February 26, 2018

Canon Takes 4K Seriously with the $799 M50

After only keeping 4K for their high-end units, Canon has released the M50, a mirrorless body that takes affordable 4K seriously.

NoFilmSchool is a website that was functionally started on the back of a revolution kicked off by the 5D Mark II. It's always been frustrating to us then that, while their competitors have forged out a space in the mirrorless market for video, Canon has been so attached to the mirror reflex body.

Between the Sony A7S, the Panasonic GH5S, and the new Fujifilm X-H1, there are a lot of options for filmmakers who wish to shoot mirrorless 4K video in a small camera body, and with yesterday's release of the $799 M50, Canon finally seems to be taking that space seriously. And while that's an exciting development, there are some limitations on the camera you should be aware of.

Built around the EF-M mount (which shares an 18mm flange focal distance with the Sony E mount), the camera is designed to work with either the EF-M lenses or the full-fledged EF lenses that already hold marketplace dominance. The camera launches with a tremendous amount of lens variety—that's a good thing—but for most of those lenses, it will be working with a crop, as EF lenses are largely designed for full frame sensors; this unit's smaller APC-C sensor won't fill the full image circle.  

Credit: Canon

As a 4K shooter, there are sacrifices to be made. The 4K mode is a 1.6x crop, which avoids the issues of pixel binning but results in a small image area being used for 4K capture. Dual-pixel autofocus (the marquee feature of cameras like the C200), only works for 1080 video, with the only option at 4K being contrast detection autofocus.

These are understandable compromises in such an affordable camera body, and on many of the projects these will be used, shouldn't be considered dealbreakers. However, it's frustrating that Canon finally arrives in the space and comes with the bottom of the line first instead of the top.

Credit: Canon

From launch, the camera is clearly targetted at vloggers and social media users. It can be set to automatically send photos to your phone, which, considering the "hiccupy" process of some other cameras, is actually an appreciated feature, but not something video shooters were necessarily clamoring for.

It has a fully articulated screen, which is useful for shooting yourself, vLog style. It also comes decked out in white, which could dirty very quickly. 

Credit: Canon

One of the hurdles Canon has to overcome is that the company's glass is so ubiquitous that it can be used anywhere. Even if you already have a large Canon kit, it's easy to adapt EF to X, E, MFT, or the new EF-M.

A big Canon lens investment doesn't necessarily mean that users will keep buying the new camera body, and if you're a longtime Canon owner considering mirrorless, this doesn't quite feel like the body to keep you in the Canon fold.

We'll hold judgment until we see more test footage, but here's hoping that this is the first step for Canon in what will be a major release in the $2k price point with more features that filmmakers actually need.

Available now from B&H for $799.

Tech Specs

  • 24.1 Megapixel (APS-C) CMOS sensor
  • approximately 22.3 x 14.9mm sensor size, roughly 1.7 crop over full frame
  • Square pixels, each approx. 3.72 µm
  • Aspect Ratio = 3:2
  •  RAW and JPEG stills
  • Built-in OLED Electronic Viewfinder with Touch and Drag Autofocus
  • Vari-Angle LCD touchscreen
  • HD 120p High-frame video rate
  • Video File Format: MP4 – MPEG-4 AVC / H.264
  • Recording File Sizes: 3840 x 2160 (4K UHD), 1920 x 1080 (Full HD) and 1280 x 720 (HD)
  • Frame Rates: [3840 x 2160]: 23.98 fps[1920 x 1080]: 59.94 fps / 29.97 fps / 23.98 fps
    [1280 x 720]: 119.9 fps / 59.94 fps
  • Automatic image transfer to compatible devices while shooting
  • Silent Mode
  • Dimensions (W x H x D) Approx. 4.6 x 3.5 x 2.3 in. (116.3 x 88.1 x 58.7mm)
  • Weight: Approx. 12.4 oz. / 351g (body only)

Frame Rate limitations

  • UHD (3840×2160) at 25fps or 23.98fps at 120Mbps
  • Full HD (1920×1080) at 23.98fps, 25fps, or 29.97fps at 30MBPS
  • FULL HD (1920×1080) at 50fps and 59.94fps at 60Mbps
  • HD (1280×720) at 100fps or 119.9fps at 52Mbps
  • HD (1280×720) at 50fps or 59.94fps at 26Mbps

Available ISO

  • UHD (3840×2160) 100-6400ISO
  • Full HD (1920x1080p) 100-12600ISO (expandable 25600ISO setting is available).

Your Comment

16 Comments

One hand this is exciting. Canon is listening to a little. But on the other hand, they got many things wrong. They added a 2.85x crop in 4k (& no Dual Pixel AF). But the biggest thing to me is that they have a whole different line of lenses. The reason people like Canon is the lenses honestly. This camera negates that because you'll need an adapter. Also no Log Profile (assuming)

February 26, 2018 at 11:26AM

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Zachary Will
Cinematographer
882

I'm a bit confused on the crop. There is an additional crop other than the APS-C for 4K?

February 26, 2018 at 12:44PM, Edited February 26, 12:44PM

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Nathan Karimi
Writer/ Director
236

Yes

February 26, 2018 at 2:14PM

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It seems to be taking the centre of the sensor for the 4K rather than grouping sensor pixels together or evenly taking pixels across the sensor. I can do that as an option on my original model EOS-M in Magic Lantern by selecting Crop Mode as an option. That can be useful with adapted lenses like cine lenses that do not have an image circle that covers the whole sensor. That gives an extra 3x crop factor.

February 26, 2018 at 5:51PM

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Julian Richards
Film Warlord
1168

I don't think that's the point here.

The point is that this is such a POS that it doesn't have the processing power to downscale the image; even with Canon's trademark shitty line-skipping, apparently.

March 2, 2018 at 11:54PM

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David Gurney
DP
1059

I came here to post the same thing.

They say "Canon finally takes 4K seriously" but only if you ignore all the tradeoffs.

I'm still hoping for a EOS 90D with better 4K abilities. One can dream.

February 26, 2018 at 2:08PM

46
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Late to the party for mirrorless, Canon are still playing catchup.

February 26, 2018 at 5:52PM

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Julian Richards
Film Warlord
1168

Not exciting. DISHEARTENING. Canon is still flailing in the weeds, launching idiotic products.

"Vloggers?" Who need 4K? WTF, that is asinine.

And the so called "4K" is gathered by what, a GoPro-sized snippet of the sensor? In 2018, are you kidding? Pitiful.

Then take a look at these bitrates. WTF, why can we shoot 4K at 120 Mbps, but not HD at that bitrate? And why can we shoot 50 FPS HD at 60 Mbps, but not 24 FPS HD at that rate? This is the same stupid mistake camera vendors have been making year after year after year, but even worse than usual. In this case, you can only use the good autofocus mode in HD, so what does Canon do? Reduce the bitrate to dogshit in HD.

These data rates are even more of a joke considering the crop, which is saving a ton of processing time.

Canon desperately needs management housecleaning, and has for a long time. Their product line is embarrassing.

Sadly, the article's assertions about the lenses are not correct. Yes, you can SORT OF adapt EF lenses to other platforms, but with heavily crippled functionality. Read the reviews on EF-to-E adapters, for example. Crappy at best, which is sad because Sony makes interesting cameras with a crap-ass lens lineup.

March 3, 2018 at 12:00AM, Edited March 3, 12:05AM

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David Gurney
DP
1059

This would be great if it has DPAF at 4k... cant believe they left that out!?

February 26, 2018 at 10:46PM

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Walter Wallace
Spokesperson/Entrepreneur
789

Then you haven't been paying attention to Canon this past decade.

March 3, 2018 at 12:01AM

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David Gurney
DP
1059

I probably will buy this...
I don't need it but I will...
I mean Canon its about time.............
((Now the 5D Mark V needs full frame 4K) And Sony needs the A7S iii))

February 27, 2018 at 3:42AM, Edited February 27, 3:42AM

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Don't reward this gimped junk with your money. Seriously, stand up for better. Canon continues to insult its customers with this kind of crap.

The only thing saving Canon now is the EF mount.

March 3, 2018 at 12:06AM

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David Gurney
DP
1059

Incredible model as for me)

February 27, 2018 at 11:50AM

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jacob bright
Account Manager
74

Not 4k, it's UHD. Please use the correct terminology, especially since the site is aimed at entry level moviemakers.

March 2, 2018 at 12:54PM, Edited March 2, 12:54PM

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4K is coming to the masses, next big thing would be: full frame + 4K with the same price tag :-) But this is a wonderful step in the right direction . . .

March 3, 2018 at 1:53PM

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Arnold Veeman
Music Composer | Film Editor
136

Not really. This is a gimped POS that is easily topped by cameras released years ago.

March 5, 2018 at 5:16PM

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David Gurney
DP
1059