It is now almost 17 years for me as a Professional Photographer, the journey started with film cameras and included handling bulky medium format types. The first digital camera purchased by me was a crop sensor 6 megapixels DSLR which saw my transition from film to digital medium, it was in the year 2003. Initially there was a resistance from some clients who were used to 120 film format transparencies, it took some time to convince about the quality of the digital medium. Before shifting to Full Frame Sensor camera, two more crop sensor bodies were added to my gear another 6mp body and a 12mp body.
With these crop sensor bodies, lot of photographers were doing professional work and quality of the photographs was acceptable for most of the assignments. Canon 5D Mark II was a game changer in photography in India, an affordable full frame sensor DSLR with capability of capturing high quality video. There was a major shift towards Canon and most of the professionals started using full frame bodies for professional work, amateurs and hobbyists graduated to cropped sensor bodies after the reduction in the prices of entry level DSLRs.
All cameras take photographs but there is no single camera which can meet the requirements of all genres of photography, various models are available to suit the individual needs. A sports photographer may look for higher frames per second as compared to a photographer involved in still life or table top photography. The end use of photographs also matter where image quality is the key and this is where the quality of cameras come into picture. To print a life size billboard, the quality of photograph has to be really good which has to be captured using a real high end camera, though we have in recent past seen big hoardings with photographs shot on a smartphone. It is important to analyse the end use of photographs before deciding to buy a particular model of the camera.
Over a last few years I have done extensive travelling for photography projects and I was looking for a smaller size camera for this purpose. Small camera, not only for the sake of carrying around lesser weight but also for unobtrusive photography. A bigger camera catches attention , makes the subject aware and conscious , it sometimes become a barrier between the photographer and the subject. The new mirrorless camera from Canon, EOS M5 matches the features I was seeking.
This is not a technical review of the camera, rather it is a user’s experience. Technically no camera is perfect, there are some flaws and distortions in every camera or lens but fortunately the editing softwares take care of major issues in the photographs related to physics involved in the optics like chromatic aberration, barrel or pincushion distortions etc. Dedicated editing software by the camera manufacturers and third party softwares are good enough to make one stop bothering about these minor deterrents.
24MP Dual Pixel APS-C CMOS Sensor
2.36M-dot OLED electronic viewfinder
3.2-type wide TFT (approx 1.62m dots) Touch Panel
7 fps continuous shooting (9 fps with AF/AE fixed)
Wi-Fi with always-connected Bluetooth
Click here for detailed specifications : Canon EOS M5
There are two most important things which any photographer consider in a camera before making a decision to buy: Handling and image quality .
Handling of the camera is about ergonomics and user friendly features, the camera should grip well in the hand, buttons for basic control should be easily accessible. Without reading the camera manual or going into menu option, first time user should be able to perform basic camera operations. It is only for advanced features, the camera manual need to be referred.
EOS M5 scores well as far as basic handling is concerned, since the camera is part of the EOS series, any Canon user will not find it difficult to work with advanced features also without reading the camera manual. EOS also means that the existing DSLR Canon mount lenses can be used with this for which an adapter is available which can be bought separately .
An interesting button is the lens retract button which locks the camera lens at its smallest size which saves space while storing the camera. This button has to be pushed forward and lens need to be rotated to activate the camera for shooting.
The highlight of the camera is the touch screen LCD screen besides the Electronic View Finder (EVF). The LCD screen is not fixed, can be tilted and adjusted depending on the angle and view of the camera. The focus points can be selected using the touch screen and while looking through the EVF, the LCD screen becomes a touch pad kind of device to chose the point of focus which is really an extremely useful feature. The EVF is activated when eye come closer to the viewfinder.
There is an option of clicking also with the touch which can be enabled in the menu. Auto focus is pretty fast and accurate with or without the touch option and worked well in most of the shooting situations even in low light. Besides selection of focus points, all the basic shooting options can be accessed and changed on the touch screen. People shooting video will adore the ‘touch and drag’ option for focussing which is similar to the feature available on Canon 5D Mark IV, latest launch in 5D series.
Since this is the first mirrorless camera I tried, felt the shutter lag while clicking the photographs initially but got used to it later. This shutter lag is there in all the mirrorless cameras, the time of the lag may vary from model to model.
One thing which I did not like is the placement of recording button next to the control dial on back of the body, it got accidentally pressed many times while changing settings through the control dial. Maybe for shooting video the placement button will prove to be more useful.
These are the two initial photographs which I clicked immediately on arrival of the camera at the factory settings, without referring to the manual. The top one is SOOC (Straight Out Of Camera) and the bottom one is cropped with very basic editing.
For any camera, as far as image quality is concerned, besides the overall sharpness in the photograph, performance of the camera in low light conditions is an important parameter for judging. Since I wanted to have small and light weight camera, I chose to use the M series lenses rather than my existing EOS lenses, the kit lens EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM and EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM.
The real test of the lens is quality of photograph is at higher focal length and the performance of 18-150mm lens is extremely good, both when clicked at a short distance and when taken from a long distance.
In low light condition,inside a monument the camera captured the details nicely with noise hardly visible at higher ISOs. At 150mm focal length and ISO 2000, the image quality is quite exceptional.
Even when the light is bright, higher ISO is required to set a faster shutter speed. EOS M5 can go upto 1/4000 speed. In this situation also, at 3200 ISO the noise is not visible but the action has been captured perfectly.
The default colour space in the camera is sRGB but if shot on RAW mode, the colour space can be set to AdobeRGB while editing. The option of setting colour space is missing in the camera. Even at JPEG mode, the colour reproduction is quite accurate at standard picture style setting.
The camera and both the lenses are capable of capturing minute details, sharpness is outstanding. At 1:1 reproduction also there is no loss of details.
As mentioned before,the main reason behind going for a smaller camera is unobtrusive photography. Big camera always catches attention from the subject as well as the people around especially the security guards who will ask for the purpose of clicking photographs even if there are no restrictions on photography. So here I was, travelling with the camera in my own city-Delhi, and no one on the streets took me seriously which is a big plus point. For most of them I was another tourist looking to capture the city and surroundings, the small camera did not give the feeling of me being a professional photographer.
I do a lot of food photography and I always have the temptation of clicking the photograph before eating, somehow I am attracted towards the colours and textures in food. This camera came quite handy during a lunch organised at home, though the guests were amused by my obsession. All these photographs are taken with hand held camera in the available light and with basic editing.
When it comes to image size, a Large image as set in the “Image Quality” option is 20 inches X 13.33 inches at 300 pixels per inch ( 83.33 in X 55.55 in at 72ppi) , so printing photographs in large sizes will not be an issue.
Overall the camera’s performance is extremely good, the results are outstanding even in low light conditions at higher ISOs. The 18-150 lens works perfectly well with the body and there is no quality loss in the images at higher focal lengths. Autofocus is fast and accurate even in the low light situations with the M series lenses. Like any other mirrorless camera of any brand, shutter lag and low battery performance (around 300 photographs with full charge) are two shortcomings when compared to a DSLR camera.
Canon EOS M5 is a versatile camera with advanced features suited for most of the photography needs, small and lightweight in terms of volume but a heavyweight one when it comes to performance.
This review is about still photography capabilities of the camera, the video performance review will be coming soon.
All Rights Reserved Ravi Dhingra