on 3 July 2013
So...I'm a keen photographer and have kept an eye on the micro four thirds/mirrorless compact/E.V.I.L. (electronic viewfinder with interchangeable lens) for a long time, waiting for a really good model to come out from a big manufacturer. Sony, Olympus and Pentax brought out some reasonably good models but I kept my wallet in my pocket until the Big Two (Canon, Nikon) released their models.
Canon got out ahead of Nikon with the EOS M, a camera with superb build quality that kicks out great images, but when it was first released (July 2012, I think) it was expensive (£799, comparable with a decent mid-range SLR) and had some problems, notably the notorious autofocus issue, where the camera would "seek" endlessly when trying to focus an image. I waited until Nikon brought theirs out but their model was underwhelming for a variety of reasons. The EOS M didn't sell well, mostly because of the autofocus issue (if you believe the forums) and a couple of months ago (May 2013) Canon dropped the price of the EOS M by half, so you could get the body, 18-55mm kit lens and 90EX speedlite for £399. And they had a £50 cashback offer on at the time. For £349, I was in. I'd heard rumour that Canon were preparing a firmware update that would address the autofocus issue and was prepared to take the risk - £349 for a small, carry-around camera with loads of functionality and all the control I needed.
So...I took delivery of the camera on the Monday, flew out to LA on the Friday, having downloaded the manual to my tablet and frantically learned how to use it during train journeys in the interim. I learned enough to do all I needed to do whilst I was touring the west coast, with a few little learning points along the way.
First of all, the build quality, as mentioned previously, is excellent. I went for the red body; it's distinctive and stylish (IMO), with a lovely lacquered sheen. It feels solid and well built - some people have complained about the grip but I haven't had any problems with it so far. Swapping lenses is a doddle, taking the usual precautions of course, to avoid dust getting into the body. It's no bigger than most point-and-click cameras, though the 18-55mm lens looks a bit out of place stuck on the front (the fast 22mm lens looks much more at home, and is more discreet).
Functionality is terrific - pretty much all the SLR-type features are here. Aperture and shutter priority, Program AE, bracketing (only three frames, unfortunately, but it's better than nothing), bulb exposures, white balance control etc., all are easily accessible. The only downside that springs to mind is the touchscreen, which is fiddly and over-sensitive; the "button" to change program modes is tiny, and despite switching off the touchscreen focus and "tap to take a photo" options in the menu, they keep coming back on when you change into certain auto modes. It's very easy to change all the settings, aperture, focus points, exposure compensation etc. simply by the action of the camera touching your chest when it's on the neck strap, or even just by picking it up. I've learned to work my way around this, but it is a bit of a pain. Other functions more than make up for this, though; there's an excellent HDR mode that takes three photos in rapid succession (at different exposures) then auto-aligns them and blends them to get a terrific, balanced exposure, full of punch. You only really need it when you're photographing high-contrast scenes, but it works extraordinarily well, with no ghosting. Of course you can also use bracketing with a tripod and post-process multiple exposures to make your own HDR images with more control, but the built-in HDR mode in the Canon allows you to take HDR images hand-held. Great! The battery life is not so great - a fully charged battery barely lasts a day (couple of hundred photos), so you will definitely need to take a charger pack and mains adapter if you're out in the field or travelling.
Onto image quality - it's stunning. On a par with a mid-range APS-C SLR with a fairly decent lens, which is perhaps not surprising since the EOS M features...an APS-C sensor (18 megapixels). I always shoot in RAW mode for more control, but even the JPG tests I did produced excellent images: crisp, full of colour and life, with none of the fuzziness associated with compacts. Low light performance is knockout - you can take very good photos indoors under artificial light, handheld (at higher ISOs, naturally). Noise is very manageable and easily removed in Lightroom or whatever you use for your processing. One thing I've noticed is that there is always a little bit of noise in the blue channel when shooting in RAW mode, even at ISO 100, but that's common to pretty much all digital cameras, and again you can knock it out very easily. One thing to mention about the lenses (I have the 18-55mm kit lens and the 22mm f2) is that they are subject to quite heavy vignetting; there are in-camera functions to reduce this but you're better off dealing with it via lens correction plugins in your processing suite.
FINALLY for the main part of this review, Canon have just (as of 27th June 2013) released a firmware update, namely v2.0.2, which addresses the autofocus issue, and BOY does it make a big difference! I installed it yesterday and the autofocus is hugely improved, with none of the contrast point seeking that it used to it. It's as fast as two cats now, and the update has made me very happy with the EOS M overall.
Great image quality
Excellent build quality - solid, dependable magnesium alloy body
Loads of functionality for the adventurous photographer
Bargain at £349 with the 18-55mm kit lens and flash unit
Touchscreen is fiddly
Limited range of dedicated lenses (though you can use an adaptor and use most regular Canon SLR lenses)
Battery life is not great
Thanks to the price drop and cashback offer (is it still on?) you can grab this superb camera at a very reasonable price, and following the firmware update that addresses the autofocus issue this represents a massive bargain. It's unlikely that you'll be able to get a mirrorless camera of this quality at this price again, as Canon are unlikely to slash the price of any future models by 50% overnight, so I highly recommend grabbing one of these whilst stocks last (they're unlikely to last very long, so don't hang about).
on 23 August 2013
I shoot professionally with a Canon 1D Mk1V & 5D MkIII but wanted something light that I would never leave at home but would still deliver high quality images. The first thing to remember is that this and all mirrorless cameras are not ideal for action images and if this is what is important to you then buy a DSLR that said you will still be able to capture your son or daughter on sports day and similar activities. With the recent firmware update the camera's autofocus is pretty much on a par with other mirrorless cameras I have tried and I didn't think it was that bad for most applications prior to the firmware update.
The camera is very well built and the image quality with the 18-55mm kit lens is very good even at higher iso. I have also purchased the 11-22mm wide angle zoom and the image quality is very high at all focal lengths although at 11mm there is a little barrel distortion which is easily corrected with very little loss of edge detail.
A great buy at current prices and I'm sure there will be quite a few more lenses to follow.
on 28 June 2013
Update after about a month of shooting on the EOS-M with the new firmware (about 1000 images), used as a light walk-around alternative to my 6D setup:
There is no doubt that the images are excellent quality on the EOS-M as you would expect from the sensor heritage. Handling is much improved with the new firmware, focussing snappier and overall it's a far more usable camera than before. However.... however, however there are still major annoyances with it that are unlikely to be resolved until Magic Lantern (the Canon EOS firmware hack) is released for the new EOS-M firmware since I can't see Canon releasing a new firmware update for it now. These annoyances include the following:
- the maddening touch screen that can't be disabled. If you have the camera on a neck strap every over light bump against your body will change 'something'. If you are lucky it'll just change the focus point. If you are unlucky it'll go into something like ISO settings with the first bump and then change them with the second. Sure, I can have the info setting to just show focus point to avoid this, but that's a pain as well. I've taken to turning the whole camera off after every shooting sequence to stop this from happening, and to avoid annoyance further disabled the dust removal part of shutdown and start up since these take a few seconds to execute. Very frustrating.
- the lack of focus peaking or an 'in window' focus magnification is a real pain. Focusing is definitely better, but it is class trailing and not class leading. I'm finding that a lot of photos that should / could be in focus are not when processed in lightroom because the focus area is too large and manual focus is hit & miss.
So, still a neat little camera for Canon users but (other than image quality) not up there with the handling of the Pen range, nor the more expensive Fuji's. If only we could disable the touch screen the use of this camera would be so much easier.
Again, hope this helps. Original review follows:
I've wandered around on a secondary light camera to back up my Canon DSLR FF kit. Over the past couple of years I've had a two PENs, two NEXes and now the EOS-M. As a long time Canon user I would have purchased EOS-M a while ago, but the reported focus issues and high launch price kept me back. Meanwhile, I went through two NEXes (the 5N was returned because the camera kept locking up and the 5R was sold at a large loss due to terrible low light focussing) and ended up with the PEN E-PM2, a nice little camera for sure. What prompted me to finally jump to the EOS-M was a combination of silly low pricing (I paid under £300 for my black body with kit zoom) and the promised firmware update. I used it quite extensively for two weeks prior to June 27th with the old firmware. Impressions were very much like everyone else: lovely images when you manage to get one, great solid body, useful touch screen, terrible autofocus, battery OK, grip too small. Regarding this autofocus, I take quite a lot of low light shots and also need snappy focus for action shots. The EOS-M was pretty terrible at both, but lovely for portrait, landscape and not bad for macro. That was before June 27th.
June 27th, Canon release v2.0.2 of the EOS-M firmware and I ran the simple upgrade process (firmware stored on an SD card, menu selection to upgrade, wait a few minutes). The difference in focus speed for me is massive. I use Flexizone Single and the focus is far faster in normal light and low light. It's not up there with my 6D but it's fine for walking about and grabbing unexpected shots. So, I think previous reviews slamming autofocus need to be treated with caution and people should be looking for reviews based on 2.0.2 firmware or later.
So, dispensing with the history, what are we left with?
+ a small light mirrorless camera system from a major brand
+ a huge sensor delivering incredible quality images
+ lovely build quality - the difference between the EOS-M and some other mirrorless systems is pretty large, but you do pay for this in a bit of extra weight.
+ crazy low pricing - I paid £270 for a used one, but it looks like new
+ snappy autofocus, fast start up with the new firmware
- very limited lens choice - perhaps not a problem for many and not a problem for me with my Canon lenses if I care to buy the adaptor
- some annoyances with the touch screen - it's possible for it to go into settings or even take photos as it bumps around on a neck strap. I'd really like to disable it entirely. Likewise, with FlexiZone Single AF enabled the focus square moves around the screen as you accidentally touch it. That's a little annoying.
- the grip is too small. it's easy for your gripping thumb to accidentally touch the screen, setting off some action or other - more reasons to be able to disable the touch screen.
Overall, the EOS-M is a lovely functional, tough, light camera delivering excellent images (as you'd expect given the heritage of the sensor!). At current prices, even if you buy new, is the camera bargain of the year. My little E-PM2 is now up for sale.
Hope this helps
on 31 July 2013
Having had a DSLR (Canon 5D MKii) for several years, I'm finding that I just don't have the time to go out with my camera with the specific aim to shoot, so the photos I take are in whatever situation I find myself in (family gatherings, etc). but the 5D (plus lens(es)) is way to big and heavy to carry around all the time, "just in case" I get some nice photos. So, I recently sold one of my more expensive lenses and decided to go mirrorless, at the same time coming across Canon's version of a mirrorless camera.
It's called the EOS M, I assume 'M' being for mirrorless but IMHO the 'M' should really stand for marmite because you're either going to really like or really hate this camera. There are some pretty damning reviews of the EOS M but from what I can see, most of them are based on comparing this in some way to a DSLR, which it isn't; the day I unboxed mine, I stumbled across a review which basically said it was 'rubbish'. The main cause for complaint is the initially slow focusing speed which has been massively improved by the v2.0.2 firmware. That said, it still sometimes struggles to focus; trying to focus on clouds seems to be particularly hard for it but like most things, there's ways around its failings.
It's very small and very light.
The image quality is excellent.
Very good quality touch screen with useful things like 'touch to focus'.
With an adapter, it can use all existing EF fit lenses...a huge advantage if you're already a Canon owner (and this was my main reason for going with the EOS M over one of the other, arguably better, mirrorless cameras).
It's astounding value for money. You can get this for £350 PLUS a £50 cashback from Canon and for that you get a very decent 18-55 kit lens AND a hotshoe flash (which can be used as a master with another Canon flash...again, a big bonus if you already have a Canon flash unit).
Still struggles to focus.
There seems to have been next to no thought gone into the body design. It's a simple rectangle with no real ergonomics applied; the simple shape combined with the slippery material the body's made from means it's often quite difficult to hold and even trickier to hold and navigate the awful menu system (which I'm coming to) at the same time. You HAVE to get either a protective case or hand strap for this, otherwise you're going to spend more time worrying about dropping it than you will trying to get good shots.
If you use any Adobe products (Lightroom, Photoshop, etc.), you'll need to upgrade to a version which includes ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) v7.2 or above. I have Lightroom v3.6 which means I'll have to upgrade to at least v4 before it will recognise the RAW files produced by the EOS M. This wouldn't have been a deal breaker even if I'd have known this before purchasing the camera, but it's a little irritating, nonetheless.
The battery is decent but don't compare it (or any other aspect of this camera) to your DSLR. It also seems to go from showing half full to almost empty in the space of a few shots; this may be because I've only charged it a couple of times and it needs to be 'conditioned' but I've also read other reviews stating the same thing. SOLUTION: Just buy a spare battery which, let's face it, most of those buying this will plan to do anyway.
The menu system is utterly awful and confusing. I spent about 10 minutes just trying to find how to turn AUTO ISO off. Admittedly, after using it for a week or so, it becomes much easier but it's initially very confusing, especially if you're used to one of Canon's DSLRs.
At the end of the day, this isn't the best camera available...it isn't even the best mirrorless camera available, BUT this makes a lot of sense if you're already a Canon owner and don't want to spend almost £1,000 on something which you may only want as a walkabout/backup body. The Sony NEX-5, NEX-6 and NEX-7 are much better cameras than the EOS M but they're also much more expensive; the NEX-6 is almost double the price of the EOS M and the NEX-7 is close to £900. If you don't compare this to a DSLR, already have Canon lenses, don't want to spend upwards of £500 and can ignore or live with the EOS M's foibles, it's a cracking little camera. You just have to decide whether or not it 'makes sense' for you.
The main point to make about this camera is that is takes beautiful, silky-smooth JPEG images that rival or surpass those from almost any digital camera I have seen (certainly in this price range). And although of excellent build quality, it is also very lightweight compared to most SLRs.
At first, it feels like it should have a viewfinder - however, I quickly got used to using the large, clear LCD. The touchscreen aspect of this is more useful than I had expected, although the nested menus take a bit of getting used to if you are more familiar with wheels and dials, and are slower to access.
The standard 18-55mm lens is of high quality, with a very smooth zoom action that inspires confidence.
Although no flash is fitted, the EOS M is supplied with a small Speedlite that I tend to leave in the bag, preferring to rely on the low-light capabilities of the camera for the kind of photos I use it for. Obviously, your mileage may vary on this.
Overall, this camera is a pleasure to use.
on 8 November 2012
Based on firmware 1.0.6 and lens firmware 2.0.0
This camera is a bit of a mixed bag. I have owned a number of Canon DSLRs as well as point and shoots and the biggest differences between the two have always been focussing speed and image quality (sure there are plenty of others like changing lenses etc but for the purpose of this review, I'm focussing on these two items)
The Bad - if you are expecting focussing speeds and accuracy like on your DSLR body, stop right now and don't buy this camera. It's focussing speeds are much more like a point a shoot camera. Good but not great. I was expecting it to be a lot closer to DSLR performance levels. Also, and this may be down to early firmware, it sometimes has to hunt quite a bit for focus - ie I was at the ExCel convention centre in the Docklands this week and the camera seemed to not like the bright spotlights and varying levels of light too much. I should say that this was less prevalent at the wider aperture settings on the kit lens than when I zoomed in and the aperture narrowed.
Auto servo in movie mode is ok.
Both video and still images suffered from difficulty finding focus in low light situations.
The good - IMAGE QUALITY!!! This is what I wanted - SLR quality images in a point and shoot form factor. The EOS-M delivers big time in this area. I have been super pleased with the results. RAW is what I shoot in primarily and I have been nothing but happy with the results.
- there seems to be a glitch as, even though I have the 18-55mm kit lens, the camera seems to think I have the 22mm lens attached (showing in the metadata) perhaps this is impacting the focussing performance?
- Full automatic mode is pretty good at selecting the best shooting mode. There is a little glitch in full auto - if you change from single shot to burst mode, this setting is not saved when you restart the camera. Annoying? Yes. Show-stopping? Only if you are really irritable.
- I really wish the included 90EX flash allowed for rotating the head to bounce off walls and ceilings. The bigger flashes have this but the point is to have a small form factor and whacking my 430EX on there defeats the purpose!
I'll update this as I spend more time with the camera.
on 28 September 2014
In my opinion, 5 Stars is not enough!
I have been a Canon EOS owner, since the purchase of my EOS 1V film camera, back in 2002 and my much belated entry proper, in to digital world, with the EOS 5D MKIII back in February, this year.
My sudden recent purchase of the EOS M stems to a friend, showing me on his iPad, some excellent new photos and I was taken aback when he told me of the camera which these had been taken with and the cost!
As I have stated, I own the 5D MKIII and associated "L" quality glass ware...BUT...the photos that I have taken recently, particularly with the acclaimed 22mm F2 STM lens, on close examination, come, near as dammit, as close in quality, to those taken with a camera, ten times the price!
forget about the focussing issues, IF you want to take difficult action shots, well, the DSLR is the tool for purpose, BUT....if you are taking tourist type photos or more general pictures and want quality, sharp, punchy images, then this is the camera for you.
I would love to display some of the recent images that I have taken, but sadly there is not the facility for that here.
Due to the unfairly bad reviews, on it's release, this little gem did not sell well, hence the camera selling now at a loss to Canon, but to a fantastic gain for those who purchase it!
The screen menu, mirrors that to 4/5ths that on my EOS 5D MKIII so learning how to use the EOS M was, for me quite easy, but the intuitive way in which the functions are laid out should not prove too difficult to any one, who has a slight modicum of digital camera usage.
I use mine in Manual Mode, that is with the shutter speed and aperture of my choosing, for preferred depth of field and have the camera in Auto ISO mode.
This covers 90% of the picture taking, except of course in extremes of lighting.
Another big plus, is that the little 90EX flashgun, doubles up as a wireless remote master (not stated in the sales specs.) which means that you can fire off multiple Canon EX flashguns, off camera, for that "Pro" effect and control that from the menu screen on the EOS M....AND.... the 90EX can also be used, the same, on any other EOS DSLR to do EXACTLY...the same job as my proprietary Canon ST-E2 Speedlite Wireless Remote transmitter! I've tried it and it works!
Finally, the diminutive size of the EOS M make it an ideal travelling companion, fitting with lots of room to spare into my saddle bag on the bike.
With the 22mm F2 STM lens, it makes for an extremely discrete tourist camera in places where a mega bucks DSLR and L lens, might attract unwelcome attention.
Please buy one, before they are ALL gone!
Can I add, that though the EOS M3 has received excellent reviews, It will be a LONG time and as long as this camera remains functional, before I might consider an upgrade.
See the attached picture, taken at 1250 ISO of Brighton Pier, with the EF-M 11-22 lens.
on 14 November 2012
I've been using this camera with the bundled lenses and older EF lenses for two weeks.
I found the lightness and stength of the body allowed me to use the camera in places where I might have been reluctant to carry my 7D. The touch screen and software are excellent. The pictures are also excellent. The startup is rapid. I adjusted my style to account for the slower auto-focus in certain circumstances and found that using the screen to tap to focus and release the shutter worked effectively where I was dealing with a changing and flowing scene.
I've used the Sony NEX-5 previously - which is a very good camera - but I would recommend the EOS M over the Sony, particularly if you have existing Canon lenses.
on 21 August 2015
I feel rather cheated, my own fault for believing all the reviews when the EOS M was first released. Most reviews were less than favourable, mainly due to slow focussing but also for a few other lesser issues. I didn't buy one, until now. £250 for the 22mm kit with adapter was too good to miss and I could always add an M3 body later.
It's a really nice camera. Solidly made, like a scientific instrument, it feels quality. This has the later firmware and so the focus speed is better than the first iterations...it is just fine for my purposes, ie. not sport. I really like the controls, the touch screen is very good and changing settings is quick and easy. The screen doesn't flip, that's a shame but when I get an M3......
Image quality is much better than I expected, amongst others I have a Canon 650D and the results are as good as that, maybe better, plenty good enough for publication. Most surprising is the mid range ISO performance. I found ISO 400 pretty much as good as 100 ISO, that's nice, I can use higher shutter speeds for handheld work.
With the 60mm EFS Macro attached this is a mean macro machine. On a tripod the lens mount is nice and steady. You can take it off for handheld work and then the setup sits very well for sharp shots. The touch to focus/expose is sweet and allows precise focus around most of the viewable area.
A great camera for a beginner and a good backup/lightweight for more experienced users. Amazing value.
on 2 December 2014
A great little camera. It is outstanding a taking pictures in low light without a flash. It does this thing in really low light where it takes 4 photos (without you knowing) and then puts them together, so you get a much brighter picture. It has produced some great photos. I couldn't see the screen on a bright day but I found I could increase the brightness and now it works well even on sunny days, but not if the sun is actually shining on the screen. Even with the zoom lens, it is quite wide angle, which is great for indoors but I could do with a bit of a longer focus lens for some outdoor shots. The anti-shake works well. I tried it with the EOS lens adapter, which works but there is no anti-shake and so when zooming, it is a bit blurred, so I haven't used the adapter except when testing it. With 19 Mp, the photos are really sharp. It took a while to get used to not having a view finder but I've got used to it now. It is heavy for a small camera. I recommend the leather ever-ready case that can be bought for it.