Canon EOS M Review – By James Lloyd

Today on the blog, talented photographer and Ready Steady Pro Community Member, James Lloyd, shares his thoughts on Canon’s EOS M.

Originally featured over on James’ website

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I’ve had my Canon EOS M for a couple of days now, so I thought I’d write a quick review  of my first impressions for the readers of Ready Steady Pro.

Before we start, there is something we need to sort out. This small camera comes with a massive elephant in the room. As soon as the EOS M was launched it was heavily criticised for a poor focussing system – described as something between slow to hopeless and everything in between. As a result many have written off this camera. Canon has since addressed this with a major firmware update last year (my camera even came with the latest firmware). Right, elephant gone, we will continue.

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Chase Jarvis once said that “The best camera you have is the one that’s with you”. How true this is – especially when we all now have a camera in our pocket with our smartphones. As photographers though, we miss our beloved SLRs, lenses and big sensors. Quality.

I would love to carry my SLR around with me all the time – but it just isn’t practical. We all have had those moments where we see a shot and kick ourselves that we don’t have a camera. Reluctantly we take out our iPhone or compact – but it’s just not the same. At family outings I was accompanied by a half a tonne of equipment (a slight exaggeration) much to the exasperation of Mrs L.

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I decided that I wanted something more compact – but I still wanted the quality. I wanted to shoot RAW, a decent size sensor, and interchangeable lenses. Let’s face it I wanted an SLR. So when Canon announced the EOS M it caught my eye immediately – but so did the price, £650.

But that was nearly two years ago, and that elephant has caused a lot of damage since then. The EOS M has been described as ‘dead on arrival’ ‘a non starter’ and Canon has also been criticised for being ‘late to the mirror less party’, launching way after Fuji, Sony and Olympus in this class. The street price of the EOS M has dropped dramatically as a result. You can now pick up the camera, external flash, 18-55 lens and the EF mount for about £350 – add to this the £50 cashback Canon are offering (sadly now finished) and you have yourself a bit of a bargain.

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So for £300 what exactly are you getting? The sensor in the EOS M is the same as the 650d and it also shares the same processor. The build quality of the camera is excellent, and this carries through to the metal construction of the lenses. My first impression of the camera was that it is quite heavy – but that’s not surprising really as Canon seem to have packed a full size SLR into a compact body.

Unlike many compact cameras the EOSM’s 3” touch sensitive screen is very responsive – it has to be, as most of the camera’s controls are on there. If you already shoot with Canon many of the menus are familiar and they are quick and easy to navigate. Canon hasn’t totally dispensed with buttons though – there’s the usual joypad and jogwheel, which is also used whilst shooting for aperture and shutter speed.

To focus simply press the point on the screen you want to focus on, half press the shutter and the camera will focus. Alternatively you can also quickly set the camera to take the shot when you select the focus point. I actually found the focus with the new firmware very responsive. It’s never going to be as fast as an SLR – the EOS M will never be a sports photographer’s camera. Having said that it doesn’t have anywhere near the shutter lag I’ve had with many compacts.

The lack of a viewfinder takes a bit of getting used to and is still a legitimate mark against the camera. Also as the screen is used for most functions the camera only manages around 200 shots per battery – carrying spares is going to be necessary.

The ability to attach (with the adapter) the full range of Canon lenses is a massive plus for this tiny camera – even if it looks slightly odd attached to the 70-200! (Think Corgi and Great Dane). The supplied 18-55-kit lens is excellent – it’s actually a bit and injustice calling it a kit lens as it is far better, both optically and in construction, to the Canon SLR kit lenses.

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I haven’t filmed any video yet but its getting rave reviews – and is comparable many of its big brother SLRs. The camera can record full 1080p resolution at 24fps and 30fps and also 50fps at 720p. The ‘kit’ lenses are STM (stepper motors) and are very quiet in operation.

To conclude, if you chase all the elephants out of the room and dismiss some very undeserved criticism what exactly to be have with the Canon EOSM? Basically you have a Canon 650 in a compact body. The system is really portable – especially if you go for the 22mm F2 lens (equivalent to 35mm). OK, it’s not going to perform like a full feature SLR – but how many times have we taken our SLR out and thought it was a bit overkill?

Will I be using it for weddings?… perhaps. Obviously not for the main camera, but maybe for getting a few quick detail shots with a 50mm lens. Or perhaps at the back of a church with a wide-angle lens. The EOS M is a very discreet little camera so it also has its uses where a SLR and large lens could be a bit intimidating. Let’s see where this goes.

 LOVE IT

  • Almost a EOS SLR compacted into a small portable camera (albeit without a viewfinder)
  • Excellent build quality.
  • Responsive touch screen
  • A camera that can take all your EOS lenses
  • A decent size APS-C sensor (identical to the 650d).
  • An excellent video camera.

 HATE IT

  • No viewfinder.
  • Short battery life (and the status shows as bars not percentage).
  • No remote shutter socket (although you can fire with infrared) making timelapse photography difficult.
  • Non standard camera strap fixings

Click here for the Canon EOS M Specification here 

James Lloyd is a wedding photographer based in Yorkshire, England.
Originally published on his blog at www.jameslloyd.co.uk 

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3 thoughts on “Canon EOS M Review – By James Lloyd

  1. The problem with the EOS M is the system itself. What lenses do you have available? the 2 kit zoom lenses plus the 22mm and a wide angle zoom. That’s ridiculous, that’s the real elephant and not the poor focusing. Look at any other CSC and will discover a full roadmap of lenses: Fuji X, Olympus and Panasonic MFT, Nikon 1, even a company that sells mobile phones and televisions (Samsung) offers more and better lenses than EOS-M in its system. No matter how fan are you about Canon, there is no way to build yourself a bag with such a poor offer and that’s a shame because the idea was not bad.

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