If you have $1580 burning a hole in the pocket and a hankering for a new camera for Christmas the news is good. Canon can fit you out with the mirrorless EOS M5 with a 15—45mm interchangeable kit lens or, if you prefer a compact with fixed lens, Sony has the latest iteration of the RX100, now Mk V.
The EOS M5 is Canon’s belated entry into the serious mirrorless category. It has a 24 megapixel dual pixel APS sensor – for faster auto focus – and has the internal workings of the excellent Canon 80D in a smaller body.
The sensor is APS so the engraved focal lengths are multiplied by 1.5 to show full frame equivalence. The 15—45mm kit lens is the angle of view of 22.5—67.5mm full frame.
Unlike the competition from Olympus, Sony, Panasonic and Fujifilm the M5 is not a mirrorless camera built from the ground up. Conservative Canon has created a shrunken conventional DSLR. By removing the mirror and prism the volume and mass of the body have been reduced without compromising superb build quality and ergonomics.
The tilting LCD is full time live view, the big advantage of mirrorless, supplementing the high resolution electronic viewfinder. The LCD is touch screen and all important parameters can be set with a touch of the finger. Focus spot can be selected with a touch and then can be dragged to follow the subject, which is brilliant for video.
Video is1080p, not 4K, so the M5 is behind the game here, but the video is excellent with very good focus tracking. There is a microphone socket.
Image quality is as expected from a Canon DSLR, outstanding. RAW files are best but the finest JPEGs are as good as most users will want.
The killer feature of the M5 is that it accepts existing Canon lenses, with an adapter. We tried EF lenses from our Canon bag and they focus as fast as the native M glass. This is the best adapter (optional — $130 lowest street price) that we have ever used and we have no hesitation in saying to Canon owners looking for a path into mirrorless that this is the way to go. You could buy the body and the adapter and use existing lenses.
[CANON EOS M5 with Canon 70–200 len with adapter]
The Sony Cyber-shot RX100 MkV is an altogether different bag of tricks. It is a fixed lens (24—70mm equivalent) compact built around a 1” 20 megapixel sensor. It is very small and inconspicuous in its austere black form.
It has a small pop-up electronic viewfinder which is fiddly to activate, suggesting that Sony think the RX100 will be used at arm’s length most of the time. In fact all of the controls are tiny and it is easy to miss connecting with the shutter button.
There is a concentric ring around the lens that can be configured for control of various functions, and when manual focus is selected in the menu the ring automatically assumes the focus role. Neat.
The Sony does do fine 4K video. The only caveat is that the camera has neither hot shoe nor microphone socket so the sound can only be recorded by the in-built microphone. A new feature on the MkV is high frame rate video for extreme slow motion.
Image quality is excellent and the auto white balance is spectacular. We took a number of photos in mixed light settings and the camera always got the colour right.
Using the RX100 MkV is a reminder of how we did it in the days of film – choose your film stock, set the ISO speed and take photos. It would be unfair to describe the Sony as “point and shoot” and better to categorise it as the ultimate “decisive moment” camera. Set the ISO, put the Mode on P and just take photos. The Sony sets you free to concentrate on the important matters of light, composition and capturing the fleeting smile.
If you like the sound of the RX100 MkV but think the price is a bit steep then look for the MkIII and MkIV, both still current and not that different from the latest version.