Canon EOS M50 Mark II review
- Fast autofocus and great stills
- Portable and flexible, yet feature rich
- Inspires creativity and live streaming
- 4K video not all it could be
- Kit lens is a bit underwhelming
- No significant improvement over M50 Mark I
What surprised me most when I first picked up the Canon EOS M50 Mark II is how small it is. After a decade of getting seemingly bigger and heavier DLSR cameras in pursuit of the best quality images and video, it was quite a shock. It's smaller than my hand. It reminded me of the old compact cameras I used when I was a kid.
Yet the M50 Mark II is a serious piece of kit. A mirrorless, interchangeable lens camera tailored to meet the needs of the modern-day kid. The ones that want to create and share fancy content as easily as possible. However, it does so with enough quality to entice vloggers and photographers of any vintage.
Sold with a 15-45mm kit lens for a RRP of $1,199.00, it's an entry-level mirrorless camera. It's best suited for those getting serious enough about their content to want to step things up from a mobile phone, but not to the point of investing in a Canon R6. However, by the time I finished my EOS M50 Mark II review, I couldn't help but think those who already have the R6 may also find the M50 to be a compellingly portable and flexible option to have on hand.
Canon EOS M50 Mark II specifications
As a mirrorless SLR camera, the EOS M50 Mark II is naturally smaller and lighter than comparable DLSRs. So don't let its size fool you. This camera is home to a 24.1MP APS-C CMOS sensor, capable of taking 6000 x 4000 resolution stills and 4K video at 25fps. It can shoot 10 frames-per-second, offers 143 autofocus points and an ISO range of 100-25600 natural (software boosted up to 51200).
It's compatible with the Canon EF-M lens range, and with an adaptor, the EF lenses. The 3" touchscreen can be articulated, plus there's a 2360k dot electronic viewfinder as well. A built-in flash, as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and a light 387g chassis fill out the key features.
Elsewhere, all the notable stock features of every Canon are on hand, such as a wide range of drive modes, white balance options, scenery modes and so forth.
Canon EOS M50 Mark II vs Mark I
Looking at the raw specifications, there's no significant difference between the EOS M50 Mark I, which came out in 2018, and 2021's Mark II. It's the same machine. Indeed, looking at the camera from the outside also shows very little in the way of differences. The buttons are identical, the form-factor is the same, and really, outside of the phrase "Mark II," it's effectively the same aesthetic.
Much of what makes the Mark II a better camera than the Mark I happens on the software side. And it's marginally better. You'll find a few user-friendly tweaks in the user interface, and maybe – ever so slightly – improved autofocus, face-tracking and eye-tracking.
But if you already own the original M50 you'd be well within your rights to ask why you can't get these software updates on your existing camera. To wonder why you're forced to upgrade to the M50 Mark II to get them. It's poor form from Canon and rightfully casts doubt on newcomers to the ecosystem who could fear the same thing will happen to them one day with a Mark III.
What the M50 Mark II does add to the equation is a clean mini-HDMi port. Clean meaning that none of the on-screen data is in the feed, just the footage. This does add some handy flexibility for users who intend to use the M50 Mark II as a high-quality webcam when live streaming or recording content for the likes of Twitch and YouTube.
But if that doesn't relate to your use case, then it's hard to recommend upgrading from your existing M50 to the M50 Mark II. The performance difference is so minimal it's hard to notice any improvement.
If you've held one Canon camera, then you've more-or-less held them all. The now iconic form factor is retained with the Canon EOS M50 Mark II with little in the way of experimentation, and that's just fine.
I'm a big fan of that design. It's easy to grip and nicely balanced in your hand. The buttons are well placed, useful and, for the most part, it's easy to understand what they do. It's great that the M50 has a built-in flash – something we don't see in the high-end models – and it's easy to get a lens off and on. The electronic viewfinder – my preferred way to shoot – offers real-time vision of the changes in a frame as settings, lighting and focal points shift.
The 3" articulated screen is handy for a host of reasons. As well as functionally useful for selfies and remote photography, or trying to angle shots at arm's reach, the touchscreen is a handy way to sort through the multitude of menus and options. The only thing that annoyed me was I couldn't easily toggle between scenes and filters when my eye was pressed up against the viewfinder. Taking my eye away to look at the screen and touch it is a clunky approach.
The camera comes in the classic Canon black, but also in a fancy white skin.
Considering what I've detailed above about the marginal upgrade from the M50 Mark I and Mark II, you may have gotten the impression I'm not positive about this camera. That is not the case. The M50 Mark I was an excellent camera, and given the M50 Mark II is a slightly improved version of that fantastic foundation, it too remains an excellent camera.
I've been spending a lot of time with EOS R5 and R6 cameras lately, which are right at the premium end of the Canon range and extraordinarily feature rich. I've been stepping up my content creation recently as well. And I immediately fell in love with a lot of what the M50 has to offer.
It's the quality vs portability of the M50 that can't be underestimated. It's small, light and easy to carry, even with the kit lens attached. For times when you simply don't want to lug around a bag full of lenses or want to be able to react quickly, while still getting Canon-level quality stills and functionality, that's a big win in my book.
Speaking of the stills, I found the Canon M50 Mark II to be fast and effective. The autofocus works well, and as I went through each shooting mode and playing around with the settings I got consistently good results with a minimum of fuss. Content creators are well armed with this camera to think creatively and achieve that goal. While the option of a mic input and a built-in flash give it range in all conditions.
As usual with Canon, the image quality – in particular the richness in the colours – is fantastic. I'm not overly enthused about the kit lens, which does a workmanlike job and little more. But the flexibility of being an interchangeable lens system allows you to experiment with alternate solutions.
A feature I really love – to the point where I wish it was an option on all Canon models – is the user-interface. Choosing scenes and switching between different modes comes with visual guides on the touchscreen, explaining what each option will provide. This is a boon to photographers just getting started and finding their feet. Settings like TV or AV or HDR Backlight Control or Panning, which may be overly technical to those stepping up from a mobile phone or compact camera, get easy to understand context here.
I also love the built-in filter options. Being able to shoot in black and white, fisheye, oil painting and many more flourishes directly through the camera is a neat and fun way to encourage newcomers to creatively experiment. This is certainly where the M50 Mark II's content creator focus really shines.
The only drama with it is that no unfiltered version of the photo is also saved, so it's a permanent decision. I would have much preferred it if the raw photo and the filtered version were both saved. You're taking a risk as the end product may look crap once it's downloaded to your PC or phone, meaning a much safer route is to do the filters later in an app like Photoshop.
4K and Live Streaming nerfs
Perhaps the biggest disappointment with the M50 Mark II is that it doesn't quite make the strides forward in 4K we were hoping for. While the autofocus and eye tracking are marginally better, it still uses the less reliable Contrast autofocus method – as opposed to Dual Pixel autofocus in 1080p – and it still crops the image. Both complaints against the Mark I.
The crop is counter-intuitive given the content creator/influencer focus of this camera. When you switch to 4K video, the canvas crops in around 1.6x – think of it like zooming in. This is fine if you are shooting something in the distance. However, if you're trying to shoot something close – such as yourself in selfie mode – then your arm simply isn't long enough. At least, not with the kit lens. You will need to buy a wide-angle lens to get around this issue.
In short, if 4K is your target resolution, the camera nerfs itself and is therefore not the best solution. It's fair to say the on-board audio recording mic is also lacklustre. However, it generally is on cameras. Any serious content creator should be utilising a proper audio recording set up. I recently reviewed the RØDE Wireless Go II, which I can recommend.
The other big selling point is the live streaming angle, and this too comes with some limitations. When I first got wind of this feature, I assumed it meant you could hotspot the camera to your phone and then literally live stream on the go using a camera far superior to your phone. But that is not the go.
Instead, the HDMI output is for tethered streaming. So effectively setting it up as a killer webcam. This remains a handy feature there's no doubt, and gives the EOS M50 Mark II added flexibility. But be warned, unless you have 1000 subs on your YouTube channel, you do need to use an intermediary streaming app like OBS or the EOS Webcam Utility to prove to YouTube that you're not on a mobile device. It only works with scheduled live streams, too.
Should you buy the Canon EOS M50 Mark II?
- Buy it if: You're after Canon quality stills in a highly portable and flexible form. Especially if you're a content creator.
- Don't buy it if: You are focused on delivering 4K video content or if you already own the EOS M50 Mark I.
The Canon EOS M50 Mark II is an intriguing release. If you're new to the range and are on the hunt for an entry-level mirrorless camera that's going to give you great shots and ok video while remaining portable, flexible, and shareable, it's a great choice. I had a lot of fun with this camera just being able to easily slide it into a pocket, then whip it out to not just take excellent stills, but easily experiment with creative ideas.
However, if you've already got the M50 Mark I, it's hard not to be disappointed. And it's certainly not worth the upgrade.
Canon definitely could have, and should have, gone a bit harder with the M50 Mark II. The 4K video should have been better; streaming direct from the camera remotely would have been awesome; and the kit lens could have offered more. And because it hasn't, it's left the door open for consumers to save money by looking for a second hand or refurbished M50 Mark I. Then spending that saving on a better lens.
But if you want to buy new, especially if you plan to use it as a webcam, then spending the extra $100 or so on a Mark II is worth it. Even if the improvements are iterative.
How I tested the Canon EOS M50 Mark II
For a period of three weeks I used the Canon EOS M50 Mark II as my primary camera, taking it on outings, shooting product and experimenting with its features. I've owned Canon cameras for almost two decades.
Pricing and availability
The Canon EOS M50 Mark II is readily available all throughout Australia at the usual suspects and launched with a retail price of $1,199.00. But I've seen it for under $900 on places like Amazon.
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