Yes, it’s true. Canon has a mirrorless camera – the EOS M and the world is still standing. Many were wondering what took so long for the world’s largest camera maker to enter the brave new mirrorless niche, but it probably comes down to not wanting to have a in-house competition to best selling 1100D (EOS Rebel T3) and 600/650D (Rebel T3i/T4i) models. The problem with such strategy became pretty obvious lately – mirrorless offering from Sony and micro 4/3 systems became worthy competitors and started to eat away market share from Canon. And while Sony, Olympus and Panasonic have several years of experience and a whole range of native mirrorless lenses, Canon is at the very beginning. One camera and two lenses. Is it good enough to sell? Let’s find out.
- Announced: 2012.
- Type: Mirrorless
- Dimensions: 109 x 66 x 32 mm
- Weight: 298 g
- Sensor: CMOS 18MP (5184 x 3456 pixels)
- Lens: Kit lens: 18-55mm (29-88 in 35mm), F/3.5-5.6, optical image stabilization
- ISO range: Native 100 – 12,800, Extended 100 – 25,600
- Dust and moisture protection: No
- Flash: External unit (included), hot-shoe, wireless remote control for Canon flash units
- Continuous shooting: 4 fps
- LCD screen: 3″ touch-screen, 1,040,000 dots, fixed
- Memory card: SDHC
- Battery: Li-Ion LP-E12
- Video: 1920 x 1080 (30,25,24fps), 1280 x 720 (60,50fps), 640 x 480
- Connectors: USB 2.0, mini HDMI, 3.5mm stereo mic input
CONSTRUCTION AND HANDLING
Canon EOS M is a very sexy camera. It has nice and clean modern lines and is covered with shiny and very firm plastic. Lens mount and tripod mount are made of metal.
It fits in hand quite good but not perfect. Thumb grip is made from plastic (rubber would be better) but is well shaped and provides a rather solid grip. A small recessed video shooting button is integrated in the thumb grip so there’s no danger of accidental movie recordings. Shutter button is at an angle – important detail in my opinion. It’s easier to use it than the one placed at the top (like on Olympus PEN for example). Front grip is extremely small and although provides a basic palm-support, will be too small for users with very large hands. Sony NEX-6, NEX-7 and Olympus OMD with grip attached are in my opinion still the best handling mirrorless cameras on the market.
Mode selector (the dial around shutter button) has only three positions: green AUTO, manual modes and video. It is clear Canon meant this to be amateur’s camera. Only one button is programmable – the erase button on multi-way controller.
First few hours with EOS M were quite frustrating for me. I could not find how to select manual exposure modes or zoom into recorded images no matter what button I pushed. I must be getting old, since it occurred to me later in the day that EOS M is supposed to be controlled via touch-LCD, not buttons. From that point onward, it was a breeze to use it.
Touch LCD is of the capacitive type and supports multi-touch operation. In fact, it is so sensitive and responsive I could not believe it. It is still not as good as the one on Iphone, but it’s not very far either. I could select any tab or setting in menu without repeated touches. It is also very easy to select a focus point using LCD, or combine it with touch-shutter function. LCD is also bright and detailed with good viewing angles. If it was articulated, it would be phenomenal.
There is no viewfinder or an option to attach one. EOS M is clearly targeted for amateur users and they prefer using LCD for composing shots it seems.
MENU AND DISPLAYS
Canon EOS M’s main Menu is visually the same as found on other EOS DSLR’s. Very easy to navigate with options divided in multi-colored tabs. There are several display layout’s both for shooting and reviewing, as well as five color schemes for touch-operated quick-menu. What I liked the most is the live histogram with an option to show RGB histogram rather than brightness only. As far as I recall, this is the first camera ever to have RGB histogram in live-view.
Last tab in Menu is reserved for personal selections of often used items, just like on EOS DSLR’s.
Most Canon DSLR’s had the tendency to measure light to the dark side (and by that I don’t mean Canon is your father!). This is also the case with EOS M; with current bleak and dark weather over my city I had to constantly use around +1EV to push the histogram to the right, but users of “green auto” mode will probably scratch their heads why all the images turned out so dark.
There is no built-in flash, but the EOS M has a standard hot-shoe and is delivered with a small external flash unit – the Speedlite 90 EX. What makes this flash different from the one sold with competitions mirrorless cameras is the fact it uses two AAA batteries for power. This can be regarded as both good and bad thing; the flash will not drain the main camera battery but you’ll need to buy rechargeable AAA, a charger and remember to charge them besides the main Li-Ion in camera. But because of the separate power source, the Speedlite 90 EX has more power than competitor’s flash units which use camera battery, so overall Canon made a very good choice.
Not to be omitted, EOS M has the ability to wirelessly control remote Canon Speedlite units which adds a lot to overall versatility, especially considering touch-screen interface which makes it easy to manipulate settings.
Speedlite 90EX can also be used on any other brand camera with hot-shoe connector since it has it own power supply.