I’ve never owned a REAL camera before. My smartphone and action cameras take good photos and videos. So why would I need one? But… then I saw a crazy bargain online — Canon M6 + lens for £300 ($400). I couldn’t resist, and now I own a Mirrorless Camera. How does it compare to the photos and videos coming out of my smartphone? Would I recommend you upgrade to a proper camera? All will be revealed…
I’m going to let you in on a secret…
This is the second time I’ve made this video.
The first time around it was 30 mins
long and full of useful details.
Then my hard drive crashed and I lost everything!
All the video footage, all the photos, all my notes.
But, undeterred, I’m trying again.
I refuse to let setbacks hold me back.
Oh, and I’ve made this video for relative beginners.
I know there will be camera nerds who are
watching this video right now, ready to correct me.
And I’ll tell you, I can’t stand camera nerds!
“Oh, I’m going to leave a comment correcting
him and show off how much I know.”
“I’m cleverer than Jay.”
NO! No, you’re not cleverer than me!
I’m just simplifying for the inexperienced people, OK?
Stupid camera nerds!
Why don’t you just go f—
Whatup nerds? I’m Jay Shareef.
And I just bought my first Mirrorless camera.
Here’s the thing. I’ve never owned a proper camera.
I work in marketing. So, basically, my job
is putting words and images together
on behalf of companies and government agencies.
So I’ve used plenty of cameras in my line of work.
But I’ve avoided what the photography
nerds would call a “real” camera.
And by “real cameras” they mean the ones with big sensors and interchangeable lenses.
I’ve never wanted to own one of
those cameras, for three reasons.
Number one: they’re heavy and cumbersome.
Number two: the thought of carrying
around extra lenses annoys me.
And number three: I’m lazy.
Oh yeah… that.
I don’t joke about disabilities.
But I typed “lazy fat man” into a search engine.
And THAT is the image that came up.
Anyway, I am lazy. And I don’t want a
whole load of extra settings to worry about.
I like to stick it in AUTO mode,
and let the camera do all the work.
I can shoot manual. I just don’t want to.
I’ve no interest in worrying about F-stops
and T-stops and shutter speeds and filters.
I am NOT a camera nerd!
Oh, and one thing I really don’t care
about is blurry backgrounds.
Camera nerds are obsessed with blurry backgrounds.
“Oooh, it’s so cinematic.”
“Oh, the bokeh is so beautiful!”
I do not care about BOKEH!
That’s what the camera nerds call the background blur.
Personally, I need a camera for just two things:
My kids and Youtube videos. That’s it.
My smartphone and my action
cameras, plus my camcorder…
that’s more than enough for me to
do the job, as far as i’m concerned.
Also, I don’t want the background to be blurry.
So, why would I spend more
money on a proper camera?
But, there was a nagging voice in the back of my head.
And it was always telling me that my
Youtube videos could look a lot better.
So, I decided i was going to upgrade,
but not all the way to a “real” camera.
Instead, I was going to get a
compact camera with a big sensor.
“Big” is a relative term here, by the way.
Basically, I had three requirements.
Firstly, it had to have a big sensor.
There’s no point getting a new camera
if it doesn’t give you a better picture
than the cameras you already own.
Secondly, it must have a microphone
input, so I can plug in my external mic.
Audio is really, really important for YouTube videos.
And, finally, it has to have an articulating
screen so I can see what I’m recording.
When you’re making YouTube videos,
you’re usually doing everything yourself.
So, being able to see what you’re
recording is really really valuable.
After a little bit of research, I decided
to get myself a Canon G7X Mark iii.
It has a one-inch sensor, microphone
input, and a flip-up screen.
Love flip-up screens!
I’d heard it was a great little camera,
but it had some teething trouble initially.
Basically, it suffered from Godawful autofocus!
Have a look on YouTube. Terrible autofocus!
A lot of YouTubers ended up looking
very, very blurry in all of their videos.
But… Canon said they’d released a new
firmware that fixed the autofocus problem.
Canon lied to us!
The autofocus on the G7X mark iii is still terrible.
So, I sent it back and resigned
myself to waiting for the Mark iv.
Then I saw that one of the big electronics superstores
was selling a super cheap display model Canon M6.
A £700 GBP camera available for
just £300 GBP, with a kit lens.
That’s a no-brainer. So, obviously, I bought it.
So, the big question now is: was it worth the money?
And how does it compare to my
smartphone and other cameras?
At this point I’m going to jump to the punchline for you.
Obviously, obviously, a real camera, with
a large sensor and interchangeable lenses,
is going to produce better photos and
video than any smartphone. Obviously.
None of you will be surprised
by that big reveal at the end.
But, here’s the question I’m hoping to answer for you:
Is it really worth upgrading to a real camera nowadays?
Everybody already has a powerful
smartphone in their pocket.
How big a difference is there between
smartphone cameras and real cameras?
And the answer to that question,
definitely surprised me!
So, if you’ve just joined us, what I’m doing today is
comparing my smartphone camera
to my new Mirrorless camera.
I bought the Canon M6 for £300 – that’s about $400 US.
And it’s the first real camera that I’ve ever owned.
And here it is. Sorry, no unboxing this time around.
I did film the unboxing, but
managed to lose all that footage.
Anyway, this is everything I got for my $400.
I’ve got the camera body.
A battery and battery charger.
A Canon branded strap. (I do like that.)
And a 15-to-45 mm stabilized kit lens.
Rest assured, I didn’t buy this blind.
I’d researched it beforehand,
and knew what I was getting.
According to the reviews, it’s a fantastic camera.
This camera shoots HD video,
which is very important for YouTubers.
It has a flip-up screen. Again,
very important for YouTubers.
It’s reasonably lightweight.
The body is less than 400 grammes.
It has In-body Image Stabilization.
What the nerds often refer to as IBIS.
It also has stabilized lenses available, like this one.
You can connect an external microphone.
It has Canon’s usual excellent
picture quality, even with the kit lenses.
And a large APS-C sensor inside.
We’ll talk more about that later.
And, finally, it has Canon’s excellent
Dual Pixel Autofocus, aka D.P.A.F.
So, the Canon M6 ticks almost all by boxes.
If they could make a version of this with
a fixed lens, and it was a bit lighter,
that would probably be my ideal camera.
At this point, I do have to acknowledge that most YouTubers seem to prefer the Canon M50
to the Canon M6, and many will
claim that that camera is superior.
The truth is they are almost identical in every way,
except the Canon M6 is slightly
smaller and has better battery life.
Some reviewers also claim the Canon M6
has better autofocus, as well.
I’m aware that the Canon M50 can shoot videos in 4K.
But, it’s a severely cropped image, and you
lose the Dual Pixel Autofocus in 4K mode.
If your 4K footage is coming out blurry, well
you might as well not have 4K as far as I’m concerned!
Also, and this is very much a personal
preference, the screen on the M6 flips up.
Whereas, the screen on the M50 flips out to the side.
If you prefer your screen to flip out to
the side then definitely get the M50,
because, truthfully, they are really
very, very, very similar cameras.
Ultimately, the biggest differentiator for me was
that I could buy the M6 for a bargain price.
The M50 would have cost at least $300 more.
So, how good is this Mirrorless camera really?
Let me demonstrate.
Right now, I’m filming on my Sony camcorder.
What happens when I swap my
camcorder for my new Mirrorless camera?
Right! I think it should be immediately pretty obvious
that the Mirrorless camera is in a
different league to this camcorder.
You see, while this camcorder may look big,
and it weighs more than my new camera,
in reality it has an absolutely tiny, tiny sensor.
In fact, there’s a good chance the sensor in your
smartphone is bigger than the one in this camera.
This is the Sony AX53, and it has a
sensor that’s “1 over 2.5 inches” in size.
That’s a really stupid and confusing way of saying it
and, in all honesty, a lot of camera
jargon is stupid and confusing.
So, let’s use some sensible metric numbers.
The sensor in this camcorder is 25 square millimetres.
The sensor in most high-end smartphones, and action
cameras, is usually about 29 square millimetres.
So, not much bigger.
The APS-C sensor in my new mirrorless camera
though is about 330 square millimetres.
It’s more than 13 times bigger
than what’s in this camcorder.
And that is why the image you are seeing right now
is better than the one you were seeing with my Sony.
Generally speaking, the bigger your
sensor the better your images can be.
But what about Megapixels, Jay?
I’m glad you asked. Let me explain…
Megapixels are bullshit, OK?
Megapixels are a marketing scam.
More Megapixels doesn’t always mean better picture quality.
In many situations, more Megapixels could
actually mean WORSE picture quality.
It is a complicated subject and
I’m not going to get into it here.
But, just take my word for it: sensor size
matters a lot more than Megapixels.
A 10 Megapixel camera with a huge sensor, and
a decent lens, can usually do a lot more for you
than your 20 or 30 Megapixel smartphone camera.
My new Canon camera has a bigger sensor and
it delivers a better picture than my camcorder.
So you might be wondering:
Why the hell is this camcorder, with its tiny sensor,
so much bigger and heavier than my new camera?
Well, a lot of that has to do with the optical
stabilization built within this camcorder.
Basically, as the camera shakes and jitters,
the lenses and sensor inside the camera
body will move too, in the opposite direction,
in order to reduce the shakiness of the image.
Which is a damned clever system.
Secondly, this camera has an enormous zoom capacity,
and that also takes up a hell of a lot of room.
It has 20 times zoom.
Which is, quite frankly, astonishing.
I do have a lot of respect for this camcorder and
what it can do. It’s an amazing piece of engineering.
And, in decent lighting, it does a really good job.
It’s just not in the same league
as my new Mirrorless camera.
By the way, just to appease the nerds, I
should explain the term “Mirrorless camera”.
In the old days, instead of electronic
sensors we had film cameras.
And there used to be a mirror
in-between the lens and the film.
The mirror would reflect the light
coming into the lens into a viewfinder.
This allowed the photographer to
see what they were about to shoot.
If they were happy with what they saw in the viewfinder,
they’d click the shutter button.
The mirror would move out of the way
for a second or a fraction of a second.
The light coming through the lens
would hit the film and record an image.
Nowadays though, hardly anyone uses film cameras.
All our cameras are digital. So,
we don’t really need that mirror.
And, if we remove the mirror mechanism,
our cameras can be a lot smaller and lighter.
And that is why Mirrorless cameras will
soon become the norm in photography.
It’s worth mentioning that technically (technically)
most of the cameras made nowadays are mirrorless.
Including the ones you find in smartphones, in
action cameras, and in compact cameras etc.
But, when people talk about mirrorless
cameras, what they usually mean is
the ones with bigger sensors
and interchangeable lenses.
Right, so I’m once again filming on my Sony camcorder,
because I need to talk about this
wonderful new M6 that I bought.
If you know me at all, then you already know that
I definitely bought some accessories for it too.
I was good this time, though. I only
bought three-slash-four accessories.
And, I think you’ll agree, they were great choices.
(Links will be in the description below.)
The first thing I bought, obviously, is a brand new
memory card. This is a 256GB Ultima Pro by Integral.
Supposedly very, very fast. Perfect for filming HD
or taking lots of photographs in quick succession.
But, I don’t think that counts as
an accessory! So, let’s not count it.
The first accessory I bought is a
screen protector for the main screen.
Basically it’s just a thin sheet of tempered glass.
The idea being that if you accidentally drop the camera,
your screen protector will crack,
but your screen remains intact.
I’ve used these on most of my smartphones
and they work really, really well.
Also, this thing picks up fingerprints like crazy!
Secondly, I bought a dummy battery.
Although, it says “AC adapter”.
You are probably wondering:
what the hell is a dummy battery?
Well, it’s an ingenious device that connects your
camera to the main supply through the battery slot.
Which means, if you’re doing any
recording or photography indoors,
you won’t have to worry about your battery running out.
And, seeing as I hope to use this camera indoors, to film
all my YouTube videos, that’s going to be really helpful.
The third and final accessory I bought
was a silicone cover. And here it is
Yes, it is yellow!
Was that a deliberate choice?
Hell yes, it was a deliberate choice!
You might think I’ve gone insane.
But, it’s all to do with colour theory.
When I was studying to be a designer,
we learned about how different colours, and different
colour combinations, affect people psychologically.
And, by that, I don’t mean that “blue is
for sadness” and “green is for jealousy”.
That’s an artistic interpretation,
not a scientific interpretation.
Look what happens when I put this silicon cover on
my camera. I’ve now got a black and yellow device.
Ask yourself: where else have you seen
the combination of black and yellow?
Well, there’s stinging insects like bees and wasps.
Police tape is usually black and yellow.
And, hazard signs are legally
required to be black and yellow.
The combination of black and
yellow makes us think of danger.
Without us even realizing it, it’s telling us to stay away.
So, what does that mean for me and this camera?
Well, if you have a black and yellow
camera, it’s less likely to get stolen.
Because, subconsciously, it’s telling potential thieves: “This is a dangerous item. Stay away!!”
Not so crazy a choice now, is it?
And, that’s also why I put a black and
yellow case on my smartphone as well.
Never been stolen!
So, I’ve got my camera. I’ve got my accessories.
Time to test the Canon M6 against my
smartphone to see how they compare.
As usual, I’m going to judge on
the five most sensible criteria.
But, seeing as we’re not really
comparing a camera to a camera,
I’m going to go through this
much, much quicker than usual.
OK, so it’s time to do some Pixel Peeking!
I went to my local lake and took some nature photos.
Yes, we do have lakes in inner city Birmingham(!)
This image was captured by my smartphone.
I’m using the Sony Xperia XA2.
It’s a really good device, and takes some
great photos. And this is a great photo.
Now, look at the same image taken by the Canon M6.
At first, you might not think there’s
much difference between the two.
However, when we zoom into the centre of the image,
where I focused, you can start to see the differences.
As you can see, the camera image is a lot sharper.
And the image that came out of
the smartphone is pretty mushy.
You can’t really see the details on these leaves at all.
OK, so the difference there was
significant, but it wasn’t huge.
Where these dedicated cameras could
really shine is when the sun goes down.
Because the larger lenses and sensors
allow them to collect more light.
So, they perform much better in low-light situations.
Here’s an image of my local canal at about
midnight. This was taken on my smartphone.
And the image looks pitch black.
That’s because it was pitch black at the time.
I was there and, without my torch, I couldn’t
see enough to even walk along the path.
Now, here’s what the camera was
able to do at the same location.
Yes, this image is quite grainy.
But, given there was almost no light at this location,
it’s astonishing it was able to get a usable photo.
The Canon M6 can record video at
full HD up to 60 frames per second.
You’ve also got the option of switching to 50,
30, 25 and 24 frames per second, if you want.
Generally, I like shooting at 30 fps.
But, I know a lot of people prefer the
“cinematic” look of 24 frames per second.
The smartphone, meanwhile, can capture
4K videos at up to 30 frames per second.
However, I will be recording in
full HD for this particular test.
It’s worth noting that the Canon M6 has
image stabilization built into both the camera
and separately in the lens.
So, the footage we get from the
camera should be much smoother.
Also, keep in mind that both of these
devices have face tracking autofocus.
So, the image of my face should be tack sharp.
You know, photographers usually refer to this
time, just before sunset, as “golden hour”.
Because the sun is bright orange in the sky,
and it bathes everything in a golden glow.
That doesn’t really work in Birmingham a lot of the time.
Because, most of the time, it’s quite cloudy.
If this was on a GoPro, that sky would look bright blue.
But it isn’t.
So, you’re probably getting a
better representation of reality.
But, this test, this walking-talking test, is mainly to
check the sound quality of the internal microphones.
Is the smartphone sound better than
the internal microphones in the camera?
But, also, the picture stability.
The camera is supposed to have in body image
stabilization – IBIS – and a stabilized lens.
What difference is that making to this…
I suppose you’d call it a Vlogging test?
I’ve never really liked that term.
Sounds kind of pretentious to me.
I prefer to refer to myself as “an artiste”
or “a creative person”.
Never “a Vlogger”. I’m not a Vlogger.
How’s it looking? Good?
And how’s the autofocus working?
Both of them should be doing a good job. But I expect
a slightly better job is coming out of the Canon M6.
I would hope so anyway.
As that’s pretty much what it’s
famed for – it’s fantastic autofocus.
I think it is looking better than the smartphone.
But you’d be the judge.
[INAUDIBLE DUE TO WIND NOISE]
But, this is the boating lake. My local boating lake.
I know! Inner city Birmingham and a boating lake.
You wouldn’t expect it, but it is true.
It’s a great city…
80% of the time.
Back to the studio!
Doing sound quality tests indoors
isn’t really much of a challenge.
So, for the audio capture tests
we’re heading back outside.
You’ve already heard what the two devices
sound like with their internal microphones.
However, both of them also allow you
to plug in an external microphone.
Right, so time to test the external microphone.
I’m out in nature. There is traffic
around. There is wind noise around.
This is the microphone – the Røde mic, as you can see.
Plugged directly into my Canon M6.
Are you hearing that traffic noise?
Are you hearing the rustling in the trees?
That’s the question.
Right, so similar situation. We’ve got lots of
rustling and wind noise all over the place.
There’s traffic going by as well.
This is the same Røde microphone
plugged into my smartphone.
Not very far from me, as you can see.
It’s a quality piece of kit.
So, hopefully… oh the wind’s picking up a little now.
But, hopefully, that should make no difference
to the quality of the sound you’re hearing.
As you’d expect, both of them sounded really good,
because a unidirectional external microphone
always makes a huge difference to sound quality.
It can be a little unwieldy though, and to be honest,
I think the sound coming from the
Canon M6 internal microphones
was good enough that, in many situations,
you won’t really need an external
mic at all when using this camera.
This is a weird category to judge,
because they are such different devices.
However, if we stick to camera-related features,
hopefully, we can make a sensible comparison.
Firstly, both of these can connect wirelessly
to other devices using wi-fi and bluetooth.
So you can transfer files.
While that’s fine for photos, when it comes to
video files – which are much, much larger –
it can take a ridiculous amount of time to
transfer just 10 minutes of video footage.
One big advantage the smartphone does
have is the ability to edit your photos
and videos very quickly, on the device,
and then post them directly to social media.
Or through platforms like Whatsapp.
However, smartphones compress
the files before uploading them.
Which means that they do get uploaded
faster, but at the expense of image quality.
The camera does allow you to
apply some basic adjustments
to your photos and videos from the touch screen.
However, you can’t share directly with the internet.
You can use the Canon Camera App to download your
photos to your phone and then upload them online.
But, in all honesty, it’s much quicker
and easier to take out the SD card,
stick it in your laptop, and then upload
your photos and videos that way.
It’s worth noting that you don’t
have to shoot in AUTO mode.
You can very easily use the manual
settings in both of these devices.
But, that’s only worth doing if you actually
know what those settings actually do.
I’ve used both of them in manual and the camera
obviously has a lot more options and versatility.
However, the smartphone is no slouch
when it comes to adjusting the ISO,
shutter speed, aperture and white balance.
But, all that will depend on what camera you’re
using and what camera app you’re using as well.
One of the most useful features built into this
particular camera is the digital spirit level.
Basically, it lets you know whether
the camera is horizontal or not.
And, if you’re not, it will tell you
which side you need to adjust.
That is something that some of the better
camera apps on Android can also do for you.
Both the camera and the phone let you
make time-lapse videos, which is fantastic.
Here’s a time lapse of the iconic
Alum Rock Road, on a very cloudy day,
shot on both devices, and both
of them worked reasonably well.
And, finally, both of them have a flashlight.
But only the smartphone can
use it while shooting video.
That’s not surprising.
Using the flashlight on the camera is a huge drain on
the battery, and you’d need a hell of a lot of batteries.
When it comes to usability, the M6
has many pros and a handful of cons.
Let’s start with the good points first.
This is a Canon camera, with a working touchscreen.
Canon have the best menu system in
the market, according to most reviewers.
It’s easy to navigate, easy to understand, and gives
you access to lots of customization options too.
It’s a joy to work with and I’ll probably stick with
Canon cameras forever, just because of the usability.
The big negative with the Canon M6, for me anyway,
is the pain of carrying around a heavy camera.
And, on top of that, having separate lenses too.
Personally I don’t intend to ever own more than one lens.
The 15 to 45 mm kit lens is fine, as far
as I’m concerned, and it’s stabilized.
And I’ll just leave this one on my camera forever.
But, having said that, when taking photos
or recording videos, I have to admit
the camera is so much nicer to
hold than the smartphone.
That’s not surprising though, because the
camera companies have spent the last century
working out how to make cameras
comfortable to hold when you’re using them.
Finally, let’s talk about the most boring topic of all:
I set them both to record video at full HD, in
AUTO mode, to see how long they would last.
The smartphone managed to keep shooting
for 4 hours and 15 mins before the battery died.
That was pretty impressive but not totally unexpected.
It’s only using a small sensor, and I put it into
“Airplane Mode” to maximize shooting time.
What really surprised me here was the camera.
I kept checking on it every 15 minutes,
because i didn’t expect it to last long.
After one hour it was still going.
After 90 minutes it was still going.
After two hours it was still going.
After two hours and 30 minutes it was still going.
Albeit with a battery warning light.
It finally gave up the ghost at
two hours and 40 minutes.
That’s a lot longer than I expected.
And it gives me a lot of confidence that I won’t
need a spare battery for most photo shoots.
Just to warn you though…
This camera, like most consumer cameras,
can only record for 29 minutes and 59 seconds.
That’s not a limitation of the camera.
It’s basically been deliberately
crippled by the manufacturer.
Under European Union tax laws, any camera
that records video for 30 minutes or more
is taxed at a higher rate.
So the camera companies have been
deliberately limiting their camera record times
to keep the price low for consumers.
And that is just one more reason to
hate the bureaucratic European Union.
So… should you upgrade from
a smartphone to a real camera?
No. Not really.
If you’re planning to take photos and make videos
on a regular basis, as a serious hobby for example,
then yes, absolutely, buy yourself a Mirrorless
camera like the Canon M6 or the Canon M50.
But, if all you’re doing is recording birthday
parties and documenting your holidays,
there is absolutely no reason
to upgrade to a real camera.
At a push you might want to
consider buying an action camera.
But, for most people a proper
camera just isn’t necessary.
Smartphones are just so good nowadays,
you are probably better off sticking to the
device you already have in your pocket.
So, basically, my consumer advice is:
Don’t… do… what I’ve just done.