GadgetsLab: Canon EOS-M

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Specifications:

  • Sensor: 18.1-megapixel APS-C CMOS
  • Compatible Lenses: EF-M lenses; EF and EF-S if used with optional mount
  • Sensitivity: ISO 100-12,800 (expandable to up to ISO 25,600)
  • Physical Dimension: 4.28 x 2.62 x 1.27 in. (W x H x D)
  • Weight: 262g (body only)
  • Estimated battery life: Approx. 230 frames
  • Memory used: SD/SDHC/SDXC

What’s Hot:

  • Lightweight and compact
  • Responsive touchscreen
  • Compatible with EF and EF-lenses (with mount)
  • Excellent image quality

What’s Not:

  • No viewfinder
  • Screen can be too sensitive
  • Short battery life when used to shoot   stills and videos
  • Expensive

Bottomline:

  • Canon steps into the ring of the mirrorless ILC market with the EOS-M—a compact snapper with the same processing chip and AF system as the 650D. It may have flawed AF and an overly sensitive touchscreen, but it can surely give you optimum-quality results.

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Presumably, at the outset, Canon hadn’t imagined how well-off the market for mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras would be, so they maintained their focus on their DSLRs, bridge and compact models. Now that the category has evolved and is getting more and more competitive, the company finally felt the need to step into the arena. The EOS-M is their first contender.

The EOS-M hosts an 18.1-megapixel APS-C sensor and has an ISO range of 100-12,800, but is expandable to up to ISO 25,600. It has the same DIGIC 5 image processor found in the EOS 650D. That’s not the only thing the two devices share. In fact, the M has been dubbed by several reviews online as a smaller version of the 650D. The M also adapts the 31-point Hybrid AF system—combining phase detection and contrast measurement—that was featured in the 650D.

Despite having many similarities with the 650D under the hood, the M reminds me more of Canon’s PowerShot cameras with its compact look and feel. Its build consists of stainless steel, magnesium alloy, polycarbonate, and glass fiber. The device is very lightweight and is easy to lug around in a small backpack even with the kit lens attached to it.

The M has a mode dial, but it only carries three shooting options—Photo, Video, and Full Auto. Each mode has sub-menus, which you can sift through using the camera’s 3-inch 1,0404,000-dotcapacitive touchscreen.Program, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority and Manual exposure modes are all present under the Photo Mode submenu. The camera also features a collection of creative filters and effects, like Toy Camera, Soft Focus, Fish Eye and many others. The M lets users record videos in Full HD at 24 and 25 frames per second (fps). Users are allowed to adjust the exposure settings during video capture, as well as take stills while recording.

Even though there are endless submenus on the device due to the lack of external controls, the interface wasn’t all that messy. I managed to easily navigate to the settings that I needed to access without giving up and consulting the manual.

The screen is also the only means by which you can frame your shot since the M does not have a viewfinder, nor does it provide any port to which users can attach an external VF. Truthfully, I would’ve preferred having a viewfinder on the M, even if I know that it would have made the device slightly bulkier.

The moment I started shooting photos with the M, I was impressed with how responsive the screen was. The touch-sensitive screen of the EOS M allows you to control AF and trigger the shutter just by tapping on the screen. The problem—or non-problem, depending how you look at it—is that it’s a little too sensitive. On one hand, that kind of sensitivity will come in handy in certain situations, such as when the camera is on a tripod and you want to do a long exposure, so you need to keep it extra-steady. On the other hand, having a touch screen that’s too sensitive can be a problem when you take pictures without meaning to when your fingers accidentally graze the screen. To me, it was more of the latter. The over-sensitivity of the screen started to become an annoyance by my second day of use.

It’s interesting to note, though, that by tapping on the screen, the AF system responds quicker than when I half-press the shutter release button. This is true not only in locking in AF on a subject, but also in actually taking the shot.

The M deserves some plus points for its ability to display live previews. When you tweak the aperture, shutter speed, ISO, white balance or add filters and effects, you get a live preview of the result on the screen as you adjust the settings. When I took some shots and reviewed them on the camera, I noticed that the actual product and the preview were exactly the same.

Metering is generally accurate, while photos turned up impressively sharp and with just the right amount of saturation and color vibrancy. Noise is kept at a minimum, even in the shadow areas of images shot at ISO 6400. I even tried printing some of my favorite images on letter-size photo paper, and they still turned up nice and sharp.

Heavy users—particularly those who shoot both stills and videos—might be frustrated with the battery life of this camera. When we took the M with us on our trip to Subic and used it to capture photos and videos of our adventure, we could only use it for about three hours between each full charge.

The M can record stills in JPEG, RAW, and both formats simultaneously. It can also shoot Full HD videos. Users are also given the option to shoot stills whilst recording a video, but the latter is then interrupted.

The M has no built-in flash, but luckily it has a hotshoe on top so you can attach a Speedlite. Canon also sells an adaptor that allows you to mount your EF and EF-S lenses on the M—a huge advantage for those who have already stocked up on their collection of Canon lenses

The basic kit comes with an EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens and is priced at PHP 35,998. Meanwhile, the kit that includes an EF-M 22mm f/2.0 pancake lens and an EF Mount adaptor costs PHP 40,998. At PHP 47,998, you can get both lenses plus a Canon Speedlite 90EX. The M comes in four colors: black, white, silver and red.

Serious hobbyists (or even professionals) will most probably benefit from the M—those who want premium image quality in a camera that’s portable and convenient to bring along for everyday shooting or when they don’t want to lug around their bulky DSLRs. Those who are into travel photography will definitely see the value in this device because of its portability and laudable results, even despite its flaws in AF.

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First Published in Gadgets Magazine, May 2013

Words by Racine Anne Castro