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