Canon EOS M full review

Canon’s compact camera system debut has been an absolute age coming and, as the 18 megapixel EOS M arrives a full four years after some rivals’ first, it has high expectations to fulfil. Though the compact immediately ticks one box in featuring a large APS-C sized sensor for theoretically better image quality than a typical pocket snapper, design wise it owes more to a consumer-end Canon PowerShot than an EOS DSLR. Nevertheless, as the ‘EOS’ in its model name indicates, the ‘M’ provides the ability to use Canon’s DSLR range’s 70+ EF lens line up, albeit via an optional adapter.  Only competitor Nikon’s ‘1’ camera system comes close to accessing as many optics.

A pricey £750 buys you the Canon body, which is more compact than Samsung and Sony APS-C sensor rivals because it lacks a built-in flash and proper handgrip, plus a jack-of-all-trades 18-55mm zoom, equivalent to 28-88mm in 35mm terms. This provides the same sort of focal range usually bundled with an entry level DSLR, and imagery is reassuringly sharp. Though the 3-inch back screen here is fixed – perhaps a vari-angle LCD is being saved for the 2nd generation – it keeps up with the times by being a responsive touch screen. A Digic 5 processor as found in Canon’s DSLRs also ensures the EOS M’s swift off the blocks, with split second shutter action. It appears that the manufacturer has followed the CSC pitch of ‘DSLR performance from a compact body’ to the letter. Even automatic sensor cleaning’s built-in.

A battery life of a maximum 230 shots from a single charge feels underpowered however, and, a smaller body, while practical in terms of transportation in a pocket, does look a bit dwarfed when zoom lens is then attached – the same being true of the Sony NEX. Canon has obviously decided to keep its first CSC very easy to use as the mode dial shows just three settings: Scene Intelligent Auto, which as it sounds recognises common subjects and adjust camera parameters for you, Creative Auto, which gives access to digital effects such as fisheye, toy camera, miniature and the ability to achieve a shallow-depth-of-field de-focused background look, plus 1920x1280 pixels video at 25fps. 

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