Up close and personal with the EOS M5
© Gali Tibbon
When photojournalist and Canon Explorer Gali Tibbon was introduced to the EOS M5, little did she know that it would very quickly become a vital part of her kitbag, offering her new opportunities to get closer to her subjects. CPN Editor David Corfield discovers how Canon’s flagship mirrorless camera is making a big impact...
“I love it! Love it, love it, love it...” It’s fair to say that Gali has taken a shine to the EOS M5. And who could blame her? It’s Canon’s fastest mirrorless to date and sits atop the compact system camera range vying for the attentions of DSLR users who seek a discreet alternative with no compromise on quality.
“It reads the light really nice and reacts really fast,” Gali enthuses. “It’s quite amazing and the colours and dynamic range are fantastic. I am a sceptical person anyway and I didn’t think I would be as impressed as I am. It’s like they have put my EOS 5D Mark III in the washing machine and shrunk it!”
All size jokes aside, the real benefit of using a mirrorless camera was brought home to Gali while documenting the Shutka music festival in her native Israel. “The festival was at Kfar Hanokdim, near Arad, in the Negev desert,” she explains. “I’m a huge music lover and at the end of the day all us photographers are just people, and when we want to go somewhere to relax or go on vacation we don’t want to be worried about somebody stealing our gear. So for me in this situation the EOS M5 was just perfect.”
“It was the harvest moon weekend in September so it was the ideal test for the EOS M5. It was very dusty at the festival and I thought ‘this is it, I’m going to kill the camera’ but nothing happened at all. I was amazed by its reliability and its fantastic ability to capture light.”
The EOS M5 features a stunning new APS-C CMOS sensor packed with 24.2 million pixels. Couple that with a new processor – DIGIC 7, the first time it’s been seen in an EOS body – and you have a very compelling proposition for a pro photographer like Gali.
She recalls the moment when the EOS M5 arrived. “When I got it and opened the box I first of all noticed the ergonomic design. When I realised it was designed like the EOS system I was really pleased. It feels natural and familiar to me. The set up part was also simple as it has a lot of custom functions that I had grown used to with my 5D Mark III DSLR. This made the transition to a mirrorless platform a lot smoother. And the touch menu? Oh wow! This was such a new thing to me but because the menu system has a lot of the style and layout I’m used to with my 5D Mark III, I simply put them side-by-side and assigned my custom settings to the M5 instead.”
Gali was sent four EF-M series lenses to use: the 11-22mm zoom, the 18-150mm, the 55-200mm and the 22mm pancake lens. “I liked the EF-M22mm lens – which is the equivalent of a 35mm on a full-frame DSLR – but I also had the EF mount adaptor with me too, which meant I could use my own L-series lenses. That was great; you don't want to carry more, you want to carry less. So being able to use my own lenses was perfect, and because it’s not a full-frame camera there are different benefits when it comes to using them. One of my favourite combinations was the EOS M5 and the pancake lens. It made for a very small and light package, perfect for intimate situations.”
She continues: “I’m a news photographer so it’s important for me to be able to shoot like a maniac when I’m out covering a story. At the music festival I set the EOS M5 to ‘High’ continuous drive mode and it seriously rocked, no pun intended. The camera is super-fast and the noise that it makes compared to DSLRs is really different. It’s quieter, in a really cool way. Plus you can hold it up close to your face and it kind of feels like my first film camera – a Canon AE-1. There is something physical about it that I like. I notice there has been a lot of work done around the area where you put your right thumb, because the dials on the top plate are at a place that feels similar to winding on a film.”
In fact there are three thumb operated control dials on the camera, the two on the right of the electronic viewfinder offer the photographer complete control without having to take their eyes off the subject. The first dial, nearest the viewfinder on the right is multifunctional and surrounds a ‘Dial function’ button. When pressed, it allows user to change the parameter of which the dial controls such as ISO, white balance and drive mode. While the dial furthest to the right of it allows easy selection of exposure compensation. In familiar EOS style, shooting modes are located on the Mode Dial to the left, above the on/off switch.
“The body is mainly polycarbonate rather than aluminium or magnesium alloy,” Gali reveals, “but it feels really strong in my hand, and I love the lightweight nature of it, too. At just over 420 grams you hardly notice you’re carrying something so powerful.”
This last point is a really important one for a photojournalist like Gali. “It’s super discreet; people don’t feel threatened,” she affirms. “And of course the great thing about this camera is that, despite its size, you don’t compromise on anything – not the quality, not the lenses, nothing.”
Gali was also impressed by the camera’s speed, made possible in no small measure by the new processor. “I loved the speed and the touch focus too,” she explains. “Before I used to focus and reframe and then shoot, but you would run the risk of losing pictures like that. This touch focusing on the LCD when using it in Live View means you don’t have to do that anymore.”
“There would definitely be stories I would only use this camera for,” Gali admits, “Just because it can get me closer to my subjects. Plus I know I can rely on it. I’m always super paranoid about a camera letting me down but this one – like all my Canons – is built to perform. And now that I’ve seen the results I can tell you that the file sizes are bigger and unbelievably sharp, too.”
Sound and vision
And as for the results from the music festival? “People didn’t pay attention to me at all,” Gali smiles. “I could just do my thing and the pictures were beautiful. I was very happy with the fast autofocus and found that there was a quick reaction to the focusing especially with the continuous shooting. There was no buffering and the JPEG files are wonderful – 6000 x 4000 pixels wide – plus the quality was superb. There was no noise and the detail in the shadows was just incredible. Documentary photographers, who have for years been shooting with Canon and don’t want to change system or lenses, have been waiting for something like this. It’s like I said earlier, less is more. And for me, I now have the best of both worlds.”
EOS M5 – KEY SPECIFICATIONS
- 24.2 Megapixel CMOS (APS-C) sensor, ISO 100–25,600
- Dual Pixel CMOS AF
- Continuous shooting up to 7.0 fps (up to 9.0 fps with AF Lock)
- New DIGIC 7 Image Processor with improved AF tracking
- Full HD 60p in MP4 format
- Digital IS with 5-axis image stabilisation when shooting movies
- Built-in high-resolution EVF (approx. 2,360,000 dots) with 120 fps refresh rate
- Intuitive 3.2-inch tilt-type (85° up/180° down) touchscreen with approx. 1,620,000 dots
- Extensive customisable options. EOS style controls with 4x controls dials
- Built-in WiFi and NFC for easy sharing of images and videos
- Equipped with Bluetooth® low energy technology for smooth pairing and always-on connection
- Compatible with EF-M lenses as well as the full line of EF and EF-S lenses and Speedlites
Biography: Gali Tibbon
© Michal Fattal
Gali Tibbon is an award-winning photojournalist and documentary photographer based in Jerusalem. With over a decade of experience covering issues in the Middle East, Europe, the Caribbean, Asia and Africa she uses her skills as a photojournalist to illustrate stories on faith through pilgrimage. Her work explores the theme of religion, capturing the spiritual and abstract emotions of the believers into her images. These include documenting religious rituals such as baptism in the River Jordan, the ancient Samaritans, Ethiopian Christianity and religious journeys across Europe. Her latest project has been to document the northern Ethiopian town of Lalibela, famous for its monolithic rock-cut churches and known as “the Jerusalem of Africa.” This work was featured in the Angkor photo festival in Cambodia, the Bursa Fotofest in Turkey as well as Visa pour l’Image in France and won her several international awards.