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Canon EOS M review

Canon's smaller alternative to an SLR

Our Verdict

For

  • 18MP APS-C sensor
  • DIGIC 5 processor
  • Small size
  • High-build quality
  • Excellent touchscreen

Against

  • AF system a bit slow
  • No optional EVF
  • No built-in flash
  • High price

One of the Canon EOS M's major drawbacks is its slow focusing speeds. Using the original firmware, we found that the speed of the camera was very sluggish, especially compared with other excellent compact system cameras on the market, most notably from Panasonic and Olympus.

In an attempt to address that, Canon has issued a new version of firmware that can be installed via a free download. This makes focusing much quicker, and although it still doesn't have the excellent speeds of something like the Olympus E-P5, for instance, it's much more acceptable and could even be described as quick in good light situations.

As the light drops, there is more hunting around for focus, but generally speaking, the camera is now much quicker and more accurate than before, making using it less frustrating than previously.

Canon EOS M review

When using the camera in conjunction with the lens mount adaptor to use existing EF/EF-S lenses, focusing speeds also drop somewhat, but again, in good light it's acceptable if not super fast.

The APS-C format sensor and Digic 5 processor show their mettle in the quality of the images that the M produces. They have plenty of detail and noise is controlled well from ISO 100-3200. Above this value JPEGs start to look a little soft at 100% on-screen and are best restricted to around A4 size.

As we'd expect, better results are possible at ISO 3200 and 6400 if raw files are recorded and processed with bespoke noise reduction to preserve details.

Canon EOS M review

We recommend staying within the native sensitivity range (ISO 100-12,800) and only using the ISO 25,600 (equivalent) expansion setting for emergencies.

Maintaining image quality to the corners of the frame is more of a challenge for the M because the lens is closer to the sensor, and this increases the likelihood of coma distortion, vignetting and chromatic aberration at the periphery of the image.

However, our test revealed that with the EF-M 18-55mm lens mounted, the M captures better image quality across the frame than the 650D with the EF-S 18-55mm kit lens mounted.

Doubtless, this is the result of the superior build (and we assume better optics) of the EF-M lens.

Canon EOS M review

Canon cameras' automatic white balance systems can usually be relied upon to capture colours that reflect the atmosphere of the scene, with a tendency towards warm notes.

With the EOS M even shots taken in overcast conditions can look warm whether they were taken using the Auto or Daylight white-balance setting.

While this may not be a completely accurate representation of the scene it usually results in pleasant images and the colour shift is likely explained by Canon's perception of its target audience's preferences.

Canon EOS M review

We also found that the M's real-time Evaluative metering system does a good job in most situations, only faltering in very high-contrast conditions when there is a tendency to underexpose to protect the highlights.

Canon's new STM lenses use a stepper motor which gives slower, smoother focusing when shooting video.

Unfortunately, this has a knock-on effect for the M when shooting stills as when the 18-55mm kit lens is mounted the autofocus system lacks the speed of some competing cameras such as the Panasonic GF5.

In low light there's a pronounced back-and-forth adjustment of focus. This is also sometimes discernable (though less of an issue) in good light as well, and it slows down the M's Touch Shutter feature that sets the camera to focus and fires the shutter with a touch of the finger on the subject on the LCD.

Tech Specs

Product TypeMirrorless Camera
Battery Size SupportedProprietary Battery Size
Green CompliantYes
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
TouchscreenYes
Effective Camera Resolution18 Megapixel
USBYes
PictBridgeYes
Product FamilyEOS
Image StabilizationNo
ColourBlack
Digital ZoomNo
Brand NameCanon
FeaturesFace Detection, Live View, Orientation Sensor, Self-timer, Continuous Shooting Mode
Screen Size7.6 cm (3")
Video FormatsMOV, MPEG-4
Weight (Approximate)298 g
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityErP, REACH, RoHS, WEEE
Minimum Focus Distance150 mm
Maximum Image Resolution5184 x 3456
Maximum Frame Rate60 fps
Number of Batteries Supported1
Display Screen TypeLCD
Image Sensor TypeCMOS
Total Camera Resolution18.5 Megapixel
HDMIYes
Camera AssemblyBody with Lens Kit
HD Movie ModeYes
Battery Model SupportedLP-E12
Memory Card SupportedSecure Digital (SD) Card, Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC), Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC UHS-I), Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Card, Eye-Fi Card
Height66.5 mm
Width108.6 mm
Depth32.3 mm
Autofocus Points31
Focal Length22 mm (Lens 1)
Image FormatsJPEG, RAW
Flash ModesAuto Flash, Flash ON, Flash OFF, Red-eye Reduction
Focus ModesAuto, Manual
ManufacturerCanon, Inc
Product ModelM
Product NameEOS M Mirrorless Camera
Product LineEOS
Aspect Ratio3:2
Manufacturer Part Number6609B065
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.canon.co.uk
Marketing Information

An 18-megapixel interchangeable-lens compact system camera small enough to take anywhere. Enjoy simple creative controls and superb low-light performance for stunning images.

Package Contents
  • EOS M Mirrorless Camera
  • EF-M 22mm f/2 STM
Display Resolution1040000 Pixel
Limited Warranty1 Year
Built-in DevicesMicrophone, Speaker