The Canon EOS M50 Mark II ($599.99, body only) is an appealing entry-level mirrorless camera for family photographers and snapshooters looking to move beyond a smartphone, or upgrade an aging Rebel SLR. Its mirrorless design, and complementary compact lens system, are appealing for travel, and the front-facing touch screen is useful for selfies and vlogs. It’s a good starter camera, but we recommend stepping up to our Editors’ Choice winner, the Fujifilm X-T30, if you’re a more serious photography hobbyist.
A Modest Update
The EOS M50 Mark II doesn’t make a lot of changes from the first edition, released in 2018. Aside from the name badge, there are no differences on the exterior, and inside the camera uses the same 24MP image sensor and Digic 8 image processor. The Mark II has a more capable autofocus system, but that’s it for upgrades. You can still buy the original EOS M50 for a little less, $579.99 without a lens.
Photographers getting started will want a lens. Canon sells the M50 Mark II in a kit with the EF-M 15-45mm zoom for $699.99. That’s $50 more than the original M50 and 15-45mm cost together, and we think the Mark II’s updated autofocus is worth the slight premium. If you already have an M50, there’s no reason to chomp at the bit to upgrade.
As with its predecessor, you can get the M50 Mark II in your choice of black or white. We received the black edition for review. If you go for the white camera, you’ll receive a silver finish 15-45mm in kits. Canon sells many of its EF-M lenses in both black and silver editions.
Controls and Handling
The camera itself is pretty small. Its APS-C sensor is the same size used in SLRs like the EOS Rebel SL3, but drops the optical viewfinder in favor of a digital EVF. It measures 3.5 by 4.6 by 2.3 inches (HWD) and weighs 13.7 ounces without a lens. The 15-45mm extends a couple of inches from the body and adds 4.6 ounces.
The handgrip is pretty modest, but comfortable enough thanks to a soft leatherette wrap and finger-rest indentation. Canon’s EF-M lenses are small as a rule, so you don’t have to worry about balancing a big lens unless you want to try adapting Canon SLR lenses. But if you stick to EF-M, even telephoto options like the EF-M 55-250mm are sized to match the M50.
Canon puts all of the physical controls on the right. The shutter release is at a very slight angle atop the handgrip, surrounded by the camera’s lone control dial. The dial itself feels good—it turns with confident clicks and has a rough knurled texture so you can find it by feel.
The On/Off switch and Mode dial are also on top. The M50 can be used in full automatic mode, or you can swap to a manual, aperture priority, shutter priority, or scene mode if you prefer. If you want to get creative, you can use some in-camera filters or switch to Hybrid Auto, a Canon-specific mode that mixes stills and videos in-camera. There’s also a manual video setting on the dial, a Record button to start and stop clips, and the M-Fn function button on top. It’s a small camera, so everything feels a little cramped, but controls are still usable.
Canon squeezes exposure lock (*) and autofocus area select buttons at the top rear corner, on the exterior of the thumb rest. The standard Delete, Menu, and Play buttons are placed below the thumb rest, along with a four-way control pad to change some other settings, and the Q/Set button at its center.
Photographers looking to take manual control may be let down by the single-dial design, but it’s not too bad in practice. A quick press of the up direction switches between aperture, shutter, and EV compensation control when working in manual or semi-automatic modes.
If you’re working in auto, you don’t have to worry about the dials—instead you’ll spend more time tapping the M50’s touch screen to access creative filters, color modes, or set the lens to get shots with blurred backgrounds.
For program, aperture, shutter, or manual modes, the Q/Set button brings up a more advanced menu from which you can set the focus mode, set the self-timer or continuous drive, and adjust other settings.
The 3-inch LCD articulates, swinging out to the side to face in any direction. It’s useful for selfies, or getting views from other off-kilter angles. It’s bright by default, and you can pump up the backlight even higher to cut through glare on sunny days.
The camera also has an eye-level viewfinder, a must-have for many shutterbugs. It’s bigger to the eye than the 0.51x optical finder Canon includes in its Rebel SLRs—the M50’s 2.4-million-dot viewfinder is slightly larger, 0.62x, and in line with others in the class. The Fujifilm X-T30 has the same size EVF, while the Sony a6100 uses a lower-resolution (1.4 million dot) that’s appears a little larger to your eye (0.70x).
The benefits of swapping from an entry-level SLR’s optical viewfinder to an EVF are clear: You’ll see a truer preview of your finished photo, especially helpful if you’re working in black-and-white or using another creative look. For photographers who prefer to stick with an optical view, the Canon EOS 90D and its glass pentaprism viewfinder are worth the splurge.
The M50 includes an in-body flash, a feature that’s disappeared from many enthusiast cameras. Its simple hinge raises and lowers manually, and there are small tabs on each side so you’ve got something to grasp. There’s also a hot shoe, so you can add an external flash if you’d like.
Power and Connectivity
The M50 Mark II is powered by the LP-E12 rechargeable battery. It’s strong enough to power through about 305 shots per charge using the rear LCD, or 235 using the EVF. It’s on the low side for an ILC—the Sony a6100 goes longer, 420 shots with the LCD and 380 with the EVF, a more typical result.
You’ll want to pick up an extra battery for all-day photography. Canon’s official battery costs about $60, but you can get third-party alternatives for around $20. In-camera charging isn’t supported, so you’ll need to rely on the included wall charger to re-up the battery.
Other connections include a micro HDMI port to connect to a TV, a UHS-I SDXC memory card slot, and a 3.5mm input for an external microphone. There’s no headphone jack, though, so you’ll need to rely on the audio meters to ensure you’re getting good levels when using an add-on mic.
Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are included, too. The M50 Mark II works with the Canon CameraConnect app, a free download for Android and iOS handsets. The app lets you send photos to your smartphone or tablet for quick social shares. It also supports remote control, and shows a live view feed to your phone’s screen.
You can use the camera for live streaming, either via the smartphone app or a virtual camera function with a broadcast panel like OBS and the Canon EOS Webcam Utility.
Improved Dual Pixel Focus
The M50 Mark II isn’t a huge update from the still-on-sale EOS M50, but it does offer better autofocus. Canon has incorporated the updates it introduced in the EOS M6 Mark II. Like the first-gen M50, the Mark II is powered by Canon’s Dual Pixel AF system, a type of phase detection that splits each pixel into two parts.
It works quite well—autofocus is quick and quiet, and the EOS M lenses show smooth transitions in focus due to their STM motors. Focus is spread wide across the frame, almost to the edges. It’s a bigger field of coverage than you get with an SLR, so you have more freedom in framing shots.
If you like to rely on automatic settings, you’ll appreciate the better face and eye detection included with the Mark II. The first M50 included the feature, but here you can use it reliably with moving subjects, and it picks up faces and eyes that aren’t as big in the frame.
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You can set focus manually, too. The touch screen comes in handy here—you can tap on the screen to move the focus point when using it to frame shots, and it can be set to work as a touch panel to move the focus point when using the EVF. I like using the function, Canon calls it TouchPad AF, but you do need to dip into the menu to turn it on—it’s disabled by default.
Initial focus acquisition is quick, a benefit of the Dual Pixel system. It’s good for short bursts of action at its maximum 10fps drive speed—you’ll get about 24 JPGs or 15 C-Raw images before the small buffer fills up and the camera slows down. The buffer clears pretty quickly, in about five seconds. Dedicated action photographers are wise to invest in a midrange model with a deeper buffer and more upscale telephoto lenses, like the Sony a6400 or Fujifilm X-T3.
The M50 Mark II delivers the exact same image quality as the M50. The two models share the same 24MP APS-C sensor and Digic 8 image processor, so it’s to be expected. Canon has only offered its newer, better 32.5MP APS-C chip in two cameras to date, the EOS M6 Mark II mirrorless and EOS 90D SLR.
The image sensor covers a wide ISO range, starting at 100 (for use in bright light) and going all the way to ISO 25600 in its native range. ISO 51200 is available as an extended setting, but you’ll need to make some effort to turn it on—it’s disabled by default, and never an option for Auto ISO photography.
The automatic range covers ISO 100-6400 by default, and you can set the upper limit as high as ISO 25600 if you’d like. You’ll enjoy images with strong detail and very little visible color noise through the default range. Details do get a little blurry at ISO 12800 and above. Some APS-C cameras with newer sensor designs, like the 26MP BSI chip that Fujifilm uses in its current generation, net better results at moderate and high ISO settings.
Enthusiasts can get more out of the M50 Mark II by opting for Raw capture. You’re still about an f-stop behind competitors when looking at high-ISO imagery, but the images hold up fine in other aspects. You can use full-size or lossless compressed C-Raw formats to record photos that capture more information than JPGs. This lets you adjust color, exposure, and creatively edit your images to taste.
The M50 Mark II’s sensor isn’t the latest, but for still imaging it’s still quite competitive, even with newer chips. It’s not quite the same for video, though. The sensor’s readout speed isn’t as quick, and that limits video options somewhat.
I don’t recommend the M50 for vloggers who want to record in 4K, for one. The angle of view is cropped, so you’ll need to reach for the wide EF-M 11-22mm lens if you want to get decent selfie video. Dual Pixel AF is also turned off for 4K recording, so you’re stuck with contrast detection for focus, a system that nets choppy results for video.
If you’re happy rolling at 1080p, things are much better. The full width of the sensor is used, so you don’t lose wide angle coverage on your lenses, and autofocus is fast and reliable. Digital stabilization is available too, and I recommend using it for handheld work. It does tighten the view of your lens, but not to the same level as 4K. You can push 1080p footage as high as 60fps, while you’re limited to only 24fps at 4K.
External mics are supported, a plus if you’re looking to start a vlog or simply get better audio from your home movies. The M50 Mark II is a little better suited for the latter. We like the Sony ZV-E10 a bit more for starting vloggers thanks to a high-quality internal mic.
A Good Camera for Family Photographers
Canon doesn’t do much to move the needle with its EOS M50 Mark II. The second-generation take matches the first M50 in imaging and video features. The 24MP sensor is a solid foundation for photography, if a bit behind the times when it come to video. Family photographers will appreciate the ease of use, lightweight body, and built-in flash. It’s less camera to carry than a Rebel T8i SLR, with better autofocus.
Enthusiast photographers are going to be let down a bit. The M50 Mark II doesn’t have as many prime lenses to choose from as Fujifilm or Sony mirrorless cameras, and it lacks the retro design that’s made the Nikon Z fc an unexpected bestseller.
Instead, the M50 Mark II remains a strong option for photographers who would’ve bought an entry-level SLR in the past. It has the automatic features you want, is backed by a small family of compact, generally affordable lenses, and has the semi-automated and manual control options you want if you’re interested in pursuing photography as a hobby.
If you want more out of a camera, there are some good alternatives. The Sony a6100 and vlog-first Sony ZV-E10 cost a bit more, but get you better 4K and access to a bigger library of made-for-mirrorless lenses. The Fujifilm X-T30, our Editors’ Choice winner, is another to consider—it’s more capable all around, in a similarly compact package, available with a lens for under $1,000.