Autofocus

Canon has enhanced the Dual Pixel AF system on the M50 in several ways:

  • More AF points and larger coverage area with select lenses
  • Improved subject tracking compared to other M-series models
  • 7.4 fps bursts with continuous AF
  • Eye AF in single AF mode

AF coverage

If you're using the EF-M 18-150mm F3.5-6.3, 55-200mm F4.5-6.3 or 28mm F3.5 macro lenses you'll get a much larger coverage area and more AF points. With those lenses you get a coverage area of 88 x 100% and 121 total points - a considerable boost from 49 points and 80 x 80% coverage on other M-series models.

If you're not using one of those three lenses you don't get a larger coverage area but you do get 99 selectable points.

Eye detection

The M50 is Canon's first camera to sport Eye AF, though its functionality is quite limited. When in Face Detect + Track mode the camera will focus on the eye closest to the camera. If you want to 'switch eyes' just press the AF point selection button twice.

Unfortunately, there are many modes in which Eye AF cannot be used, including Servo AF and while shooting video. It's nice to see Canon finally embrace this feature, but the company still has a lot of catching up to do. Most mirrorless brands have had some form of Eye AF for over 4 years, and Sony's evolved it to a point where it can reliably track eyes continuously even at high burst rates.

AF performance

Canon claims that the Digic 8 processor improves subject tracking, even when shooting bursts at 7.4 fps. Before we look at that, let's see how the camera did with an approaching subject.

We turned on Servo (continuous) AF with single-point, put it into continuous high mode and kept the shutter release button mashed down as our cyclist approached. We adapted Canon's 70-200 F2.8L IS II lens for both of our AF tests.

A frame from a 46 shot burst taken at 7.4 fps.

The M50 did an excellent job keeping our subject in focus as it approached the camera. In fact, the 'hit rate' was almost perfect.

So how did the EOS M50 perform in our 'weave' bike test? In short, pretty well.

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The M50 was 'on target' roughly 75% of the time in our tests, which isn't class-leading, but still markedly better than the M100. There were a few times when it got distracted by something in the background, but it always returned to its subject.

Low light AF

The M50 excelled at close range face detection and subject tracking thanks to its Dual Pixel AF system. If an object got in the way it didn't let go of its subject, unless that object was another face. In face detection mode you can press the focus point selection button to switch between faces.

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As you can see, the M50 performed admirably. It performs just as well at over 7 fps in burst mode as it does in single-shot mode.