Mirrorless


Canon EOS M-50 Camera Review

August 15, 2018

Canon has kept 4K video recording at arm’s-length from its lower-cost cameras for several years now, but if the EOS M50 is any indication, the dam is beginning to burst.

Features

The M50 features a 24-megapixel APS-C sensor with Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology and a native ISO range of 100-6400 (expandable to 51,200).

It’s the company’s first mirrorless to support 4K, though frame rates top off at 24p. HD video can be recorded up to 120p. It boasts a new DIGIC 8 processor, built-in OLED viewfinder and a vari-angle touch LCD display.

You’ll enjoy Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC for wireless connectivity and automatic image transfers to a mobile device.

The Canon EOS M-50 Camera

Design

The M50 is incredibly light and compact, though its composite build doesn’t seem like it could take too many bumps. It’s still a bit heavier than the Fujifilm X-A5 but on par with the new Olympus Pen E-PL9. The grip is small, but comfortable and while you won’t enjoy as many dials and exterior controls as you would on a higher-end model, the M50 does offer one scroll wheel on top. Most of the buttons are recessed or close to flush with the body, making the M50 tricky to operate with gloves on. One element of the design we really liked was the AF touch pad, which lets you use the display to select AF points while you’re composing through the EVF.

The tripod socket is wedged fairly close to the battery/SD card door so if you have a quick release plate screwed in, you won’t have access to that door.

There are two menu systems on the M50. One is a very graphics-heavy introductory menu that explains camera functions and is well-executed to guide inexperienced users through choosing the appropriate settings. The other is the more conventional Canon menu which is functional, if unexciting (yes, we do occasionally get excited about menus).

A sample image from the Canon EOS M-50 Camera.

A sample image from the Canon EOS M-50 Camera.

Image Quality

With a 24-megapixel image sensor and Canon’s renowned color science, we weren’t surprised to find ourselves very pleased with straight-from-the-camera JPEGs. Images are crisp, skin tones pleasing and colors vibrant. Image Engineering’s tests (see sidebar) also found excellent dynamic range results on the still image side. The camera uses a new RAW file (CR3/C-RAW in the camera menu) which offers more aggressive lossless compression to save disk space without a real loss in quality.

The camera fares adequately in low light, though there’s not as much room to bump up your ISO before noise becomes a factor. Between ISO 800 and 1600 you’ll see noise seep into your images.

While the embrace of 4K video is welcome, the implementation in the M50 leaves something to be desired—it imposes a 1.7x crop, you lose the excellent Dual Pixel CMOS autofocusing and your frame rate is capped at 24p. In both HD and 4K video we picked up some minute rolling shutter distortion, though color rendition was accurate.

Performance

The M50 is one of the speediest cameras in its class. It can hit burst speeds of 10 fps with focus fixed on the first frame or 7.4 fps with continuous autofocusing, outpacing Olympus EL-P9, Fujifilm’s X-A5 and Panasonic’s GX850. The downside is the RAW buffer is a bit shallow, capable of up to about 11 frames. However, autofocusing and AF tracking both performed quite well, especially in live view.

The battery life on the M50 is a disappointing 235 shots per charge, but can be extended to 370 images in eco mode. Still, this trails all of the camera’s aforementioned competitors.

Bottom Line

At $700 for the body and kit lens, the M50 competes with lower-cost bodies from Fujifilm, Olympus and Panasonic. Both Canon and Fuji offer larger, APS-C sensors than either of their Micro Four Thirds competitors. Panasonic provides a more feature-rich alternative and the superior option for those in search of high quality 4K video, while fans of Fujifilm’s distinct image quality and retro design won’t necessarily be won over to the M50’s more conventional design. That said, the M50 delivers strong still image quality, tremendous dynamic range and autofocusing/shot-to-shot performance that is at the top of its class.

Canon EOS M-50

www.usa.canon.com
PROS: Excellent dynamic range; solid image quality; high-speed shooting; reliable AF tracking and great live view AF performance.
CONS: 4K video entails aggressive crop; no Dual Pixel CMOS AF for 4K recording; flimsy-feeling build; meager battery life.
PRICE: $700


Notes from the TIPA Test Bench

PDN is a member of the Technical Image Press Association which has contracted with Image Engineering to perform detailed lab tests of digital cameras. See here for a full methodological rundown of how Image Engineering puts cameras through their paces. Full res files of every visual in this review are available to download for your pixel-peeping pleasure here


Introduction

The Canon EOS M50 features an 24-megapixel APS-C sensor with Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology and a native ISO range of 100-6400 (expandable to 51,200). It is Canon’s first mirrorless camera to offer 4K video recording (at 24 fps). Full HD recording is available up to 120 fps.

It boasts a new DIGIC 8 processor, built-in OLED viewfinder and a vari-angle LCD display. The M50 can hit burst speeds of 10fps with focus fixed on the first frame or 7.4 fps with continuous autofocusing.

You’ll enjoy Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC for wireless connectivity and automatic image transfer to a mobile device.

The M50 is rated for a CIPA-certified 235 shots per charge, but can be extended to 370 images in eco mode.

The M50 retails for $800 for the body or for $900 with the EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens.


Resolution

  • 1993 line pairs per picture height (LP/PH) at ISO100, representing 100 percent of the theoretical maximum.
  • At ISO 400 and 800, resolution is nearly the same as at ISO100: 1970 and 1971 LP/PH, 99 percent of the theoretical maximum.
  • Resolution declines to 90 percent of the theoretical maximum at ISO6400, 1797 LP/PH.
  • Top ISOs show relatively poor resolution (1565 LP/PH (78 percent) at ISO25600; 1452 (73 percent) at extended ISO hi1).
  • Similar to the Canon M100, which also had a 24-megapixel sensor: 1867 LP/PH (93 percent of theoretical maximum) at ISO 100; poor at higher ISOs (e.g. 1409 LP/PH, 70 percent at the top ISO of 25600).
Canon M50 review

This graph shows the loss of contrast (y-axis) as a function of the spatial frequency in line pairs per picture height (x-axis) for different ISO-sensitivities (colored lines). The further to the right a curve stretches before descending, the better the resolution at that ISO. The limiting resolution for each ISO can be found by identifying to the highest spatial frequency which results in a contrast of 0.1, or where the ISO curve crosses the thicker horizontal thicker black line marking 0.1. The vertical pink line is a reference representing half the number of pixels in the sensor height (the Nyquist frequency).

Texture loss       

  • Texture reproduction in high-contrast scenes is moderately good, with MTF50 of 1198 LP/PH and 22.3 percent artifacts at ISO100.
  • Similar to M100: MTF50 of 1105 LP/PH at ISO100 (20.9 percent artifacts) in high contrast and 1140 LP/PH with 23.6 percent artifacts in low contrast.
  • M50 shows similar texture reproduction at ISO400 and ISO800 to the results cited above for ISO100: MTF50 1094 and 1032, respectively, with 24.7 percent artifacts and 37.1 percent artifacts.
  • In low-contrast areas, MTF50 is higher at each ISO (1215 LP/PH at ISO100, 1165 LP/PH at ISO400, and 1052 at ISO800), although artifacts are also more common (33.9 percent, 41.0 percent, and 36.2 percent, respectively).
  • At ISO6400, MTF50 reaches only 527 LP/PH in high-contrast areas and 554 in low contrast (artifacts of 46.8 percent and 73.2 percent).
  • ISO25600 also poor: MTF50 is 231 LP/PH with 72.8 percent artifacts in high contrast, and 161 LP/PH with 91.5 percent artifacts in low-contrast areas.
  • The M100 also showed poor texture capture at higher ISOs: 237 LP/PH MTF50 at ISO25600 with 74.7 percent artifacts in high contrast, and 139 LP/PH with 88.9 percent artifacts in low contrast.
Canon M50 Review

An artifact is an alteration in a digital image due to technology or technique of processing. Artifacts stem from noise, compression, and sharpening. This graph plots the calculated difference in digital signal between two methods (DeadLeavesCross & DeadLeavesDirect). The colored lines represent response at different ISOs and in reference to a high-contrast target and a low-contrast target. Values plotted are the Dead Leaves SFR difference against the spatial frequency. The larger the area under the curve, the more artifacts are present.

 Edge contrast / sharpening      

  • At ISO 100, sharpening is moderate: 8.1 percent overshoot and 10.0 percent undershoot along high-contrast edges, and 14.6 percent overshoot and 17.2 percent undershoot along low-contrast edges.
  • At ISO 1600, the sharpening decreases (along high-contrast edges, 4.1 percent overshoot and 9.1 undershoot; 6.4 percent overshoot and 7.7 percent undershoot along low-contrast edges), and at the highest ISOs, where image capture is not good, sharpening in low contrast is nearly non-existent (e.g. ISO25600, 2.9 percent overshoot and 9.8 percent undershoot along high-contrast edges, along with 0.3 percent overshoot and 0.9 percent undershoot along low-contrast edges).
Canon EOS M50 Review

This graph shows the degree of sharpening in the image by representing an over- and undershoot along contrasted edges. The colored lines represent measurements at different ISOs and in high- and low-contrast situations. The size of the dip before the edge (in both depth and breadth) indicates the degree of undershoot; similarly, the amount overshoot is indicated by the height and breadth of the peak. Thus, larger dips and/or peaks indicate that a sharpening effect is visible.

OECF VN/visual noise        

  • Viewing Condition 1 (100 percent): ISO100, visual noise would be hardly noticeable (1.4), by ISO800, it would be pretty obvious (2.1).
  • In images shot above ISO6400, visual noise would be disturbing (3.8; ISO 25600, 5.7).
  • Images shot at the lower ISOs would show little noise (scores 0.6 to 1.0 in ISOs up to 3200) when viewed on a small mobile screen or postcard-sized print (Viewing Condition 2).
  • High-ISO images in Viewing Condition 2 would show noticeable noise (scores is 1.4 for ISO12800 and 2.0 for ISO25600).
  • Images shot at low ISO would also not show noticeable noise when viewed as a large print (Viewing Condition 3; ISO100, score 0.7, ISO1600, 1.0).
  • From ISO3200 (score 1.2), visual noise would become noticeable in large prints, and disturbing in images shot at the highest ISO of 25600 (2.5).

This chart shows the noise behavior at various ISO-sensitivities (colored lines) as a function of the brightness of the target image, which is indicated by the relative darkness of the circle on the outer edge of the diagram (noise in shadowed areas are above, and in highlights below). The larger the area inside a curve, the stronger the noise. The degree to which noise disturbs the appreciation of an image, depends on the image size and the viewing condition. The right-hand side of the chart shows the visibility of the noise in an image that is displayed 100% on a monitor (VN1). The left-hand half shows the visibility of noise in a 40-cm tall print (VN3).

This chart shows the noise behavior at various ISO-sensitivities (colored lines) as a function of the brightness of the target image. The perception of noise is represented by the area that is encircled by the curve. The larger the area, the stronger the noise. How much the noise disturbs the viewing of an image, depends on the image size and the viewing distance. This chart shows the noise visibility for an image that is displayed 100% on a monitor (VN1).

This chart shows the noise behavior at various ISO-sensitivities (colored lines) as a function of the brightness of the target image. The perception of noise is represented by the area that is encircled by the curve. The larger the area, the stronger the noise. How much the noise disturbs the viewing of an image, depends on the image size and the viewing distance. The chart shows the noise visibility for an image that is about postcard size (scaled to a height of 10cm) viewed at a distance of 25cm.

Dynamic Range  

  • Dynamic range at ISO 100 is 13.4 f-stops, at IS 400, 11.2, and at ISO 800, 10.6 f-stops.
  • Dynamic range is very good also at higher ISOs (8.9 f-stops at ISO3200), but decreased at the highest sensitivities (6.8 f-stops at ISO12800 and 5.7 f-stops at ISO25600).
  • Better dynamic range than the M100, where the broadest dynamic range was 10.7 f-stops at ISO100. The top ISO of ISO 25,600 in the M100 also showed a poor dynamic range (5.9 f-stops).

Color Reproduction

  • Color reproduction is also good, with only five colors deviating strongly from the original.
  • ∆E is consistent and a little above 10 at all ISOs (10.6 at ISO100, 10.8 and 10.7 at ISOs 400 and 800, respectively; 10.1 at ISO25600).

Color reproduction is shown here in two ways. The upper figure is a chart comparing a reference color (right-hand half of each color patch) directly with the color reproduced by the camera (left-hand half of the color patch). Below is a table that lists the DeltaE of each color patch. Red cells indicated strong color deviations, light green cells represent colors with noticeable deviations, and a dark green field represents a moderate deviation.

Automatic white balance     

  • Automatic white balance: 0.3 at ISO100 and 400, and the same at ISOs 1600 and 3200.
  • At ISO25600, automatic white balance is poor (0.7).
  • The M100 also showed poor automatic white balance, with values such as 0.9 at ISO100, 1.0 at ISO6400.
  • The best automatic white balance in the M100 was 0.4 at ISO1600.

Video                                                     

  • Resolution at ISO100 is 1060 LP/PH (98 percent of theoretical maximum) and 1020 LP/PH (94 percent) at high ISO (ISO1600).
  • Texture reproduction measurements show an MTF50 at ISO100 of 1015 LP/PH in high-contrast areas (33.2 percent artifacts), and 433 LP/PH in low contrast (23.1 percent).
  • At high ISO (1600), the texture loss is fairly high, with MTF50 of 522 LP/PH in high contrast (37.5 percent artifacts) and 559 in low contrast (41.4 percent artifacts).
  • Sharpening in video is measured at 7.3 percent overshoot and 10.5 undershoot along high-contrast edges at low ISO, matched with 9.6 percent overshoot and 15.2 percent undershoot along low-contrast edges.
  • Sharpening is milder at high ISO: 1.0 percent overshoot and 5.8 percent undershoot along high-contrast edges and 2.3 percent overshoot and 4.6 percent undershoot at low-contrast.
  • Dynamic range is good, although not as excellent as in still shots: 9.0 f-stops at low ISO and 8.3 at high ISO.
  • Automatic white balance in video is not very good (0.7 at low ISO, 0.6 at high IO).
  • Visual noise is moderate, showing slightly noticeable scores (1.4, 1.0 and 1.1, in viewing conditions 1, 2, and 3, respectively) at low ISO, and slightly to very noticeable noise at high ISO (2.3, 1.5, and 1.7).

This chart shows the noise behavior at two ISO-sensitivities (ISO100 and ISO1600) as a function of the brightness of the target image. The amount of noise perceived is reflected in the size of the area encircled by the curves. The larger the area, the stronger the noise and its perception. The degree to which the noise disturbs the viewer, depends on the image size and the viewing distance. This chart shows the noise visibility for a video frame that is displayed 100% on a monitor (VN1).

This graph shows the loss of contrast (y-axis) as a function of the spatial frequency in line pairs per picture height (x-axis) for two ISO-sensitivities in video mode (colored lines). The further to the right a curve stretches before descending, the better the resolution at that ISO. The limiting resolution for each ISO can be found by identifying to the highest spatial frequency which results in a contrast of 0.1, or where the ISO curve crosses the thicker horizontal thicker black line marking 0.1. The vertical pink line is a reference representing half the number of pixels in the sensor height (the Nyquist frequency).

This graph shows the sharpening in the image due to an over- and undershoot along edges. Depending on the size (based on width and height) of the additional emerging area, a lower (shallower additional area) or stronger (higher and narrower additional area) sharpening effect is visible.

Start-up time    

  • Starts up in 1.1 seconds.

Continuous shooting  

  • Shoots 9.6 frames per second in JPEG format, up to 47 images in a row before the camera slows down.
  • The M100 could capture 6.2 frames per second up to 90.
  • Burst shooting in RAW format by the M50 is the same speed: 9.6 frames per second up to a total of 12.
  • The M100 shot 6.1 frames per second for a total 24.

Autofocus Viewfinder (300lux and 30lux)        

  • Contrast-detection autofocus not present for still photography.

Autofocus (300lx) Live View 

  • Autofocus time in Live View in bright light took 0.2 seconds, for a total shooting time of 0.3 seconds, about the same as the M100 (0.22 seconds autofocus for total of 0.3 seconds)

Autofocus (30lx) Live View  

  • Autofocus in low light 0.3 seconds for a total shooting time of 0.4 seconds.
  • M100 autofocus in low light took 0.28 seconds for total shooting time of 0.35 seconds.

 Image quality measurement – Assessment

The Canon EOS M50 is a APS-C camera with a 24-megapixel sensor. It produces images with good resolution at ISO100 (1993 line pairs per picture height (LP/PH), representing 100 percent of the theoretical maximum). At ISO 400 and 800, resolution remains good (1970 and 1971 LP/PH respectively, representing 99 percent of the theoretical maximum).

As expected, image resolution declines as ISO increases. At ISO6400, resolution reaches 1797 LP/PH (90 percent of the theoretical maximum). The most light-sensitive ISOs show relatively poor resolution (1565 LP/PH (78 percent) at ISO25600; 1452 LP/PH (73 percent) at extended ISO hi1). The Canon M100, which also had a 24-megapixel sensor, showed similar resolution in lab tests: 1867 LP/PH (93 percent of theoretical maximum) at ISO 100 and 400, and nearly the same (1856 LP/PH, 93 percent) at ISO800. The Canon M100 also showed poor resolution at higher ISOs (e.g. 1409 LP/PH, 70 percent at the top ISO of 25600).

Texture reproduction in high-contrast scenes captured by the Canon M50 is moderately good, with an MTF50 of 1198 LP/PH and 22.3 percent artifacts at ISO100. As with resolution, ISOs 400 and 800 perform under test nearly as well as ISO100: MTF50s of 1094 LP/PH and 1032 LP/PH, respectively, with 24.7 percent and 37.1 percent artifacts. In low-contrast parts of a scene, MTF50 results are higher at each ISO (1215 LP/PH at ISO100, 1165 LP/PH at ISO400, and 1052 LP/PH at ISO800), although artifacts are also more common (33.9 percent, 41.0 percent, and 36.2 percent, respectively).

As with resolution, the higher ISOs show much poorer results with regard to texture reproduction. For example, at ISO6400, MTF50 reaches only 527 LP/PH in high-contrast areas and 554 LP/PH in low contrast (artifacts are 46.8 percent and 73.2 percent, respectively). At the highest extended ISO, extremely little detail would be accurately reproduced (MTF50 is 152 LP/PH in high-contrast areas, and 76 LP/PH in low contrast, with 82.2 percent artifacts and 94.2 percent, respectively). The top native ISO of 25600 also shows poor performance: MTF50 is 231 LP/PH MTF50 with 72.8 percent artifacts in high contrast, and 161 LP/PH with 91.5 percent artifacts in low-contrast areas.

Tests of the M100 showed similar texture reproduction results: at ISO100, MTF50 of 1105 LP/PH (20.9 percent artifacts) in high contrast and 1140 LP/PH with 23.6 percent artifacts in low-contrast areas. The M100 similarly showed poor texture capture at higher ISOs: MTF50 is 237 LP/PH at ISO25600 with 74.7 percent artifacts in high contrast, and 139 LP/PH with 88.9 percent artifacts in low contrast.

At ISO100, the Canon M50 produces moderate sharpening: 8.1 percent overshoot and 10.0 percent undershoot along high-contrast edges, and 14.6 percent overshoot and 17.2 percent undershoot along low-contrast edges. At ISO1600, the sharpening decreases (e.g. along high-contrast edges, 4.1 percent overshoot and 9.1 undershoot; 6.4 percent overshoot and 7.7 percent undershoot along low-contrast edges), and at the highest ISOs, where resolution and texture reproduction are not good, sharpening in low contrast is also small (e.g. ISO25600, 2.9 percent overshoot and 9.8 percent undershoot along high-contrast edges, along with 0.3 percent overshoot and 0.9 percent undershoot along low-contrast edges).

All images shot by the M50 would show visual noise when viewed at 100 percent (Viewing Condition 1): at ISO100, noise would be only noticeable (1.4), but by ISO800, the visual noise would be pretty obvious (2.1). Images shot above ISO6400 would show disruptive amounts of noise (3.8, at ISO 25600, 5.7).

In Viewing Condition 2, which is a model of the experience for someone viewing the image on a small mobile screen or postcard-sized print, images shot at the lower ISOs would not show noticeable noise (scores 0.6 to 1.0 in ISOs up to 3200). Noise in high-ISO images would be observable even when viewed on a mobile screen (e.g. ISO12800 score is 1.4; ISO25600, 2.0).

Images shot at low ISO would also not show noticeable noise when viewed as a large print (Viewing Condition 3; ISO100, score 0.7, ISO1600, 1.0). From ISO3200 (score 1.2), visual noise would become noticeable in large prints, and noise would be disturbing in images shot at the highest ISO of 25600 (2.5).

Dynamic range is superb in images made by the M50: at ISO100 dynamic range was measured at an impressive 13.4 f-stops. The dynamic range remains excellent even as ISO increases: at ISO400, it was measured at 11.2 f-stops and at ISO800, 10.6 f-stops. Dynamic range is very good also at higher ISOs (8.9 f-stops at ISO3200), but declines dramatically at the highest sensitivities (6.8 f-stops at ISO12800 and 5.7 f-stops at ISO25600). The M50 shows better dynamic range than its cousin the M100, the test results of which show the broadest dynamic range as 10.7 f-stops at ISO100. The M100 showed a dynamic range of 9.6 f-stops was measured at ISOs 400 and 800. Similar to the M50, the top ISO of ISO25600 in the M100 showed a poor dynamic range (5.9 f-stops).

Color reproduction is also good, with only five colors deviating strongly from the original. ∆E is consistent and a little above 10 at all ISOs (10.6 at ISO100, 10.8 and 10.7 at ISOs 400 and 800, respectively; 10.1 at ISO25600).

Automatic white balance is neither particularly good nor poor, with values of 0.3 at ISO100 and 400, as well at ISOs 1600 and 3200. The best automatic white balance result is at ISO800, where it measures 0.2. At ISO25600, automatic white balance does not work well (0.7). The M50 has improved over the M100 in terms of automatic white balance.

The M50 starts up in 1.1 seconds. It can shoot 9.6 frames per second in JPEG format, up to 47 images in a row before the camera slows down. In comparison, the M100 could capture 6.2 frames per second for a total of 90 images. Burst shooting in RAW format by the M50 is as fast as in JPEG format: 9.6 frames per second up to a total of 12. The M100 could take 6.1 frames per second for a total of 24.

The advertised Dual Pixel CMOS AF System in the M50 focuses pretty quickly: autofocus time in Live View under conditions of bright light took 0.2 seconds, for a total shooting time of 0.3 seconds, about the same as the M100 (0.22 seconds autofocus for total of 0.3 seconds). Autofocus in low light took 0.3 seconds for a total shooting time of 0.4 seconds. The M100 was a tiny bit faster: autofocus in low light took 0.28 seconds for total shooting time of 0.35 seconds.

Video 

Resolution in stills grabbed from videos is very good: at ISO100, 1060 LP/PH (98 percent of theoretical maximum) and 1020 LP/PH (94 percent) at high ISO (ISO1600). Texture reproduction is decent at low ISO in areas of high contrast, but fairly bad in low contrast: measurements show an MTF50 at ISO100 of 1015 LP/PH in high-contrast parts of the scene with 33.2 percent artifacts, and 433 LP/PH in low contrast (23.1 percent artifacts). At high ISO (ISO1600), the texture loss is fairly high, with MTF50 of 522 LP/PH in high contrast (37.5 percent artifacts) and 559 in low contrast (41.4 percent artifacts).

Sharpening in videos shot by the M50 at low ISO is of medium strength: 7.3 percent overshoot and 10.5 percent undershoot along high-contrast edges, matched with 9.6 percent overshoot and 15.2 percent undershoot along low-contrast edges. Sharpening is milder at high ISO: 1.0 percent overshoot and 5.8 percent undershoot along high-contrast edges and 2.3 percent overshoot and 4.6 percent undershoot at low-contrast. Dynamic range is good, although not as excellent as in still shots: 9.0 f-stops at low ISO and 8.3 f-stops at high ISO. Automatic white balance in video is not very good (0.7 at low ISO, 0.6 at high IO).

Visual noise is moderate, showing slightly noticeable scores (scores of 1.4, 1.0 and 1.1, in viewing conditions 1, 2, and 3, respectively) at low ISO, and slightly to very noticeable noise at high ISO (scores of 2.3, 1.5, and 1.7).

Handling – Assessment 

The Canon EOS M50 is a small camera that comes in white-and-oyster-grey as well as in black. The camera’s small size and stylish color scheme option may indicate that the camera is designed for those for whom portability and appearance might be important features in choosing a camera. Another indication of the target consumer, is that the first chapter in the Canon M50 help guide is a lengthy one about the wireless features, after which the accessories are introduced; the second part of the guide, which starts on page 47, is the more traditional opening chapter explaining how to take photos with the camera. Similarly, geotagging images and the method to best upload them to websites are highlighted early in the manual.

The M50 camera body is made out of glossy polycarbonate plastic equipped with rubber inlays which are textured to provide a nice grip. The camera does not feel very robust, although the body does weigh in at nearly half a kilo, a bit heavier than one might expect. The body is not described as dust- or water-resistant.

The M50 body sports some well-designed buttons, such as the four directional buttons which have tiny raised knobs which catch one’s fingertip, facilitating precise navigation. There is a drive mode wheel on the top of the camera, and another wheel which can be used for navigation. That there is no rear wheel for navigation is a bit confusing for some users. The buttons are very accessible – although some are perhaps too easy to access. For example, nothing prevents the user (with medium-sized hands, for whom the grip is perhaps a bit small) from unintentionally switching from manual focus to autofocus. However, such a user can also easily operate this camera with one hand.

The M50 boasts nine customizable function buttons, although the default settings include two buttons programmed for manual focus. Most of these function buttons are labelled with the default setting; only one is labelled ‘M-Fn’, making it more obviously a customizable button.

The long menu is available in a (default) guided mode, or a standard mode. The menu has tabs which can be scrolled through using the front wheel. There is no dedicated video tab: settings for video and still photographs are mixed in together. Although the menu is generally good, not all elements of the menu are clear: for example, in English, one feature states ‘disable during man expo’. Comparison with other languages finally clears up the mystery: ‘man expo’ is an abbreviation without the usual full stops (‘man. expo.’), to mean ‘manual exposure’. Once the user understands this, other possible meanings, such as those having to do with male humans or with exhibitions, can be left aside. One may also guess that ‘disable’ in this phrase, is not the imperative telling one to disable something, but is a descriptor missing a ‘d’ (disabled). Thus, ‘disable during man expo’ means ‘disabled in manual exposure drive mode’.

A second issue with the menu, is that some settings are unlikely to make a lot of sense to the targeted user. Are they likely to want to set the metering timer – or even know what it does?

The M50 has an accessible quick menu through which many settings can be altered. The quick menu is easy to navigate with directional buttons (together with the option of also using the front wheel), or by using the touchscreen. Like the main menu, the quick menu offers a guide, in this case an option for annotated settings (e.g. ‘choose autofocus control’).

The monitor display can be rotated around so it is viewable from the front of the camera, making it useful for selfies. Composition aids such as grid overlay and electronic level are available. The electronic viewfinder gives approximately 100 percent coverage.

There are two sets of automatic modes: the intelligent automatic and the ‘scene’ mode. The user can also choose to apply ‘filters’, or to shoot in Program mode, Aperture-priority, Shutter-priority, or Manual. A type of time lapse called ‘Digest movie’ is offered, in which the camera records short video clips of two to four seconds for each still photograph: the chapter on shooting begins with a tip about making more impressive digest movies, assuming that the user both knows what these are and finds them an important type of their photography with this camera.

The Canon M50’s auto ISO program seems to tend toward lower ISOs, which will help avoid the worst image quality issues highlighted above. The in-camera processing of images, especially those shot with filters, is noticeably slow. When some options are selected, such as backlight HDR or night-time shooting, the camera monitor may show ‘busy’ for about 10 seconds before showing the preview. In the same vein, after a period of burst shooting, the monitor does not show the word ‘busy’, although at the same time the camera does not react to further pressing of the shutter release button.

Silent mode is available with an electronic shutter – in this mode, with some lenses, the aperture forming and opening again can be clearly heard. The camera’s sensor has an integrated low-pass (anti-alias) filter which helps prevent moiré.

The M50 will not shoot a picture if it was not able to autofocus (when in autofocus mode). Focus peaking is available, and one can use the touchscreen to move the focus point when shooting in Live View.

The flash can be turned on and off via the menu, but it must also be manually raised for it to fire, even in very dark situations and with the drive mode set to automatic. Although there is a tripod attachment hole, no warning is shown in low light indicating that a tripod is needed. As the camera body also only has stabilization for video mode, low-light photography without a stabilization-equipped lens, can lead to motion blur, something many cellphone users may not be accustomed to accommodating. The kit lens does have image stabilization, so some users may not even realize that the body does not have sensor-shift or other in-body stabilization.

Screen brightness is automatically increased when shooting in dim light, a choice that runs in the opposite direction of some other recent cameras equipped with night-vision-preserving night mode.

When taking pictures using the manual exposure drive mode, overexposure or underexposure can be set without changing aperture or speed, presumably because the auto ISO adapts (the info screen does not show the ISO speed when selected by the camera). If ISO is also set manually, the exposure compensation scale is no longer selectable. Instead of this being used also as an exposure indicator, to help the photographer shooting in manual to compensate for undesired over- or underexposure, the camera relies on the preview as shown in the monitor. However, as screens may look brighter or darker than they are, depending on ambient light conditions, it seems to be less useful for the budding photographer than a more traditional set-up.

The camera is designed for many connection options: WiFi, NFC, and Bluetooth. USB (hi-speed micro) and HDMI. The covers for the different jacks are helpfully labelled. The battery charger also has clearly labelled lights for ‘charging’ and ‘ready’.

Video        

Video shooting is possible with both the viewfinder and the monitor, although juddering can be observed while filming. This was especially noticeable in the smaller viewfinder and made filming a bit uncomfortable. Fortunately, the juddering is not visible when the film is reviewed on the monitor. The M50 body also becomes rapidly warm to the touch when under use.

It is possible to record in 4K video, in which mode the autofocus mode used is contrast-detection. The 4K option can be selected only when the drive mode dial is set to video, although both Full HD and HD can be selected and recorded in that mode, or in any other mode. Confusingly, one is confronted with a display screen when first dialing the drive mode dial to video which offers a choice between automatic or manual (exposure) settings (only).

Although the camera may be set with a creative filter, such as black-and-white, the camera drops this setting for filming.

The flash hot shoe can be used to attach an external microphone as well as an external flash, but there is no jack for headphones.

The Canon M50 is a small camera which seemed to be targeted at people who are stepping up from a mobile phone camera. The camera shows very good resolution and reproduction of detail at ISOs ranging from ISO100 to ISO800. However, the more sensitive ISOs do not produce images that are nearly as good, and the problem is augmented by the lack of any stabilizing for still photos. The dynamic range is excellent, as is color reproduction. In some ways, this is a camera for those who wish for the fidelity and dynamic range one might associate with some films from bygone days.

Body & Buttons 

  • Small size body designed presumably for small hands, available in white with oyster-color inlays, or conventional black.
  • Not described as dust- or water-resistant.
  • Directional button has small raised portions in each of the four main directions, making it easy to use with precision.
  • 9 customizable buttons, although the default settings include, for example, two buttons programmed for manual focus. Most of these customizable buttons are labelled with a default setting, while only one is labelled ‘M-Fn’, so, more obviously a customizable button.
  • Buttons are very accessible, although some perhaps too much so – for example, it is easy to switch from manual to autofocus for a user with medium-sized hands for whom the grip is perhaps a bit small.
  • Wheel on front can be used for changing settings or navigating menu; no rear wheel.

Display and Viewfinder        

  • Electronic viewfinder giving approximately 100 percent coverage.
  • Monitor with tilting and swiveling capability.
  • Useful touchscreen can be used to navigate menu and quick menu and also to move focus point.
  • Composition aids such as grid overlay and electronic level available.

Menu structure

  • Menu is available in guided and standard mode; video and still settings are mixed in together.
  • Many settings are available via the quick menu, which is available in guided mode.
  • Quick menu is clear and easy to navigate with directional buttons (together with the front wheel for those who like), or by using the touchscreen.

Functionality

  • Integrated low-pass filter
  • User copyright information can be entered directly into metadata.
  • The camera’s auto ISO program seems to tend toward lower ISOs, which assists with maintaining decent image quality.
  • After burst shooting, the monitor does not show ‘busy’, although at the same time the camera does not react to further shots.
  • Camera monitor shows ‘busy’ for about 10 seconds, after some of the scene options such as night-time shooting and backlight HDR, as images are combined in camera.
  • Silent mode is available with an electronic shutter.

Special features  

  • The monitor display can be rotated around to be viewed from the front of the camera, making it useful for selfies.
  • ‘Digest movie’ available, in which the camera records short video clips of two to four seconds for each still photograph.
  • Shutter will not release if camera was not able to autofocus (when in autofocus mode).
  • Flash can be turned on and off via menus but must also be manually raised for it to fire, even in very dark situations and with the drive mode set to automatic.
  • No warning comes on in dark situations indicating a tripod is needed.
  • Screen brightness is automatically increased when shooting in dim light, the opposite function of other cameras which turn on night mode.

Connectivity      

  • WiFi and NFC; Bluetooth: the first part of the manual is more than 40 pages about uploading to websites and using the camera with a smartphone.
  • The flash hot shoe can be used to attach an external microphone or an external flash.
  • USB (hi-speed micro); HDMI

Video        

  • Microphone jack but no headphone jack.
  • Video options are manual or automatic settings.
  • Although the camera may be set with a creative filter, such as black-and-white, the camera drops this setting for filming.