A Viewfinder Darkly

Photography tips and tutorials

Canon EOS M5 mirrorless review

December 8 2016

by Philip Northeast

The new Canon EOS M5 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens digital camera for photographers of all levels of experience seeking a compact DSLR like camera.


The addition of an inbuilt viewfinder, even if it is electronic transforms the latest of Canon’s M series  cameras from an overgrown point and shoot to a serious photographic tool. The upgrade is so significant  that Canon went from the M3 to the M5  model number, ignoring the EOS M4 model designation. Perhaps this is to create a distance from the older viewfinder-less models.

front view EOS M5

Canon EOS M5

Viewfinders are essential in a camera.  When photographers use a viewfinder the camera is rested against their forehead, providing more support for less camera shake. Also it is easy to view the scene through the viewfinder in bright light, unlike the monitor screens.

Digital Sensor

The EOS M5 still has 24 Megapixel cropped digital sensor, similar to the sensor in the old M3, and also in some of Canon’s DSLRs. This gives excellent resolution and low digital noise due a digital sensor larger than  the smaller sensors used in camera phones and some mirrorless cameras.   The EOS M5 has all  the essential shooting modes, plus the inevitable scene modes the same as Canon DSLRS, and the new DIGIC 7 image processing engine. Canon fiddled with the ISO settings  and the new normal ISO range is now 100-25600 up from 100 – 12800 on the EOS M3.

The frame rate for taking still photographs in continuous mode is now up to 9 frames per second when saving files in  jpeg format.


Autofocus sensors are included in the main digital sensor offering fast phase detection autofocus, with a movement tracking mode.  There is a choice of  focus areas selected using the touch facility of the rear screen to move the focus point.

side view EOS M5

Canon EOS M5 side view with 15-45mm kit lens


Strange, although the EOS M5 has the in-body 5 axis Image Stabilisation technology, Canon only allow it to be used in Movie mode. For still photography the M5 relies on Image Stabilisation mechanisms in the lens. In Movie mode the two systems can work together. The EOS M5 now is capable of shooting 4K video  and has a faster frame rate in HD video mode then the M3.


This is not a cheap option as the Canon  EOS M5 costs around $US979  for a body only from Adorama, compared to an entry level Canon DSLR  starting from $US 399 (body only).

Although it costs for a smaller camera body, there is nothing small about the performance of the Canon EOS M5


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