Canon’s mirroless camera program is still small compared to those of Fujifilm, Panasonic or Sony, but it’s gathering momentum and the company describes the new EOS M50 as its “most intuitive and advanced mirrorless camera yet”.

Photo: Canon

Similar in styling to the M5 – so it looks a lot like a down-sized D-SLR – the M50 steps up in many areas, including Canon’s latest-generation ‘DiG!C 8’ processor, more autofocusing points, 4K video with a frame-grab function, in-camera image stabilisation, faster continuous shooting, a new and more efficient 14-bit RAW file format, and a monitor screen that’s now adjustable for both tilt and swing.

The M50 employs the same 25.8 megapixels ‘APS-C’ CMOS sensor as the M5 and M6, but with a fractionally lower effective pixel count of 24.1 MP (versus 24.2 MP). The sensitivity range remains the same at ISO 100 to 25,600. The new ‘DiG!C 8’ processor makes its debut on the M50 and enables a top shooting speed of 10 fps with the AF/AE locked to the first frame or 7.1 fps with frame-by-frame adjustment. More importantly, it allows for 4K video recording – a first on a Canon mirrorless body – in the UHD resolution of 3840x2160 pixels at 24 fps which gives a bit rate of 120 Mbps. Both time-lapse and frame grab functions are available with 4K video recording, the latter yielding 8.3 megapixels stills. Full HD 1080p footage can be recorded at 50, 25 or 24 fps (PAL TV standard). HD clips can be recorded at 100 fps for slow-motion effects. The M50 has built-in stereo microphones and a stereo audio input for connecting an external mic. The new ‘Dual Sensing’ image stabilisation – which uses a combination of lens-based and in-camera corrections – operates over five axes when shooting video.

Photo: Canon

Autofocusing is via Canon’s excellent phase-detection ‘Dual Pixel CMOS AF’ (curiously not available when shooting 4K video) with up to 143 focusing points – up from 49 on the M5 – which gives an increased coverage of 88 percent horizontally and 100 percent vertically. This is with selected EF-M lenses and otherwise (which includes the EF-M 15-45mm kit lens) there’s 99 focusing points available which give 80 percent coverage both vertically and horizontally.

The CR3 RAW file format allows for a new C-RAW capture mode (replacing the previous S-RAW and M-RAW) which employs a lossy compression regime to create files which are between 30 and 40 percent smaller than the lossless compressed files. The biggest advantage here is an increased burst depth of 16 files (compared to ten) at 10 fps. The JPEG/large/fine burst depth is quoted as 33 frames.

The M50’s ‘Vari-Angle’ monitor screen is slightly smaller than that on the M50 – presumably a result of the added adjustment range – but the touch controls now include Touch and Drag AF functions which are available when using the EVF (as on many of Panasonic Lumix G models). The EVF is an 0.39-inch OLED panel with a resolution of 2.36 megadots.

Exposure metering is sensor-based and uses 384 measuring zones (as on all the previous EOS M bodies) with the options of selective area, spot and centre-weighted average measurements. The standard ‘PASM’ exposure control modes are supplemented with a set of subject/scene modes which include a new silent shooting function. The shutter speed range is 30-1/4000 second with flash sync up to 1/200 second. The M50’s built-in pop-up flash has a metric guide number of five (ISO 100/m) and is supplemented by a hotshoe. Canon says there’s been refinements to various elements of its in-camera processing for JPEGs, including the ‘Auto Lighting Optimiser’ and ‘Highlight Tone Priority’ functions and the M50 is the first Canon mirrorless camera to the ‘Digital Lens Optimiser’ processing.

It’s interesting that Canon still considers the EOS M50 to be an entry-level mirrorless model when it’s truly very well featured and looks to have addressed most of the short-comings of the M5. If the M50 is entry-level, when Canon does get around to an enthusiast-level mirrorless camera, it’s going to be a weapon.

The EOS M50 will be available locally at the end of March with pricing expected to be in the region of $1100 with the EF-M 15-45mm f3.5-6.3 IS STM zoom lens. For more information visit http://www.canon.com.au