Let’s get this out of the way right off the top. The Canon EOS M5 is a sweet little camera.
It does everything it’s more sizeable siblings do, and even a few things they can’t. The controls are in all the familiar places – familiar to Canon shooters, anyway. The EVF is nice and snappy, the big back screen gives you an IMAX view of whatever you’re shooting, and the focusing is speedy and accurate.
It took me a bit to get used to the size of the camera, though, not so much because of how it felt in my hands, but because my muscle memory is ingrained after 38 years of wrangling full-sized cameras. The first few times I used the M5, it was like picking up a carton of milk that you thought was full, but turned out to be empty.
That didn’t last long, and I’ve shot with it almost exclusively since I bought it from The Camera Store in November. Once I started using it, it was hard to go back to my regular gear.
I bought the original EOS M when it first came out. It was, ummm, a bit frustrating to use. It was better after the first firmware update, but it was still kind of a pain to do anything with. The pictures were fine, as was the video, but shooting with it was a chore. With the M5, it’s a chore no more.
The electronic viewfinder is not easy to see with like an optical viewfinder is, but it is bright and detailed. I especially like it for shooting video. Having the camera up to your eye gives you another point of contact to keep the camera steady. It’s nice to have shooting information displayed in there as well, it leaves no excuse to miss a shot.
The autofocus is spectacular, and the touch screen needs to be standard on every camera. The ability to drag the focus point to anywhere on the screen is amazing, and the speed and accuracy of the focus needs to be seen to believe.
I’ve shot a lot with the 15-45mm kit lens that came with the camera, and it’s nice and sharp, but I’ve also used the included adapter to shoot with my entire collection of Canon-mount lenses, especially with my favourite lens, the Sigma 150-600mm. The little M5 never misses a beat with any of the adapted lenses, and the auto-focus easily keeps up with birds in flight, even with the big Sigma zoomed out all the way to 600mm. And with peaking turned on, manually focus is a breeze.
But lest you think that this is turning into a love-in, there are a few things about the M5 that are annoying.
For one, never set the camera down on anything that might accidentally press any of the buttons without turning the camera off first. Half a dozen times, I’ve set the camera on a wadded-up jacket on the passenger seat in my truck only to pick it up, and find that the screen had been activated by some random button touch, and the battery was dead.
The good news about that, though, is that the camera fires up in three seconds, so turning it off and on is not a big deal. Even in the bitter cold, the batteries hold up well.
The other thing, though, is more frustrating, at least for me. Because there’s no headphone jack on the camera, the only way to monitor audio when shooting video is to watch the levels to make sure you’re getting sound. For some reason, the audio levels are not shown on the screen when you are shooting video. You have to go to another screen to see and set your levels, then you have to close that screen, and open the next one to see your video feed. So very dumb, Canon! Please fix this.
But for some reason, the audio levels are not shown on the screen when you are shooting video. You have to go to another screen to see and set them, close that screen and open the next one to see your video feed. So very dumb, Canon! Please fix this.
That’s about it, though. It’s a sweet little camera to shoot with, the files are lovely, and now that I’ve gotten used to the size, I pretty much never leave home without it.
I like my little M.
Click here to watch the TCSTV Hands-On Field Test.
Click below for more of Mike’s photographs captured with the Canon EOS M5.