Canon EOS M5 Mirrorless Camera Review

Canon EOS M5 Mirrorless Camera Review:

We all know Canon as a producer of some of the most popular DSLRs currently out.  But personally, I’ve felt they’ve had some catching up to do when it comes to mirrorless.  Companies like Fuji, Sony, and Olympus, just to name a few, have dominated the mirrorless market with some superb entries.  I currently own a Fuji X-T2, and I’ve also been an X Series user since the original X100.  I can tell you that they have definitely come a long way since that first X100.  Quite frankly, the EOS M series never really appealed to me much but now, Canon has released the new EOS M5.  From the specs alone, this definitely seems to be a viable competitor to what’s currently out on the market, so I got my hands on one to see how it actually performs in practice.  Here’s what I think of it.

Canon EOS M5 Mirrorless Camera Build Quality:

One of the first things that I noticed about the Canon EOS M5, and that scored big points with me was the overall size of the body.  This camera is surprisingly compact.  It has the whole mini DSLR look going for it, and that we all love but it definitely does not have the size usually associated with DSLRs.  With a lens like the EF-M 22mm f2 STM lens, the combo could essentially fit in one’s coat pocket, and I think that is pretty awesome.  Here you are with a 24 MP APS-C mirrorless camera, and a 35mm equivalent f2 lens that’s just a little bit bigger than some point and shoot cameras.  It’s downright impressive if you ask me.

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↑ Canon EOS M5 with the EF-M 15-45mm f3.5-6.3 IS STM kit lens.

Of course, to make it even more appealing, the EOS M5 is also very light.  It weighs 428 g, and most of this is due to the fact that the body is actually plastic.  Now, I personally would like to see more metal on this body because there are times when the EOS M5 does give off a plastic feel.  For instance, the power switch feels a little cheap.  But with all that said, the EOS M5 still feels very solid.  Everything is well put together, and there are no creaks or flexing of any kind.  While reviewing this camera, I also had the Canon EF-M Lens Adapter Kit on loan with the gigantic 50mm f1.2L.  If anything, a lens like that would definitely add some stress to the mount of the tiny EOS M5 but the camera showed absolutely no signs of any problems with such a large and heavy lens mounted to it.

Canon-EOS-M5-Controls-Dials

↑ Buttons and controls.

Because of the overall size, and weight, the Canon EOS M5 is a comfortable camera to hold.  The grip fits well in my hands, and this is even with gloves on (thin, leather type gloves) since at the time I was reviewing the camera it was pretty cold in New York City.  There’s often not much real estate on something this small, and therefore, it can be difficult for a manufacturer to make a camera like this where the controls don’t feel a bit cramped or cluttered but I think Canon did a excellent job with the buttons and dials placement.  I think if you have very large hands, the camera can feel a little too small but for the most part, Canon’s overall design layout is decent.  The only issue that I had was very minor: I would accidentally press the movie record button once in a while.

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↑ The Canon EOS M5 comes with a pop up flash.

One of the ways that Canon have streamlined the controls of the EOS M5 is with the Dial Function Button.  This button is located on the top plate, and it allows you to toggle through main settings like ISO, white balance, etc.  Then you can easily adjust whatever you would like.  I found it is really better than either going through the main menu or having additional buttons placed on the camera.  It’s very convenient.

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↑ Top plate controls and dials of the EOS M5.

Canon EOS M5 Mirrorless Camera LCD Display And EVF:

Another great feature that helps quite a bit with this camera is the touch capable 3.2 inch LCD monitor.  I found the menu a little tedious to go through when manipulating the analog controls but with the touch screen, it was such a breeze.  You can also scroll through images, pinch and zoom, pick AF points, and shoot.  What’s really neat is the Touch And Drag AF feature.  While looking through the viewfinder, you can move the AF point by touching or dragging it around the LCD screen.  You can even restrict the area of the screen available for Touch and Drag operations by simply customizing it in the menu.

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↑ The touch screen display has a tilting function.

As for the screen itself, it has approximately 1,620,000 dots, and a tilt function allowing 85° up, and 180°.  So, when you flip the LCD screen all the way down, the image will rotate properly, so you can see yourself while doing selfies.  Overall, there are no complaints with the screen.  In fact, I found the tilting function to be quite smooth as well.

As for the viewfinder, the EOS M5 is the first Canon mirrorless to employ a a built-in EVF.  It’s magnification ratio isn’t as high as say the Fuji X-T2 but nevertheless, I still enjoyed using the 2.36M dot electronic viewfinder quite a lot.  It’s nice and contrasty, sharp, and the colors are vibrant.  I used it a lot to review my images.  In fact, I actually liked the colors from it a little bit better than my X-T2’s EVF.  At 120 fps, the refresh rate is high as well.  What’s also a nice feature is that like the X-T2, when you rotate the Canon EOS M5 in portrait orientation, the information rotates in that orientation as well.

Canon EOS M5 Mirrorless Camera Features:

In addition to the excellent EVF, there are a lot of other great features.  For one, the Canon EOS M5  can take up to 7 fps (9 fps with AF lock), which is good enough for me.  The only minor complaint that I did have was I felt like the blackout time was a little too long when compared to some of its competitors.  Besides that though, the EOS M5 has numerous ways to connect wirelessly, such as, built-in Wi-Fi capability, NFC (Near Field Communication), and Bluetooth.  However, the EOS M5 does not record 4K video.  This doesn’t bother me too much because I don’t usually use the video function in my cameras but I know some of you do.  But it does have the capability to record 1080p Full HD video at 60 fps.  There’s also 5-axis Digital Image Stabilization when recording video.  If an IS-compatible lens is attached, the EOS M5 can also use the lens’ IS in conjunction with the camera’s for even less blur due to camera shake.

It’s also worth mentioning that the EOS M5 is a great way for someone who already has an existing Canon DSLR setup to enter the mirrorless world because with the Canon EF-M Lens Adapter Kit, you can use  EF, and EF-S lenses on the EOS M5 with autofocus and metering functions.  The only EF lens I had on loan was the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens but even with just that, it worked seamlessly with the EOS M5.

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↑ The Canon EF-M Lens Adapter Kit.

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↑ You can remove the tripod plate to slim down the adapter.

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↑ The Canon EF 50mm f1.2L USM lens mounted on the EOS M5.

Canon EOS M5 Mirrorless Camera Autofocus:

As for the autofocus system, the Canon EOS M5 employs a Dual Pixel CMOS AF, and in practice, it is quite fast and accurate.  In fact, I was very happy with the autofocus system even in dim lighting.  There’s no drama here, and what makes it even better is that you can use the Touch And Drag AF feature I mentioned previously.  In addition to 1-Point AF, there’s also Face Detection and Tracking AF.  All of it works great.  There are 49 AF points that cover 80% of the image area as well.  It’s worth mentioning that focusing was also blazingly quick, and accurate with the 50mm f1.2L.

Canon EOS M5 Mirrorless Camera Image Quality:

At the heart of the Canon EOS M5 is a 24.2 Megapixel CMOS APS-C sensor, which is definitely in line with the competition.  While it does retain the low pass filters many of its competitors omit, the EOS M5 still produces excellent images with plenty of detail.  I had several lenses on loan with this camera, and they all produced very sharp images with nice, rich colors as well as with decent contrast.  I am definitely a fan of what this camera can produce.  The out of camera jpegs were especially pleasing, and some of the best I’ve seen from a camera in this class.  The colors come out great from them.  I definitely have no complaints here.

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↑ This was taken with the EF 50mm f1.2L lens.  100 ISO f1.2.

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↑ Here’s one with the 50mm f1.2L of someone doing tai chi in the morning.  200 ISO f8.

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↑ This was taken with the 11-22mm at f5.6 100 ISO.  I used the 11mm focal length.

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↑ Here’s another with the wide angle zoom set at 14mm.  400 ISO f8.

As for the ISO, it ranges from 100 to 25,600, which is plenty for the EOS M5.   A little noise does start creeping in at 800 ISO but it’s nothing serious, and only something you can really see with pixel peeping.  By 3200 ISO, noise is definitely more pronounced but images are still perfectly usable.  In fact, even photos taken at 6400 ISO are still very usable.  By 12,800 ISO, noise levels go up and so does desaturation.  At 25,600 ISO, there is considerable noise, which is to be expected.  You can still use the files but it really depends on how the images were metered although personally, I would save 25,600 ISO for emergencies.  Overall, if you were to compare the EOS M5 to its Fuji counterparts, I’d say the Fuji gear would produce better high ISO results.  With that said, you’re still getting results here that are in line with what is expected from a camera in this class.

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↑ This was taken with the wide angle zoom at 2,000 ISO.  f8.

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↑ Here’s a 100% crop (1590×1060) of the photo above.

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↑ This was taken with the 11-22mm at 3,200 ISO f5.6.

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↑ Here’s a 100% crop (1590×1060) of the photo above.

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↑ Here’s a photo taken with the 22mm f2 lens at 6,400 ISO f4.

Canon-EOS-M5-EF-M-22mm-f2-STM-lens-High-ISO-1-Crop

↑ Here’s a 100% crop (1590×1060) of the photo above.

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↑ Here’s a photo taken with the 22mm at 12,800 ISO f4.

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↑ Here’s a 100% crop (1590×1060) of the photo above.

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↑ Here’s a photo taken with the 22mm lens at 25,600 ISO f4.

Canon-EOS-M5-EF-M-22mm-f2-STM-lens-High-ISO-3-Crop

↑ Here’s a 100% crop (1590×1060) of the photo above.

Overall, Canon definitely have something good here but in my opinion, they need to expand their lens selection in this system.  It’s great that you can use the EF, and EF-S lenses on the camera so seamlessly.  All the electronics work, etc.  But personally, I think any good system has to have their own native lenses.  For instance, they need lenses that match the body size, and weight of this camera.  Canon does have a few lenses for the EOS M5 but they are mostly slower zooms with primes that aren’t any faster than f2.
Canon-EOS-M5-EF-M-22mm-f2-STM-lens-Street-Candid-Brooklyn-Bridge-1
↑ This was taken with the 22mm at 100 ISO f5.6.
Canon-EOS-M5-EF-50mm-f1.2L-USM-WTC
↑ Here’s one taken with the 50mm f1.2L at 100 ISO f8.
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↑ Here’s another taken with the 50mm f1.2L.  100 ISO f1.2.
Canon-EOS-M5-EF-50mm-f1.2L-USM-Battery-Park-City-Building
↑ This was also taken with the 50mm f1.2L at f11 400 ISO.

Canon EOS M5 Mirrorless Camera Pros and Cons:

Canon EOS M5 Mirrorless Camera Pros:

  • Ultra compact.
  • Well build and solid.
  • Great touch screen.
  • Excellent EVF.
  • Excellent autofocus system.
  • Camera produces great images.
  • Great as a street camera.
  • Overall, a camera with plenty of capability in a tiny package.

Canon EOS M5 Mirrorless Camera Cons:

  • Wish there were more metal than plastic.
  • It’s compact nature may be too small for some.
  • Viewfinder blackout longer than expected.
  • Lack of native lenses for this system.

Canon EOS M5 Mirrorless Camera Verdict:

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Canon EOS M5.  The camera works smoothly, there’s nothing really wrong with it, and it’s perfectly competent.  In my opinion, I think this is a huge effort by Canon, and they should be congratulated for it.  The EOS M5 has definitely helped them take a huge leap forward from where they were in the mirrorless world, and I feel like with this camera, they are finally taking mirrorless more seriously.  With that said, the mirrorless world is very competitive nowadays, and there are definitely areas where I feel they need to improve on.

For one, while EOS M5 is very solid, I still feel like there is a little too much plastic being used to make it.  It also doesn’t feel quite as refined as competitors in this price range.  But then again, a lot of its competitors have gained a lot of experience from being in the mirrorless world for so long.  It’s just operations like the viewfinder black out taking longer than expected are some of the things that its competitors have worked hard to iron out.  Also, while I don’t shoot video, I’m sure there are users who would appreciate the ability to shoot 4K video.

I can still forgive its setbacks because as a whole, the EOS M5 is quite capable, and therefore, it’s a solid camera but in order for me to do that, Canon needs to expand their lens selection.  I’m sure many of you already heard this before from either comments or other reviews but it’s true.  Right now, they finally have a decent body to work with, and since it’s new, it’ll probably be on the market for a couple of years.  So, if I were head of this company, I would be concentrating on pumping out some decent glass as fast as possible.  There’s a lot of competition out there.  For about $1,000, there are plenty of other cameras that people can invest in with huge lens selections.  I don’t expect or need Canon to develop countless options but I would like some basics like maybe a fast short tele or even a fast standard lens.  If anything, maybe more primes to choose from in general.  I think it was a great idea to make the Canon EF-M Lens Adapter Kit for this camera because it does make it even more appealing.  For instance, I had a lot of fun with the EF 50mm f1.2L.  Also, it’s a great way for Canon to buy some time to make those native lenses, and it will make it easier for existing Canon DSLR users to experiment with mirrorless.  Still, I would like more lenses specifically designed for this system.

With all that said, there’s also a lot that the EOS M5 does bring to the table.  For one, it is actually a very easy camera to use.  For instance, the touch screen capabilities are quite good not just for easy navigation through the menu system but also to aid in focusing.  I love the Touch And Drag AF feature for instance.  Speaking of the autofocus, it’s extremely competent.  It’s fast and accurate.  Image quality is also excellent.  While there are a lot of cameras in this price range with equally impressive features, I think one of the biggest selling points of the Canon EOS M5 is that it’s also one of the most compact cameras in its class.  As I said earlier, this camera along with the 22mm f2 would make an excellent street setup.  Overall, there is definitely a solid foundation to build a great system here but there is also some work that still needs to be done.   I look forward to what Canon plans to do next with this system.

Thanks for taking the time to read my review!  If you’re considering purchasing the EOS M5, and my review helped you decide, please help support this site by purchasing from any of the links in this review.  It will not cost you anything extra.  Thank you for your support!

Canon EOS M5 body at B&H Photo

Canon EOS M5 with 15-45mm Kit at B&H Photo

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