Canon EOS R50 review
Written by Gordon Laing
The Canon EOS R50 is a tiny mirrorless model aimed at those looking to raise their game from a phone or basic camera, or anyone simply wanting one of the cutest little cameras around with interchangeable lenses.
Announced in February 2023, the R50 becomes the entry-level model in the EOS R series, positioned below the R10, and sharing the same 24 Megapixel APSC sensor. As you’ll discover, it can also be seen as the spiritual successor to the EOS M50, and I’ll mention their differences throughout.
I spent some time with a production-ready R50 and in the video below will show you everything I’ve learned so far. Oh and I also have a separate video about the new RF-S 55-210mm telephoto zoom launched alongside it. If you prefer to read the written highlights, keep scrolling!
The EOS R50 measures 116x86x69mm and weighs 375g for the body and battery. So in terms of size and weight, the R50 may be roughly similar to the M50 before it, but that doesn’t diminish its impact in person. Both are impressively compact cameras, albeit with surprisingly comfortable grips that can just about accommodate a full set of fingers – so long as your hands aren’t too big.
Just for reference, here’s the R50 on the left with the pricier R10 on the right, sporting more controls and a slightly more advanced feature set, albeit with both sharing the same sensor and no IBIS. Which do you prefer the look of?
I personally feel a drive in some markets for increasingly-large cameras has resulted in a lost art of miniaturisation, so I welcome the R50 as an alternative for those who want the flexibility of a camera with swappable lenses, but one that can also slip into larger pockets or small bags.
Again like the M50, the R50 is available in black or white, the latter also sold in a kit with a silver zoom – be sure to go for the kit if you’re ordering the white camera, as the matching silver lens is not sold separately.
You can see both versions here, with almost their entire front surfaces sporting a matted, grippy texture, giving them a more serious look than the shinier, more toylike appearance of the earlier M50.
From the top, the R50 shares a similar layout to the M50 before it, leaving the left side free, and concentrating the controls to the right. Both cameras have popup flashes, although the R50 switches the basic hotshoe for one of Canon’s newer Multi Function accessory shoes.
Like the M50, the power collar is around a small mode dial, although the R50 now sports a dedicated ISO button and a more traditional finger dial, both welcome decisions.
Round there back, there’s a similar tiny joypad with very clicky feedback, making it easy to navigate menus despite its size, and each direction also provides direct access to settings like the drive, AF and exposure.
Like the M50, there’s no dedicated AF-ON button or a joystick, but you can use the screen as a touchpad to adjust the AF area, and you’re also able to customise just about any button on the body, including changing the AE lock to Metering and AF Start.
Most of the rear surface is occupied by the 3in screen with the same 1.62 million dot panel as the R8, and like that model, along with the M50 before it, is side-hinged and fully-articulated, allowing you to flip it to face forward, twist it up and down and fold it back on itself for protection.
Above the screen is the electronic viewfinder, employing a 2.36 million dot OLED panel, matching the M50 and other entry-level models in size and resolution. It’s not huge nor especially detailed, but pretty standard at this price.
Behind a flap on the right side you’ll find Micro HDMI and USB C, the latter used here not just for data but also charging or actual powered operation; I used my MacBook Pro charger on the R50 without problems.
You may recall the old M50 not only had an ageing Micro USB port, but didn’t support charging in-camera.
Meanwhile on the left side behind its own flap is a 3.5mm microphone input – so like the M50, there’s no headphone jack here. For that you’ll need to skip the R10 and go for the R7.
In terms of power and storage, both the battery and card slot are found in a compartment beneath the body. The R50 is powered by the same LP-E17 pack as the R8, which allowed me to record an hour and 13 minutes of 4k 25p video on a single charge, albeit across two files as the camera has a 60 minute limit per clip.
Like all EOS R cameras, the R50 sports an RF lens mount which can take any of Canon’s RF or RF-S lenses, and thanks to the APSC sensor behind them, the field of view is reduced by 1.6x.
Right now, there’s no third party native lenses in the RF mount, but you can adapt older EF DSLR lenses from any brand. Finger’s crossed for Sigma and Tamron RF lenses sooner rather than later.
The R50 kit includes the RF-S 18-45mm f4.5-6.3 IS STM zoom, which delivers a range equivalent to 29-72mm. It’s ok for starters and provides a compact walkaround option which retracts when not in use to become even shorter.
But I would have preferred Canon to use the same spec as the EOS M kit zoom which started a little wider at 15mm and had a faster initial aperture of f3.5-6.3. Sadly the EF-M lenses are not compatible and as you’ll see later, you will want something wider for the R50 if you’re using it for handheld vlogging.
I’m assuming a new RF-S zoom around the 10-20mm range with optical stabilisation will come in the future, but right now, your options on the R50 are limited for handheld vlogging. The RF 16 prime is a possibility being a tad wider than the kit zoom, but lacks optical stabilisation, so relies on digital compensation alone.
As for imaging, the R50 shares the same 24 Megapixel sensor as the R10 and neither camera has built-in stabilisation, or IBIS for short. For IBIS in Canon’s range, you’ll need to spend a lot more on the R7 or the R6 upwards.
This means to iron out any wobbles on photos, you’ll want a lens with optical image stabilisation or IS for short, like the kit zoom, although if you’re filming video, you can apply digital stabilisation albeit at the cost of a crop.
Let’s see that coverage and stabilisation in action on a couple of vlogging clips using the RF-S kit zoom set to 18mm f4.5. This first clip was filmed without any stabilisation, so is obviously wobbly, so let’s move onto a version using the lens optical IS only where the view is steadier but still not smooth enough. I think most of us would also agree 18mm on APSC, being 27mm equivalent, is not wide enough for handheld vlogging.
Next here’s a version with the optional digital movie stabilisation set to standard. This can certainly reduce wobbles, but like all digital stabilisation comes at the cost of a crop, which has made the view far too tight when handheld.
I’ll now mercifully only show a few seconds with the movie stabilisation set to enhanced which again steadies the view further, but with an even tighter crop.
I’d say this renders the 18-45 kit zoom less than ideal for handheld vlogging, unless optical IS is good enough for your needs and you have longer arms than I do. The system needs a wider RF-S lens sooner rather than later.
If the camera’s on a tripod though and you’re able to step back to make your presentation, the R50 and kit zoom can do a good job.
In fact for this clip I’ve zoomed the lens into 45mm f6.3 for a more flattering perspective and to check the potential for a blurred background. As you might expect the depth of field isn’t particularly shallow, but the camera is at least keeping me sharp.
If you’re after a blurrier background at the lowest price, I’d recommend adapting the old EF 50mm f1.8 STM lens, seen in this clip, with the aperture fully-opened to f1.8.
Now this lens may not have the fastest or quietest focusing motors, so I’d recommend standing fairly still and using an external microphone, but there’s no arguing with the much shallower depth of field.
Side by side the background on the 50 1.8 on the right is so much blurrier than the kit zoom on the left, and thanks to the larger aperture, you’re also able to use lower ISO sensitivities for better quality.
Sticking with autofocus, here’s a test for still photos using the RF-S 18-45mm at 45mm f6.3 where you can see the racking between bottles is swift and accurate.
And for good measure the same test again, but this time for video where you can see an occasional pause before the racking starts, but the result is still accurate.
Note on the R50 you can change the racking speed for video, but unlike higher-end models, not the initial response to change. As I swing the camera back and forth, you’ll also see an indication of how much rolling shutter to expect in practice.
One of the highlights of the R50 is its subject detection, inherited mostly from the R10 with options for people, animals – which includes birds, and vehicles. It may not include planes, trains or a variety of other animals that are supported on the R8 and R6 II, but it’s still very effective.
Best of all is the Auto mode which does a surprisingly good job at figuring out what kind of subject you’re pointing the camera towards, be it a person, an animal or a passing car. I tried it on Brighton’s seafront where it seamlessly switched between people jogging past, various cars driving by, and the ever-present seagulls keeping an eye on proceedings.
Like the R6 II and R8, you should ideally select the subject type for improved recognition, such as choosing people for an event or animal for a zoo, but as a general-purpose option, I feel Canon’s now got one of the best truly automatic systems around.
Ok, now for photo quality, with the R50 capturing 24 Megapixel images with up to 6000×4000 pixels. You can record in RAW with standard or compressed options, along with the choice of three lower resolutions for compressed JPEGs. It’s also possible to switch from JPEG to HEIF if preferred.
In terms of aspect ratio, the R50 can record in the native 3:2 shape or crop down to 4:3, 16:9 or 1:1 shapes. A true stitched panorama option is also available from the Scene Presets.
Here’s a shot I took with the R50 and the 18-45mm kit zoom at 18mm, showing a good degree of detail and natural processing, but for a more formal test of resolution, I photographed my technical chart, again starting with the kit zoom, this time at 45mm f8 where it delivered the best results.
Taking a closer look shows a similar degree of detail to other 24 Megapixel models, although if you can fit a better quality lens, you will enjoy crisper results. For comparison, on the right here’s the result with the R50 fitted with an adapted Sigma 40mm f1.4 lens at f5.6. A completely impractical option for a camera this small, but I wanted to illustrate the potential difference in resolution.
Moving onto noise, I photographed another chart throughout the sensitivity range and until Adobe supports RAW files from the R50, I’m presenting JPEGs out of camera for you here, starting at 100 ISO, all the way up to the highest standard value of 25600 ISO, followed by the expanded H option of 51200 ISO.
I’d say the default noise reduction keeps the images pretty clean up to 3200 ISO, with a sprinkling of noise arriving at 6400, and only a more significant drop from 12800 onwards. I’ll compare the RAW dynamic range when the files are supported.
The R50 may be an entry-level model, but its burst speed doesn’t suffer, with a top rate of 12 and 15fps for the electronic first curtain and fully electronic silent shutters respectively. The buffer is however quite small, so fills quickly at these top speeds, especially for RAW. The moral? Shoot JPEGs in short bursts, or if you need longer bursts, aim for the R10 or R7.
To illustrate the bursts in action, here’s my water splash test using the top 12fps speed of the electronic first curtain shutter, where despite the modest buffer size, I’ve managed to capture the bulk of the action.
And now for the same action but shot with the electronic shutter where you may see some of the tell-tale skewing of fully electronic capture. Like most electronic shutters, you will notice some skewing effects on fast action, whether it’s the subject or the camera that’s in motion, so I’d only recommend using it if you need to shoot in silence, as it doesn’t offer a significant speed difference on the R50.
In my formal tests using the H+ drive mode, I confirmed both top speeds, capturing 24 Large Fine JPEGs in two seconds with the electronic first curtain, or 16 in just over a second using the fully electronic shutters. At this point, the R50 began stuttering as the buffer was full.
If you’re willing to choose the slower H speed, I managed 99 JPEGs in just over 13 seconds for a rate of 7.6fps, and the camera seemed happy to keep shooting – I just got bored.
But if you’re into shooting RAW, the R50 limited me to just six frames with either shutter type whether I was using H or H+. The R50 also lacks the RAW burst mode of higher-end models, so no pre-capture here sadly.
The multiple exposure mode of higher-end models has also been sacrificed, but I am happy to at least see the focus bracketing option remaining, as well as its ability to stack the images in-camera afterwards. A classy feature at this price point.
Now for a quick look at the movie quality: the R50 can record 1080 video up to 60p or 4k up to 30p, all uncropped, oversampled and encoded with IPB compression.
The maximum clip length in any of these modes is one hour, although the modest battery will run out soon after that; in my tests I managed a single one hour clip of 4k 25p, followed by a 13 minute clip on a single charge. Note the R10 allows longer two hour clips, although again is limited by the same LP-E17 battery. Remember though the old M50 wasn’t allowed to record for longer than half an hour.
There’s no C-Log for graders on the R50 – for that from Canon, you’ll need to skip the R10 and step up to the R7.
If you’re after slow motion, the R50 offers 1080 up to 120p, encoded again with IPB, but this time without sound and automatically slowed by four times. The maximum clip length in this mode is 15 minutes. The old M50 only offered 720p at 120p.
So now let’s see them all in practice starting with a clip filmed with the R50 and 18-45 kit zoom at 18mm, starting at 1080 25p, before switching to 4k at 25p where there’s visibly greater detail.
4k on the R50 represents a big upgrade over the earlier M50 which, lest we forget, applied a substantial extra crop when filming 4k and to add insult to injury, only supported contrast autofocus with it.
Now back to 1080 at 25p before switching to 1080 at 100p for comparison, and while the latter is a tad softer, I’d say it’s recording a similar amount of detail.
To find out for sure, I filmed my standard resolution chart in the same three modes, using the 18-45 kit zoom at 45mm f8.
Here’s 1080 at 25p on the left, 1080 at 100p in the middle, sharing a similar degree of detail, and 4k at 25p on the right, easily out-resolving both as you’d hope.
So in terms of autofocus, subject detection and overall quality, the R50 represents a big step-up over the M50 for video, albeit still without the option of C-Log for grading or IBIS for in-body stabilisation.Check prices on the Canon EOS R50 at B&H, Adorama, WEX UK or Calumet.de. Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book, an official Cameralabs T-shirt or mug, or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!