Canon has finally reached the 4K video level with its mirrorless EOS M cameras. The break-through model is the inexpensive EOS M50.
The new Canon EOS M50 will hit the camera stores in April. It may be considered a follow-up of Canon EOS M5, which arrived in the fall of 2016. The M5 got a good reception but was criticized for not supporting 4K video, only Full HD video.
Kamerablogg.no gave the EOS M5 a nice review but pointed out that it the lack of support for 4K video was an omission.
The request for 4K has been fulfilled with the EOS M50, even if it is a 4K video with some limitations.
The camera is actually a simpler and less expensive model than the M5. This is more of a plain and simple consumer model than a camera aimed at the enthusiast market. Some of the specifications show it is an upgrade, but the handling of the camera is actually a downgrade, albeit small.
The 4K video options of the new Canon EOS M50 has two major limitations.
It is 4K with a rather hefty crop. The data for the 4K recordings are picked up from a part of the image sensor equal to a 1,6x crop. What does that mean?
It means that if you record some video with, say, an 18 mm wide angle lens, the video signals are picked up from a much smaller part of the image sensor than it would do if you took a still photo. You have to multiply by 1.6 to find the equivalent image angle, which gives you a 28.8mm equivalent focal length video image.
But wait a minute. It does not stop there. Since this is an APS-C camera, we must also include the focal length crop factor in the math. That’s another 1.6x, which will narrow the field of view further. The focal length will be like 28.8 mm multiplied by 1.6, with the full format field of view equal to 46mm.
In other words, the 18 mm wide angle lens which take pictures as if it were a 28.8 mm wide-angle lens, due to the APS-C crop, turns out to act as it were a 46mm normal lens when you capture 4K video.
This gives a total crop factor of 2.56x.
It may be of some comfort that you can do similar math with many other cameras. Canon’s full-format camera EOS 5D Mark IV has a 4K video crop factor of 1.64x. In my Nikon D7500 review article last summer I wrote that the total crop factor of the 4K video was 2.25x. Nikon D7500 is an APS-C camera, like the new Canon EOS M55.
Not Dual Pixel AF
What may sound more disappointing is that Canon’s fabulous Dual Pixel AF technology does not work in 4K video capture. Thus, there is a risk that the autofocus is not as accurate and definitely not as fast in poor light as it would have been with Dual Pixel AF. Dual Pixel AF is one of the Canon’s technological strongholds.
But Dual Pixel AF works as it should when recording in Full HD, the video resolution being 1,920 x 1,080 pixels instead of UHD 4K 3,840 x 2,160 pixels. Since this is a mirrorless camera, you have full access to Dual Pixel AF during regular photographing, too.
Let us hope that future cameras in Canons EOS M class will offer Dual Pixel AF in 4K video. I assume that would be considered a need for cameras aimed at the enthusiast market.
A new image processor
The EOS M50 is the first Canon camera equipped with the next generation Canon image processor, the Digic 8. This is the power of 4K video, 4K time-lapse recording, 4K stills from 4K video and much more.
The Digic 8 processor provides high-speed continuous still capture, up to 10 pics per second in AF-S mode with locked focus and 7.1 pics per second in AF-C mode with continuous autofocus.
Canon says the Digic 8 signal processor offers many improvements in autofocus, automatic exposure optimization, digital lens optimization, and highlight tone prioritization.
The effective pixel resolution of the APS-C CMOS chip is 24 megapixels, like the M5.
The number of focus points has increased from 49 focus points on previous EOS M cameras to 99 focus points on the EOS M50. Using certain lenses, the number actually reaches 143 focus points.
Canon EOS has continuous Bluetooth Low Energy connection, and you can connect the camera to a smartphone so that images and video clips are automatically transferred to the mobile phone for sharing on social media.
You can use the mobile to wake up the camera and fire shots remotely. Besides, it is easy to switch to the more powerful WiFi connection for external Live View capture and to transfer high-resolution photos. But it will drain the battery faster.
The free Canon Camera Connect app is available for Android as well as iOS. From the app, you can remotely control Live View capturing, for instance for group photos, video blogs, and creative recording angles.
You may also use Canon’s cloud service, Irista, to store photos in the cloud, and images may be synchronized automatically and wirelessly to PCs and Macs which Canon Transfer Utility 2.
The EV viewfinder
The Canon EOS M50 has a built-in electronic viewfinder with a 100 percent coverage and a resolution of 2,36 megapixels.
The LCD monitor is articulate, three inches in size, and has a resolution of 1,040,000 pixels.
The flash shoe is compatible with Canon’s Speedlite flashes, and the camera has an input for external microphones, improving the sound quality of video recordings.
Besides, the camera has a micro HDMI input. But there is no headphone output.
A new Raw format
The Canon EOS M50 is the first camera which can use Canon’s new 14 bit CR3 Raw format, in addition to a new C-Raw format. The latter will create Raw files in full resolution but with file size reduced by 30 to 40 percent compared to standard Raw files.
Shutter times are available between 1/4,000 second and 30 seconds.
The new camera is light-weight, with a given weight of 390 grams including battery.
Dimensions are 116 x 88 x 59 millimeters. Battery capacity is modest, only 235 pictures according to the CIPA standard.
When the Canon EOS M50 hits the stores in April, recommended sales price will be NOK 5,899 (US price $799/B&H), kit with 15-45mm lens NOK 7,299 (US price $899/B&H).
Compared to the EOS M5 price at launch time fall 2016, the EOS M50 has a starting price of slightly above half the price of the M5 price when it was new on the market.