Canon's first CSC is a smaller and lighter mirrorless EOS-650D without a viewfinder or articulating screen
- Mirrorless so much smaller and lighter than a DSLR
- No viewfinder -not even an option
- New EF-M lens mount but backwards compatible via adapter with EF and EF-S lenses
- Same 18MP hybrid CMOS sensor as EOS-650D
- 3-inch multi-touch screen but not articulating
- 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 EF-M kit lens with silent STM focus motor and optical image stabilisation
- 22mm f/2.0 EF-M STM pancake lens (no OIS)
- No integrated flash but Speedlite 90EX included in the box
- £769.99 with 18-55 kit lens
Canon has finally joined the mirrorless Compact System Camera club with today's unveiling of the EOS M, featuring an 18 megapixel hybrid CMOS APS-C sensor, which means the sensor can mimic an SLR camera's phase-detect autofocus system as well as focus using contrast detection. The 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 EF-M kit lens uses Canon's new STM (stepper motor) system for silent AF which is essential for movie recording.
If this all sounds familiar, it's because we've seen most of this already in the Canon EOS-650D DSLR launched earlier this year. Only the zoom range of the 650D's kit lens is different - it's an 18-135 STM (29-216mm equivalent) compared to the EF-M 18-55 STM (29-88mm). Both the 650D and the new M have3 inch multi-touch screens, but only the 650D one can be articulated. The M doesn't have an eye-level viewfinder, either - and there is none on the options list. And there is more; the M has no integrated flash. Thankfully, a compact Speedlite 90EX flash is bundled with the M. But it's hard to avoid the conclusion that while the EOS M is much smaller and lighter than a 650D, you get a lot more for your money with the DSLR.
Lenses and compatibility
The new 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 EF-M STM kit lens
There was no option of using the same EF/EF-S lens mount as the DSLRs because without the mirror the distance between the lens mount flange and the sensor could be reduced significantly. As we have already seen with other CSCs this enables lenses to be smaller and lighter, especially wide angles. So the M has a new EF-M lens mount, but it's backwards compatible with EF and EF-S lenses via a £129 EF-EOS M mount adapter. Only two native EF-M lenses have been revealed so far, the 18-55 kit lens and a 22mm f/2.0 pancake type (35mm equivalent). Both these lenses use STM stepper motors in the lens for focusing. Performance is unknown but the 18-135 STM on the 650D was definitely on the leisurely side in live view focus mode despite the benefit of hybrid sensor-based phase and contrast-detect mode. At least these lenses will be quiet, so ideal for video movie recording. EF lenses used on the M via the mount adapter are likely to focus more slowly if the 650D experience is anything to go by and AF noise in movie mode could be an issue.
There was some speculation that Canon would break with tradition and go for an in-body image stabilisation system instead of in-lens optical image stabilisation (OIS). I doubted this from the start because Canon is very experienced with OIS and the compact body of a CSC makes it much harder to engineer a moving sensor image stabilisation system. The EF-M 18-55 has OIS, but the 22mm pancake doesn't.
From pictures we have seen it doesn't look like Canon has opted for a collapsible barrel design for the 18-55 like several of its CSC rivals. Therefore it's relatively long and could compromise the stow-ability of the camera with that lens attached. Another point is that as Canon has chosen the larger APS sensor route its lenses will, like Samsung and Sony, inevitably be bulkier than comparable lenses for the smaller sensor rival Micro Four Thirds system by Panasonic and Olympus.
Like the 650D the EOS M has a three inch capacitive multi-touch screen. This is one area in which Canon is a step ahead of its rivals. Olympus has a capacitive screen on selected Pen and OM-D models but not multi-touch, while Panasonic uses the less sophisticated resistive touch type. Until we have seen the M we can only speculate that the user will be more reliant on the touch screen than 650D users because there do appear to be fewer physical controls on the M.
With such a huge investment in its EOS DSLR system and being jointly dominant in DSLRs with Nikon, Canon has been very reluctant to even produce a CSC that could erode its DSLR sales. But with the unquestionable success of CSCs from Samsung, Olympus and Panasonic, and even Nikon, there was no way Canon could continue to ignore the CSC threat. Four years after Panasonic started the CSC ball rolling with its DSC-G1 we now have a response from Canon with the EOS M.
It's not really surprising that Canon has chosen to position the EOS M well away from the technically similar EOS-650D. Although they have the same sensor and new live view hybrid AF system, and the same multi-touch screen, as well as STM focus technology, the EF M has new viewfinder, no articulating screen, no convenience of an integrated flash, fewer external controls, and no option of a battery grip. My point is that Canon could have offered its customers a smaller and lighter EOS M with an electronic viewfinder. Nikon did with the N1, but in their case and faced with the same problem of having to avoid competing with their DSLR line up they only endowed their CSC with a very small sensor.
So who is the EOS M aimed at? Certainly lots will be sold to existing Canon fans, some of whom will be replacing their G-series compacts, while others will be buying the M as a more convenient and portable alternative to their EOS DSLRs. Some, but probably relatively few, may ditch their DSLRs in favour if the M. Of course some Ms will be sold to customers from outside the Canon fold, but considering the price and features of the M in relation to what Sony, Panasonic, Olympus, and Samsung has to offer I think Canon will have to worker harder with new more attractive models before they really compete head on in the CSC stakes.
Discuss this story:
Canon EOS M initial analysis
DPNow Canon EOS M initial analysis
Canon is the last big name camera manufacturer to join the mirrorless Compact System Camera club w... (more)
Ian Re: Canon EOS M initial analysis
After assimilating various sources of information I am coming to a few conclusions about the EOS M. ... (more)
OlyPaul Re: Canon EOS M initial analysis
It does not appeal to me Ian for the same reason the Sony Nex did not appeal.
A Compact System Came... (more)
yoshi Re: Canon EOS M initial analysis
Canon declined to show the lens road map. That will affect the sales as well especially to new EOS u... (more)
Ian Re: Canon EOS M initial analysis
As I said before, Canon has approached this launch in a very unenthusiastic manner. It's like they ... (more)