Announced in the run-up to Photokina 2016, the EOS M5 is the new flagship mirrorless camera in Canon’s range, joining the entry-level EOS M10 and the mid-range EOS-M3. Join us as we explore this exciting new product in our first hands-on preview.
The Canon EOS M5 is the manufacturer's first compact system camera with an integrated electronic viewfinder, and overall the most serious-looking M-series camera to date. It's also the most SLR-like in its appearance (even though it obviously lacks a reflex mirror). The front plate is dominated by the prominent viewfinder housing, the EF-M lens mount and the chunkiest handgrip we've seen on an EOS M series camera so far. There is a pair of tiny stereo microphones on either side of the lens mount, an infrared receiver for the otional wireless remote, a porthole for a self-timer/AF assist lamp located top right, a springy lens release button and a DOF preview button. Moving on to the top deck, we find a lockable mode dial, a pop-up flash, two control wheels, the programmable M-Fn button carried over from the EOS M3, an exposure compensation dial and a flash release button. Encircled by the rear control wheel is a new – to the EOS M series, that is – 'DIAL FUNC.' button, which might be familiar from the PowerShot G7 X Mark II (where it's labelled 'RING FUNC'). This button allows users to customise the function of the camera's control wheels. The rear-mounted controls include an On/Off switch, an Info button, a Movie shutter release, Playback and Menu buttons, an AF Frame adjustment button, the familiar * button and a 4-way pad with ISO, Flash mode, Erase, MF and Q Set buttons, encircled by a control dial. The tiltable touchscreen measures 3.2” diagonally and offers a resolution of 1,620K dots. The camera body as a whole is 45% smaller than the EOS 80D dSLR – actually quite comparable in size to the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Micro Four Thirds camera.
The body-integral EVF has a 0.39" OLED panel with a resolution of 2,360K dots and a refresh rate of 120fps. There is an eye proximity sensor, which allows the camera to automatically and seamlessly switch to the EVF when you hold it up to your eye.
Sensor and Autofocus
The Canon EOS M5 has a 24-megapixel CMOS sensor that measures 22.3x14.9mm and features Canon's on-sensor Dual Pixel phase-detect autofocus system, which made its debut in the manufacturer's EOS 70D digital SLR camera. This is big news because Dual Pixel CMOS AF is arguably one of the best implementations of on-chip PDAF technology in the market today. As Canon themselves put it, the "sensor’s pixels have a dual photodiode construction. This sensor design means the sensor can receive an A and B signals from the subject and to detect any phase differences between the two signals, allowing them to attain focus as part of the Dual Pixel AF system." This is exactly the same system as used in the equally new EOS 5D Mark IV digital SLR camera (although in our understanding the EOS M5 will not offer that camera's Dual Pixel RAW shooting mode, which is a different feature based on the same sensor architecture).
Canon has evidently taken a page from Panasonic's book by enabling photographers to use the touchscreen as a touchpad to select, change and move the active focus point while looking through the EVF. This feature will likely be warmly welcomed by stills shooters and videographers alike.
Image Processing and Shooting Speed
The EOS M5 features Canon's Digic 7 image processor, which makes the camera slightly faster than the EOS 80D dSLR. This means, among other things, that the EOS M5 can shoot full-res stills at 9fps (7fps with AF and live view).
In today's market, it takes courage for a manufacturer to offer "only" Full HD movie recording without a 4K option, but if Canon are targeting mainly stills photographers – who tend to shoot video on a casual basis only – with the EOS M5, this may not prove to be such a huge omission after all. The selectable frame rates include 24fps, 30fps and 60fps. The afore-mentioned Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology works in movie mode too, while Touch AF literally puts focus pulling at your fingertips.
The Canon EOS M5 offers WiFi, NFC and Bluetooth LE connectivity, plus a micro-HDMI connector and a USB port (USB 2.0 only). Always-on Bluetooth connectivity enables users to automatically send images taken with the Canon EOS M5 to their smartphones, and to control their cameras remotely from basically any smart device.
The EF-M lens line-up remains limited (for the time being) to a paltry 7 offerings, but the manufacturer's EF and EF-S lenses can also be mounted to the camera via an adapter. In fact, the Canon EF-EOS M Adapter will be included in the box for the first few months of sales. The Canon EOS M5 is also compatible with a range of Canon Speedlites, and supports wireless TTL flash control. You can attach external microphones and a wired remote release to the camera. A dedicated Canon EOS M5 camera case will be available in brown and black colourways.
Battery life is a claimed 50 shots longer than the EOS M3, which works out to 295 shots per charge (or 420 shots in the camera's 'eco' mode). In our understanding, there will be no optional battery grip available for the camera.
Availability and Pricing
The Canon EOS M5 body will be available from end-November 2016 with an RRP of £1,049 / $979. The EOS M5 with the EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens will also be available from end-November 2016 with an RRP of £1,149 / $1099. The EOS M5 with the new EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens will be available from mid-December 2016 with an RRP of £1,399 / $1479.