The Canon M50 and its successor the M50 MKII are among the most popular video and vlogging cameras currently available.
Not so much on the strength of their video capabilities, but largely because of their amazing ease of use.
Indeed, the M50 has become a cult vlogging camera almost despite the quality of its video. Not because of it.
But the M50 is simply an amazing run-and-gun camera for filming on the move. It’s always ready to go when you need it.
Add to this the fully articulating touch screen, and it should be clear why the M50 has become so popular.
While the range of lenses available for the M50 remains somewhat limited, there are a few gems among the EF-M line-up that really work well for videography and vlogging, In this guide I break down seven of the best, and then dive deeper into what makes the ideal video lens for the M50 MKI and MKII.
Offering an angle of view equivalent to a 35mm lens on full frame, Canon’s EF-M 22mm f/2 is a slim, lightweight, pancake lens that is a great fit for the M50.
It also happens to be a very nice moderately wide angle piece of glass that you’ll likely find yourself reaching for again and again.
True, some would argue that this focal length is not ideal for selfie-style blogging.
And certainly a wider lens would make it easier to get yourself in the shot while shooting on the fly.
There’s a flipside to the more restricted angle of view, though; if you do get the framing right, at least you won’t suffer the unflattering perspective of an ultra-wide lens making your nose look humongous.
And due to the fully articulating LCD, selfie-framing on the the M50 is never going to be the hit and miss affair it can be on some other cameras anyway.
As far as general videography goes, though, the 22mm f/2 is a total winner. For a start there’s a nice, smooth focus ring that is responsive when used manually (although, as is typical of Mirrorless cameras, it’s of course “by wire”).
What’s more, the STM focusing mechanism results in very quiet AF action. It’s perhaps not the snappiest autofocus around, but it does a pretty good job nonetheless.
Another point in the 22mm’s favor as far as videography and vlogging are concerned is the fast maximum aperture of f/2; something of a rarity among these M-mount lenses.
Not only does this let plenty of light in, but it can also provide a good degree of out-of-focus blur for a lens of this focal length. Especially when used close up to the subject.
Which, as it happens, the 22mm does rather well; focusing down to 15cm. And producing nicely sharp images as it does so.
Indeed, image sharpness is impressive pretty much any way you go about using this lens; even wide open.
Yes, there’s some softness in the extreme corners at f/2, but not enough to be of any concern.
And in any case this clears up significantly from f/2.8 onwards.
There’s no distortion at all. But expect to see a considerable degree of vignetting at f/2, and also a good amount of flare as soon as you point this thing towards the light.
Finally, while the lens itself is made of plastic, it’s sturdy material. And the lens mount is metal. In fact, overall it feels like a very solid and well-built lens.
Sigma’s 16mm f/1.4 provides an angle of view equivalent to 24mm on a full frame camera, and comes with an enviably fast maximum aperture.
Indeed, it’s faster and wider than any native Canon M50 prime lens, and already comes with an M-mount, so no adapter is necessary.
I think that this combination really puts a lot of Canon’s own offerings to shame. Particularly when it comes to video.
Not only does the very fast maximum aperture make for some attractive bokeh and separation between background and foreground, but it also makes it easy to vlog on the fly at night, just using available lighting.
What’s more, there’s absolutely no noise from the AF motors – in any of the focus modes – and focus speed and accuracy are also impressive.
There’s also some pretty smooth action provided by the “manual” focus ring; yet more points in the Sigma’s favor when it comes to videography.
The lens produces video clips that are beautifully sharp and contrasty.
And color, too, is extremely attractive.
As you might expect from a lens this wide, however, there’s some noticeable barrel distortion.
And considerable flare, too. Nothing too worrying or unusual here though.
As with all these recent Sigma products, build quality is excellent; a mix of metal and rugged plastic components.
It should be noted, though, that this lens is a lot bigger and heavier than Canon’s native wide angles.
If the 16mmm f/1.4 doesn’t take my number one spot, it’s in part because 24mm is a pretty extreme angle of view.
One that is only really necessary in certain specific shooting situations. Meaning it doesn’t really count as an all-round shooting lens.
However, arguably one of those situations is vlogging, where a very wide angle lens can make shooting selfie-style videos on the move a whole lot easier.
With that said, though, lack of image stabilization may discourage some video shooters.
Especially those who do a lot of handheld work. But it’s worth keeping in mind that your M50 body has you covered on this front anyway, so it’s perhaps not a such a biggie.
All in all, this lens comes highly recommended for anyone who values a wide angle of view coupled with fast light-gathering abilities and great image quality.
Although Canon’s EF-M 11-22mm f/4.0-5.6 may not come with the sexiest spec of all the lenses we look at here – there’s that gloomy maximum aperture for a start – it’s actually a great little lens that quietly delivers on a whole bunch of other fronts.
For one, as ultra wide angle zooms go, the 11-22mm is really very small: especially when collapsed.
At which point it’s no bigger than the 15-45mm kit lens.
It’s nicely priced, too. And I should also mention that it can focus very close up; even on subjects just 5cm away.
And with such a wide field of view, it’s clearly ideal for vlogging.
But for videographers, the real attraction here is a combination of excellent image quality, great autofocus, and the added peace of mind of image stabilization.
Let’s look at these three points in turn.
Firstly, image stabilization works extremely well.
Making a very noticeable difference to handheld footage. This really adds to the lens’s vlogging credentials, taking most of the bump and jerk out of walkabout footage.
Meanwhile, AF is both exceedingly fast and virtually silent. Making the lens really well suited to video.
And for those who prefer manual control for more advanced focus techniques, operation is very smooth and reactive via the electronic focus ring. The zoom ring, too, is a pleasure to use.
Which leaves only image quality to discuss: at its widest zoom setting, clips produced by the 11-22mm are impressively sharp from edge to edge.
And the lens continues to produce crisp and detailed imagery from maximum aperture right through to about f/11.
And even at its longest zoom setting, the story is almost the same; remaining very sharp throughout the range.
The lens also handles flare a lot better than many other lenses in the M-mount series.
However, as you’d expect from such a wide lens – especially one with so slow a maximum aperture – bokeh is nothing to write home about. There’s also some very considerable vignetting.
Of course, as mentioned from the start, this is not a lens for those who seek exceptional light-gathering abilities.
Indeed, with its already unremarkable maximum aperture of f/4 dropping down to f/5.6 as you move through the zoom range, you will probably end up needing to shoot on a tripod in virtually any lighting conditions other than direct sunlight.
For many photographers and vloggers, that won’t be an issue at all.
But those who crave faster glass will need to continue their search elsewhere.
One of the more versatile yet affordable lenses in Canon’s M-mount range, the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 makes a good all-rounder for videography and vlogging.
In fact, if you’re not the kind of shooter who needs to capture everything ultra-wide, it’s probably the only M-mount lens you really need.
Assuming you can live with the slow – and non constant – maximum aperture, that is.
The 18-55mm is bundled as part of a kit in some regions. That’s usually not a great sign; kit lenses often turn out to be rather poor performers for a number of reasons.
Here, though, the compromise largely comes in the form of the aforementioned slow aperture.
But if you’re the kind of videographer who tends to shoot outside in bright daylight, or indoors using artificial lighting, then fast glass is unlikely to be high on your list of priorities anyway.
In which case the 18-55mm is definitely worthy of your consideration.
The first sign that you’re not looking at an average kit lens is simply that the 18-55mm is largely made of metal.
Well, at least the important parts are – i.e. the barrel and mount.
Meanwhile, the STM focus motors ensure that AF speed is plenty good enough (at least as good as the infamously slow M50 body will permit),.
What’s more, they do their job both smoothly and silently. Making the lens an ideal choice for video.
“Manual” focus is of course of the “by wire” variety. But it performs pretty well, and turning the focus ring results in fairly reactive and satisfying action.
Note, however, that there is a degree of focus breathing.
For video users there’s the reassuring fact that the 18-55mm comes with built-in image stabilization.
Although keep in mind that your camera has this anyway; so even if the lens didn’t, it would hardly class as a dealbreaker.
Finally, perhaps the single most important detail differentiating the 18-55mm from your average bundled kit lens is simply that image quality is actually very good. I.e. sharp and attractive, without any major optical flaws.
True, there’s some barrel distortion. But then you’ll find that on most wide angle lenses.
You’ll also see some heavy flaring when point the lens at the sun. But this, too, is to be expected. Moral: don’t point the lens at the sun!
You’ll rarely see people getting too excited about standard prime lenses.
For consumers, they are just too “vanilla” and functional. They lack the drama of, say, an ultra wide angle.
Or the wow-factor of a telephoto zoom. Meanwhile, for people like me who review lenses, there’s only so much you can say about yet another 50mm-equivalent lens.
But those videographers who are more excited about producing interesting content, shooting creative compositions, and making good use of light know that a sharp and fast 50mm lens is all you really need to create stunning footage and tell a great story.
There’s also the fact that some standard prime lenses are simply very good. The Canon EF-M 32mm f/1.4 is one of them.
At 32mm, this lens is actually equivalent to 51mm on a full frame camera.
A minor detail that is unlikely to spark the interest of too many people, but unusual all the same.
More exciting – for M50 owners at least – is the fact that it offers a maximum aperture of f/1.4.
Within a range of lenses that is notable for an overall lack of fast glass, this makes the 32mm appear very fast indeed.
While not the smallest lens in the M-mount line up, the 32mm is nonetheless nicely compact and lightweight.
But unlike some of the more plasticy optics in the range, thankfully this has been achieved without compromising on build quality.
Indeed, the 32mm f/1.4 comes in an all-metal barrel.
Focus is, smooth, fast, and precise. However, while the STM motors are certainly extremely quiet, there is a touch of detectable noise at times; more of a hum than a high-pitched whirr though, so not too intrusive.
A focus-limiter switch adds to the lens’s box of tricks.
More than anything though it’s the image quality of this lens that sets it apart.
Shots are beautifully sharp and detailed from edge to edge, and bokeh is very attractive.
Yes, there’s some slight barrel distortion, some color fringing, and a good degree of vignetting.
But realistically, you’ll find all these problems (and more) on most lenses.
Canon’s 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 is another EF-M lens that can either be purchased as part of a bundled kit along with an M50 body, or tracked down separately.
As with most kit lenses, it’s not a piece of glass that comes with very showy spec.
But don’t let that put you off, as it’s still a great little tool for videography and vlogging.
In any case, the biggest drawback with this lens is one shared by the majority of those available for the M50 natively from Canon; i.e. a slow maximum aperture.
So unless you step over to third party offerings, or use an adapter to access Canon’s DSLR-centric EF-S glass, it’s a handicap you’ll likely have to live with anyway.
At least until Canon expands its still somewhat limited M-mount range.
This gripe aside, the 15-45mm is conveniently small and lightweight, making it a great match for the M50’s compact body. Of course, the downside to this is that the build quality is fairly plasticy and doesn’t instill confidence that it would survive too much hard punishment.
As we’ve come to expect from Canon’s STM lenses, AF is fast, silent, and impressively accurate. And the manual focus ring is nicely smooth, too.
Unfortunately the same can’t be said for the zoom ring, which tends to catch and jerk a little. So let’s say that it’s not a great lens for trippy Woodstockesque freak-out concert footage – just in case you were planning to add a psychedelic ’60s zoom vibe to your next vlog entry.
As it is though, with its dependable image stabilization, this is much more a lens for shooting smooth and stable footage than for indulging in Bourne Conspiracy-style “shaky-cam.”
Image-wise, the lens is very sharp in the center when used on its widest zoom setting and at maximum aperture.
However the corners are pretty soft here. In fact the lens delivers better overall sharpness when used on its longest zoom setting, where both center and edges display good crisp detail.
Out of focus rendering is very nice – at least when you actually manage to get the background out of focus (never an easy task when using a cropped sensor camera with a slow lens).
Be aware, though, that vignetting and barrel distortion are quite noticeable.
Overall, then, image quality is pretty good, but nothing spectacular. Go with this lens if you need a general purpose tool for everyday shooting that is small and lightweight while offering silent and smooth operation.
Taking you from wide angle to telephoto in a twist of the wrist, Canon’s 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 may not come with much in the way of light gathering credentials, but it sure is versatile.
Effectively a longer-reaching update to the 18-55mm kit lens (above), this high-powered super zoom really does cover a lot of territory in a single package.
It’s also very small and lightweight.
These facts combined make it a good all-rounder.
In fact, if you do most of your shooting on a tripod, or in bright sunny conditions, with this lens in your bag you could easily leave all your other glass at home and still be confident that you’re ready for virtually anything the day might throw at you.
You just better hope that it doesn’t all happen in the shade.
Image stabilization works very nicely.
So although you can’t get the aperture very far open, stills photographers can at least make up for this to a degree by dropping the shutter speed to compensate without risk of camera shake.
For videography, though, the 18-150mm’s attractions lie elsewhere. One of these being its autofocus capabilities.
Okay, it’s perhaps not the most advanced AF system in the world, but the fact that the lens employs stepper motors makes for totally silent action. It’s also pretty snappy and accurate.
Manual focusing is less of a pleasure, though, unfortunately; owing to a sluggish and unreactive focus ring.
Image quality is pretty good wide open, and becomes excellent when shut down a stop or two.
Contrast is a little lacking at most apertures and focal lengths, though. And there’s some notable barrel distortion and vignetting at wider zoom settings.
Over all, then, the 8-150mm f/3.5-6.3 may not be the most hyped bit of glass currently available for the M50, but it’s nonetheless a good little lens for those who value versatility over fast apertures.
Choosing a Video or Vlogging Lens for the Canon M50
As maximum lens aperture not only influences the light-gathering abilities of a lens, but also the degree to which it can throw the background out of focus, it is a major consideration for many videographers.
And unfortunately we have to start right away by saying that fast aperture glass is not currently the M-system’s strongest point. And that’s putting it very politely.
A smaller lens aperture will help to create a deeper depth-of-field. Sometimes you want that, sometimes you don’t.
The problem with so many native M50 lenses is that you’re basically stuck with this as your only option, whether you want it or not. Simply because the majority of them – and the zooms in particular – can’t open up any further than about f/3.5 at best.
The fact that the M50 is not a full frame camera only makes this problem worse. On full frame, f/3.5 won’t typically result in highly blurred backgrounds as it is.
But f/3.5 on the M50, which has a crop factor of 1.6x, will usually result in even less background blur than with full frame.
With that said, it is possible to find fast glass for the M50 that will allow shooting in low light without raising ISO to impractical speeds and provide nicely blurry backgrounds.
However, if this is a priority for you, be prepared to accept some compromises in other areas. Most notably the convenience of using zoom lenses.
Indeed, if you are happy working with primes lenses most of the time, good fast optics are provided by both Canon and third party manufacturers (for example, see the excellent Sigma reviewed above).
If you feel that you can’t live without the versatility of a zoom for your M50, however, the fast options are extremely limited at the time of writing.
While related to aperture, strictly speaking the word bokeh refers to the quality of out of focus rendering. I.e. bokeh is not the degree to which out of focus areas are blurred. And nor does it refer to the amount of the image located in front of and behind the point of focus that is also acceptably sharp (that would be depth-of-field).
So although it can certainly be a struggle to get backgrounds looking particularly blurry using the M50 and its slow lenses, this doesn’t really have any bearing on what that blur might look like if you do achieve it.
Instead the way bokeh looks has more to do with a number of different factors, all related to the internal optics of the lens in question.
Without getting too technical, everything from the number and shape of aperture blades to the type of optical coatings a given lens uses will play some part in influencing how that lens renders defocussed parts of the image.
And unfortunately this is not information that can be easily understood from reading spec sheets.
Indeed, the only real way to understand how a particular lens performs in this department is to try it out.
In any case, lens bokeh is a highly subjective topic, and what some would consider great bokeh, might be distracting to others.
Ultimately, then, you will need to decide for yourself whether you like the effect produced by a given lens.
Nonetheless, some pointers to look out for when assessing lens bokeh include:
– How “busy” looking backgrounds are.
– The overall softness of defocused areas.
– The shape of “bokeh balls” (i.e. defocused lights).
– Whether there are any messy artifacts visible in such areas.
– And, in particular, what the edges between defocused details look like (e.g. are they smooth and pleasing to look at, or harsh and fussy?).
Modern autofocus systems generally perform very well. At least in terms of speed and accuracy.
Where some let the side down, however, is regarding motor noise; a major consideration for vloggers, who often rely upon their camera’s internal mics for capturing audio.
Thankfully Canon is one of the better manufacturers from this point of view. Not only do their lenses tend to focus quickly, and with great precision, but they don’t typically make a whole lot of song and dance about doing it. I.e. they are quiet.
Most of the lenses in the M range are no exception. However, while the majority are about as close to silent as you’re ever likely to find, others perform a little less well in this department.
So if you do plan on using the M50s internal mics, be sure to check for motor noise.
Autofocus aside, one of the biggest frustrations for videographers working with the Mirrorless system remains manual focusing. Essentially this is because very few Mirrorless lenses offer genuine manual focusing at all.
True manual focus means that you turn the focus ring, and your physical force directly moves the lens elements by mechanical means until the subject comes into focus.
Instead, what you get with most Mirrorless lenses is simulated manual focusing.
How this works is that you turn something that looks like a manual focus ring on the barrel of the lens, but is actually not connected to the lens elements in any direct way.
Rather, turning the ring sends an electronic signal to the camera, which then relays this to the lens’s autofocus motors, which set the focus for you.
Although the differences between these two systems may sound very minor, in practice true manual focus is usually immediate and precise, whereas the “focus by wire” system is often a little sluggish and unsatisfying to use.
It can also be less exact than true manual focusing.
These issues can cause all kinds of headaches for both photographers and videographers. But for video shooters there’s also an extra consideration; yes, motor noise again.
A truly manual lens will be as silent as the user is in turning the lens. But as focus-by-wire lenses rely upon the AF motors to move the lens elements, they can only be as quiet as the motors are.
In short, if you prefer to set focus manually when shooting video, don’t just assume that because you don’t intend to use autofocus that you can simply ignore any noise emitted by the AF motors, as the noise might still be there even during “manual” operation.
Naturally you’ll want your videos or vlogs to look as nice as possible. In part this comes down to the camera and sensor you’ll be using. And if the M50 is so popular as a vlogging camera, to a certain degree that’s due to the quality of its video (just don’t mention 4K!).
The other main ingredient in image quality, though, is of course the lens you’ll be using with the camera.
When we talk about image quality in relation to lens optics, we’re really talking about a whole bunch of different factors that come together to create a good looking image.
For example. you could say that bokeh is one of these elements. But as we’ve already discussed bokeh in some depth above, we can skip that here.
In any case, for most people basic matters such as sharpness and detail will be the main concern when choosing a lens for video. And the good news here is that most glass for the M-mount system performs very well in this department.
Do keep in mind, though, that no lens is at its sharpest when used at the widest aperture. Instead maximum sharpness and detail will usually be seen after shutting down a stop or two.
There is some notable variation in performance between lens models here though. So if shooting in low light is a priority, be sure to choose a lens that delivers comparatively good sharpness even wide open.
Also consider that even if a particular lens is known to be lacking in sharpness towards the corners, this is unlikely to be much of a problem in most real-life shooting situations (I mean, how often do you place your main subject in the extreme corner of the frame when composing?). Indeed, as long as center sharpness is good, most videographers will be happy to live with a little drop in resolution towards the edges. The same goes for contrast.
Color, on the other hand, is more subjective. Some go wild for a characteristic looking lens. Others prefer something more neutral in its color rendering. Especially if they will in any case be doing a lot of work on their video clips at the grading stage.
Finally, as good as most modern lenses are, few are optically perfect. And don’t be surprised if an otherwise great lens displays one or two defects.
Obviously, if these are too noticeable, or of a variety that is particularly difficult to correct in postproduction, then the lens is best avoided. But a degree of vignetting, barrel or pincushion distortion, and even color fringing can be expected even with otherwise very good lenses. In any case, most such problems can be automatically fixed by means of software.
At its most basic level, focal length dictates how much of a subject you can fit in the frame, and/or how far away from the subject you’ll need to be.
Do you require a very wide angle lens for shooting indoors? Or do you spend a lot of the time outdoors filming more distant subjects? These are questions only you can answer.
Focal length has other effects, too, though.
For example, its usually pretty difficult to achieve a shallow depth of field with a wide angle lens. That’s fine if you want all of your footage sharply focused from foreground to background.
But it could be frustrating if you were hoping to get some good separation between the subject and whatever is behind it.
On the flipside, it can be hard to achieve anything but a shallow depth of field with a telephoto lens. Great for getting blurry backgrounds.
Not so good if you need to clearly show both background and foreground details at the same time.
Primes vs Zooms
Prime lenses do just one thing, and they tend to do it well.
They are typically small, lightweight, sharp, and come with a fast maximum aperture.
The pricing of prime lenses tends to be competitive when compared with zooms. But you’d need to purchase several primes in order to cover the same range of focal lengths as offered by even the most basic zoom lens.
Zoom lenses cover a lot more ground in a single lens.
You can throw your Canon M50 in a bag with a single zoom and be ready for anything.
Well, almost anything. In order to fit so much into a single lens without it becoming either enormous or prohibitively expensive, camera manufacturers have to compromise somewhere.
Usually they compromise on maximum aperture. Sometimes they compromise on image quality too.
If speed, sharpness, and price are a priority, you’d do well to make do with a couple of simple primes.
Need versatility in terms of focal length, and don’t mind doing without a fast maximum aperture? A zoom is likely for you.
Image stabilization is an amazing invention. If I could travel back in time 50 or more years and show a modern camera to photographers in the past, I imagine that of all the modern photographic innovations, it would be image stabilization they would be most jealous of (yes, perhaps even more so than the move from analog film to digital ones and zeros!).
Certainly for videographers IS makes an enormous difference to the quality of handheld footage.
And few would want to go without it.
But the fact is that the M50 already offers image stabilization in-camera.
Adding an IS lens to the equation certainly won’t hurt.
But from what I’ve seen, if the M50’s in-body stabilization is engaged, the addition of in-lens stabilization doesn’t make a huge difference to the results.
In short, IS should certainly be considered an advantage when choosing a videography lens for the M50, but I wouldn’t rule out non-IS lenses.
If in doubt, try it out. It’s the results that count!
EOS M50 MKII Resources & Specifications
|Body type||SLR-style mirrorless|
|Max resolution||6000 x 4000|
|Image ratio w:h||1:1, 4:3, 3:2, 16:9|
|Effective pixels||24 megapixels|
|Sensor photo detectors||26 megapixels|
|Sensor size||APS-C (22.3 x 14.9 mm)|
|ISO||Auto, 100-25600 (expands to 51200)|
|Boosted ISO (maximum)||51200|
|White balance presets||7|
|Custom white balance||Yes|
|Optics & Focus|
|Number of focus points||143|
|Lens mount||Canon EF-M|
|Focal length multiplier||1.6×|
|Screen / viewfinder|
|Articulated LCD||Fully articulated|
|Screen type||TFT LCD|
|Minimum shutter speed||30 sec|
|Maximum shutter speed||1/4000 sec|
|Manual exposure mode||Yes|
|Flash range||5.00 m (at ISO 100)|
|Flash modes||Evaluative (face priority), Evaluative, Average|
|Continuous drive||10.0 fps|
|Self-timer||Yes (2 or 10 secs, custom)|
|Exposure compensation||±3 (at 1/3 EV steps)|
|AE Bracketing||±2 (3 frames at 1/3 EV steps)|
|Storage types||SD/SDHC/SDXC slot (UHS-I compatible)|
|USB||USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)|
|Wireless notes||802.11b/g/n + Bluetooth|
|Remote control||Yes (via smartphone)|
|Battery description||LP-E12 lithium-ion battery & charger|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||305|
|Weight (inc. batteries)||387 g (0.85 lb / 13.65 oz)|
|Dimensions||116 x 88 x 59 mm (4.57 x 3.46 x 2.32″)|
Compact, easy to use, and affordable, the Canon M50 makes for a great little camera for video and vlogging.
Sure, I wish that 4K video didn’t involve a crop. And a few faster zoom lenses would make a lot of people very happy, too.
But this is a camera that’s more about picking up hot footage on the fly and delivering edgy livestreams than crafting the next award winning Netflix drama. And for this, the M50 MKI and MKII really excel.
Now grab yourself one of the great M-mount lenses I’ve reviewed above and get out there and shoot!