If you are hoping to see a Canon full frame mirrorless system announced at Photokina this year then these latest reports coming out of the rumor mill may upset you. According to the latest reporting, in this case, via Mirrorless Rumors, it seems that the mirrorless camera Canon plans on announcing at Photokina this year will be none other than a replacement for their current mirrorless flagship, the EOS M5.
But wait just wait a minute before you get your torches and pitchforks out. As much as we all want to see a Canon competitor to Sony’s full-frame mirrorless, an update to their high-end APS-C mirrorless lineup isn’t a bad thing. Why? Here, let me explain…
So far we have mostly known one thing about Canon’s mirrorless products since the original EOS-M; they sucked. But as much as that was the case throughout the first 3-4 generations of the product, the EOS M5 (which was released back in 2016) was actually the first glimmer of hope that we have ever seen from a Canon mirrorless offering. Sure, it was still under-powered and overpriced vs its competition, but on its own, it was a very capable and usable option for someone looking to make use of a Canon branded system. That has continued to be the case with Canon’s latest mirrorless offerings, like their M50, which took much of the good from the EOS M5 and made it better and more affordable (with some caveats), without being a true replacement to the M5 itself.
Now, according to other reports (this time via Canon Watch) the crop sensor mirrorless Canon plans to launch at Photokina is none other than a true replacement for the M5, unofficially being called that EOS M5 Mk II. The camera is said to feature a 24MP sensor that has Dual Pixel AF (that works while recording 4K video), and it may even sport a top LCD (something like Fujifilm’s X-H1). It will also feature more advanced video functionality, and a revamped/improved menu system. However, don’t get married to these specs; the report clearly states to take them with a grain of salt right now.
The Canon EOS M5 is currently their top-end mirrorless offering, so that puts it (and its successor) up against the likes of the Sony A6300/A6500, and the Fujifilm X-Pro2/X-T2/X-H1. Right now, the M5 is woefully under-powered and outmatched by every single camera on this list, not simply in terms of performance, but also in terms of capability thanks to Canon’s embarrassingly small lineup of EF-M lenses.
There is no indication right now that this supposed EOS M5 Mk II will feature any sort of sensor stabilization, so that leaves the Sony A6500 and Fujifilm X-H1 in a good position on the spec sheet. Those two cameras are more expensive than the M5 though, so no one should expect the EOS M5 Mk II to compete with them on every front. What we are seeing in terms of possible specs from the M5 Mk II would put it right in line with the other high end APS-C mirrorless cameras on paper, and we all know that Canon’s DPAF is incredibly powerful and effective when fully implemented (not in the half-baked way they did it on the M50). So in theory the AF performance on the new Canon offering should be at least on par with the others, if not somewhere between the Fujifilm and Sony offerings.
But the real elephant in the room right now, as it has truly been with Canon’s mirrorless offerings, is the complete lack of any real semi-pro or professional focused lenses. Sure, you can get your hands on one of Canon’s EF lens adapters, but as has already been proven, the performance there is lacking. Not to mention the total lack of ergonomics and balance with the lens to camera ratio being a joke.
So, from our perspective, if the Canon M5 Mk II is what we are hoping it is (a solid APS-C offering that competes with the other APS-C offerings on the market), that frees up Canon’s R&D from playing catch up and allows them to focus a little bit on creating some decent lens options for this mature system to take advantage of. It also, and this shouldn’t be overlooked, continues to allow Canon to refine their mirrorless technologies so that when they do finally launch their full frame offering (which may not be until Photokina 2019, as some reports are now saying) they can do so with the benefit of all the trial and error style learning that they have done with the current APS-C based EOS M lineup these last several years.
As disappointing as it is to see that we may not get the full frame announcement we have been hoping for, what we may get is still important and could still be a solid addition to the market. APS-C itself isn’t anything to scoff at these days, but a half-baked and under-powered full frame release would be disastrous for Canon. It makes sense for them to find a winning formula in the APS-C realm before applying that formula to an upgraded full frame launch.