Announced just seven months apart from each other and with much in common, Canon’s EOS 80D DSLR and EOS M5 mirrorless model will no doubt appeal towards a very similar user. We’ve rifled through the spec sheet of each to find out where they differ.
Design and ergonomics
While smaller and lighter than the EOS 80D, the EOS M5 has nevertheless been designed with a fairly substantial grip. Together with four physical dials on the top plate and a centrally positioned viewfinder, its handling and operation isn’t entirely dissimilar from that of the average DSLR. It does, however, lack the EOS 80D’s top-plate LCD.
Naturally, belonging to two different formats means the two differ with their viewfinders. Canon has designed the EOS 80D with an optical pentaprism viewfinder that covers 100% of the scene, while the EOS M5 has been kitted out with an electronic alternative that features a 0.39in OLED panel with 2.36million dots.
While the LCD displays on each camera can be pulled away from their respective bodies, the EOS M5’s screen tilts upwards and downwards, and all the way around the face the front if you want it to.
The EOS 80D, meanwhile, has a vari-angle screen that pivots more freely around the side of the camera. This also allows it to be folded to face the camera so that it’s protected against scratches.
Both cameras employ a 24.2MP APS-C sensor, and the fact that they were released so closely to each other suggests that the two are either the same or, at the very least, related.
Perhaps a more significant point of difference between the two cameras is the range of native lenses for each. Whereas the EOS 80D accepts 30 years’ worth of EF and EF-S lenses, the EOS M5 is only compatible with the handful that Canon and third parties have developed for the line since its launch back in 2012.
You can, of course, use EF lenses on the EOS M5 via an adapter, but you start to lose the advantage of the camera’s more compact size by doing so.
The EOS M5 has 49 phase-detect AF pixels built onto the imaging sensor, and these are arranged in a 7×7 grid, while the EOS 80D partners its sensor-based phase-detect pixels with 45 all-cross-type points on a separate AF module. The construction of the sensors means that both offer Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology, which allows for continuous focusing during live view operation and video recording.
The EOS M5 focusing system’s working range, however, doesn’t quite stretch down to the -3EV of the EOS 80D, petering out at -1EV instead, so it’s likely to find focusing in low light a little trickier.
Both cameras have Wi-Fi and NFC built into them, although the EOS M5 also incorporates Bluetooth so that it can be constantly connected to a smart device.
The EOS 80D races ahead with its battery life, claiming to last for up to around 960 frames next to the EOS M5’s 295. You can, however, switch the EOS M5 to an ECO mode that will boost this up to around 420 frames per charge. The EOS 80D’s built-in flash also has a more impressive guide number of 12m at ISO 100 next to the EOS M5’s 5m.
The EOS M5 does have a marginal advantage with its burst speed, though. It manages to capture 9fps next to the EOS 80D’s 7fps, although this figure drops to 7fps should you want autofocus to be working throughout the burst.
4K recording hasn’t made it down from Canon’s more video-centric cameras to either of these models; instead, we get Full HD recording up to 60p on each. One key difference is that the EOS 80D sports both microphone and headphone ports, while the EOS M5 only offers the former.
The EOS M5 also benefits from a five-axis electronic IS system, one that can work in conjunction with with lens-based IS (or simply work on its own when using non IS lenses). The EOS 80D, meanwhile, relies on image stabilisation from the lens.
In summary, the EOS M5 has the advantage of a smaller and lighter body, together with a newer processing engine and a slightly larger, higher-resolution rear display. It also boasts a slightly faster burst rate and Bluetooth connectivity, and its electronic viewfinder may be easier to use in certain conditions.
The EOS 80D trumps the EOS M5 with its battery life and flash power, and its focusing system is more likely to keep locking on in poorer light. Belonging to a more established system, it accepts a far broader range of native lenses too. Right now this latter point perhaps gives it that crucial edge, although if you’re looking to be as mobile as possible the EOS M5 would be a fine alternative.