Canon EOS R50 review: compact, capable but lacking for lenses

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Product images by Richard Butler

The Canon EOS R50 is a compact mirrorless camera designed to appeal to users looking for something more than a smartphone. It’s based around a 24 Megapixel APS-C sensor and Canon’s latest ‘RF’ lens mount.

Key features:

  • 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor with second-generation Dual Pixel AF
  • Burst shooting at up to 15fps in full e-shutter mode (12 in electronic first curtain)
  • 4K video up to 30p with no crop
  • 10-bit HDR video and HEIF images
  • 2.36M dot OLED viewfinder
  • 1.62M dot fully articulating touchscreen
  • External mic input
  • Close-up and vertical video modes
  • Live streaming and webcam capability

The EOS R50 is Canon’s second-cheapest RF-mount camera, sitting above the EOS R100 and below the EOS R10. The R50 is priced at $679.99, body-only. A kit with the retractable RF-S 18-45mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM sells for around $799.99, and a two-lens kit that adds a new 55-210mm F5.0-7.1 takes the MSRP up to $1029.99.

What’s new

The EOS R50 is essentially designed as an RF-mount equivalent of the EF-M-mount EOS M50: an easy-to-use interchangeable lens camera that’s practical to carry around. It’s a similar size to the EOS M50, but in addition to using Canon’s newer lens mount, it also brings a newer sensor and processor, which together deliver significantly more advanced autofocus capabilities.


The R50’s most compelling feature is probably its autofocus system. It’s a relatively simple but very powerful system that combines a series of subject recognition modes with tenacious tracking. In many circumstances (particularly with people), you can pick where you want the camera to focus, and it’ll track whoever or whatever you pointed at.

In particular, the R50 has been trained to recognize people (eyes, faces and heads), animals (specifically dogs, cats, birds and horses) or vehicles (motorsport cars and bikes, trains and aircraft). There’s also an ‘Auto’ option that will try to identify which of these subjects are in front of the camera.

The EOS R50 has an AF system ultimately derived from that of the EOS R3. It was correctly able to recognize this as a bird and automatically focus on its eye.

RF-S 55-210mm F5-7.1 IS STM @ 146mm | ISO 250 | 1/320 sec | F7.1
Photo taken with a pre-production lens
Photo: Chris Niccolls

We’ve found it to be very effective, at least in stills mode, and the interface makes it easy to take whatever level of control you want over proceedings: you can just let the camera pick a subject or place an AF point if you wish to position the focus yourself.

The R50 also gains an AF mode designed for vlogging, which prioritizes anything close to the camera but otherwise uses face detection mode. This is expressly designed for vloggers filming themselves who want to hold an item up and have the camera quickly refocus on it, then back to them when the item is lowered, for example, to showcase a product. This feature works as advertised, though you definitely want to use a gimbal or tripod, since image stabilization is turned off.

Burst shooting

The R50 is surprisingly adept at burst shooting: it can grab clips at up to 12 frames per second using its electronic/mechanical shutter mode or 15 frames per second in fully electronic mode (with the risk of moving subjects appearing distorted if there’s too much lateral movement). It can only capture roughly 7 Raw or 42 JPEG images in each burst, which isn’t wondrous.

Auto ISO

It’s worth noting that, unlike higher-end Canon cameras, there is no way to set a minimum shutter speed when using Auto ISO. You can select the top sensitivity, but that’s it. For those of us with shaky hands or those worried about subject motion, being able to select a minimum shutter speed of, say, 1/125 sec, would lead to fewer throwaway photos.

Mode guide / Scene modes

The mode guide is shown when you rotate the mode dial. It gives you a visual representation of what the effects of changing settings do in the real world, but that’s about it (you can’t adjust those things without going into Advanced Auto mode described below).

The mode guide is only somewhat helpful when you rotate the dial.The visuals as you flip through the options in scene mode are pretty but marginally useful.

When selecting a scene mode, you also see an example image of what the mode is designed to shoot. Once you’ve chosen a mode, you’ll find tools to adjust settings in the Q.Menu or when composing photos. For self-portrait mode, you can adjust background blur, brightness, and smooth skin. For panning mode, the camera illustrates how much of your subject will be blurred, though I had a hard time figuring out what the lines on the screen represented.

A+ Advanced Auto

The EOS R50 includes Creative Assist mode as part of its beginner-friendly A+ auto mode. This uses a touchscreen interface to let you adjust most of the camera’s key parameters, expressed in terms such as ‘Brightness’ and ‘Color’ rather than technical terminology. It works well, though it would be nice to be able to assign one of its functions to the command dial rather than having to delve into the touchscreen interface every time.

In addition, the R50 gains an ‘Advanced A+’ option, that takes the level of automation still further. If Advanced A+ spots a scene that’s too dark, too high in contrast, or one that would benefit from greater depth-of-field, it will automatically shoot four shots and combine them into a single JPEG, to overcome these challenges. We’ve seen modes like this in other cameras for years, though never one capable of evaluating and choosing one of three multi-shot modes for different scene issues.

Advanced A+ mode produces JPEGs only, unlike Creative Assist mode, which lets you capture Raw images (useful if you want to adjust them in-camera or on a computer, later),

In the A+ modes the camera appears to use the ‘AI Focus’ drive mode, which automatically chooses between single and continuous AF. The upshot is that, if you or the camera chooses to focus on a person, for instance, it will refocus if you or they move before you fully press the shutter.

Unlike higher-end models, the R50 doesn’t have a Raw conversion option in the playback menu. That option can be found via the Creative Assist feature.

Video and HDR PQ

The EOS R50 can capture 4K video at up to 30 frames per second. This footage is created from all 6000 horizontal pixels of the sensor, so it should be very detailed. The use of the full width of the sensor also means it’s not awkwardly cropped-in and should also give better performance in low light.

If you have an HDR TV, the EOS R50 will let you shoot stills and videos that exploit those HDR capabilities to make photos with bright highlights look more vibrant and more realistic, using the ‘HDR PQ’ option (The ‘HDR video’ option is something different, confusingly).

As you might expect for a camera at this level, there’s a mic socket but no way to connect headphones.

Lens selection

If you’re looking for a large selection of RF-mount lenses designed for APS-C cameras like the R50, we have bad news: there aren’t many. In fact, there are just three. They include the collapsable RF-S 14-45mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM used in this review, a 55-210mm F5-7.1 IS STM ($349), and a versatile 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM ($499).

You can certainly buy Canon’s regular RF-mount lenses, which are designed for its full-frame bodies, but they won’t be cheap. Since Canon keeps its lens mount design private, third party lenses aren’t likely to come anytime soon (though Sigma will reportedly release full-frame lenses later this year). You can also add an adapter to mount older EF and EF-S lenses for DSLRs, but these can get pretty unwieldy pretty quickly: undermining the point of buying a smaller body.

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How it compares

The EOS R50 is the first new camera in the entry-level / under $800 ILC category that we’ve seen for some time, which means it immediately feels a lot more modern than many of its rivals, both in terms of autofocus and video.

Not included in this table is its stablemate, the EOS R10, which is $300 more expensive and adds features such as twin control dials, 4K/60 capture and faster UHS-II card slots. The more expensive model also includes a full mechanical shutter, capable of 15fps capture, though still lacks a modern USB 3.X interface.

Canon EOS R50Sony a6100OM-D E-M10 IVNikon Z50
List price at launch$679.99
($799.99 with 18-45mm F3.5-6.3 IS lens)
($850 with 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 OSS)

($799 with 14-45mm F3.5-5.6 EZ)

$859.95 ($999.95 with 16-50mm F3.5-6.3 lens)
Pixel count24MP24MP20MP21MP
Sensor sizeAPS-C
Four Thirds
AutofocusDual Pixel IIHybridContrastHybrid
Stabilization?Lens onlyLens onlyIn-bodyLens only
Burst rate12 fps
15 fps (elec)
11 fps8.7 fps11 fps
2.36M dot OLED (0.59x)1.44M dot OLED (0.70x)2.36M dot OLED (0.61x)2.36M dot
OLED (0.68x)
Rear screen1.62M dot fully-articulating0.92M dot tilt up/down1.04M dot fully-articulating1.04M dot tilt up/down
Video4K/30p no crop
8-bit or 10-bit HDR mode
4K/24p no crop
4K/30p 1.23x crop
4K/30p no crop4K/30p 1.5x crop
Mic / Headphone?Yes / NoYes / NoYes / NoYes / No
(USB 2.0 480 Mbps)
USB Micro B
(USB 2.0 / 480 Mbps)
USB Micro B
(USB 2.0 480 / Mbps)
USB Micro B
(USB 2.0 480 / Mbps)
Battery life
370 / 230420 / 380360 / –320 / 280
Dimensions116 x 86 x 69 mm120 x 67 x 59mm122 x 85 x 49mm127 x 94 x 60mm
Weight (with battery + card)375g (13.2oz)396g (14.0oz)383g (13.5oz)395g (13.9oz)

What the table can’t really capture is just how effective the R50’s autofocus is. Only the Sony a6100 comes close, though its subject recognition capabilities only extend as far as human faces and eyes. The same can’t be said for the much older, less expensive a6000, which really shows its age in this company.

The OM-D E-M10 IV lags significantly in terms of AF and isn’t as simple a camera to use – though it gives you more camera and a lens system to grow into – but it does offer in-body image stabilization, which all the others lack at this price.

While hundreds of dollars more, the Nikon Z50 is worth considering. Its weather-sealed body is much more rugged, and its EVF is larger than most of its peers. However, its autofocus system isn’t as robust as the R50’s. There’s an enormous 1.5x crop when capturing 4K video, but, unlike the Canon, there’s now a choice of third-party lenses from companies including Sigma.

While not in the comparison table, the EOS R100 deserves a mention. It’s Canon’s entry-level RF-mount camera, with an MSRP of just $479 (body only). While it looks a lot like the R50, it has an older processor, slower burst mode, fixed LCD, significant 4K crop, and no USB charging: we think it’s worth spending the extra.

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Body and handling

The EOS R50 is surprisingly small, despite that vast RF lens mount on the front. The grip is pretty small (I found myself wrapping my fingers across it at a 45-degree angle rather than trying to grasp it straight-on) but sufficient for how small and light the camera is, especially with compact lenses. The R50 does feel a bit too plasticky, but asking for a rugged weather-sealed body on a $679 camera body might asking too much.

There is a dial on the top of the camera if you wish to use the camera in the more hands-on P, A, S or M modes, but it’s rather under-utilized. This is because the camera has a very touchscreen-focused user interface.

Like previous Canons, the R50 will present a screen explaining the mode you’ve just selected or the feature you’ve just engaged to help you understand when it’s applicable. These explanation splash screens can be turned off if you prefer or once you’re familiar with the camera.

The compact size of the R50 has its consequences: its controls are very cluttered, making it easy to press a button unintentionally.

The Creative Assist mode, which provides a series of icons representing options such as brightness or color, is pretty simple, but while the command dial can be used to adjust the settings, it’s only active while you’re in the adjust settings screens. While you’re shooting, the command dial does nothing, which feels like a waste since your finger will likely be resting on it.

The viewfinder is a relatively modest 2.36M dot OLED display with a rather low 0.59x magnification level (which means it appears pretty small). The sample we used seemed very prone to the diopter adjuster getting knocked, so if the viewfinder seems soft, it’s worth checking the little slider directly under the viewfinder.

The fully articulating rear touchscreen is a nice touch. The R50 has a mic input socket but nowhere to attach headphones, which slightly undermines its vlogging appeal.

While the camera does have a USB-C socket for connecting to a computer or tablet and charging (see below), transfer speeds are slow (480Mbps tops). Those are USB 2.0 speeds: most modern cameras offer at least ten times this.


The EOS R50 uses the same LP-E17 battery as Canon’s other small ILCs. It’s a 7.5Wh battery, which isn’t a lot to power a mirrorless camera. It’ll do well for snapping occasional photos as you go about your day, but if you devote any length of time to photos or video, there’s a chance you’ll suddenly be confronted with a flashing red battery warning (it’s been a long time since I’ve encountered the ‘full… full… full… LOW BATTERY!’ experience of a small camera with no charge percentage indications).

In standard (‘Smooth’) mode, the camera is rated to deliver a respectable 370 shots per charge if you use the LCD but just 230 shots through the viewfinder. As usual, these CIPA-standard figures can tend to significantly underestimate how many shots you’re likely to get, typically by around a factor of two, depending on your shooting style. Energy saver mode boosts the numbers to 440 and 310 shots, respectively.

Thankfully, the R50 can be charged using a USB PD (power delivery) charger, so it’s easy enough to keep topped up if you are dropping back to a car or hotel room or have a modern power bank with you. (USB sockets in hotels and cars will not charge it.)

Alongside the battery in the base of the camera is a single SD card slot. In keeping with the camera’s relatively modest ambitions, it’s the older, slower UHS-I type.

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While the autofocus settings can be confusing, once they’re to your liking, the R50 performs exceptionally well. Using a single focus point, the Servo AF function will grab onto what you’ve pointed the camera at and dutifully track it around the frame. It did a solid job detecting faces and eyes, both human and animal – even when they weren’t staring at the camera. The animal detection was especially impressive: it locked onto the eyes of tigers, birds, penguins, and, of course, cats.

The various AF areas can be seen at the bottom. Also, when “enable” is displayed, Whole Area tracking is OFF. You want it to say “disable,” strangely enough.

You can also track subjects in ‘Whole Area AF,’ but you’ll need to turn it on first. The most sensible way is via the AF tab in the menu, but it can be done in the quick menu as well, as shown above.

You position the focus point using the touchscreen or by pressing the focus point button on the rear of the camera and using the directional controller (unfortunately, there’s no room for a joystick on the R50). When shooting with the viewfinder, a ‘Touchpad AF’ feature lets you move the focus point using the touchscreen.

We found the R50’s continuous autofocus to work very well. It was able to keep subjects – human and otherwise – in focus as they moved or were briefly blocked by other subjects. The EOS R50 also did well with subjects moving in a manner that was difficult to predict. In other words, its AF is pretty foolproof.

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Image quality

Our test scene is designed to simulate a variety of textures, colors and detail types you’ll encounter in the real world. It also has two illumination modes, full even light and low directional light, to see the effect of different lighting conditions.

With our test scene currently unavailable, we haven’t been able to shoot our standard test images with the EOS R50 yet. This analysis is based on our real-world usage and the studio results of the EOS R10 that uses the same sensor and processor. We will test the EOS R50 and double-check our assessment as soon as possible.

While the text isn’t, perhaps, quite as sharp as the Sony a6100 and Nikon Z50, there’s not much to choose between them. You will encounter some moiré