Steve's Conclusion


Steve's SnapShot
Thumbnail image for Canon EOS M front.jpg
  • 18-Megapixel, APS-C sized CMOS Imaging Sensor
  • 3.0-Inch Touch LCD Screen
  • DIGIC V image processor
  • Hybrid CMOS AF
  • Dedicated Video Record Button
  • Scene Intelligent Auto mode
  • Full 1080p HD video recording
  • Continuous AF video capture
  • Microphone Input
  • Adapter to use all EF and EF-S lenses
  • HDMI output
  • SD/SDHC/SDXC, UHS-1 compatible memory card compatible
  • Auto shooting mode is accurate and easy in all situations
  • Camera is ready to capture still images in video recording mode
  • Overall image quality is outstanding
  • Video quality is excellent
  • Continuous AF keeps your videos in focus
  • 3.0-inch Touch LCD is easy ot use and very high resolution
  • Burst shooting at almost 5fps
  • Very Good Battery Life
  • External mic input for increased audio quality
  • HDMI output
  • Competitively priced
  • No built-in flash unit
  • Only two lenses available for the EF-M mount
  • AF is very slow
  • Dedicated video recording button doesn't work in still shooting modes
  • Lacks features of other ILC cameras
  • IS is only available on lenses, not built into camera
  • Very few controls, makes using the manual features more difficult
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 3.1 seconds
  • Shutter lag when prefocused  = less than 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = approx. 9/10 to 1.1 seconds
  • Shot to shot delay wo/flash = 2.16 seconds
  • Shot to shot delay w/flash = Depends on cycle time of external flash unit
  • High Speed Burst = 4.74fps for up to 15 images
  • All tests were taken using a SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-1, 8GB SDHC memory card, Program Mode, ISO auto all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
Bottom Line
An excellent introduction to the ILC market, the EOS M is a powerful and compact camera, that can be a great alternative to carrying a large dSLR for Canon owners. Providing excellent image quality and the ability to use any of the EF and EF-S lenses with an optional, it is a great addition to your bag if you already have an investment in the Canon EOS line. We did find a few drawbacks, including sluggish AF performance.
Pick This Up If...
You are looking to enter the world of interchangeable lens cameras either as a step up from an ultra-compact or as a step down from the larger dSLR models. 
Canon has finally made the leap into ILC (interchangeable lens cameras) market with the long awaited EOS M. Along with the new camera comes a new line of EF-M lenses, designed specifically for this new mount. Canon did not hold back putting this camera together, equipping it with an 18-Megapixel APS-C sized imaging sensor, DIGIC 5 image processor, Hybrid CMOS AF system, 3.0-inch Touch LCD and an ever valuable adapter that allows you to use all of the EF and EF-S lenses and all of their features; which is very important, since there are currently only two EF-M lenses available. Canon has also included all of the other great features you have come to expect from a Canon point-n-shoot, including their Scene Intelligent Auto shooting mode, Handheld night and HDR modes, and a continuous AF system for video when used with a Canon STM lens. All of this has been crammed into a very compact and unintimidating body that is not much bigger than a some of their PowerShot cameras. 

Currently the EOS-M mount has only two offerings to start out the EF-M series of lenses. This line of lenses has been designed to be much more compact to fit the camera body while still providing all of the great features and quality that come from a Canon lens. Both lenses feature the STM motor for silent focusing and use during continuous AF video capture. These lenses (not all) will also have the optical image stabilization built in, since the camera does not. These two lenses have a solid, comfortable feel and both the zoom and focus rings turn very smoothly. Since there are only two lenses currently (July 2013), the Mount Adapter EF-EOS M is a must have, allowing you to use any and all of the EF and EF-S lenses, giving you access to one of the best lens collections available. The only drawback that we have found to using the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 lens with the adapter is that the AF seems to be much slower than with the EF-M lenses.

Handling the EOS-M body does take a little time to get used to, especially if you are used to handling a Canon dSLR, but the compact body does become very comfortable and easy to use. The right side was designed to fit comfortably in your right hand, but its size can be a little tough for larger hands. The body itself contains fewer controls than most compacts, so the camera relies a lot on the 3.0-inch touch screen. Manual mode controls are a little harder than they should be since Canon only put one command dial on the body, so you cannot change both the shutter and aperture without going into the menu. In order to keep the body as small as possible, Canon has also left the camera without a flash. While built-in flash units are usually not very powerful, they can be useful in some situations. If additional light is needed, an external Speedlite, like the very compact and powerful 90EX can be mounted to the hot shoe. The EOS-M allows and controls every aspect of the Speedlite line, the same as any EOS dSLR camera.

Composing and viewing your images is accomplished on the 3.0-inch, 1,040,000 dot Touch Clear View LCD screen. This incredibly clear, high resolution screen allows you to see an incredible amount of detail both while shooting and viewing your captured images. The touch aspect of the screen is sensitive and easy to use, allowing you to use multitouch or multiple finger gestures to control aspects of the camera and menus; the same way you would with an iPod or tablet PC. It also allows you to touch the screen to tell the camera what part of the image to focus on while shooting. Featuring a smudge-resistant coating, special construction to decrease glare and several levels of adjustable brightness, this LCD is easy to see at just about any angle in just about any lighting condition. 

Performance from the EOS-M was very disappointing, especially with the talk of their Hybrid AF system. Capturing the first image after turning on the camera takes 3.1 seconds, which is slow but something we can live with. With the camera focused, there was virtually no shutter lag, coming in under 1/10 of a second. The big disappointment was allowing the camera to autofocus. During all of our tests, with both EF-M lenses and the EF 85mm f/1.8 lens, produced results of 9/10 of a second to 1.1 seconds; which is incredibly slow. This also came into play with the shot-to-shot delay which came out to a measly 2.16 seconds between shots. When using a flash, the only difference will be the recycle time of the flash unit that you are using. Burst shooting performed much better, once the camera has focused and it was able to shoot, it was able to capture at a rate of 4.74fps, filling the buffer between 10 and 12 full-sized images. All of our tests were completed using a SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-1, 8GB SDHC memory card, Program Mode, ISO Auto and all other settings at the factory defaults. 

Looking at our outdoor images we found exactly what we hoped we would from an EOS camera. Outstanding exposures and colors combined with crisp focus from edge to edge, giving us an overall outstanding final product. Shooting in both Scene Intelligent Auto and Program modes, the camera handled the cloudy skies without a problem and the sharp details pop out in both the bright and darker areas of the image, without showing noticeable noise in the shadows. We used both EF-M lenses outdoors, capturing the museum shot with the EF-M 22mm f/2.0 STM, while the other standard outdoor images were using the EF-M 15-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM. We also used the EF 85mm f/1.8 lens for our macro flower shots, to see how the camera handled using the lens adapter. 

Our indoor samples give us a better look at the camera's low-light performance and how well it handles noise. At the lower and mid ranged ISO settings, the camera performed very well. ISO 100 - 800 are crisp and show little or no noise at all. ISO 1600 and 3200 are where the noise start to become more noticeable, but the levels are still very good for the settings. After that, ISO 6400 and 12800 show too much noise for a printable image, and should only be used when they are absolutely needed. One drawback to the EOS-M is that there is no built-in flash unit. While they are typically not very powerful, they can be handy, especially when you end up in a situation you didn't expect. If you are already a Canon owner, then any of your Speedlite units will work. If not, then the Speedlite 90EX is a very powerful and very compact unit, while also being the most affordable in the Canon lineup. 

Shooting portraits is incredibly easy with the assistance of Canon's face detection software. The software works quickly to detect and follow any faces within the frame. Once the camera selected a primary face, the secondary faces did not track near as well. This is evident in our portrait sample, where once of the faces was a little out of focus compared to the main face. As for the color and exposures, they both came out very well. Shooting portraits is another place where a built-in flash unit would be very useful, just to have the option for an on-camera fill flash to reduce shadows.

The EOS M provides video capture functionality that you cannot find on most EOS models. Since there is no mirror, the camera is able to provide continuous autofocus during video capture. This feature has also recently become available on the newer Rebel models as well. While in video capture mode, the camera is still capable of capturing still images, so it helps with the need to constantly change the shooting modes. Unfortunately this does not work the other way around. We were not able to get the camera to record video while the camera was in its still shooting modes, even with the dedicated video recording button. Our sample videos came out very well; with the only major problem being that it was difficult to get the camera to focus on fast moving objects. The video of the plane was taken with an EF lens and the adapter, so the continuous AF was not able to work without an STM lens. Both videos play back smoothly and without any problems on whatever source you choose to view. Thanks the HDMI output, the videos can be played on any HDTV with an optional HDMI cable. The camera's audio is captured by a small but sensitive built-in stereo microphone. Canon also included a microphone input that allows for higher quality audio than its stereo mic will provide. 

Powering the EOS M is a 7.2V, 875mAh rechargeable Li-Ion battery. During the completion of our tests, we were able to capture 270 images, including several testing the burst shooting, on a single charge. This surpasses Canon's claims of 230 still images, which is very impressive considering the powerful features and lack of a viewfinder, which takes up so much power. With that said, less than 300 images is still a bit lacking for a camera in this price range, so you will want to have a spare battery or two if you plan on long shooting trips or just a full day out of the house. Thanks to the included portable charger, it is easy to keep several batteries charged and ready to go at all times. 

Bottom Line - The Canon EOS M is a fantastic introduction to the ILC market for Canon. They have produced a powerful compact camera with fantastic image quality. It is a little short on some of the features that can be found on some other ILCs, and with only two lenses for the EF-M mount, the selection of smaller lenses to use without an adapter is incredibly limited. We were also a bit disappointed with camera's AF system being much slower than we expected. That being said, with a MSRP of US $599.99 for a kit with the 22mm f/2.0 STM lens, the camera's portability and quality is worth the money if you can live with the slower performance. For more features and faster performance you may want to check out the Samsung NX300.

Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.