Gear Reviews

Canon M50 v Nikon Z 50: head-to-head

Need a camera that covers stills and vlogging? We put two of the frontrunners to the test…

Lightweight, portable cameras that are big on features but small on size have never been so popular. What’s more, today’s photographers are spoilt for choice with the increase in mirrorless models making for plenty of selection. We’re pitching two of the most popular cameras from this sector against each other to help you pick the right model for your photography. First up is the Canon M50, which was launched back in 2018 and is the smallest option from Canon’s M-mount range of mirrorless cameras.

In the other corner is the Nikon Z 50 – which was launched in October 2019 and is currently Nikon’s only crop-sensor camera from it’s newer range of Z-mount mirrorless cameras. To measure each model, we’re drilling down deep into the specifications sheets, so let’s see how the two cameras stack up…

One – Resolution

The Nikon Z 50 is built around APS-C CMOS sensor that delivers a resolution of 20.9-megapixels and delivers a maximum file size of 5568 x 3712 pixels. Canon’s M50 also features an APS-C size CMOS sensor, but deliver 24-megapixels – that’s around 13% more resolution than the Nikon and produces a maximum file size of 6000 x 4000 pixels, offering a little more tolerance should the photographer wish to crop the image without compromising image quality.


Two: Portability

Make no mistake, both cameras in this comparison are small and lightweight, making them great choices for photographers that don’t want to be weighed down by a larger camera or for those who are travelling and have little space left in their luggage. However, there are a couple of differences and it’s the Canon M50 that comes in both lighter and smaller than the Nikon.

For example, the M50 tips the scales at just 387g (including battery and memory card) and measures 116.3 x 88.1 x 58.7mm compared to the Nikon Z 50, which weighs 450g (including battery and memory card) and measures a little bigger at 126.5 x 93.5 x 60 mm.

Three: Lens selection

As you’d expect from two cameras from different brands, there is a difference in the lenses that are used with each model. The M50 uses Canon’s M-mount, so there is already a good selection of lenses (including fast aperture primes) on offer. What’s more, the M50 can take an adaptor that will enable Canon EF-mount lenses to be paired with the M50, greatly expanding the amount of glass that can be used.

Meanwhile, the Z 50 uses Nikon’s newer Z-mount so although there may be fewer native lenses on offer at present, more are planned by Nikon and an adaptor will enable F-mount glass to be used with the Z 50. So, in short, whatever camera you choose, there will be plenty of optical options available.

Four: Battery Life

While battery life may not be as important a consideration for DSLR photographers who are used to big capacity batteries, it’s certainly an issue for smaller mirrorless cameras. The Canon M50 is capable of 235 shots on a single charge in normal operation or 370 shots if the camera is used in eco mode. The M50 ‘s battery will also enable up to 80 minutes of video recorded before the battery drains. The Nikon Z 50 is good for 320 shots on a single charge and it can be charged on the go via a USB connection to a powerbank.

Five: Focus system

Both cameras in this comparison feature advanced autofocus systems but there are key differences too. The Canon M50’s system uses 143 AF points and takes advantage of Canon’s acclaimed Dual Pixel AF technology and also enables Face-Detection to make portraiture easier. Nikon Z 50 features more AF point (209) via a hybrid phase/contrast detection system that also enables Face-Detection.

Six: Burst rate

The ability to access a fast maximum burst rate will enable users to capture action photography and shoot great images of sports and wildlife. Both the Canon and Nikon excel in this area and each offers a decent burst rate that will definitely be sufficient in general every day action photography. For example, the Canon M50 can shoot up to 10 frames per second for up to 33 frames in JPEG and 10 frames in RAW. The Nikon Z50 however can quite literally go one better and offers a maximum burst rate of up to 11 frames per second to ensure you can capture split second moments.

Seven: LCD Design

While the Nikon Z 50 and Canon M50 offer Electronic Viewfinders (EVFs) with the same resolution (2360k-dot), there is a big difference when it comes to the design of the LCDs. While the Nikon Z 50 features the larger LCD size (3.2-inch compared to the Canon’s 3-inch), it’s design is tilting, making it useful for awkward high/low compositions.

Meanwhile, the Canon M50’s design is vari-angle, which is not only good for high/low compositions, but also enables the screen to be flipped out, which is perfect when trying to shoot selfies or Vlogs.

Eight: Video

Despite their small size, both the Canon M50 and Nikon Z 50 have plenty to offer videographers with impressive movie specifications. Both cameras can shoot ultra high quality 4K footage and also offer Full HD up to 60p.

However, the Nikon has the edge when it comes to recording slow motion sequences as the Z 50 can record at 120p in Full HD (1920 x 1080), while the M50’s slow motion mode operates at 1280 x 720. Both the M50 and Z 50 feature a port for an external microphone so enhanced audio can be recorded.

Nine: ISO range

A vast ISO range is important because it will allow photographers to keep shooting when light levels are low. The Canon M50 features a decent native ISO range of 100-25600, which can be expanded to 100-51200. However the newer Nikon Z 50 improves on this, offering a native ISO of 100-51200 that can be expanded up to a whopping 204800.