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Cameras

Canon's M50 middle mirrorless plays catch-up with 4K, improved AF

The updated many-point autofocus system, 4K video support and more will be welcomed by Canon mirrorless fans.

canon-eos-m50-6
Lori Grunin/CNET

Canon took the opportunity to make quite a few changes when it configured the EOS M50 mirrorless. It uses a new Dual Pixel CMOS sensor with an autofocus system that covers more of the scene, can record 4K video, supports eye-detection autofocus and debuts with a new app that can automatically transfer photos from the camera to a device. 

If those sound familiar, well, they are. Sony and Panasonic have offered those capabilities for a couple years, and now those  once-advanced products have dropped in price to the same place as the M50. But they're all new for Canon.

Slated to ship in April, the M50 sits between the M6 and the M100 based on price -- it will be $780 for the body, $900 for the kit with the 15-45mm f3.5-6.3 IS STM lens or $1,250 for a dual-lens kit. I don't have pricing for the UK or Australia, but the body price converts to approximately £560 or AU$1,000.

According to Canon, the M50's updates were based on a wish list from current users, which included an electronic viewfinder -- the optional one for the M6 is built into the M50 -- an articulated, rather than tilting, touchscreen display and the return of the touch-and-drag focus on the LCD which had been dropped between the M5 and M6. It's smaller than the M5 as well.

Though it lives below the M6 in Canon's product line, it's a lot more capable. The new sensor is the same resolution, but the on-chip autofocus system increases the frame coverage, jumping from 49 points to 99 points; 143 points with select Canon lenses (and it's a pretty big selection). The system should also perform a bit better in low light. 

In addition to enabling automatic transfer between the camera and a mobile device -- only for JPEGs, though -- Image Transfer Utility II finally lets you transmit files to your computer without having to go through Canon Image Gateway. Woohoo! And the new CR3 raw format (C-Raw) shrinks raw file size by about 40 percent: It maintains the same image dimensions, but performs a light lossy compression on the image data. (Canon's not saying what it's doing, but based on the histograms that's my impression.)

It uses an updated version of Canon's image processor, Digic 8, which enables most of the new capabilities I've mentioned, as well as 720/120p slow motion and 4K UHD/30p video recording. As with many of Canon's modern mirrorless models, it incorporates the company's Dual Sensing image stabilization, optical stabilization that incorporates gyro sensor feedback from the body into its compensation calculation. No sensor shift for Canon!

If you're a Canon mirrorless fan, this looks like a really attractive option.

Comparative specifications


Canon EOS M50Sony A6300

Sensor effective resolution

24.1MP Dual Pixel CMOS

24.2MP Exmor CMOS

Sensor size

22.3 x 14.9

23.5 x 15.6mm

Focal-length multiplier

1.6x

1.5x

OLPF

Yes

Yes

Sensitivity range

ISO 100-25,600/51,200 (exp)

ISO 100-25,600/51,200 (exp)

Burst shooting

7.4fps

15 raw/47 JPEG

(10fps with fixed focus and exposure)

11fps

44 JPEG/21 raw

Viewfinder 

(mag/ effective mag)

EVF

0.4 in/10mm

2.4m dots

100% coverage

OLED EVF

0.4 in/10 mm

2.4 million dots

100% coverage

1.07x/0.7x

Hot shoe

Yes

Yes

Autofocus

143 points phase-detection AF (with specific Canon lenses); 99 points

425-point phase detection, 169-area contrast AF

AF sensitivity

-2 - 18 EV

-1 - 20 EV

Shutter speed

30 - 1/4000 sec.; bulb; 1/200 x-sync

30-1/4000 sec.; bulb; 1/160 x-sync

Shutter durability

n/a

n/a

Metering

384 zones

1,200 zone

Metering sensitivity

0 - 20 EV

-2 - 20 EV

Best video

H.264 QuickTime MOV

4K UHD/24p, 1080/60p, 720/120p

XAVC S @ 100Mbps; UHD 4K 2160/30p, 25p, 24p; 1080/120p

Audio

Stereo; mic input

Stereo, mic input

Manual aperture and shutter in video

Yes

Yes

Maximum best-quality recording time per clip

4GB/29m59s

29 minutes

IS

Dual Sensing IS

(Optical with gyro data sent from body)

Optical

LCD

3-inch/7.7 cm 

Articulated touchscren

1.04m dots

3-inch/7.5cm

Tilting, flip-up

921,600 dots

Memory slots

1 x SDXC

1 x SDXC

Wireless connection

Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth

Wi-Fi, NFC

Flash

Yes

Yes

Wireless flash

tk

Yes

Battery life (CIPA rating)

235 shots

(875 mAh)

350 (VF), 400 (LCD)

(1,020 mAh)

Size (WHD)

4.6 x 3.5 x 2.3 in

116 x 88 x 59 mm

4.7 x 2.6 x 1.9 in

119 x 66 x 48mm

Body operating weight

13.8 oz (est.)

390 g (est.)

14.3 oz (est.)

405 g (est.)

Mfr. price (body only)

$780 

$800

£1,000

AU$1,400

Primary kit

$900

(with 15-45mm lens)

$900

£1,150

(with 15-60mm PZ lens)

Release date

April 2018

March 2016

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