EOS M, Canon’s first compact system camera is a considerably smaller as developers have used their PowerShot range of compact cameras for inspiration for the design of the Canon EOS M, which has a fairly flat rectangular shape with rounded edges. Canon EOS M’s body measures just 32mm thick (1.3″) grip is missing though and it feels a little unbalanced with 18-5mm lens mounted on it, so it’s a good idea to attach and use the supplied strap to carry it between shots. Inside Canon EOS M is the same DIGIC 5 processing engine and 18MP APS-C format sensor as is in the EOS 650D but it is much smaller. The Canon EOS M has a responsive capacitive fixed 3-inch touch-screen with over a million dots. It’s a pleasure to use it to make settings adjustments because it has a fairly limited number of direct controls.
On the top there is a switch to change between Auto Mode, Manual and Video mode. Camera mode has a bit more to offer with selectable scene modes for less experienced photographers, while aperture priority, shutter priority and manual mode is best for professionals. The Quick Menu provides access to key features such as creative modes, image quality and white balance. If you want to shoot raw and JPEG files simultaneously, you have to change file format before using them.
Although the screen provides a clear view inside and in low light, it’s not so good when the sun is out and reflections are a problem. It’s a shame because there’s no viewfinder or even a port to attach an external viewfinder on the Canon EOS M. There’s also no flash built-in can usually make out the main elements but there’s a Hotshoe available that is compatible with all of Canon current flashguns. The Mirrorless design of the Canon EOS M allows the lens mount to be closer to the sensor to make the camera smaller than an SLR; it’s not directly compatible with Canon’s existing SLR lenses so Canon has given it a new mount called EF-M.
There are just two lenses with this mount i.e. 22mm f/2 pancake lens and 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Image Stabilized zoom lens. There’s also an adapter that allows EF and EF-S mount lenses to be used on the M. Both of the new EF-M lenses have a STM or stepper motor autofocus drive which is designed to make focus slower and smoother during video shooting which is effective for video, but not so good for stills photography. M’s autofocus speed is decent enough, but slower than competing systems likes of Panasonic and Olympus and it means that there’s a slight delay between touching the screen and the image being taken in Touch Shutter mode. This is disappointing given that the M has a hybrid AF system that is designed to combine the speed of phase detection with the accuracy of contrast detection.
On the plus side, it’s worth the wait for the AF system because the M is capable of recording lots of details with noise control. There is some loss of detail if you go up ISO 3200 caused by the noise reduction applied to JPEG images and I’d recommend shooting raw files and processing them to get more detail if you want A4 or larger prints. The native sensitivity range of EOS M is ISO 12,800 but there you have an expansion option up to ISO 25,600. When the automatic or daylight white balance options are used the M tends to produce rather warm images and while this may not be entirely accurate the results are generally pleasant.
EOS M is a bit of a mixed bag, however its build is nice and solid; the new 18-55mm kits lens is beautifully constructed. The control system is well thought out with a very responsive touch screen and image quality is very good, being on a par with the 650D’s. People looking for a nice picture will surely be pleased but it has some flaws as well.