Canon wants to attract photo and video beginners to its system with the mirrorless EOS M series. The cameras and optics are inexpensive and of solid quality. With the youngest member of the EOS M50 II, Canon is focusing even more clearly on the group of vloggers, which is increasingly in focus.
The newer products and product announcements from Canon, Nikon and Co. prove that video in general is moving more and more into the spotlight for camera manufacturers. This applies not only to models for ambitious photo and video experts, but also and especially to the smaller cameras such as the one above the Canon EOS M50 II, but also Sony’s ZV1 or Panasonic’s G110. These models are usually available with kit lenses or fixed optics for less than 1000 euros and are therefore also an inexpensive option for beginners and occasional vloggers.
In order to inspire the target group, each provider comes up with something special. Sony includes a microphone with a windshield with the ZV1, for example, while the Panasonic Lumix G110 is available in a kit with a mini tripod. As standard, the cameras have a display that can also be rotated 180 degrees for selfie shots, as does the EOS M50 II.
Compared to its predecessor, the EOS M50 II looks almost identical. Housing and equipment have remained almost the same. It has a sensor of the same resolution with slightly higher light sensitivity (ISO 25,600 instead of ISO 12,800) and, as before, creates ten images per second with single autofocus. It records videos at up to 4k (3840 × 2160) and 25 frames per second in MP4 format. The OLED viewfinder with 2.36 megapixels is optionally available next to the three-inch LCD display, which can be operated using the responsive touch. The display has a poor resolution of 720 × 480 pixels, which is common in this price range. As before, the single memory card slot in the battery compartment accepts an SD card (XC / HC) with UHS-I.
The small camera sits comfortably in the hand, but the grip bead could still be a little deeper. It is kept simple, only a few, but important operating elements adorn the housing, everything else is controlled via the touch. Some keys, such as the Q key for the quick menu, are available as both hard and soft keys. In the quick menu, parameters can also be controlled by touch or via the four-way element on the back and selected directly with a tap of the finger on the display or the dial on the viewfinder.
(Image: Christine Bruns)
On the top, next to the shutter release, there is an M-Fn button, which, like eight other buttons in the menu, can be assigned different functions. Right next to it is the record button for videos. A mode dial complements the ensemble, which, in addition to P, Tv, Av and M, also includes automatic, video and a combination option for videos and stills, scene and effect modes. In automatic mode, filters and various image settings can be predefined using a creative button.
All buttons and dials on the back and top are very easy to reach and clearly marked. Keys have been recessed a little or raised a little, making them easy to feel even with blind operation. What we didn’t like that much is the opening of the battery compartment. Here you push the entire lid away to the side, but an opening mechanism is attached as with the EOS-M sisters, which, however, cannot be operated at all, but is purely for decoration.
In particular, some video features are new. Although the predecessor EOS M50 was also able to output 4k videos with 25p, the M50 II now also films in portrait format in keeping with the times. To do this, the user does not even have to change anything in the menu. At the beginning of the video, the camera automatically detects its orientation and outputs the video accordingly. The orientation selected by the camera can be seen from a small camera symbol with an arrow.
For this purpose, the user can output a video signal via HDMI, either with all display labels (image information and autofocus window) or as a clean signal (only the image and sound information).
Using the EOS Webcam Utility application, the camera can be used as a webcam for video meetings via USB. In addition, the EOS M50 II streams live on YouTube directly connected to the WLAN. Here Youtube restricts itself to channels with 1000 or more subscribers, but this restriction is lifted when used as a webcam.
As usual, a microphone can be connected to the side via a 3.5 millimeter jack and attached to the camera’s hot shoe.
We took the EOS M50 II with the 32 millimeter f / 1.4 into the lab. The maximum resolution of the sensor is 2000 line pairs per image height. Centrally, the camera reaches 97 percent of the maximum possible resolution at ISO 100 and f / 4.0 and drops to 90 percent towards the corners. Up to ISO 1600, the central resolution is still a good 90 percent and finally ends up with ISO 25,600 at 61 percent. The corners are on average six to seven percent below the center.
Canon EOS M cameras are generally somewhat prone to noise. Here, too, the VN starts at ISO 100 with a value of 1.4. VN stands for visual noise or perceptible noise. Values below VN 0.8 indicate largely freedom from noise, values up to VN 2.0 indicate low noise and values up to VN 3.0 indicate moderate noise. An annoying noise impression emerges above a VN of 3.0. From ISO 1600, the value of the EOS M50 II exceeds the two-level limit with 2.3, the three-level limit then already at ISO 3200 with 3.2. We measured good behavior in the dynamic range, which starts with 10.6 at ISO 100 and only falls below 10 from ISO 6400.
With a fast fixed focal length like the 32 mm f / 1.4, the camera achieves good image quality in the JPEGs in good light and low ISO. It stays that way up to ISO 800, after which the noise is clearly visible in the 100 percent view. From ISO 3200 it gets annoying. The plasticity is well preserved up to ISO 3200, even if the contrasts decrease with increasing ISO. This can be seen particularly in the pencils or the blobs of paint on the palette. From ISO 3200 onwards, fine lines and edges fray, which can be clearly seen on the labels and connections on the circuit board. Fine details, such as the fabric structure of the rose, cause difficulties for the camera from ISO 800 onwards; with fine lines it does a little better on the test chart.
(Image: Christine Bruns)
We took the practice shots during the day under a cloudy sky, partly with sun, in the Herrenhausen Gardens and the Berggarten in Hanover. The observations are similar to the c’t test scene, which limits the enlargement of the recordings, especially at ISO levels from 1600, since otherwise the noise is noticeable.
In the low ISO levels, however, we get a good quality, a beautiful color rendering, which is especially good for spring bloomers that are wet with dew.
Like its predecessor, the EOS M50 II is a very practical small camera especially for beginners or photographers on a budget. The camera and the lenses are cheap, the body is available for around 610 euros, the lenses are on average between 200 and 500 euros. In addition, single-lens reflex lenses of the full-format system can also be flanged onto the small mirrorless ones using an EF adapter. The camera has a wide range of functions for the category. The M50 II also has extended capabilities in the video area, which makes it particularly interesting for bloggers and vloggers who are new to the topic or are looking for something that offers more flexible options than the smartphone. The image quality is good as long as there is enough light available and the ISO does not have to be increased too high. Other providers such as Sony and Fujifilm also do a little better in the APS-C area.
Overall, however, the small camera is fun because it is easy to transport and, with the pancake, fits in a jacket pocket. Especially for beautiful street photos, it is so quick to hand and also quite inconspicuous. Therefore, it is also suitable as a handy second camera for experienced photographers. If you want more image quality, you should look around at the larger sensors such as the full-frame sisters in the EOS R series.