Canon EOS M vs Panasonic GX1

Two compact system cameras go head to head

Panasonic GX1

After months of speculation, Canon has finally joined the compact system camera market. Here we pit the company's first compact system camera, the Canon M, against the GX1 from Panasonic, the first maker of a mirrorless camera.

We have decided to compare the Canon EOS M with Panasonic's GX1, as they have a similar body form and are similar in price (for the moment at least). Read our Canon EOS M vs Nikon 1 V1/J1 piece for another head-to-head comparison.

Canon M vs Panasonic GX1 sensor

One of the key areas of debate regarding the EOS M was which sensor size the company would choose. In the end it's opted for the same 18 million pixel APS-C size (22.3x14.9mm) sensor as found in the recently launched Canon EOS 650D. This makes it significantly larger than the 16 million pixel Live MOS Four Thirds (17.3x13mm) device found in the Panasonic GX1.

Canon EOS M

However, it's worth remembering that Panasonic has previously pointed out the benefits that the Four Thirds new design sensor can have, including edge to edge sharpness.

It seems likely that the EOS M will be compared with other systems which also use larger APS-C size sensors, such as the Sony NEX series, but it's also worth considering that larger sensors usually mean larger lenses, thus impacting the overall size of the system.

Canon M vs Panasonic GX1 lens range

Panasonic currently has the largest range of proprietary lenses for its G-series of compact system cameras. It's also worth noting that third party manufacturers such as Sigma is now manufacturing Micro Four Thirds compatible lenses (and Tamron lenses are coming. And, as the company shares the format with Olympus, both Panasonic and Olympus lenses are compatible with Panasonic cameras.

By contrast, Canon has announced just two new "EF-M" lenses, an 18-55mm kit lens and a 22mm f/2.0 pancake lens. However, the complete range of Canon EF and EF-S optics will be usable via the optional lens mount adapter.

Canon EOS M

It's also interesting to note that Panasonic has a 14-42mm "X" lens available in its range which can act as the standard kit lens. This power zoom lens is able to collapse into an optic around the same size as a pancake lens, making Panasonic cameras smaller and lighter overall.

Canon M vs Panasonic GX1 processor

Both cameras use the latest processors produced by their companies for their cameras, which in the Canon EOS M's case is the Digic 5 processor, while the latest Venus engine can be found in the Panasonic GX1.

Using the best processors available should mean that the cameras are capable of low image noise output and it facilitates full HD video recording at a variety of frame rates.

Canon M vs Panasonic GX1 sensitivity

The Canon EOS M has a native ISO range of ISO 100-6400, but it is expandable up to 12800 and 25600.

Meanwhile, the Panasonic GX1's range is a little narrower, starting at ISO 160 but rising to 12800. Both companies claim low noise output at high ISOs (no surprises there).

Canon M vs Panasonic GX1 screen

Both of these cameras use a touchscreen device, which can be used to set certain functions, change the autofocus point or even fire the shutter.

Canon EOS M

It's fair to say that on the GX1, the touchscreen is complementary to the buttons and dials on the camera, being used in conjunction with, rather than in favour of physical buttons, as is the tendency on the EOS M.

Interestingly, the two manufacturers have plumped for different screen technology. The Canon EOS M's screen is a capacitive device and it therefore responds to a touch. Meanwhile the resistive screen of the GX1 needs a press.

Generally, capacitive screens are considered to be more responsive than resistive screens.

Neither of the screens are flip out devices, but the EOS M beats the GX1 in terms of resolution, with 1040k dots, compared with just 460k dot on the GX1. Both are three inches in size.