I Bought a Mirrorless Camera for YouTube, but It May Have Been a Mistake.

iPhone 11 Pro is better when you have enough light.

After using my iPhone 11 Pro for my first six YouTube videos, I decided to buy an entry-level mirrorless camera (Canon M50).

My decision had nothing to do with the video quality and everything to do with convenience.

When compared side-by-side (iPhone 11 Pro vs. Canon M50), iPhone 11 Pro holds up well. The key to shooting with an iPhone is lighting. If you give its tiny sensor enough light (outside or studio lights), you’ll get video quality that’s better or on par with a mirrorless camera.

Bottom line: The Canon M50 is a nice camera, and shooting with a dedicated camera is more convenient than a phone, but I wouldn’t buy it again. I’d rather save my money to buy a GREAT mirrorless camera, rather an entry-level one. The Canon M50's autofocus in 4K was a huge letdown, but when in 1080p, it has great autofocus and video quality.

Watch the video comparison video below and let me know if I made the right call. Did I drop $600 when I shouldn’t have?

iPhone Inconveniences:

  • Most of the following issues can be fixed with a workaround or by being smarter, but this was my thought process before my purchase.

  • Five minutes of 4K footage on the iPhone is 1 GB. I lost a lot of footage due to running out of space halfway through a clip.

    • My iPhone is just 64 GB. If you want to use your iPhone for video, make sure you have lots of extra space.

    • You should transfer your clips as you go, rather than transferring all at once.

  • The transfer to a computer isn’t ideal: 

    • AirDrop is amazing for moving photos and small files, but it doesn't work as well with big video files.

    • Windows computers aren’t AirDrop compatible.

    • iCloud Photos works well, but large videos take a long time before they reach cloud.

    • You can't transfer videos by plugging your phone into your Mac unless you disable iCloud Photo first.

  • Video kills iPhone’s battery. I usually get through a whole day on my phone without worrying about battery. After shooting video during the day, I’d need to juice up later in the evening.

  • You can't frame yourself up with the iPhone's main camera. You can record with the selfie camera, but the quality isn't nearly as good.

  • I use my phone for many aspects of my business and life, but I can't while it’s mounted on the tripod. Plus, there were a couple of times when I needed to demo an app feature but couldn't because my phone was recording.

  • I used a Blue Snowball podcasting mic to record my audio. I would sync the video and audio together after in Final Cut Pro. This was inconvenient. I didn’t buy a mic for my phone because I didn't want to buy phone accessories when the end game was a camera anyways. Also, there isn't a way to mount a mic without another accessory.

Canon M50 Pros (Applies to Most Mirrorless Cameras):

  • For me, the biggest advantage to a camera is the SD card slot. I bought a 128 GB card that transfers video at 170MB/s. It’s a better experience than AirDrop (by a lot).

  • The Canon M50 flip-out screen helps me position myself in the frame and make sure everything is in focus. There's a viewfinder on the phone app too.

  • It has a larger sensor compared to the iPhone. The M50 acquires way more information with less light needed. You can get clear shots with mediocre lighting.

  • The Canon M50 has an auto mode, but you get way more control in manual by changing the ISO, shutter speed, and aperture. You can pick your preferred look.

  • I have the 16mm-50mm kit lens, but I can improve the quality with a new lens in the future. I want a lens with a larger aperture to get that nice blurry background.

  • It has a mic mount and jack.

Canon M50 Disadvantages:

  • It has a 1.6x crop in 4K, while the APS-C sensor already crops in at 1.6x, giving you a 2.6x crop while in 4K. That means at 16mm, you’re at a 42mm equivalent. I'm fine with this, but if I were a vlogger this would be way too close.

  • The 4K autofocus is terrible. Canon's Dual Pixel Autofocus is amazing, but it only works in 1080p. I tried using manual focus, but it's hard when you're a one-man team. There’s nothing worse than shooting an entire segment to see that my entire clip was blurry. The Canon M50 is an awesome 1080p camera and a bad 4K camera. That's fine but understand that before buying.

  • My iPhone's stabilization and dynamic range are better than Canon's. If you watch my video, you'll see the iPhone outperform the Canon outside by a solid margin. The iPhone did a great job of keeping all the colors in my face while preserving the green from the trees and the blue from the sky.

  • Canon’s onboard mic is worse than iPhone 11's. Buy a mic.

  • Camera gear is addicting. I instantly started researching new lenses, and I already want a camera with better 4K autofocus.

  • The SD card is a huge advantage for me, but some may see it as adding unwanted complexity. The iPhone is just plug-and-play.