First Impressions: Canon M5

The Canon M5 is the company’s first truly serious attempt at a mirrorless cameras, and they’ve had a number of years to think about just how they were going to approach the market. Targeted at the advanced amateur the Canon M5 is an amazingly small camera with a quite a bit of power inside. With a 24MP Canon developed APS-C sensor at the heart, this camera honestly should have been announced two years ago.

But as a camera itself: it really isn’t quite that bad.

Tech Specs

Specs taken from the Canon press release

  • 24.2 Megapixel CMOS (APS-C) sensor, ISO 100–25600.
  • Fast and smooth Dual Pixel CMOS AF helps you capture stills and shoot video with quick and precise autofocus.
  • High-speed continuous shooting at up to 7.0 fps (up to 9.0 fps with AF Lock) and new DIGIC 7 Image Processor with improved AF tracking performance.
  • Full HD 60p helps capture fast-moving subjects and brilliant results in MP4 format.
  • Digital IS with 5-axis image stabilizationiv when shooting movies plus increased image stabilization with both lens optical IS and in-camera digital IS when shooting with an IS lens.
  • Built-in high-resolution EVF (approx. 2,360,000 dots) with new Touch and Drag AF lets you manually move the AF frame displayed for more precise focusing in different shooting situations.
  • Intuitive touch screen 3.2 tilt-type (85° up/180° down) LCD monitor (approx. 1,620,000 dots) enables flexible positioning and clear viewing.
  • Easily customize functions while shooting using the Main Dial, Quick Control Dial, Dial Function Button and Exposure Compensation Dial.
  • Built-in Wi-Fi®v and NFCvi allows for easy sharing and transferring of images and videos.
  • Equipped with Bluetooth®iii Smart for smooth pairing with a compatible smartphone by powering on both devices for easy photo sharing and remote control possibilities.
  • Shorter camera startup timevii and interval time between each image capture for a more efficient shooting experience.
  • Compatible with EF-M lenses as well as the full line of EFviii and EF-Sviii lenses and Speedlites for expanded creativity.

Ergonomics

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When you look at the Canon EOS M5, what you mainly end up seeing is a mirrorless camera meant to mimic the look of a smaller DSLR. Unlike Fujifilm and Olympus, Canon strays away from the retro looking aesthetic even though I’d honestly kill for something like their older SLR style cameras.

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When you look at the front of the camera, what you mostly see is that giant mount. The only controls of any sort are the lens release and depth of field preview button.

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The top of the camera is where you’ll mostly spend your time working with the controls. You’ve got the mode dial on the left, two exposure dials, pop-up flash button, exposure comepensation button, and more. Plus there’s the hot shoe.

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Unlike most other Canon mirrorless cameras, there is an EVF present. It’s nice looking and overall my experience with it is quite positive. When the diopter is adjusted enough, I can mostly see through it using my right eye and with my glasses off. Otherwise, I’m pretty incredibly blind.

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On one side you’ve got the extremely subtle Wifi button and the HDMI out port. The Wifi button is very tough to accidentally press when putting your hand around the grip.

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The other side of the camera has more ports. They’re standard for just about any camera out there.

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The Canon EOS M5 has a tilting LCD screen that is touch capable. But this screen is in many ways much more usable than others out there.

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For example, it can do this. With the screen in this position, it’s easier to take product photos, food photos, macros, etc.

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The back of the camera is otherwise dominated by very Canon-centric buttons and controls. Oddly enough, the dial around the four way control can’t be programmed at all to control another parameter. If you’re a Canon DSLR user, it would make a lot of sense to make this control the aperture.

Build Quality

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Canon’s EOS M5 isn’t weather sealed. It’s fairly compact and feels nice in the hands overall. The touch interface is very smooth and makes navigating the menus even simpler. Canon did a fantastic job here; and I’m inclined to say that it’s the best available.

Autofocus

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During our short test in the Javits Center, the camera seemed to focus overall pretty quickly. But the lens was having some weird issues that I’m sure wouldn’t have happened otherwise (or at least I hope so). The autofocus performance is about as fast as what you can get from Fujifilm, though I’d even rate Fujifilm to be just a bit faster.

Image Quality

We weren’t allowed to put a card into the camera since we were dealing with a pre-production model. But we’re calling in a review unit.

First Impressions

Canon’s EOS M5 so far feels like a “me too” type of camera. It isn’t at all bad; but this camera should’ve been here two years ago. It doesn’t feel anywhere like the level of innovation that the Canon 5D Mk II was to the industry; but with all this said it once again doesn’t feel like a bad system. At the moment though, it’s very APS-C centric and I can’t figure out what differentiates it from the rest. Sony has full frame, Fujifilm has the best APS-C sensor on the market, Olympus and Panasonic have the fastest autofocus and most support. But Canon? You’ve got access to loads of third party flash options and you can use the company’s EF mount L glass on the camera with an adapter. But as it is, the EF-M mount doesn’t have any high end glass.

We’ll have to save our final evaluation for when we get a review unit in.