FIRST LOOK: Canon EOS M5
The EOS M5 is a very welcome addition to Canon’s product line-up and arrives at a time when many photo enthusiasts were starting to doubt whether Canon would ever produce a mirrorless camera that caters for their needs.
Although the M5 doesn’t tick all the boxes (the limited buffer memory being a case in point), it is streets ahead of the previous EOS M models. It seems Canon finally has a serious contender in the burgeoning mirrorless market.
When Photokina opens in Germany next week, a highlight in Canon’s display will be the EOS M5, the company’s first mirrorless camera for photo enthusiasts.
It’s been a long time coming but, having handled the camera at a media briefing, we believe it’s a potential game-changer.
Equipped with a similar APS-C sized CMOS sensor to the EOS 80D plus the DIGIC 7 processor introduced in the PowerShot G7 X Mark II it’s a neat little unit that looks and handles like the flagship models in the popular PowerShot G line-up.
The new Canon EOS M5 with the EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens, one of the kit options that will be available with the camera from mid-November. (Source: Canon.)
Build and Ergonomics
Although thebody of the EOS M5 is made from polycarbonate, it looks and feels solid and a bit like a ‘grown-up’ PowerShot G5X. It’s somewhat larger because its sensor is significantly bigger and, unlike the PowerShots, it accepts interchangeable lenses. Sadly, it’s not weather-sealed.
Front view of the EOS M5 with no lens fitted. (Source: Canon.)
The control layout will be familiar to users of Canon’s cameras (both PowerShots and DSLRs) and most will also appreciate the modifications introduced in the new camera. The grip is generous making the camera comfortable to hold, regardless of the size of your hands, and there’s a moulding to accommodate your middle finger.
Top view of the EOS M5 with no lens fitted. (Source: Canon.)
Like the PowerShot G5X, the top panel of the EOS M5 has a large mode dial on the left side and an exposure compensation dial on the right. Between them is the pop-up flash housing with a hot-shoe on top. The shutter button sits forward on the top panel between the EV dial and the grip moulding, with a M-Fn (programmable function button) to its right and a flash pop-up button to its left. All pretty standard so far.
Located in the right side cluster is a new multi-function dial with a central button that provides quick access to key shooting controls. Pressing the button toggles through different functions (white balance, focus, drive, exposure parameters), while turning the surrounding dial wheel lets you choose individual settings within the selected function. It’s quick to use, since you can see what you’re selecting in the EVF or on the monitor screen.
Rear view of the EOS M5. (Source Canon.)
Controls on the rear panel are also arranged in a conventional fashion, most of them to the right of the monitor screen. However, the power on/off switch is inset into the left side of the top panel below the mode dial and accessible from the rear of the camera.
Right of the monitor is a conventional arrow pad with directional buttons that access the ISO, flash, delete and white balance sub-menus. Above are the Info and movie buttons, with buttons for the Starry Sky focus/ single-image erase and AF frame selection functions arranged vertically in the top right hand corner of the rear panel. Below the arrow pad are the playback and menu buttons.
The EOS M5 in ‘selfie’ mode with the monitor flipped down. (Source Canon.)
The monitor tilts up through 85o and down through 180o to allow the camera to be used for low-angle shooting or set to capture the ubiquitous ‘selfie’. It has a 3.2-inch diagonal measurement, which is on the large side of average and a more than acceptable resolution of 1,620,000 dots.
Best of all is its touch-panel overlay, which covers the entire screen. Users gain full access to the camera’s controls, including touch AF and touch shutter functions. A new touch-and-drag function allows your thumb to be moved across the screen to change the focus while you’re composing shots through the EVF. This enables smooth and seamless focus pulling while movie clips are being recorded.
The EVF is a major step forward for the EOS M line-up and one of the key features that makes the M5 attractive to serious photographers as well as anyone who shoots video. It’s a 0.39-type OLED screen with a high resolution of 2,360,000 dots and a fast 120 frames/second (fps) refresh rate and it’s positioned mid-way along the top panel. A 22mm eyepoint provides comfortable eye relief for photographers who wear glasses, while dioptre adjustment is also provided.
Like the PowerShots, the EOS M5 houses its battery and memory card in a single compartment in the grip, accessed via a hatch on the base plate. This is more characteristic of snapshooters’ cameras and one of the few downsides of the M5 because it prevents you from swapping battery or memory card when the camera is tripod mounted.
The metal-lined tripod socket is in line with the optical axis of the lens, which is welcomed. Also on the base plate is the contact point for the NFC (near field communication) function.
A USB socket and microphone jack sit beneath hard plastic covers on the left side panel, while the HDMI port is on the right hand side. Below it is the Wi-Fi/Bluetooth antenna. Metal strap lugs sit high on each side of the camera body.
Who’s it For?
In brief: just about any photographer who wants a lighter, more compact camera, either as an adjunct to a DSLR or an alternative. There are now seven EF-M lenses to choose from if you want the smallest, lightest optics. Or you can use EF lenses with the EF Mount Adapter.
The EOS M5, shown with the new EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens that was announced concurrently with the camera as well as the body jacket and neck strap accessories. (Source: Canon.)
The EOS M5 will be particularly welcomed by video shooters because it has an electronic viewfinder, even though it doesn’t support 4K movie recording. As well as making it easier to compose shots, it also lets you see the camera settings on the periphery of the frame and shows what you are recording with accurate detail and colour reproduction.
The 24.2-megapixel CMOS sensor in the EOS M5 is essentially the same as the sensor in the EOS 80D, although it’s actually marginally smaller (but not enough to signify). It has a 3:2 aspect ratio and can produce images with a maximum resolution of 6000 x 4000 pixels (the same as the 80D). The pixel pitch is approximately 3.7 microns.
The DIGIC 7 processor has so far been used only in the PowerShot G7 X Mark II, where it provided improvements to noise handling across the camera’s ISO range, face registration and subject detection and tracking. It also increased battery life by just over 25%.
The EOS M5 also benefits from the new processor, enabling it to support a sensitivity range of ISO 100-25600 and add a new panning mode to the Scene presets. Other welcome additions include HDR (high dynamic range) and time-lapse recording modes, the latter producing a slow-motion movie.
Aside from the EVF, the autofocusing system is one of the main features that separate the EOS M5 from its predecessors. This is the first time Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF has been used in an EOS M camera, where it delivers a DSLR-level of focusing speed and accuracy as well as superior tracking performance when shooting in Live View mode for both bursts of still shots and movie recordings.
The system operates across more than 80% (both vertically and horizontally) of the sensor area and includes 47 sensor points arranged in a 7 x 7 grid. Users can select AF zone focusing and use a block of nine points in a 3 x 3 grid or single-point focusing and each of these blocks can be moved freely via the touch screen. Depth AF support, a new feature, can detect whether a subject is moving towards or away from the camera and adjust focus accordingly.
In manual focus mode, you can magnify the area around the focus zone by 5x or 10x and a peaking display (which outlines areas that are in-focus) is available. Manual focus over-ride in AF mode is supported.
The M5 can support continuous shooting at up to 9 fps when focus and exposure are locked with the first frame or 7 fps with continuous autofocusing. Unfortunately, the buffer memory isn’t overly generous, holding a maximum of 26 JPEG frames. No information has been provided on raw frame capacity but we assume it’s substantially lower.
Although designed primarily for taking still pictures, the M5 can also record Full HD movies and supports frame rates of 50, 25 and 24 fps for PAL system users (60 and 30 fps for NTSC). HD movies can be recorded at 50 (60) fps and VGA clips at 30 or 25 fps. The maximum clip length is 29 minutes and 59 seconds or up to 4GB.
Digital stabilisation is available in movie mode. It covers five axes – up, down, pitch, yaw and roll, in the process cropping the frame slightly. Since the frame is already cropped for movie recording, reducing resolution at the same time, this isn’t a major issue as the EVF and monitor will each show the area that will be recorded.
You can overlay a grid (3 formats to choose from) and/or an electronic level to help you keep horizons level while recording both still pictures and movie clips. Histogram displays are also available and you can choose from brightness only or brightness plus RGB.
Connected photographers are well catered for with integrated Wi-Fi and NFC as well as a low-power Bluetooth connection, which provides an always-on link between the camera and a smart device. Powered by the Canon Camera Connect App, it lets you operate the camera from the connected smart device, view images and upload them to sharing and/or storing websites.
Finally, like Canon’s DSLR cameras, the EOS M5 supports in-camera raw file conversion, enabling users to shoot raw files and quickly convert them into JPEGs for sharing. A new addition is support for batch conversion of multiple raw files. In-camera re-sizing is also available.
The EOS M5 is a very welcome addition to Canon’s product line-up and arrives at a time when many photo enthusiasts were starting to doubt whether Canon would ever produce a mirrorless camera that caters for their needs. Although the M5 doesn’t tick all the boxes (the limited buffer memory being a case in point), it is streets ahead of the previous EOS M models. It seems Canon finally has a serious contender in the burgeoning mirrorless market.
Today’s photographers have moved on from the DSLR vs mirrorless battle and it’s no longer a case of choosing one or the other. Most serious enthusiasts use both, and often the mirrorless camera will be favoured for its portability and functionality, while the DSLR will be chosen for its imaging performance ““ particularly for still shots.
Because of their EVFs, mirrorless cameras are much more suitable for movie recording than DSLRs, which is why so many manufacturers are offering models with 4K capabilities. Sensor size and resolution are less important for movies because the frame is always cropped.
Today, manufacturers like Fujifilm, Olympus, Panasonic and Sony have carved out sound reputations among serious enthusiasts and professional photographers in a market where formerly DSLRs ruled. When you can get the same (or better) resolution and imaging performance in a smaller, lighter camera with an EVF that can be used while shooting movies, why wouldn’t you opt for mirrorless?
So thanks, Canon, for adding another mirrorless brand for us to choose from and adding the benefits of the Canon heritage. Let’s hope the company’s designers continue to push the EOS M range further. We look forward to reviewing a camera once they are released locally in November.
Image sensor: 22.3 x 14.9 mm CMOS sensor with 25.8 million photosites (24.2 megapixels effective); fixed low-pass filter
Image processor: DIGIC 7
A/D processing: 14-bit
Lens mount: EF-M (EF and EF-S lenses compatible via Mount adapter EF-EOS M)
Focal length crop factor: 1.6x
Image formats: Stills: JPEG (Exif Ver.2.3), CR2.RAW(14-bit Canon original RAW 2nd edition), RAW+JPEG; Movies: MP4 AVC/H.264; AAC-LC stereo audio
Image Sizes: Stills ““ 3:2 aspect: 6000 x 4000, 3984 x 2656, 2976 x 1984, 1920 x 1280, 720 x 480; RAW – 6000 x 4000, M-RAW – 4500 x 3000, S-RAW – 3000 x 2000; Movies: 1920×1080 (Full HD) at 50p/30p/25p, 1280×720 (HD) at 50p/25p settings
Image Stabilisation: Lens based for still shots; in-camera 5-axis Digital IS available in movie mode
Dust removal: EOS integrated cleaning system
Shutter (speed range): Electronically controlled focal plane shutter (30 to 1/4000 seconds plus bulb, X-sync at 1/200 sec.
Exposure Compensation: +/- 3EV in 1/3EV steps
Exposure bracketing: +/-2 EV in 1/3EV increments (can be combined with manual exposure compensation)
Self-timer: 2 or 10 seconds delay plus Custom and Remote settings
Focus system: Dual Pixel CMOS AF with 49 focus points (7×7 grid) via auto selection; manual positioning – 1 point or 1 AF zone (9 points, 3×3 grid)
Focus modes: One-Shot AF, Servo AF, Face + Tracking, Smooth Zone AF, 1-point AF, manual focusing with peaking and magnification (5x or 10x)
Exposure metering: Real-time metering from the image sensor with Evaluative, Centre-weighted average, Partial at centre and Spot metering; metering range EV 1-20 (23oC/ISO 100)
Shooting modes: Scene Intelligent Auto, Hybrid Auto, Creative Assist Special scene [Self-Portrait, Portrait, Landscape, Close-up, Sports, Food, Panning, Handheld Night Scene, HDR Backlight Control], Creative Filters, Program AE, Shutter-priority AE, Aperture-priority AE, Manual exposure, Bulb exposure, Custom (x2)
Picture Style/Control settings: Auto, Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Fine Detail, Neutral, Faithful, Monochrome, User Def. 1 – 3
Image Processing: Highlight Tone Priority, Auto Lighting Optimiser (4 settings), Long exposure NR, High ISO NR, Lens peripheral illumination and chromatic aberration correction, diffraction correction, Creative Assist [background blur – 5 settings; brightness – 19 levels; contrast, saturation, colour tone, monochrome, filter effects – Ye, Or, R, G plus Sepia, Blue, Purple Green toning]
Colour space options: sRGB and Adobe RGB
Custom functions: 12
ISO range: Auto, ISO 100-25600 (in 1/3- or whole-stop increments); Movie ISO 100-6400
White balance: Auto, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten, White fluorescent, Flash, Custom (1 setting can be registered), Colour temperature setting, WB compensation B/A and M/G: +/-9 levels
Flash: Built-in pop-up flash GN approx. 5 (ISO 100, in meters), coverage to 15mm lens angle of view; integrated hot-shoe
Flash modes: Auto (E-TTL II), manual flash on/off, 3 flash power output settings, red-eye reduction lamp is available
Flash exposure adjustment: +/-2EV in 1/3EV steps
Sequence shooting: Max. 9 shots/sec. (7 fps with AF tracking)
Buffer capacity: Max. 26 Large/Fine JPEGs
Storage Media: Single slot for SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards; UHS-1 compatible
Viewfinder: 0.39-type 2,360,000-dot OLED EVF with 100% coverage, 22mm eyepoint, eye sensor, dioptre correction
LCD monitor: 3.2-inch TFT LCD with 1,620,000 dots, electrostatic capacitative touch screen capabilities, tilts up 85o and down 180o
Playback functions: Single image display, Single image + Info display (8 options), index (6, 12, 42, 110 thumbnails); rotate, delete, zoom (2x – 10x magnification), jump by 1, 10 or 100 images, by shooting date, by folder, by movies, by stills, by rating, movie playback, slideshow (all images, by date, by rating), movie playback, slideshow with transition effect (fade); in-camera raw image processing, PictBridge direct printing supported
Interface terminals: Micro USB 2.0, HDMI micro (Type D connector), 3.5 mm stereo mic jack
Connectivity: Bluetooth (low energy), Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11b/g/n, 2.4 GHz only), Dynamic NFC support
Power supply: LP-E17 Rechargeable Li-ion Battery Pack; CIPA rated for approx. 295 shots/charge
Dimensions (wxhxd): Approx. 115.6 x 89.2 x 60.6 mm
Weight: Approx. 427 grams with battery and card
Distributor: Canon Australia; 1800 021 167; www.canon.com.au