Canon EOS M full review

A solidly built starter option for anyone wanting a compact system camera. Whilst it’s now longer in the tooth than others here, image quality is superb


Canon joined the mirrorless camera party very late in 2012 with its first and so far only compact system camera, the EOS M. But at least it got things right from the start by incorporating an 18 megapixel APS-C sensor, providing Raw and JPEG capture, plus a steel-framed magnesium alloy body just like a ‘proper’ DSLR, although design is closer to a PowerShot compact. Physically it remains one of the smallest CSC’s on the market – though Pentax’s Q7 pips it here –  whilst offering a touch screen and compatibility with 70+ Canon EF lenses via adapter. We had a play with directly accessible EF-M 18-55mm standard zoom and newer 11-22mm macro lens. What’s not to like?

Well this Canon doesn’t provide much of a hand grip, just a narrow raised strip at the front and a slightly roughened surface in its black iteration to prevent fingers slipping. The LCD at the back for shot composition in lieu of any viewfinder cannot be tilted or swivelled, but it is 3-inches in size and offers a whopping 1040k dot resolution, so images look amazing. It is also a touch screen, though as with Panasonic’s GX7 there are sufficient hard keys alongside it that the camera can be operated without having to wholly rely on the LCD. Even so, shooting mode wheel settings have been pared down to just two for stills, and one for video. So we get the beginner-friendly Scene Intelligent Auto plus Creative Auto, where digital effects filters and manual settings are ‘hidden’. As one would expect there are several video quality selections to choose from, running from 640x480 pixels up to the Full HD 1920x1080 pixels, and with stereo sound too.

It’s worth noting that the camera’s compact dimensions mean that it doesn’t provide an integral flash; artificial illumination instead comes in the form of a clip-on 90EX Speedlite provided in the box, with its own power button and internal battery. Construction is a cut above the kit flashes provided for Sony, Samsung or Olympus models and its response is immediate.

Powering up in two seconds, with the image before your lens momentarily adjusting with a half squeeze of the shutter release button, the ‘M’s auto focus response could be quicker. But whether you’re shooting JPEG or combining it with a Raw file, there appears no difference in writing speed, the Digic 5 processor ploughing through data. We were also very impressed with the quality achievable at various focal lengths, with consistently pin sharp results and were able to achieve some lovely DSLR-like shallow depth of field effects. With the EOS M very much handling as a cross between Canon’s PowerShot compact and DSLRs such as the 650D, this is a ‘safe’ starter option for anyone wanting their first CSC.


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