip. The leatherette-effect, textured handgrip is definitely a nice addition to the functionality and the overall aesthetic of the camera. Like other Canon entry-level DSLRs, the chassis is constructed with a strong polycarbonate giving the exterior a plasticky feel.

All-in-all the build quality feels solid and robust, however, the plastic construction can be off-putting for some.

2. Handling

The top of the camera features a hot shoe, mode dial, customizable function button, a video record button, a pop-up flash, and the on/off power button. A single control dial is located near the shutter release, making it feel very accessible, particularly for beginners.

The body-mounted controls feature a dedicated AE lock and also the AF frame selection button. Similar to other cameras of the M-series, most of the core functions can be adjusted from a Quick Menu button. The Quick Menu is also easily accessible via the touchscreen.

Speaking of touchscreens, we cannot deny that Canon’s touch functionality is one of the best in business. The 3-inch LCD touchscreen on the M50 comes with a resolution of 1.04 million dots. Also, the touch LCD is fully articulated and can function as a selfie screen when flipped around, which is a great feature for vloggers.

Features such as tap-to-focus, image playback, and menu navigation make the camera super easy to handle. The touchscreen also comes equipped with Touchpad AF, a feature that allows you to move the focus point while using the electronic viewfinder. You also have the liberty to choose between absolute or relative movement. In addition to that, in order to avoid ‘nose focusing’, you can select the area on the LCD that you want active.

The 2.36M-dot OLED Viewfinder is the best you can find at this price range and helps you frame your shots to produce crisp images.

Overall, the menu and controls are well laid out, meaning the camera is extremely user-friendly. You can also toggle between a standard tab-style menu system or a “Guided” one, which is great for beginners.

3. Battery Life

Canon seems to have skimped on the battery aspect of the EOS M50. Both the battery compartment and the micro-SD card slot are located at the bottom of the camera. While the M50 comes equipped with an LP-E12 battery, which is the same as the M100, it manages only 235 shots per charge, 60 less compared to the M100.

The battery life is inadequate. Even with a power-saving ‘Eco mode’, it only manages 370 shots per charge, which is subpar compared to other similar cameras, such as the Sony Alpha a6300.

Furthermore, the camera can be charged only with the supplied charger despite offering a micro-USB port. This is definitely a minus point when compared to its peers.

4. Features To Look For

Most of the M50’s features can also be found on recent Canon mirrorless and DSLR models. However, there are a few features that make this camera intriguing. Let’s break them down one by one.

5. Image Stabilization – Dual Sensing IS

Canon has made several enhancements to the built-in Image Stabilization system. Now known as the Dual Sensing IS, the image stabilization system utilizes a CMOS sensor to detect motion, in addition to the information provided by the camera’s gyroscope. Therefore, you get two sources of data rather than one, hence the name.

Canon claims that with this system in place, you can expect an additional ½ stop of shake reduction. While this is not much, it is an improvement that cannot be overlooked. However, this feature is only available on three EF-M lenses- 15-45mm F3.5-6.3, 18-55mm F3.5-6.3, and 55-200mm F4.5-6.3.

6. Auto ISO

In this Canon EOS M50 review, we noticed that the ISO settings on the M50 are very limited and basic. The only option available is setting the camera to the highest ISO. There is also no option to select a minimum shutter speed while boosting the ISO.

Furthermore, no ‘rate of change’ option is found. These basic ISO settings are quite handy for beginners and those who have difficulty keeping the camera steady. However, for slightly more advanced photographers, the lack of options can be quite frustrating.

7. New RAW Format

Since 2004, Canon’s cameras have been utilizing the CR2 Raw format with the EOS M50, Canon introduced a new CR3 Raw format. The CR3 is a new C-RAW (compressed Raw) format.

The principal benefit is that compressed raw files are approximately 40% smaller than regular raw files. Canon further claims that C-RAW files have a minimal drop in quality, maintaining the fine detailed information and rich tone of RAW images. Unless you decide to brighten shadows by several stops, C-RAW files are effective and should be utilized on a regular basis.

8. Wireless Features

The EOS M50 comes with several new connectivity features not available on previous models. Let’s have a look at the connectivity and wireless functions of the M50.

The M50 is compatible with WiFi 802.11n, Bluetooth, and NFC, allowing you to pair with Android devices. Photos can be shared directly over WiFi onto various photo sharing and social media platforms; however, this requires you to provide access to Canon’s cloud service first.

Bluetooth provides several of the connectivity features to the camera. You can pair your camera to your phone without the need to scan a QR code or select an SSID. Bluetooth also allows you to connect and remotely control your camera via your smartphone, even when your camera is switched off.

Another great connectivity feature on the M50 is Auto Transfer, which works with smartphones, PCs, and Macs. After altering a few settings and configurations, your camera will be able to directly transfer an image to your phone after it has been captured. This feature only works for JPEGs, and videos cannot be transferred either.

However, it is still a nice feature to have and is one of the most efficient ways to share photos among friends. Do keep in mind that this is a one-time setting, and it needs to be reset each time the camera is turned off and turned on back again.

The M50 also allows you to automatically send photos to your PC utilizing an Image Transfer Utility tool. This requires your camera and PC to be on the same wireless network and is an efficient way to transfer and store your images after a long day of shooting.

Do keep in mind that a constant Bluetooth connection can cause a lot of battery drainage, coupled with the poor battery-life of the M50; this is a major concern. This becomes evident if you decide to keep your Bluetooth connectivity on while the camera is switched off.

9. Autofocus – Dual Pixel CMOS AF

Canon has previously received strong criticism and negative reviews on the autofocus performance of the original EOS M mirrorless camera. However, Canon’s autofocus system has come a long way since then, and with the EOS M50, we have surely noticed several improvements.

In fact, the Dual Pixel CMOS AF System works extremely well on the EOS M50 and has surprised many with its results. The Dual Pixel AF system covers approximately 80 percent of the sensor on most lenses and has 99 points of focus.

However, the capabilities of the AF system are further improved with a few compatible lenses, including the EF-M 55-200mm, EF-M 18-150mm, and EF-M 28mm Macro. With these lenses, the AF system covers the entire width of the sensor, the vertical coverage is increased to 88 percent, and the system provides 143 points of focus.

When it comes to performance, the AF is brisk, and the focusing coverage has also been improved. Another great feature is the touch-and-drag AF, which allows you to drag the AF point on the rear display with your thumb. This makes quick autofocusing a straightforward process.

The M50 excels at low light AF and close range face detection thanks to the Dual Pixel AF system. In fact, the AF system doesn’t let go of the subject even when objects get in the way. The only time you will notice this happening is when the object is another face. In such cases, you can simply press the focus point selection button in the Face Detection mode to switch between faces.

The M50 delivers amazing performance when it comes to AF tracking as well. The new DIGIC 8 processor enhances AF tracking abilities and is reliable even while shooting bursts at 7.4 fps. Provided the subject is not moving extremely fast or erratically, the Dual Pixel AF system excels at subject tracking and is very accurate.

Let’s talk about eye detection. The M50 is the first Canon camera to boast Eye AF, although the functionality is still quite limited. When the Face Detect and Track mode features are enabled the camera will autofocus on the eye nearest to the camera. Shifting the auto focus requires you to press the AF point selection switch twice.

Unfortunately, there are certain modes, such as the Servo AF mode, in which Eye AF cannot be used. Eye AF is also ineffective while recording videos. Most mirrorless brands have been incorporating Eye AF into their cameras for quite a while now. While Canon definitely has some catching up to do when it comes to the feature, it is great to see the company embrace new features and acknowledge their shortcomings.

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Image Quality And Video Recording

The EOS M50 comes equipped with a 24MP sensor. The architecture is similar to recent Canon 24MP sensors, however, there is a minor discrepancy in the pixel count of the M50 (24.1 MP compared to 24.2 MP) due to the way the sensor design is implemented in the camera.

The 24.1 MP APS-C sensor delivers crisp and clean images. Producing decent quality A3+ prints of the images you capture shouldn’t be an issue with the M50. The densely populated sensors mean you can get away with quite a lot of cropping without affecting the quality of the image.

The low-light performance of the sensor is very good, and noise is also well-controlled even at higher ISO settings. Even at ISO 6400, the RAW images show minimal luminance noise, and chroma noise is mostly absent.

For its price, the M50 also seems to perform extremely well when it comes to dynamic range. This allows you to recover a great amount of detail in your images.

While the 24MP sensor is found in virtually every recent Canon APS-C camera, the M50 is the first to be equipped with the new DIGIC 8 image processor. Canon claims improvements in JPEG image quality with the new processor, especially at high ISO.

1. RAW Images

In terms of detail and color, images captured by the M50 at base ISO are essentially similar to the EOS M6 and M100. Even at high ISO, there is virtually no difference between the RAW image performance of the M50 and M6. When compared to other brands such as Sony’s APS-C models, the M50 seems to lack in noise reduction when images are captured at high ISO. However, Fujifilm seems to have a marginal advantage over both Canon and Sony when it comes to noise reduction.

2. JPEG Images

The colors in Canon’s JPEGs have always been pleasant and satisfying. The M50 lives up to this reputation, and colors are noticeably better compared to previous models of the M-series. Though the reds can appear slightly dull in a studio setting, this is not the case in real-world shooting.

The M50’s fine detail capture at base ISO seems to be better than the M6. However, this is only noticeable if you look closely. The high ISO performance of the M50 is also better when compared to the M6. The details appear to be cleaner and sharper.

3. Video Recording

The Canon EOS M50 is considered a great option for vloggers. Features such as mic input, vari-angle LCD, and Dual Pixel AF improve video quality and make video recording super convenient. You can shoot videos in 1080p at 24, 30, and 60 fps. A 120 fps slow-motion option is also available on the M50.

The camera also supports 4K (UHD) video recording, which is the first time we see Canon incorporate the feature in a consumer-grade camera. The M50 captures videos in 4K with a maximum bitrate of 120 Mbps and utilizes the H.264 codec with IBP compression.

While you can shoot at resolutions up to 1080p at 60 fps in any mode, if you want to shoot in 4K, you will need to select the dedicated video setting on the mode dial.

When it comes to video recording and handling, the lightness of the camera makes it effortless. In addition to that, the fully articulated LCD can be flipped around, which is convenient and offers more control when vlogging with the camera facing towards you.

The built-in microphone produces excellent audio quality. The video quality is crisp and detailed when shooting at 1080p. The image stabilization of the lens, coupled with the electronic stabilization, works efficiently when shooting videos in resolutions up to 1080p.

The options, however, get limited when you switch to 4K. For video recording in 4K, the frame rate is locked in at 24 fps. While this is fine for cinema production, it is not ideal for capturing sports and action. A major drawback is the frame is cropped by a factor of 1.6x while shooting in 4K. This significant crop factor gets only worse when you utilize digital image stabilization.

Another major shortcoming while shooting in 4K resolution is the loss of one of the M50’s best features- the Dual Pixel AF. This means the camera reverts to contrast detection to focus, resulting in slower, inconsistent and choppier changes in focus while tracking subjects. Canon however, doesn’t give an elaborate reason for this, stating the omission of Dual Pixel AF from 4K video capture simply as “due to technical reasons”.

It is unfortunate that despite being one of the biggest selling-points of the M50, Canon seems to have dropped the ball on its first entry-level camera with 4K. While the 4K video quality is not the worst, it definitely isn’t the best either. Cameras such as the Sony Alpha a6300 outshine the M50 in almost every aspect of 4K video quality. Furthermore, the high crop factor proves to be a deal-breaker for many.

Overall, the video quality up to 1080p is great, and we really get to see the Dual Pixel AF work its magic at these resolutions. However, 4K still needs a ton of work before it can be on par with similar models in its class.

Canon EOS M50 Review – Final Verdict

Before we jump into our final take on the EOS M50, let’s have a look at the pros and cons of the camera.

Pros

  • Great image quality, the colors are pleasing as usual, and the details are fine-tuned.
  • The Dual Pixel AF system performs extremely well even while shooting at 7.4 fps and in low-light conditions.
  • Increased AF points and a larger phase-detect coverage area with certain lenses.
  • A new C-RAW format that reduces file sizes with minimal drop in quality, so you don’t need to worry about storage anymore.
  • A fully-articulated LCD and a well-implemented touch interface that is definitely one of the best in business.
  • The camera comes with an in-built 2.36M-DOT Electronic Viewfinder.
  • The M50 is also the first non-professional Canon camera to support 4K (UHD) video capture.
  • Seamless connectivity through Bluetooth, that makes pairing your camera to your smartphone fairly simple.
  • An auto-transfer feature allowing you to directly transfer files onto your smartphone or PC.
  • An external microphone input is also available.

Cons

  • Several limitations with the 4K video capture and quality. Video quality is soft when compared to its peers.
  • A substantial crop factor while shooting 4K makes capturing wide-angles nearly impossible. Furthermore, the Digital IS increases the crop factor even more resulting in drop in video quality.
  • Dual Pixel AF, one of the best features of the M50 is not compatible with 4K.
  • The implementation of the Auto ISO is basic and can be limiting for more advanced photographers
  • Eye detection AF is basic and is limited only to One-Shot AF.
  • Poor battery life and the lack of USB charging can be frustrating at times.
  • A slight but noticeable buffer when shooting RAW bursts.
  • A limited selection of native lenses.
  • The video capture button can be hard to find and there are chances of accidentally pressing it.
  • Limited body-mounted controls.

A first glance, the M50 looks much like a hybrid between the EOS M100 and the EOS M5. However, these similarities end on the surface itself. Looking inside the camera, we see a ton of changes, and the M50 is definitely power-packed. It is the first Canon camera to be introduced with the latest DIGIC 8 processor. This has definitely sped up the interface and processing power of the M50.

The camera is also Canon’s first non-professional camera to feature 4K video capture, which is a big plus point for vloggers. There are some limitations with 4K as of now, but it is definitely a step in the right direction for Canon.

When it comes to image quality and AF performance, the M50 is definitely among the best in class. M50 comes equipped with the most advanced Dual Pixel AF system of Canon’s M-series.

The AF performance is amazing even in low-light conditions, and the subject tracking is accurate even when shooting at 7.4 fps. Images offer plenty of detail when captured at base ISO and the JPEG performance is definitely among the best when compared to its peers.

Like any true entry-level camera, anyone can pick the M50 and start their photography journey with ease, thanks to the simplified user interface and smart Auto mode. However, don’t be fooled by its entry-level tag, as the M50 has a full suite of advanced features that are suitable for more experienced photographers.

So, should you buy the Canon EOS M50? Is it worth the price? Well, the answer depends on the purpose. Let me break it down for you. If you’re someone who is familiar with smartphone photography but are now looking to take your skills to the next level, the EOS M50 is definitely the best camera for you.

An ergonomic design, solid build, versatile features, and a simplified interface is what makes the M50 an attractive option for beginners. However, if you are a more advanced photographer looking for a camera with a greater breadth of features and better system support, there are more powerful options available for you.

At the end of the day, the Canon EOS M50 is a great camera and is definitely worth every penny. The M50 continues the trend of improvement in the M-series and addresses several drawbacks of its predecessors. All-in-all it is definitely one the most rounded cameras of the Canon M-series.