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Canon EOS M Mirrorless Quick Review, Sample Images

Canon finally entered the mirrorless market with the Canon EOS M camera a few weeks ago and finally we’ve been able to have a try with the EOS M fitted with a standard Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 Mark II.

Canon EOS M White

User Review and Observations

These observations are based on a brief usage experience and not a comprehensive test, but some things do stick out and made me like and dislike the EOS M.

For one, I like the size of the camera body, it’s pretty small (smaller than the Powershot G-series) and looks more modern as well. But how does it fare as a system? Let’s find out.

Lens Options

Currently, there are only two lens options for the EOS-M, the Canon EF-M 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS STM Compact System Lens that covers the usual 29-88mm range.

The second lens is the Canon EF-M 22mm f2 STM Prime Lens that provides an equivalent field of view of 35mm.

Most mirrorless camera aficionados are heavy prime users, it’ll be interesting to see how many decent primes Canon plans to release for their EF-M mount.

Auto Focus Speed

First is the AF speed. Coming from a DSLR and currently an Olympus OM-D EM5 user, the EOS M’s auto focus has a very clear lag compared to the Olympus OM-D. The focus accuracy is also suspect in less-than-ideal contrast situations.

Even with the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 Mark II mounted, a lens I’m very familiar with in terms of AF speed on EOS DSLRs, there’s a very noticeable lag between half-press and focus lock.

The Olympus OM-D that I was using at the time was clearly a lot faster and more decisive in locking focus even with a slow kit lens.

Ergonomics

As mentioned, I like the small body of the EOS M, it really feels like a small, bridge P&S, especially with the kit lens and the pancake lenses, but like the Sony NEX, the big sensor made the lenses quite big and not very balanced to use in hand.

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You’ll soon feel that 90% of the weight is supported by your left hand and the right hand is only for button manipulation, which affects stability and handling for non-stabilized shooting.

This is very obvious when you have to use the rather expensive Canon EOS M Mount Adapter plus a heavy L lens.

The buttons, or lack thereof, is quite troublesome for a user familiar with Canon DSLR or even PowerShot G-series cameras.

Almost every feature and menu item has to be accessed from the touch-screen, which is not very intuitive with the amount of options you have in the camera.

It reminded me a lot of the Olympus E-PM Mini and the Panasonic GF5 as well, which isn’t really a good thing unless you have the time to fiddle around with the LCD (landscape, tabletop, studio, macro photography etc.)

Though to Canon’s credit, the menu system is practically identical and consistent to all the other Canon DSLR line, so it’s really intuitive to use, especially for Canon users, but it’s still clumsy to use compared to most other touch screen-based systems.

Image Quality

Images are excellent and very predictable, especially if you’re a long-time Canon user. The images are crisp, highly detailed, and as you can see from the ISO samples previously, noise is very well controlled, just like a modern DSLR sensor should.

Processing burst images take longer than a DSLR somewhat, and with only 4.3 fps, it’s a far cry from what the Olympus OM-D can deliver at 9fps, 6fps would be a good compromise but it’s not a deal-breaker for most targeted customers.

Canon EOS M ISO Samples

As we’ve mentioned in the EOS M launch article, the camera basically is a stripped-down, mirrorless version of the latest Rebel (600D) for the most part with some mirrorless benefits such as touch-focus, continuous AF during live-view/video, among others.

The images below are from 100-12,800, the noise shouldn’t be an issue for most shooters, especially if you’re stepping down from cropped sensor DSLRs.

Canon EOS M Samples ISO canoneosm20121103_0002
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Who Is The EOS-M Really For?

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That’s the question I’ve been wondering, same thing with the Nikon V/J series as well.

Both companies are so big with the traditional P&S market and the mature DSLR market, making any ‘hybrid’ offering a bit confusing.

If the main benefit of the Canon EOS-M is it’s ability to use EF lenses, then I don’t think size would be an issue anymore as apart from the Canon 40mm EF f/2.8 STM, almost all EF lenses are pretty big, not to mention when the required Canon EOS M Mount Adapter is attached.

Granted that the EOS-M is still Canon’s first attempt on mirrorless, we can safely assume that future versions will perform better and the line-up of small lenses will surface.

But if Canon still banks on the EF lens line-up to make the EOS-M appealing, I think the continuous improvement of the affordable Rebel DSLR line will limit what the EOS-M can do in the future.

It’s a very good camera to own if you’re already a Canon DSLR user. If you’re travelling with a decent amount of lenses with your full-frame Canon EOS 5D Mark III, for example, and want to bring a smaller camera along, the EOS-M is a logical, albeit expensive, choice over point-and-shoots.

For the price, I think the new Powershot G15, the excellent Sony DSC-RX100, Panasonic LX7, and Olympus XZ-2 would make more sense.