Video

The EOS M50 is Canon's first consumer-level camera to support 4K (UHD) video capture. It does so at 24p/25p with a maximum bitrate of 120Mbps using the H.264 codec with IBP compression. In order to shoot 4K you must set the mode dial to the dedicated video setting.

Unfortunately, there are two major issues with the M50's 4K capabilities. First, its otherwise excellent Dual Pixel AF system is disabled at that resolution. Canon says it's due to "technical reasons," without elaborating; We think it's due to both processing and heat issues. Thus, you're stuck with regular contrast-detect AF, which is not nearly as capable.

Second, the M50 also has a significant crop factor in 4K that only gets worse when you use digital image stabilization. And that's in addition to the 1.6x crop that comes along with an APS-C-size sensor. Below you can see the crop of the 4K and 1080p settings with IS off, standard IS and enhanced IS.

Here's a breakdown of all the various crops:

  • Full area: 1080p, no IS, no crop
  • Red box: 1080p, standard IS, 1.1x crop
  • Orange box: 1080p, enhanced IS, 1.42x crop
  • Pink box: 4K, no IS, 1.7x crop
  • Yellow box: 4K, standard IS, 1.75x crop
  • Black box: 4K, enhanced IS, 2.25x crop

To put things into perspective, let's say you're shooting with the 15-45mm kit lens, which is already equivalent to 24-72mm in 35mm terms. When shooting 1080p video with standard IS that range jumps to 26-79mm equiv., which isn't too bad. However, that focal range jumps to 32-102mm equiv. in enhanced IS mode.

4K is even worse, with equivalent focal lengths of 41-122mm with no IS and 42-126mm with standard IS. If, for some reason, you wanted to use enhanced IS, the focal length jumps to an absurd 54-162mm F13-23 equiv. Even if you want to capture 4K video with standard IS, you'll want the widest lens possible, which is currently the EF-M 11-22mm, which is still equivalent to 31-62mm F11-F16 equiv. at those settings.

The increase in crop factor isn't the only reason to avoid using the digital IS modes: As you'll see further down the page, they also put the hurt on image quality.

Video Quality

We've put the EOS M50 up against Sony's a6300, which has excellent 4K video quality, thanks in part to oversampling in-camera, and no crop factor at 24p and a still-reasonable 1.23x crop at 30p.

You don't need to be a professional camera reviewer to see that the M50's video quality is considerably softer than the Sony's, with poor fine detail capture (and this is with movie IS turned off). If you turn on standard IS on the M50 (there's no equivalent on the Sony) you'll see a significant drop in quality. If you want to see what happens when you use the enhanced IS mode, look no further.

Now let's take a look at 1080p video quality, something that the Sony a6300 struggles with. The M50 definitely captures more detail than the Sony, even with standard IS in use. Not surprisingly, any advantage that the EOS M50 has ends when you turn on enhanced IS.

We speculate that the soft 4K and drop in quality when using digital IS is due to the camera sampling a smaller area of the sensor and then scaling it back up. For example, at 4K with standard IS the M50 might be sampling an area roughly 3430 pixels wide, and then scaling it back up to 3840 pixels. Just like with a still image, you can't make something from nothing, so video quality drops. Even with all IS off, the 1.7x crop factor suggests the M50 is only reading 3530 pixels across for 4K video, which explains the softness of the 4K footage to begin with.

Rolling Shutter

The EOS M50 has a big problem with rolling shutter in 4K, which can be seen when panning or slightly shaking the camera.

If you quickly pan the camera straight edges will 'lean', as shown above.

Rolling shutter like what you can see above can be very distracting when there are a lot of straight lines in the background. Now let's take a look at the 'Jello' effect, which results from slight movements of the camera (probably the wind hitting the tripod in this case) amplify the effect of rolling shutter. This example also shows the camera struggling to focus since it's using contrast detection.

Sadly, both of these issues are par for the course when recording 4K video on the M50. We measured the rolling shutter to be near the bottom of the list amongst currently available cameras, roughly around Sony a6300 4K/30p levels, which is somewhat excused by its oversampling and more reasonable (1.2x) crop.

Video Autofocus

As with still photos, the camera excels at keeping approaching subjects in-focus while also doing a good (but not class-leading) job with random movement. The same is true in video, though this time you don't always have access to the Dual Pixel system that gives the camera its focusing chops. You get Dual Pixel AF at 1080p or below but not at 4K (one of the big selling points of the camera), and that's a big deal.

We shot this sample with an adapted Canon 70-200mm F2.8L IS II lens. The closer the subject is to the camera, the more difficult a time it will have keeping them in focus.

At 1080p, Dual Pixel AF shows off its skills, keeping the subject in focus even when temporarily blocked. The contrast detect system wasn't distracted by a passing object either, though after that you can see lots of hunting as the camera struggles to keep the subject in focus.

Image stabilization

As mentioned above, there are two digital IS modes in addition to standard lens-based shake reduction: standard and enhanced. We used our studio scene to demonstrate the effectiveness - and the crop - of each of them at 1080p.

The video tells the story. Turning on the lens-based IS smooths things out, with standard digital IS looking very stable. While the change in field-of-view between lens and standard IS isn't significant, there's a big jump when you switch to enhanced IS. As you saw up the page, using enhanced IS is a bad idea due to the big drop in quality.

Sample Video

Below is a collection of sample videos taken at 4K using the EF-M 11-22mm's image stabilization. No digital IS was used.

Capture Tools

The capture tools on the M50 deserve a quick mention. You can shoot at resolutions up to 1080/60p in any mode, but if you want 4K you'll need to go to the dedicated video setting on the mode dial. Controls are minimal: You can adjust audio levels for the built-in or external microphone, turn on a wind filter or activate an auto-leveling function.

In manual exposure mode you can use exposure compensation in conjunction with Auto ISO to maintain a constant aperture and shutter speed. Focus peaking is also available.

Our Take

We take no pleasure in having to write so many negative paragraphs about a camera, but Canon has really dropped the ball on its first non-pro camera with 4K. There could be several reasons why the quality is low and the crop factors high, perhaps due to processing power and heat dispersion, but the bottom line is that virtually every other camera in this class does 4K better.