The Canon EOS M5 is the most enthusiast-friendly EOS M yet. It’s a 24MP mirrorless camera built around a Dual Pixel APS-C sensor, giving it depth-aware focus across most of the frame. On top of this, it adds a built-in electronic viewfinder, a good number of external controls (including twin control dials), and a well-implemented touchscreen.
This level of direct control puts it comfortably ahead of Sony’s a6000 and a6300, and more on par with Panasonic’s GX85 (GX80 in some markets) and GX8 enthusiast models. All of these cameras aim to offer stills and video capabilities in relatively small bodies but with a reasonable level of direct external control.
The Canon EOS M5 is a very approachable camera, despite all those buttons and dials. In fact, it’s the implementation of this touchscreen that, in general, we’re most impressed with. Much like the system developed by Panasonic, the M5 not only lets you use the rear touchscreen to position focus, but it also allows its use as a touchpad to move the focus point when you’re shooting through the viewfinder. This, combined with decisive autofocus, has proven to be significant for both stills and video shooting.
The camera has four dials in total: two main dials on the top of the camera, a dedicated exposure compensation dial, and a fourth dial encircling the four-way controller on the back of the camera. This is a much higher level of direct control than offered on the simpler EOS M-series models offered previously, suggesting Canon expects the user to take more hands-on control of the shooting experience.
While the lack of 4K video capability is a disappointment, the ability to use the touchscreen to re-position the focus point with a high level of confidence that the camera will smoothly glide the focus to the right point is highly desirable.
The touchscreen-plus-Dual-Pixel-AF combination is also useful for stills shooting – you can not only use the touchscreen to drag the focus point around the screen but also use it to select between available faces if shooting or recording in face detection mode.
The other significant benefit of the M5 finally receiving Canon’s Dual Pixel AF system is that it is now able to focus adapted EF and EF-S lenses very effectively – overall performance isn’t quite the same as an 80D in Live View mode, but its leaps and bounds ahead of any previous M camera.
You’re also no longer limited to the small central focus area offered when using comparable Rebel / EOS x-hundreds DSLR models, and focusing is almost DSLR-quick and decisive.
The other significant advantage of the M5 finally receiving Canon’s Dual Pixel AF system is that it is now able to focus adapted EF and EF-S lenses very effectively. While the overall performance of the M5 is not quite on par with that of an 80D in Live View mode, it is leagues and leagues ahead of any previous M camera.
Additionally, you are no longer restricted to the narrow central focus area that is provided by similar Rebel / EOS x-hundreds DSLR models, and the focusing is nearly as rapid and decisive as it is with DSLRs.
The M5 is the EOS M camera that is most suited for photography enthusiasts. We say this not just due to the fact that it resembles a DSLR in design, but also due to the fact that it has dual command dials and a specialized exposure compensation dial.
These offer a quicker manner of engaging with the camera’s exposure settings than prior versions or, for that matter, the majority of Canon’s entry-level DSLRs, which tend to feature a single command dial. This is because these have two command dials.
It is interesting to note that the camera borrows several features from the Gx X family of PowerShot compacts (such as the G7 X II), the most notable of which is the inclusion of a ‘Dial Func’ button, which, when pressed, reassigns one of the command dials to a different function.
However, if you discover that you don’t need to change the function of the dials very often, you may set them in the main menu and then repurpose the ‘Dial Func’ button to do something else instead. This is an option if you find that you don’t need to alter the function of the dials very often.
The following functions can be assigned to the Dial Func. button on your camera: Standard (which will set the dial to its default assignment for that exposure mode), ISO, White Balance, Metering Mode, AF mode, and Drive Mode.
It is also possible to modify the other dials such that they have various functions based on the exposure mode that is now selected. Some of our editors had a problem with how the Exposure Compensation dial was positioned in relation to the customizable control dial, and they desired that they had been switched. However, your experience may be different.
In general, the M5 provides a higher degree of personalization options than the Rebel models which are priced in the same range. It is to your benefit that Canon has made the list of customizable functions universal across nearly all assignable buttons (with some specifics regarding the shutter and start buttons, effectively allowing for back-button focus), so you are not left wondering what can be customized and in what manner.
The EOS M5’s touchscreen interface and the way in which it merges with the camera’s Dual Pixel AF technology are the most notable features of this camera. Because of the architecture of the Dual Pixels, a significant portion of the sensor is able to give depth information to the AF system. This allows the camera to typically leap right to the proper focus distance, rather than having to seek to locate it.
When it comes to how the touchscreen operates when the camera is held up to your eye, it is quite evident that Canon has learned a great deal from Panasonic (although they still haven’t equaled the smoothness of Panasonic’s implementation).
You have the option, much like on a Panasonic, to have the autofocus point move to the location that you press on the screen, or you can choose to have it behave more like a computer mouse and be dragged relative to its current position instead. However, Canon significantly improves upon this capacity in two different ways.
The most significant difference is that Canon enables you to choose which part of the screen is active, right down to which half or which quadrant you choose to work with. This means that regardless of whether you shoot with the camera to your left or right eye, you can ensure that you do not mistakenly enable ‘nose focus’ by preventing yourself from accidentally using the feature.
Note, however, that if you shoot with your left eye, you may discover that working the control knobs on the right shoulder of the camera brings your thumb uncomfortably near to poking yourself in the face. This is something to keep in mind if you shoot with your left eye. To put it another way, using the viewfinder with your left eye, despite the fact that it is positioned in the middle of the camera, is far less comfortable than using it with your right eye.
The second significant advantage of touchscreens is that when the camera is set to face detection mode, you can drag your finger across the screen to tell the camera to refocus on and follow a different face in the scene. This feature could be especially helpful when recording video and performs very consistently.
When the screen is folded out, the eye sensor might be annoying since if you move your hand in front of it, the screen will turn off. For example, if you want to put an AF point on the screen. It is a nuisance that may force you to assign a custom button to manually switch between the touchscreen and the EVF, and it is not helped by the somewhat pronounced latency that the camera shows while transitioning between the two display modes.
Furthermore, it is a problem that is avoided on Olympus OM-D cameras and Sony’s a6500; those cameras stop the eye sensor as soon as they detect the screen being turned out, which, to be honest, ought to be standard procedure at this point.
Lenses with a specific adaptation
The EOS M5 is compatible with Canon’s EF-EOS M adapter, which is not much more than a solid chunk of metal with some electrical connections and sells for the manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $199 (adapters made by third parties cost a good bit less, but we haven’t tried them).
The actual story is how well-adapted EF and EF-S lenses now function on the M5, in comparison to how well they worked on prior M models. In general, they work roughly as well as they would on an EOS 80D when using the Live View option.
Autofocus is speedy and decisive owing to Dual Pixel technology, but it is not flawless. As you might anticipate, certain larger lenses might lead to an imbalanced sensation; however, larger telezooms that are built for two-handed photography, such as the 70-200mm F4L, balance pretty nicely.
In a manner that defies explanation, Canon has made it such that the Auto ISO behavior of the EOS M5 is inferior to that of the EOS 80D and even the G7 X Mark II.
You are only allowed to select the maximum ISO speed that the camera is capable of using, while the camera selects the shutter speed it thinks is appropriate for the situation, which is not always the case and usually results in the shutter speed being locked at 1/60 with the 15-45mm kit lens, regardless of where you are in the zoom range.
On the G7 X II, you have at least some control over the ‘Rate of Change’ of your shutter speed (though selecting ‘Fast’ will lock the camera at 1/1000 sec as its slowest speed), and the 80D goes two steps further by letting you specify your slowest allowable shutter speed manually and by letting you choose the lowest ISO speed you’d like to use. Both of these features are available on the G7 X II.
Although it is possible to shoot in full manual mode, during which you can select the ideal shutter speed and aperture for the shot, as well as use exposure compensation to adjust the level of brightness, we have high hopes that this lack of control will be addressed in a future firmware update because it significantly reduces the utility of Auto ISO in general.
The Canon EOS M5 employs the same Dual Pixel autofocus system as the company’s EOS 80D, so it should provide performance that is broadly comparable to that of the EOS 80D. However, there will be some dependence on lenses (Canon’s EF-M 22mm F2 pancake lens is particularly slow to focus), so performance may vary depending on the specific lens used. In any event, let’s examine the results of the Canon EOS M5 in its own testing.
Dual Pixel AF
The EOS 70D was the first Canon camera to have this particular iteration of Canon’s “Dual Pixel AF” architecture. At each pixel point, it has a pair of photodiodes that look to the left and a pair that looks to the right.
This indicates that the camera is able to distinguish between light entering the left-hand side of the lens and light entering from the right, which enables the camera to determine the distance to objects and how to concentrate on them by analyzing the disparity between the two points of view (a process known as phase detection).
This phase-detection technology can only be used throughout 80 percent of the width of the sensor by the camera since the left-hand facing pixel halves at the left-hand edge of the sensor can’t look through the lens aperture (and vice versa at the other side). The accessible and active region of the Dual Pixel AF system is displayed in the graphic that can be found above.
Autofocus with face detection for both static and moving images
Check out the demonstration, but also take a look at the reel that can be found on the Video portion of our website. There, you’ll see even more evidence of how amazing Canon’s face identification can be. While the camera loses focus on Dan’s face, the M5’s autofocus technology is sufficiently sophisticated to continue tracking Dan’s head, which is precisely where Dan’s face was when it was in focus.
It instantly understands that fact once his face is brought back into view, and then it goes on without stopping. It’s amazing to think about.
Autofocus and overall performance in real-world conditions
The focusing and overall performance of the EOS M5 will be more than enough for the majority of users; but, the camera has a few peculiarities that prevent it from being the finest mirrorless choice available in its class for capturing fast-moving subjects.
The M5 made shooting a victory parade a little more difficult than it needed to be, despite the fact that it shouldn’t have been that challenging for a camera of this class, to begin with.
At this point, the shutter blackout (either in the viewfinder or on the LCD) is longer than that of most rivals; it is sufficiently lengthy to be a concern even while shooting subjects moving at moderate speeds and at moderate focal lengths.
Following the taking of a single shot or a burst of shots, the live feed has a brief lag, which causes the Touch & Drag AF feature to become inoperable for the duration of the lag.
This may lead you to become disoriented and for your autofocus point to move all over the place, depending on how your ‘Touch & Drag’ settings are configured.
If you take your finger off the shutter button and then mash it (perhaps to capture an unexpected moment), you will be greeted with a substantial delay before the camera fires, even if your subject hasn’t changed much in-depth. The most responsive experience will result from intentionally half-pressing before shots or keeping the shutter half-pressed between shots (because focus and exposure are already locked).
Unfortunately, there is no way to fix this problem, not even by enabling back-button focus (also known as manual focus) and shooting in full manual mode. This will not get over the need that the camera locks both the focus and the exposure.
As was mentioned in the introduction, the EOS M5 is the first camera in the M-series to fully realize the potential of adapted EF and EF-S lenses. These lenses behave almost exactly as they would on the 80D in Live View, which means that they are significantly more usable and reliable than they were with the older ‘Hybrid CMOS AF III’ system that was used on the M3 and the M10.
It is important to note, however, that the EOS M5 provides a more snappy live view experience than the EOS 80D does in practically every manner, even down to the 7 fps burst shooting with autofocus. This is the case regardless of any other factor (9fps with it locked).
When shooting bursts with the M5, you are only presented with a slideshow of the most recently captured image. This is in contrast to many of the M5’s mirrorless competitors, which offer some form of a ‘live feed’ while shooting bursts, which makes it easier to track moving subjects and capture decisive moments.
The Canon EOS M5 has a battery life that is rated at 295 shots, which is below average for the class. However, switching to Eco mode increases that number to 410 shots since it turns the screen off after 10 seconds of inactivity and dims it after two seconds of inactivity.
The built-in flash that was employed for these testing is guaranteed to be a hindrance to the M5, and in actual shooting situations, a battery will survive for a day of moderate use if the flash and playback watching are kept to a minimal.
Quality of the Image
The most recent version of our test scenario emulates photography in both daytime and low-light conditions. You may switch between the two by pressing the ‘lighting’ buttons that are located at the very top of the widget.
For the low-light testing, the camera is left in its default Auto setting, but the daytime scene’s white balance is manually adjusted so that the resulting grays are neutral. Raw files require human editing to rectify errors. We provide three distinct viewing sizes, which are as follows:
Full, Print, and Compare are the three viewing modes available, with Full and Comp providing “normalized” comparisons through the use of matching viewing sizes. The ‘Comp’ option selects the camera with the highest possible resolution that is also shared by the other cameras being evaluated.
Raw captures a high level of information at low ISO settings and is generally comparable with other formats available on the market (and is nearly identical to the older EOS M3 at lower ISO values as well).
The EOS M5 falls around one stop short of the competition while shooting in reduced light and at higher ISO levels, which is a substantial gap given the current state of the industry.
As we would expect from Canon, JPEG colors are typically attractive, with properly saturated reds that aren’t over the top, and yellows that avoid nasty green shifts.
However, as is customary with Canon, the noise reduction is clunky, even at lower ISO levels. This is seen by the blurring away of fine information, which is especially prominent on scenes with low contrast.
The rough sharpening that Canon employs does not assist to bring out fine details, and it can result in an ugly haloing around the edges of the image.
These problems get much more severe as the ISO levels are increased, and we observe that the Canon leaves substantial quantities of noise behind while simultaneously continuing to blur away fine information in other areas.
The range of available energies
We have observed considerable improvements in dynamic range performance from Canon in its most recent large-sensor cameras. These improvements are most likely the result of Canon’s transition to on-chip analog-to-digital conversion (first seen in their EOS 80D).
It is quite likely that the Canon EOS M5 uses the same sensor as the Canon 80D. If this is the case, then the exposure latitude and ISO invariance performance of both cameras will be the same. To summarize, this positions the Raw dynamic range of the M5 somewhere in the middle of its top competitors and Canon’s earlier attempts with APS-C cameras.
This is a typical example of how the reviewer might edit a picture to get the most out of a camera’s dynamic range while avoiding the overly-saturated effect that is associated with HDR photography. Modifications made to the picture that is above:
White balance set to daylight; exposure adjusted to +0.85; highlights toned down to -100; shadows brought up to +80; whites brought up to +23; blacks toned down to -77; minor boost applied to sharpness and luminance noise reduction.
Because it does not support 4K video recording and does not include zebra pattern exposure warnings, the EOS M5 is likely to dissatisfy serious video aficionados. These are undoubtedly surprising omissions, taking into account the vast number of direct rivals that provide them, but where the Canon falls short in terms of specifications, it more than makes up for it in terms of how easily it can be used.
Sample reel in addition to the practicability
When it comes to working with video, the touchscreen is exceptionally well-implemented. If you give the camera full control over focusing decisions, it will perform very well. It will focus very smoothly as objects of potential interest enter the frame at different depths, but you won’t have any direct control over how quickly the camera will refocus. If you give the camera full control over focusing decisions, it will perform very well (this also goes for tapping to rack focus from one point to another in the scene).
Face identification performance is a particularly intriguing aspect of the camera to investigate. If the M5 is unable to locate the face of your subject, it will intelligently switch to tracking the subject itself (for an example of this, see the sample video on the page devoted to focusing) and continue tracking the part of the scene that was previously occupied by the face.
Therefore, even if your subject is looking away from the camera (for instance), the camera will still track his or her head. Additionally, as was discussed previously, if your scene contains more than one face, you have the ability to shift the focus of the camera from one face to another in order to tell it which face you would like it to monitor.
The image stabilizer is also quite remarkable, giving both optical (in-lens) and digital (in-camera) stabilizing options. When these more sophisticated options are enabled, there is a trade-off in terms of cropping and quality, but the film that is produced is exceptionally smooth.
While it is unfortunate that the EOS M5 does not support 4K capture, a trend is becoming apparent, as seen in our studio scenario. Cameras that are capable of extremely high-quality 4K capture are, in a sense, “phoning it in” when it comes to their 1080p recording capabilities (the Sony a7S II is included as an example of just how nice 1080p output can be).
This makes some sense in the sense that you can always record in 4K and downsample the image afterward; nevertheless, for those who don’t necessarily have the time for that extra step or don’t want to pay for more storage, 1080p might still be an essential alternative.
First things first, we can see that the M5 has excellent control over false color, that it reveals more information than the a6300, and that it is somewhat less crisp than the Panasonic G85. All of these observations can be made immediately.
It is to be expected that performance will suffer substantially with the digital image stabilization turned on (although it may be worth the trade-off for the smoother film), and this pattern continues with the ‘Enhanced IS’ setting, which offers the smoothest footage of the three options.
Additional video notes
It’s interesting that the only two modes available for taking films are totally automated and fully manual, but happily, the latter mode offers Auto ISO along with exposure adjustment.
This is extremely important if you want to have full control over the shutter speed and depth of focus for the film you are recording, but you also want the camera to be able to adjust its “gain” when you go from one set of lighting circumstances to another.
In addition, the Canon EOS M5 features an HDMI output that is capable of delivering Full HD video, as well as a microphone input that can still be used even if the screen can only tilt rather than completely articulate.
If you choose to manually focus, you will have access to focus peaking; however, there is no zebra patterning to warn of overexposure, and you will not be able to examine an electronic level or histogram while recording; you will only be able to do so before you begin.
If you shoot in 24 frames per second (p/s), the rolling shutter is very easy to control; if you shoot in 60 frames per second (p/s), the rolling shutter is virtually nonexistent.
Overall, the EOS M5 presents something of a challenge when it comes to video. Despite the fact that it is not even close to being state-of-the-art in terms of its specifications and video-shooting assistance, it makes it exceedingly simple to record film that is smooth, correctly focused, and has the wonderful color for which Canon has become famous.
If you don’t require higher quality, the M5 is a capable and casual video companion. As for us, we continue to feel that well-taken 1080p film is clearly more watchable than badly shot 4K footage, and if you don’t need it, the M5 is a great option.?
Canon EOS M5 Specification
|Body type||SLR-style mirrorless|
|Max resolution||6000 x 4000|
|Other resolutions||3:2 (6000 x 4000, 3984 x 2656, 2976 x 1984, 2400 x 1600), 16:9 (6000 x 3368, 3984 x 2240, 2976 x 1680, 2400 x 1344), 4:3 (5328 x 4000, 3552 x 2664, 2656 x 1992, 2112 x 1600), 1:1 (4000 x 4000, 2656 x 2656, 1984 x 1984, 1600 x 1600)|
|Image ratio w:h||1:1, 4:3, 3:2, 16:9|
|Effective pixels||24 megapixels|
|Sensor photo detectors||26 megapixels|
|Sensor size||APS-C (22.3 x 14.9 mm)|
|Color space||sRGB, Adobe RGB|
|Color filter array||Primary color filter|
|White balance presets||6|
|Custom white balance||Yes|
|Image stabilization notes||5-axis for video only|
|JPEG quality levels||Fine, standard|
|File format||JPEG (Exif v2.3)Raw (Canon CR2, 14-bit)|
|Optics & Focus|
|Autofocus||Contrast Detect (sensor)Phase DetectMulti-areaCenterSelective single-pointTrackingSingleContinuousTouchFace DetectionLive View|
|Autofocus assist lamp||Yes|
|Number of focus points||49|
|Lens mount||Canon EF-M|
|Focal length multiplier||1.6×|
|Screen / viewfinder|
|Screen type||TFT LCD|
|Minimum shutter speed||30 sec|
|Maximum shutter speed||1/4000 sec|
|Exposure modes||ProgramShutter priorityAperture priorityManual|
|Flash range||5.00 m (at ISO 100)|
|Flash X sync speed||1/200 sec|
|Continuous drive||9.0 fps|
|Self-timer||Yes (2 or 10 secs, custom, remote)|
|Exposure compensation||±3 (at 1/3 EV steps)|
|AE Bracketing||±2 (3 frames at 1/3 EV steps)|
|Modes||1920 x 1080 @ 60p / 35 Mbps, MP4, H.264, AAC1920 x 1080 @ 30p / 24 Mbps, MP4, H.264, AAC1920 x 1080 @ 24p / 24 Mbps, MP4, H.264, AAC1280 x 720 @ 60p / 16 Mbps, MP4, H.264, AAC|
|Storage types||SD/SDHC/SDXC card|
|USB||USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)|
|Wireless notes||802.11/b/g/n with Bluetooth and NFC|
|Remote control||Yes (Wired, wireless, or smartphone)|
|Battery description||LP-E17 lithium-ion battery & charger|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||295|
|Weight (inc. batteries)||427 g (0.94 lb / 15.06 oz)|
|Dimensions||116 x 89 x 61 mm (4.57 x 3.5 x 2.4″)|
Canon has taken a significant step forward with the release of the EOS M5, which sends a message that the company is going to take the mirrorless market more seriously than they ever have before, or possibly view it as more high-end.
At first glance, the M5 appears to be quite the impressive package, featuring Dual Pixel autofocus, a 24MP sensor with improved dynamic range over its predecessors, an abundance of controls that are easily accessible from the outside of the camera, an electronic viewfinder (EVF), and an advanced touchscreen interface. However, despite how fantastic all of that may seem, there is still potential for improvement with the EOS M5.
The native lens selection, the behavior, and performance of an action and burst shooting, the auto ISO control, and the video specification are all behind the competition. The outright image quality, in terms of dynamic range and high ISO performance, is also below the competition. When compared to certain other cameras that may provide a leg up in these areas for a significant amount less money, this is a difficult pill to swallow.
On the other hand, the EOS M5 impresses with its use and accessibility, making it suitable for Canon novices as well as seasoned photographers. Even while it cannot record in 4K, it makes it much simpler to film videos that are both fluid and perfectly focused. The JPEG colors are still superior to those of any other format, adapted lenses function more effectively than they ever have, and the camera has a satisfyingly solid feel in the palm.
More than anything else, the M5 represents Canon’s continued commitment to the EOS M system, which is something that we are happy to see, and we should emphasize that for people who think they may want to get into shooting video as well as stills, the EOS M5 will make that significantly easier than the majority of its competitors.
In general, the M5 is a reliable and competent camera that can handle a broad range of photographic situations. Unfortunately, when seen in the wider context of the market for mirrorless cameras, we can’t help but feel a bit let down by the M5 in general, and we are already looking forward to seeing what the next iteration of the EOS M will offer.
Pros & Cons
- The new 24-megapixel sensor has a significantly expanded dynamic range.
- Dual Pixel autofocus is quick and precise in its operation.
- Excellent direct controls with a wide variety of configuration possibilities.
- JPEGs often have good “Canon color,” depending on the camera.
- The touchscreen interface is user-friendly and shows a lot of careful thinking in its design.
- The native lens lineup suffers from a severe deficiency.
- No 4K video capture
- 1080p video capture loses detail
- The viewfinder has an extremely long blackout period The low-light image quality is much lower than that of competitors
- The button for the shutter does not respond.