Canon EOS M5
CANON LAUNCHES AN EOS M MIRRORLESS CAMERA WITH A BUILT-IN VIEWFINDER — AND IT’S ABOUT TIME.
WHILE CAMERA MAKERS like Panasonic, Sony, Olympus and Fujifilm have been forging ahead with their high-profile mirrorless camera ranges, Canon has been quietly pottering away on a different path. Its M-series models to date have been conservative boxshaped shooters with a modest M-mount lens range. The EOS M5 is different. It’s shaped more like a miniature SLR and has a built-in electronic viewfinder.
The EOS M5 is Canon’s flagship mirrorless camera, replacing the EOS M3 at the top of its lineup. Canon says the aim with this camera is to provide enthusiast photographers with the speed, quality and handling of an EOS camera in a much smaller body. The new model presents Canon fans with an interesting dilemma: it’s a fraction of the size of the Canon EOS 80D SLR, but it has the same sensor and many of the same features.
It’s a tiny camera, but it still packs in a 24.2MP APS-C sensor. The resolution is the same as the existing EOS M3, but the M5 has the more advanced Dual CMOS AF system found in the EOS 80D, where each photosite is split into ‘left’ and ‘right’ parts to offer on-chip phase-detection autofocus. This AF system works across 80% of the width and height of the frame. This sensor is matched up with a Digic 7 image processor, which offers in-camera diffraction correction for sharper images at super-small apertures and improved noise reduction.
The EOS M5 can tackle action, too, at an impressive nine frames per second if the focus is locked on the first frame, or 7fps with autofocus. The specs don’t include the buffer capacity, but Canon has posted a video introduction quoting a buffer capacity of 20+ raw images. The M5 doesn’t shoot 4K video, but it can shoot full HD at up to 60fps for smooth 2x slow-motion effects. It also has five-axis digital stabilisation. Designed principally for enthusiasts rather than pros, the lenses collectively cover focal lengths of 11–200mm, and they all come with Canon’s STM stepper motor autofocus technology, for smooth operation while filming video. It also has Wi-Fi and NFC built in, as well as alwayson Bluetooth LE.
For such a small camera, the EOS M5 handles remarkably well. One of the control dials is for customisable camera functions. You press the central button repeatedly to choose the function, then turn the dial to change the setting. It works really well, but initially only two functions are assigned to it, and you have to dig pretty deep in the custom settings menu to find out how to add more. If you don’t know where to find a particular setting, chances are it’s on the camera’s Q Set screen, which displays a row of settings icons down the left and right of the screen.
The memory card and battery sit next to one another under a door on the base of the camera — a bit of a nuisance when you’re changing cards, but a common compromise in small camera bodies. This lens has a plastic rear-mounting plate, which isn’t unusual on low-cost kit lenses, but it’s disappointing to find the more expensive 18–150mm kit lens option also has a plastic mount, making them both feel a little cheap. They’re not especially fast, either, at just f/6.3.
The M5’s touchscreen focus works well, but if you use the viewfinder and the touch-focus feature on the main screen at the same time, it’s all too easy to touch the screen accidentally.
While Canon’s Dual Pixel autofocus is better than regular contrast autofocus, it seemed to hunt and fail sometimes in poor light situations. The image results are very good, although the response of the Evaluative exposure metering system proved hard to predict. Very bright subjects led it to underexpose now and again, so we had to dial in some positive exposure compensation to restore brightness to the scene. The dynamic range proved good but not exceptional in both our lab and real-world tests.
At ISO 1,600, the EOS M5’s images look crisp, colourful and relatively noise-free at this setting. They’re a little noisier and softer at ISO 3,200 and more so at ISO 6,400 — which is probably about as far as you’d want to go. The results at ISO 12,800 are still OK, but at the maximum setting of 25,600, the combined effect of noise, smoothing and general softness is pretty excessive.