Canon may have been late to the mirrorless party, but over the last couple of years, it has taken a significant share in this ever-important market. The EOS M50 is an entry-level model that falls between the (£400) EOS M6 and the (£600) EOS M5, offering beginners a small and affordable camera with plenty of features. It sits in one of the most competitive price sectors, with several strong DSLR and CSC rivals, so really needs to deliver the goods to succeed.
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Canon EOS M50 review: Design and layout
While its general shape is similar to that of a DSLR, mainly due to its raised central finder, the EOS M50 is much smaller. There aren’t too many controls, and what there is are located on the right side of the camera’s top-plate and rear.
All are very well labelled and the layout is such that it doesn’t take long to work out where everything is. While the size of the buttons and main exposure dial are adequate, the rear four-way control could do with being a little larger.
The camera has a more plasticky feel than I’d like, but is pretty solid nonetheless and is very easy to hold one-handed thanks to its small size, light weight and pronounced handgrip. It sports a rubberised exterior that extends all the way around the right side of the camera to the rear area where the thumbgrip and controls are found.
I ideally like my cameras to have two input dials (one for aperture selection, the other for exposure compensation) but the Canon, like most models in this price range, only has the one. However, I still found it quick and easy to select these two features. The input dial by the shutter button provides a very convenient way of selecting apertures, with the dial switching to exposure compensation when the top button of the four-way control is pressed.
Press the Menu button and you’re presented with the classic Canon menu layout, which provides very clean, colour-coded menus that allow for fast and comprehensive access to all the cameras’ features. To access the major functions, such as metering patterns, White Balance and image quality, you can use the Q (Quick) button. You then have a choice of using the input dial along with the touchscreen or four-way control to change your camera’s settings.
I’ve no complaints about the 3in LCD monitor, it is excellent. Along with the slick touchscreen facility, the screen is sharp and clear, while its hinged platform allows it to be angled quickly and easily. While the 2.36-million-dot electronic finder is slightly on the small side, its screen provides a bright and sharp display, with an informative white-on-black readout along the bottom.
Canon EOS M50 review: Features
The EOS M50 features a 24.1-million pixel APS-C CMOS sensor, the same as found in the EOS M100, M5 and M6. It is the first Canon model (DSLR or CSC) to sport its latest image processor, the DIGIC 8, which allows it to be the first M-series model to boast 4K video. The sensitivity range of ISO 100-25600, expandable to ISO 51200, is more than adequate. Another benefit of the processor is a burst speed of 10fps, or 7.4fps with continuous AF.
The Dual Pixel CMOS AF system has been updated, with an increase from 49 to 99 or 143 AF points (depending on lens choice). Other enhancements include face detection AF, which I found worked fairly well, along with better AF tracking of moving subjects.
The metering system is comprehensive too, with both spot and partial to support the 384-zone Evaluative and centre-weighted patterns. Apart from backlighting, I found the Evaluative patterns proved consistently accurate, so beginners should have little to worry about with exposures if they leave the camera set to its default metering pattern. And, as mentioned earlier, should the need arise for exposure compensation to be required, it can be quickly and easily applied.
As with all entry-level models, the Canon M50 sports a full range of exposure modes ranging from manual to semi-auto to fully automatic, which are set using the small but chunky top-plate dial. For absolute beginners, there are 11 scene modes covering popular subjects like portrait, sports and close-ups, while those looking to try a bit of in-camera creativity need only flick the dial to the next setting for a choice of ten creative filters, ranging from toy camera to miniature effect to HDR.
An integral flash offers a good choice of modes, including first or second-curtain sync, flash exposure compensation, E-TTL II and manual control, but the Guide Number of only five (ISO 100, m) limits its usefulness, although a hotshoe means an external flashgun can be attached. Other features worth noting are improved connectivity and a new Raw format (.CR3) that provides full-resolution Raw files at reduced file sizes.
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Canon EOS M50 review: Performance
I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed using the EOS M50, along with how well it performs. It’s easy to use, fast in operation and offers a strong set of features. Image quality is very good, thanks to the combination of sensor and processor, along with the excellent AF and metering systems. Whether using Raw or JPEG, you can expect images with excellent colour reproduction and dynamic range on a par with its rivals.
Noise is nicely handled too, with decent quality up to ISO 1600. Apart from the small controls and slightly cramped finder, my only other niggle is with the relatively poor battery life (around 230 shots) and a susceptibility to flare from the kit lens.
Canon EOS M50 review: Verdict
This is a neat little offering from Canon that will suit novices looking for a small, well-specified camera at an affordable price. It faces stiff competition from Sony and Fuji in particular, but offers enough to make it worthy of being on the shortlists of beginners wanting a good all-round model. The 15-45mm IS zoom is a decent optic, so opt for the kit rather than body only.
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