September 16, 2016

Canon Finally Competes with the Mirrorless M5 with a Great Entry-Level Camera

Canon M5
Canon's new mirrorless M5 signals that the company is finally taking the segment seriously, long after Sony and Panasonic.

The mirrorless camera has a lot of benefits for a filmmaker. Unlike a DSLR, which has a mirror in front of the sensor directing light to an optical viewfinder, a mirrorless camera gets rid of the mirror entirely, making for a smaller, lighter, simpler-to-manufacture camera without optical viewfinding. However, if you are shooting video on a DSLR, you aren't using the optical viewfinder anyway, so it's a natural evolution for filmmakers to embrace mirrorless cameras. Why carry around that extra weight and complication for a feature you never use?

This might well replace the T2i as my recommendation for an entry-level camera for the beginning or student DP.

This is a reason behind the popularity of the Sony A7 series with filmmakers: smaller bodies with the same images you would get from a DSLR. In addition, if you take advantage of a mirrorless lens mount like MicroFour Thirds, lens design can also be closer to the sensor.

Canon has never really had a big footprint in this space; the M3 doesn't offer nearly the level of manual control you get with the M5, which boasts two control knobs on top of the body and two lower down. It uses the EF-M mount, which doesn't have a wide selection of glass, though there are 15-45 and 29-240 kit lenses available, and an adapter for your traditional EF mount is only $99.

Canon is promoting handheld video as a key feature.

The video is only 1080p, but it does do 60fps for slow motion, and Canon is promoting handheld video as a key feature through the combination of optical image stabilization in the lens and 5-axis digital stabilization. 

Canon M5 OIS
Canon M5 OIS DiagramCredit: Canon

For the price point, the lack of 4K may be frustrating, but it's not a deal breaker: it's around half the price of the A7SII, and the compromises have to come somewhere. Maybe Magic Lantern will be able to work some magic with the MicroHDMI connector and an external recorder to get us 4K, but even without it, this might well replace the T2i as my recommendation for an entry-level camera for the beginning or student DP. Manual controls and image stabilization go a long way.

M5 Open Body
Canon M5 Open Body.Credit: Canon
Canon is also releasing a lens, the EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM 8.3x zoom (29–240mm equivalent), which will sell for around $500, but won't be out until a month after the M5 body comes out in November for $970.

There isn't a great selection of lenses in the EF-M system yet; the lens should be a popular choice to pair with the M5. Canon says the sensor is identical to the 80D. What do you think: should Canon make a 5D mirrorless version with the same sensor, but no mirror? Would you buy it? Let us know in the comments.

Tech specs

  • 24.2 Megapixel APS-C sized CMOS sensor
  • DIGIC 7 image processor
  • Dual-pixel auto-focussing system
  • ISO 100–25600
  • 2.36 million dot Electronic View Finder
  • Optical and Digital Image Stabilization available in video mode
  • 1080p60 Mpeg4 video
  • 85° up, 180° down, 1.6million dot touch screen 
  • EF-M mount
  • WiFi, Bluetooth
  • Video Touch Focus
  • MicroHDMI

Your Comment

29 Comments

300 years later.. But looks interesting.. I am not very sure of the video quality yet..

September 16, 2016 at 1:06PM

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Chema Mumford
Filmmaker, Documentary, Cinematographer
260

No 4K could be a deal breaker. And you're right, others, notably Sony have been here much sooner. It's a very expensive "entry" camera.

I've got the EOS-M Mk1 and I love it. The Sony e mount is better for vintage lenses, though.

September 16, 2016 at 1:11PM

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Julian Richards
Film Warlord
1347

Could you elaborate on the Sony e mount being better for vintage lenses?

September 16, 2016 at 1:16PM

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Sean Sims
Wannabe DOP
130

Yep.. I think the eos m mount is so versatile as the emount for vintage lenses.. right?

September 16, 2016 at 1:20PM

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Chema Mumford
Filmmaker, Documentary, Cinematographer
260

I was looking for a new stills camera and considering the Fuji X100t but this came out of nowhere and I'm seriously considering this and using my T2i as a B Cam.

September 16, 2016 at 1:15PM

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Sean Sims
Wannabe DOP
130

Of all the cameras that I have owned, the X100S is my favorite.

September 17, 2016 at 6:50PM

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Andrew W
DP/Director/Idiot
220

This looks super interesting - albeit late to the party. But I can't see much that would make me choose something like this over an a6300.

September 16, 2016 at 1:31PM, Edited September 16, 1:31PM

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Taylor Dietterich
Cam Op / Graphic Designer / Editor
74

I was cross shopping the a6300 and I'll probably rent it before ruling it out but the rolling shutter looks pretty awful on it and from what I read the 1080 is soft.

September 16, 2016 at 2:01PM, Edited September 16, 2:01PM

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Sean Sims
Wannabe DOP
130

was about to say te exact same thing. a6300 looks far superior.

September 16, 2016 at 5:06PM

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rodrigo calderon
director / dp / creative director
163

I would like to see a speedbooster with decent autofocus for some "full frame" goodness on this bad boy. If the moire and aliasing are less than the 80d this might be a buy for me. Assuming I can get my hands on some money...

September 16, 2016 at 1:34PM, Edited September 16, 1:33PM

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Ugh, Canon.
I would still tell someone who's wanting to get into filmmaking and videography to just get a T3i. Why spend nearly a grand on this when that starts to get you into GH4 territory, a camera that blows all of Canon's stuff in that price range out of the water?

September 16, 2016 at 2:48PM

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Daniel King
Videographer, Editor
309

"Entry-level" is considered $1,000 for body only?

And $1,100 or $1,500 with lenses?

September 16, 2016 at 3:11PM

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You voted '-1'.
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Magic Lantern was heavily involved in the struggling Axiom Apertus project last I heard, which may have sapped their energies, but it would be beyond excellent if they could bring this Canon mirrorless to a 4K life. I also wonder if they might ever turn their attention to Canon 5DMk4 and 1DXMk2 (hoping !).

September 16, 2016 at 3:29PM

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Saied M.
1404

The ML team hasn't done anything with any of the newer cameras. I think that project is dead. At best, somebody might take a look at the MKIV, but that isn't even the same DIGIC processor. Plus, there is no reason to believe that the HDMI port or processor is capable of reading the sensor continuously at a 4K resolution.

September 16, 2016 at 5:41PM

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Casey Preston
Videographer
348

"24.2 Megapixel APS-C sized CMOS sensor"

"4K UHD is approx. 8.3 megapixels, in a 16:9 aspect ratio"

If the Magic Lantern team can crack the M5, there is sensor space for 4K or greater.
I suspect the trick will be if the DIGIC 7 in it has the processing power for it.

If we can get 4K + 5 axis, this will be killer for a Crash/C-cam!
Especially w/ a speedbooster + FF EF glass!!

The main issue may be an extreme crop factor if handled as a windowed solution.
That
And how bad/well it handles the rolling shutter.

September 16, 2016 at 4:48PM, Edited September 16, 4:55PM

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Daniel Reed
Hat Collector
1251

You don't even need to compare this to the Sony 6300. The 6000 seems to be about the same specs with the kit lens for much cheaper.

September 16, 2016 at 4:49PM

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David Prokopchuk
Photographer / Film Maker
182

Does it have clean-HDMI out?

September 16, 2016 at 5:06PM, Edited September 16, 5:06PM

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for the "beginning or student DP" just buy anything else... .gh4/g7/a6300 for same price or less. Canon lack of basic video features in consumer line is appealing only to "dad on vacation" type of client.

September 16, 2016 at 6:34PM

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Ditto why not the gh4?

September 16, 2016 at 8:55PM

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Keny
81

It's a step in the right direction for Canon. I like the looks of it. Nice design.

I am curious to see how it stacks up against the Panasonic GX85 and the Sony A6300 cameras for both still photos and video. It's going to get "skunked" for video, but it might be a half decent still photo camera.

September 16, 2016 at 8:56PM, Edited September 16, 8:57PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
31198

Ditto why not the GH4? Prices have dropped a lot. It's got full manual control...you can adapt most lenses to it...and it's a more compact package.

September 16, 2016 at 10:09PM

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Keny
81

Boring camera from a boring company.

September 17, 2016 at 4:10AM

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Chris Stanley
Cinematographer
83

Not for video....for stills I'll keep shooting on my Pentax Spotmatic.

September 17, 2016 at 5:35AM

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Jerry Roe
Indie filmmaker
972

for 1k, you could have a panasonic g7 with a much better lens, which does 4k or a panasonic g80 (announcing soon) with a much better lens... camera looks good though, too bad their mount has barely any lenses.

September 17, 2016 at 8:45AM

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gandulf charpentier
director of pornography
710

If I were a beginning filmmaker I would recommend looking at Lumix first and foremost. It's nice to see that Canon shows signs of life, but it will be years before we see a proper mirrorless that is cutting edge. Today, I would choose Lumix if I were thinking about a mirrorless system for professional stills or filmmaking. Sony is nice as well, but I personally know some of their users starting to migrate over as the Panasonic color/skin tone is so beautiful, and the lens options are so vast, and smaller to boot. Full frame is overrated with all the 4K cropping jive, and extreme ISO isn't how most professionals shoot in the real world. Having spent a great deal of time with Canon, Sony, and Lumix systems... Lumix gets my vote with ergonomics, sharpness, and professional / cutting edge features we expect for both stills and video in a hybrid system.

September 17, 2016 at 9:40AM, Edited September 17, 9:40AM

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Charles Maring
Photographer / Filmmaker
91

The comments indicate many people here are disappointed about the exclusion of 4k. Is it really that big a deal? I have read that a min 55 inches TV is required to actually feel the difference between 1080 and 4k. So why the disappointment?

September 17, 2016 at 11:42AM

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Ayan Banerjee
Film Maker
211

The 4K image is really useful in post when producing 1080p work. From higher resolution, to being able to re-frame your shots, to obtaining 1080p 4:4:4 color footage. 4K footage produces better looking 1080p footage.

September 17, 2016 at 3:59PM, Edited September 17, 3:59PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
31198

With options like the Panasonic G7 and the Sony 6300 at the same/lower price point, I really don't know why on earth this camera is being recommended. It doesn't even us EF or EF-S lenses.

September 19, 2016 at 10:17AM, Edited September 19, 10:17AM

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Daniel Bergeron
Video Producer
81

Good job Canon, your about 3 years too late

September 19, 2016 at 4:20PM, Edited September 19, 4:20PM

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Kaster Troy
Director, DP, Editor
871