With the EOS M5 Canon finally has a worthy contender in the mirrorless interchangeable lens camera market.
The EOS M5 is quite a major departure from the other EOS M models that came before it – instead of being modelled after a compact camera with minimal controls, the M5 looks like a tiny Canon EOS DSLR. Also, instead of an optical viewfinder, the M5 houses an electronic viewfinder on top.
Just like most DSLRs, the M5 has a lot more buttons on the body, which is great as you have easy access to a lot of functions that would otherwise be hidden in the menus.
The camera also has a good number of ports, including a 3.5mm microphone jack – great for videographers but it’s a bit of a letdown because it’s missing an audio output port for audio monitoring.
The M5 has two command dials – one around the shutter release in front and the other next to the viewfinder.
The second thumb dial has a rather cool button in the centre which allows you to quickly select common settings like ISO and white balance.
Rounding out the functions is a 3.2in tiltable touchscreen on the back.
The review unit came with the Canon 18-150mm, a good all-round kit lens that takes you from the equivalent of a 28mm wideangle to a really long 240mm telephoto.
Joining WiFi and NFC (near-field communication) that we’ve seen before in other Canon cameras is Bluetooth 4.1, which allows you to make a low-power connection with a smartphone so you can control the camera remotely.
However, the Bluetooth connection only offers basic controls – to get Live View, you still need to make a WiFi connection.
Despite the small size, the EOS M5 is actually a very nice camera to hold, thanks to the contoured grip on the front.
Due to the small size, the palm of your right hand will cover the buttons on the back when you hold the camera, but I’ve never accidentally pressed those buttons when shooting.
Like most modern mirrorless cameras, there’s an eye sensor so that when you bring the camera up to your eye, the back screen turns off and switches to the electronic viewfinder.
I mention this specifically because you can configure the camera so that when you’re looking through the viewfinder, the LCD on the back doubles as a touchpad so you can use your finger to select the focus point.
Talking about autofocus, this has received the biggest improvement in the EOS M series – thanks to Canon’s 24-megapixel dual-pixel image sensor (which is similar to, if not the same as, the one on the EOS 80D DSLR), the camera now has a very fast and accurate phase-detect autofocus instead of the contrast detect system of previous models.
The phase-detect autofocus works very well for most situations and is definitely leaps and bounds above previous EOS M models.
Where the EOS M5’s dual-pixel autofocus shines is for shooting video – just touch the screen and the EOS M5 will smoothly snap into focus at that point without any hunting.
Unfortunately, the EOS M5 doesn’t offer 4K recording which is a bummer but it shoots really well in 1080p at 60fps.
Again, while you can fit an external microphone, you don’t get to monitor the audio.
ISO performance is pretty good and you can easily shoot anywhere from ISO 100 to ISO 3200 with excellent results.
ISO 6400 is still perfectly usable though you do lose some detail as noise reduction kicks in a little stronger.
Anything above ISO 6400 is best avoided unless you have no other choice to get the shot.
Battery life on the EOS M5 is not bad though not particularly good – you can get about half a day of heavy shooting before you need to recharge the camera.
Also, you have to remember to turn off the camera before you stow it in your camera bag or risk a huge power drain.
However, you can mitigate this issue by turning on Eco mode, which will dim the screen after two seconds of inactivity and if you still haven’t touched it, the screen will turn off completely after 10 seconds.
With the EOS M5, Canon has finally got a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera with very few compromises – image quality is very good, autofocus is very fast and positive and the controls are well thought out.
Canon’s EF-M lens range is still not as large as it could be, but if you buy the adaptor that allows you to use Canon’s EOS DSLR lenses, you will have access to Canon’s entire range of DSLR lenses to choose from.
However, the only problem with the EOS M5 is the price – at RM4,699 for body only, the EOS M5 is very close to the price of Canon’s own EOS 80D (RM4,899) which is a little bit better for video since it has a headphone output port.
So whether you’re willing to pay the price of the EOS M5 or not will depend largely on how much you really want a compact DSLR.
Pros: Great autofocus, especially for video; very compact size; lots of functions mapped to various customisable buttons.
Cons: A little pricey; no 4K video recording; no headphone output.
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Mirrorless interchangeable lens camera
Sensor: 24 megapixels
Viewfinder: Electronic viewfinder (2.36-million dot), 3.2in (1.62-million dot) touchscreen
Lens: EF-M 18-150mm IS STM kit lens
Shutter speed: 30sec to 1/4,000sec
ISO range: 100-25,600
Shooting modes: P, Tv, Av, M
Video format: 1080p (up to 60fps)
Battery: 1,040mAh lithium ion
Interface: USB 2.0, micro HDMI, 802.11b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC
Other features: Digic 7 image processor
Dimensions (W x H x D): 116 x 89 x 61mm
Price: RM4,699 (body only); RM6,399 (with kit lens)
Rating: Four stars
Review unit courtesy of Canon Marketing (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, 1800-88-2000