Canon is finally adopting 4K video with a new mirrorless camera called M50. The little shooter is, essentially, the Canon M5 of 2016 with fewer buttons and dials and a more aerodynamic body. But the internal improvements and a rotating screen mean that this will be the company's most video-friendly mirrorless camera to date when it goes on sale in April.
The $ 779 M50 uses a 24.1-megapixel APS-C sensor that is smaller than the 24.2-megapixel hair found on the M5. Despite that, the camera is able to do more and capture better images in low light, says Canon. This is thanks to the fact that the M50 uses a new version of Canon's image processor, the DIGIC 8.
A mixture of M5 and M6, but with better internal
The M50 is the first Canon camera to use DIGIC 8, which allows the camera to capture 4K video at 24 frames per second, 1080p video at 60 fps and video at 720p at 120 fps. DIGIC 8 also provides fast M50 instant firing rates: 10 frames per second in RAW or JPEG format with single-shot focus, and 7.4 frames per second with continuous focus.
Beyond adding 4K capacity, one thing that vloggers and videographers (and even me) did not appreciate much about the M5 was that the screen just flipped over. Canon has also changed it in the M50. The screen now rotates to one side and can rotate around 180 degrees, which makes it easy to aim in all kinds of directions and ensure that it is not blocked by a tripod.
One thing that bothered me the most when I reviewed the M5 was that the build quality seemed a bit cheap. The camera was loaded with plastic, which caused the camera to vibrate a little each time a sequence of high-speed shots jumped. The M50, during a brief demonstration, seems to have solved this. (Now there is also a silent shooting mode.) The new body feels more cohesive and is covered with a different material that is not so slippery to the touch. It looks more like the material of some of Canon's other mirrorless cameras, like the M6, but with more refinement. It is simply a prettier camera to hold in your hand.
The M50 has the same built-in viewfinder as the M5, which is sharp and small. It also has the same touch and drag feature to move the autofocus points while looking through that viewfinder. There are more autofocus points within the M50 – 143 to 49 of the M5. But there is one drawback: with some objectives, only 99 AF points will be active. Only certain lenses can use the 143 AF points. Still, the M50 uses Canon's fast Dual Pixel CMOS AF, so 99 points should be enough for most situations. There is also a new "AF eye detection" mode that can automatically block focus in a subject's eyes.
The latest version of the Canon RAW file format allows you to squeeze better quality into smaller file sizes
The DIGIC 8 processor also allows a new Canon flat file format. The raw images taken on the M50 will now be saved with an .CR3 file extension, and the biggest initial change that comes with that is that the M-RAW and S-RAW options are now gone. These were "medium" and "small" RAW files of lower resolution that took up less space than a full RAW file, at the expense of maximum resolution.
These options have always offered the flexibility of a RAW file while allowing a photographer to place more photos on a single memory card. Canon replaced them with something called "C-RAW", which is a RAW file that has the same resolution as M-RAW but occupies approximately 40 percent of the space. Canon compares it with the M-RAW resolution in S-RAW file sizes. Whatever the case, both he and DIGIC 8 sound like marked improvements. Canon did not say when any will be adopted by other new cameras.
Another new feature in the M50 is that it can instantly transmit every picture you take to your phone. Canon has a mobile application for some years, and is a good way to take pictures (individual or multiple) of the company's cameras without having to deal with cables or manipulate SD cards in motion. The new option, however, is similar to the permanent transfer mode that Nikon started with its Snapbridge function. It allows the camera, when connected to the Canon mobile application, to send compressed or full-resolution JPEG files of each photo it carries to its smartphone. It's not the right kind of function for each scenario, but I've found it really useful for Nikon cameras in certain configurations, and it's a welcome addition to the Canon mobile application.
With the M50, Canon is also updating its desktop backup software. The new version, called simply Image Transfer Utility 2, will allow the camera to begin sending photos to a computer as soon as it connects to the user's home Wi-Fi network.
The M50 does not do everything, but it's a good step in the right direction
Canon spent years dragging its feet in the mirror-less camera space before launching the M5, which felt like the company's first serious stab in this portion of this part of the market. But I still had flagrant omissions, such as the ability to take 4K videos, and a more free motion touch screen. The M50 remedies them, although some users will be upset if 4K is blocked at 24 frames per second or if 120 frames per second are not available when full HD is captured. It should also be noted that when shooting 4K, the camera returns to autofocus with contrast instead of Dual Pixel.
The point is that it seems that Canon has taken another solid step forward with the M50 without a mirror. And, without a doubt, it will be a source of energy for frames. But the company still does not offer the kind of broad versatility that videographers can find in other companies.