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Canon EOS R50 review: Big performance for a tiny camera

With sharp 4K, fast burst shooting and a slim size, it’s an ideal travel camera.

Steve Dent for Engadget

Canon’s mirrorless EOS R mirrorless camera family now sits at a healthy 11 members, but most of those to date have been high-end models priced at over $1,000. Recently, though, the company has been wooing budget-minded shoppers with models like the $480 R100 and the subject of this review – the $680, 24-megapixel R50.

The R50 uses a 24-megapixel APS-C sensor from the $980 EOS R10, so image quality should be on par. Otherwise, you can think of the R50 as an RF-mount version of the older M-mount M50 Mark II – but with updates like uncropped 4K that make it better for creators. At the same time, it’s even lighter and smaller, so it’s ideal for travel, street photography and more.


With the R50, Canon has found a good balance between power and affordability.

  • Fast shooting
  • Reliable autofocus
  • Good video quality
  • Small and light
  • Small buffer
  • Limited controls
  • No in-body stabilization
$649 at Amazon

Where the $480 R100 is aimed at the bottom end of the mirrorless market, the $680 R50 is targeting users a bit more serious about photography and content creation. Does it have enough going for it to entice such users? Let’s take a look.

Body & Handling


The EOS R50 is diminutive in both weight and size, weighing in at just 375 grams with a battery and memory card. With a similarly light and small lens, like the 18-45mm kit or the new 28mm pancake model, it can easily slip into a small bag. Travelers and tourists will often settle for a smartphone rather than lugging around a heavy camera, but the R50 removes that barrier.

There’s a price to be paid in terms of usability, however. It has a relatively small grip that’s effectively unusable with large lenses, though it does have a nice rubber material so it shouldn’t slip out of your hands.

The R50 is also lacking in controls compared to other models. It has just a single dial to change settings, meaning you have to hit the exposure compensation button to toggle between shutter speed and aperture in manual mode. But since the camera is designed for beginners used to smartphones, it’s essentially designed to be controlled by the touchscreen. That works well enough, but the main menu items are a little small and fiddly.

The 2.95-inch touchscreen is nice though, with a relatively high 1.6 million dot resolution. As with all other Canon EOS R cameras, it fully articulates, making it useful for selfies and vlogging. The electronic viewfinder is on the low end though, being relatively small and with a low 2.36-million dot resolution.

With the same small battery as the EOS R10, it gets just 370 shots on a charge – perhaps the camera’s biggest weakness. It is, however, a significant improvement over the 305 shots you get with the original M50 II. Other features include a mic but no headphone port, a single slow UHS-I card slot, USB-C and micro HDMI ports and yes, a built-in flash that’s perfect for its target market.


One significant problem with budget-oriented cameras is the lack of a good autofocus system – something that’s crucial for camera novices. Luckily, the R50’s hybrid phase-detect autofocus is very solid. A simplified version of the AF from high end cameras like the R3, it tenaciously follows subjects and captures sharp photos.

It can track eyes, faces and heads, along with animals including dogs, cats, birds and horses. It also tracks vehicles like race cars, bicycles, trains and airplanes. You can either let the system choose a subject, or tap the touchscreen to select it yourself.

Canon EOS R50 review: Big performance for a tiny camera
Steve Dent for Engadget

Performance is a little less dependable for animals and vehicles than it is for people. And subject tracking will often drop the subject if you’re too far away from it. But overall, the AI system is dependable, particularly with people.

That serves it well for burst shooting, which is surprisingly fast for such a small camera. It can grab frames at up to 12 fps in mechanical shutter mode or 15 fps in silent electronic mode. However, you’re limited to 42 JPEG images in a burst and just 7 uncompressed RAWs, due to the small buffer and slow memory card slots.

On top of the usual manual and auto shooting modes, the R50 has creative settings for beginners including something called A+ Advanced Auto. If it detects a scene that’s tricky to shoot due to high contrast or darkness, it takes four shots and combines them into a single JPEG image, much like smartphones have done for years. The results can be pleasing, but may also look overprocessed.

As you’d expect, there’s no in-body stabilization, so you’ll need to rely on optically stabilized lenses for that – and there are only two of those in the APS-C lineup. Those only deliver 4 stops of shake reduction, but it’s enough to allow for sharp shots at 1/10th of a second or so. When using the silent shutter function, beware that some rolling shutter effect is present, but it’s reasonably well controlled.

Image quality

As the R50 shares the R10’s 24-megapixel sensor, photo quality is nearly the same. For normal shooting, I saw color accurate photos with skin tones leaning on the warm side as is typical with Canon’s color science. JPEGs strike a good balance between sharpening and noise reduction, while RAW files allow for a decent amount of room to tweak images.

Low-light performance isn’t amazing, though. ISO 6400 is pretty much a hard limit, and even then you won’t have a lot of room to boost blacks without getting tons of noise. And you don’t have in-body stabilization to help at low shutter speeds.

Luckily, the R50 does have a built-in flash that can fill in if you’re lacking light. Just make sure to dial the illumination levels down in the settings to avoid blowing out your subject.

Canon EOS R50 review: Big performance for a tiny camera


Where the EOS R10 offers cropped 4K 60p video, the R50 is limited to 4K 30p. Luckily, that is uncropped, however, and supersampled from 6K. You’re limited to 1080p for slow-mo, but luckily it can shoot up to 120fps, though 60fps is considerably sharper.

It’s the cheapest camera on the market by far with 10-bit mode via the HDR PQ mode, though the footage requires some tweaking for normal usage. A C-Log mode that might boost dynamic range isn’t available, but it’s not really necessary for its intended market segment.

Canon EOS R50 review: Big performance for a tiny camera
Steve Dent for Engadget

For a relatively small and cheap camera, the R50 offers excellent video quality. The oversampled video is very sharp, and colors are accurate and human friendly. The fact that 4K video isn’t cropped is a huge plus for vloggers.

The autofocus is also outstanding for a camera in this price bracket, with tenacious tracking that keeps focus sharp in most circumstances. It also has a “close-up demo mode” that works much like Sony’s product showcase mode, quickly switching focus from your face to any object you bring up to the camera.

The digital stabilization is OK for walking and talking, as long as you try to move smoothly. All of these things make the R50 an excellent camera for vloggers and content creators ready to step up from a smartphone.


Canon EOS R50 review: Big performance for a tiny camera
Steve Dent for Engadget

With the R50, Canon has found a good balance between power and affordability. Where the R10 has a lot of competition at its higher $980 price point, the $680 R50 has only a few rivals

Its main competition is Sony’s $700 ZV-E10, which is slightly better for vlogging but not as good for photography. Another option is the $700 Nikon Z30, which offers a similar feature set but lacks an EVF and has less reliable autofocus.

If those models are too much, Canon just released the $480 R100, the least expensive new mirrorless camera on the market. Content creators may lean toward the Sony ZV-E10, but if you’re looking for a solid hybrid camera that can do everything, Canon’s R50 is a great choice.