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The EOS M5 Hands On | Canon’s First Real Contender In Mirrorless

By Marlon Richardson on November 8th 2016

With the launch of the EOS M5 and and 5D Mark IV, Canon has signaled that full touchscreen autofocus is an important feature that needs to be taken seriously.

At the 2016 Photoplus Expo, we got our hands on the new Canon EOS M5. The first variants of this model, the EOS M and M2 did not have viewfinder support at all, while the EOS M3 required a rather expensive, and fairly clunky, electronic viewfinder accessory.

The newest Canon EOS M, the M5, has a built-in electronic viewfinder with a respectable 2,360,000 dot resolution, which allows depth of field preview, grid overlays, and it works in tandem with Canon’s debut of touchscreen autofocus.

canon-eos-m5-mirrorless

For us, the most impressive feature from Canon we experienced is their implementation of touchscreen with autofocus. The rear touchscreen of the Canon EOS M5 can be be used as a touchpad to move focus points even when using the electronic viewfinder. Even better, users can prioritize where they are likely to focus to make the feature even more seamless and less mistake-prone. For video, with EF/ES and adapted lenses, touchscreen autofocus feels close to the performance you’d get with an enabled follow focus rig. Focus transition to selected autofocus points is smooth and well controlled even when the light not so great.

The touchscreen along with Dual Pixel AF is also very useful for video. Using the touchscreen, users can re-position the focus point, drag the focus point, or select between viewable faces if recording in face detection mode. As long as you can live without 4K these new touchscreen autofocus features are reason enough to upgrade from any previous version of the EOS M series cameras.

canon-eos-m5-mirrorless-5

Compared with its peers, Sony offers the a6000 and a6300, which both offer 4k, a slightly larger sensor, speedy autofocus and a more efficient battery life, but with a less sophisticated and useful touchscreen to autofocus implementation. Panasonic offers both the GX85 and GX8, with one model offering higher resolution, a better viewfinder, and 4K. Where Canon shines amongst the competition comes down to how easy and intuitive it is to learn and use for various applications including portraits, sports, and filmmaking.

Overall with our limited time with it, I found the Canon M5 to be a major step up from previous Canon mirrorless models. Clearly, Canon’s response to better specifications from competitor models is beating them in ease of use. In that respect, Canon is winning the argument. For both stills and video, Canon has gotten touchscreen autofocus so much more right than anyone else, feeling a full notch above the rest. Welcome to mirrorless Canon! It’s nice to see the world’s largest camera maker finally taking mirrorless seriously. The EOS M5 without a doubt is Canon’s first contender in the mirrorless market.

Marlon is a South Florida-based wedding and portrait photographer, writer, and interactive designer. Involved in photography since the 90’s, his background began with repairing film cameras from a master Vietnam veteran, followed by years of assisting professional photographers then before starting his own business in 2006. Marlon at his heart is a tinkerer that has love for and adept in every medium of photography.

When not working Marlon is all about spending time with his wife, Naomi and two boys, Taze and Brassaï.

http://www.marlonrichardson.com

18 Comments

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  1. Scott Spellman

    The focusing system is cool, but what everyone really wants is 4K and 120fps-Canon fails again. After 12 years with Canon, Sony 6500 here I come.

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    • CJ Andrews

      I believe canon went a different direction with the whole 4k things. once thing most people don’t think about is the sony a6500 cost more than the Canon m5. People like myself who has a lot of canon gear and don’t don’t use there still camera for the video find the m5 just what they need. Sure maybe one day I will turn on video for something but 1080p will be fine. I feel like video on a still camera might be cool for a small project but anything else I think a dedicated video camera is would be a better option. Just my two cents on the topic

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    • David Kalonick

      A fail if you shoot video maybe. As a photographer, I see this as Canon beta testing mirrorless finally with the prospect of full frame version in a couple years. Like CJ Andrews, I also have a ton of Canon gear. I see this a fun little toy with a punch. I’m sure I might even put it to use with some of my getting ready shots and whatnot.

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  2. Lee G

    Being that the screen folds down that might be an issue for people that may need the screen while the camera is on a tripod?

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  3. Lukas Cervenan

    Is this camera comparable to Sony a7ii? Deciding between these two, but didnt have a chance to do a proper research…:/

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    • Jean-Francois Perreault

      Comparable in terms of what?
      You’re trying to compare a FF Sony sensor with an APS-C Canon sensor.
      If you’re asking about IQ, you don’t have any research to do ;)

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    • Marlon Richardson

      It is APS-C format and at the moment has a tiny lens selection. In terms of absolute IQ it’s not going to be in the A7II’s league.

      I do find the AF and AF-C to be better implemented and more useful on the M5.

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  4. CJ Andrews

    Could give me some insight on focus speed with stills and dynamic range

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    • Marlon Richardson

      focus speed was good but not blazing fast. Being to drag to focus in video and use the touchscreen while using the EVF just work so well.

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    • CJ Andrews

      So would you say the focus speed is below sony a6300 or sony a7ii?

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    • Marlon Richardson

      The A6300 AF is blazing fast and I’d rate it higher than the M5. However the touchscreen implementation of the M5 makes the choosing AF points and doing AF-C much easier to master and therefore use more often.

      I’d say in sheer speed of AF the A7II and M5 are probably on par.

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  5. Harold Carlson

    Canon didn’t debut touchscreen AF with the M5, it’s been available since the original M. You talk about how Canon is focusing on ease-of-use rather than specs yet all you talk about from that perspective is the touchscreen. What else makes it easier to use than the competition?

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    • Marlon Richardson

      I focused on the one feature that stood out the most but the very intuitive UI in tandem with the handling of the M5 made it very quick study compared to other serious mirrorless cameras.

      Sorry I couldn’t be more specific. I’ll go into more detail soon.

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  6. Jacques du Toit

    What is it like, like a camera though??? Not as a video recorder. Everyone is always going on and on about video, but I just want to know how does it handle as a camera, you know the thing that it mainly is, before you add the video feature.

    Dynamic range, noise handling all those things, that you can even put in for your video review.

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    • Marlon Richardson

      In absolute terms concerning DR, noise, etc.. it’s not class leading. What this camera has going for it is that it’s easy and inviting to use. The way they do touchscreen is a big part of the experience.

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  7. Yael DeFaye

    you guys never saw the Sony a6500? It has a touch screen too.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      I’ll be getting hands on with that next week so for sure we’ll be seeing how this stacks up. But the Canon was surprisingly functional and compelling to use.

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    • Marlon Richardson

      The A6500 doesn’t allow drag to focus in video or stills. You also can’t use touch AF when using the EVF.

      The A6500 isn’t a slouch in this regard it’s just not as good as what Canon is doing with the M5.

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