Review: Canon EOS M50 Mirrorless Camera

by Jeff McLain

Sometimes I don’t feel like lugging my monster DSLR out in the woods for a hike. At those times, I’d prefer to take a high-resolution camera that is small and lightweight. The Canon M50 may be just the choice, with some considerations. Hosting a 24.1 megapixel APS-C CMOS Sensor, and the ability to shoot a Raw file -- there is quite a bit of resolution packed into a camera that is under 2 pounds in weight, without the lens.

I was generally impressed with the overall resolution, contrast, and color of the Raw files and I love the fact that it can shoot in Manual Mode, Aperture Priority, and Shutter Speed Priority. I’m used to shooting with manual exposure modes, so having a camera that feels like a point-and-shoot, but handles with more DSLR functionality, is important to me.

The two main problems I found with this camera were the kit lens, and the D-Pad for navigating. The 15-45mm kit lens is not especially sharp. I tested it in a variety of circumstances: landscape, portrait, macro/close-up, action, high noon light, dusk light – and all of my shots were not razor-sharp. This was very disappointing. The folks at Canon included their M Adapter which allows me to put my existing EF glass on this body – and when I did a comparison between the 15-45mm lens and the 50mm f/1.2L lens, there was no contest. The 50mm was razor sharp – as expected! It’s a $1,300 lens compared to the sub-$300 kit lens.

I felt a little silly putting such a monster lens on a tiny camera – particularly because the lens costs twice what the body, alone, costs. However, if you want sharp images, you would be wise to avoid the kit lens and get the EF adapter and use your own glass. I would be very interested to test the EF-M 22mm and EF-M 28mm lenses to see how they compare to the slower zoom lenses available for this camera.

The D-Pad is set-up to toggle between your F-stop and shutter speed settings, and it’s a clunky process. Rather than having these critical settings available on separate dials, they housed them under one key-stroke, slowing me down enough to miss a fast-moving shot.

Overall, the camera is very lightweight and would be great for a backpacking trip. I wouldn’t take it to a sporting event, nor would I use any of the slower kit lenses. I’d first research the available EF-M lenses with wider apertures, and then consider using my own L-series glass with the adapter. I love how I can shoot manual exposure and process a Raw file, and that alone might be enough to get me to purchase it for my hiking trips – provided I can find a good combination of lenses for it that are sharp and don’t feel like I’m back lugging around DSLR-amounts of weight in the end.

At the time of this review, the body is $629.00 – a decent price for a camera that bridges the gap between point-and-shoot convenience and professional exposure and Raw workflow.


Jeff McLain

Jeff McLain is a photographer, videographer, and digital retoucher. After his photography education, Jeff got his start as a freelance photo assistant in San Francisco working on editorial, catalog and advertising shoots. His skills in Photoshop and computing allowed him to help photographers bridge the gap between the film days and all-digital workflows, and he stood at the forefront of the advent of the career of the "Digital Technician."

Jeff soon moved into shooting, and then moved laterally to video capture. His background as a multi-instrumental musician has also benefited his understanding of sound design and audio capture, which can be a technically challenging aspect of film-making.

He worked for many years as a digital technician for Pier 1 Imports, Pottery Barn, Logitech, and Crate & Barrel. As a photographer, he has shot for Williams Sonoma, Mountain Living Magazine, Keen Shoes, Mountain Hardwear, Red Envelope, Robert Mondavi Wines, Mountain Living Magazine, and Cottage Journal Magazine... among others.

He has been a freelancer for over 18 years and takes a 'real-world' approach to his perspective of the photographic industry and the skills needed in today's market. Locally, he and his wife operate a videography business.

Jeff is a 2001 graduate of Hallmark Institute of Photography and holds a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Montana. When not working on still or video projects, Jeff spends time with his wife, son, dog and cat in Missoula, Montana. He plays bluegrass dobro, banjo, guitar and harmonica to unwind.