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Canon EOS M Review - A Smart Design

Canon EOS M introduces a new lens mount called EF-M, and uses the same 18-megapixel sensor as the Canon EOS 650D. There are currently two EF-M lenses available. The 18-55mm 3x zoom is typical fare for a kit lens. There's also a 22mm f/2 pancake, which is what we were sent for review. This gives a 35mm equivalent focal length, which is perfect for general snapping. The f/2 aperture allows for some flattering shallow depth-of-field effects for nearby subjects, and gathers plenty of light for low-light shooting. It doesn't include optical stabilisation, though.


The camera's design is extremely luxurious, decked out in matt black magnesium alloy and nicely shaped to fit in one hand. Even so, it felt fairly vulnerable when we took photos over the side of a bridge on a cold, windy day. The Sony NEX-5R is much easier to hold onto with its proper handgrip. The EOS M's slim design also means a small battery, which lasts for just 230 shots.


It's primarily aimed at point-and-shoot photographers, with a single rotary control on the back, fewer buttons than on most cheap compacts and a mode switch with just three settings for automatic shooting, scene modes and video. The inclusion of an accessory shoe on top is the main clue that this camera is designed for more demanding users too. There's no integrated flash, but Canon has launched a diminutive flashgun, the Speedlite 90EX, to complement the EOS M. Although it wasn't supplied for review, we've been assured that it comes as standard in both the 18-55mm and 22mm kits. It has a guide number of 9m, which is a little stronger than most integrated flashes. It looks pretty bulky in photos, though, and runs off AAA batteries. An integrated flash would have been more sensible for point-and-shoot operation.

The scarcity of buttons and dials is amply compensated by a superb touchscreen interface. In most shooting modes there's very little to adjust, but program, priority and manual exposure modes are nestling in among the scene presets. Selecting them unlocks all the usual functions. The most important ones are presented in a quick-access menu, but custom white balance is conspicuously absent here. It requires a photo to be captured to memory card first, followed by a trip to the main menu to calibrate from that photo. Various focus options appear in the Q Menu but manual focus is only available via the main menu.

The menus and touchscreen controls are almost identical to the 650D's, and with the same sensor, the EOS M gives a strong impression of being the guts of a 650D crammed into a smaller body. Sadly, this impression extends to the autofocus performance. The sensor includes phase-detect autofocus points to assist the contrast-detect autofocus system, but as with the 650D's live view mode, it doesn't give a huge benefit. Focusing was worryingly slow in our tests, taking 1.7 seconds on average between pressing the shutter button and taking a photo. In household artificial lighting this increased to 2.9 seconds, sometimes taking over five seconds to focus. Even in the most favourable conditions, the fastest we measured was 1.1 seconds.

This made it virtually impossible to photograph fast-paced action. Slower-moving subjects such as candid portraits were tricky too, with the subject often wandering out of focus or even out of the frame before the picture was taken. Shot-to-shot times were slow in manual focus mode at 1.4 seconds, but 2.7 seconds between shots with autofocus is really disappointing for such an expensive camera. Most other Compact system cameras (CSCs) can focus and shoot every second or faster, making it easy to fire off a string of shots and choose the best later.

The EOS M saved a bit of face in continuous mode, delivering 4fps shooting until the card was full. This was with fixed focus and exposure settings, though. Enabling continuous autofocus slashed performance to 1.2fps. This still wasn't slow enough to give the camera enough time to focus properly. When we moved to a further or nearer subject in the middle of a burst of shots, it typically took about 10 frames before the camera successfully focused on the new subject.

IMAGE QUALITY

Image quality is in line with the 650D too, and that gives absolutely no cause for concern. Whereas most Compact system cameras (CSCs) use slightly – or significantly – smaller sensors than those found in SLRs, the fact that the EOS M uses the same APS-C sensor size really pays off. Details in its 18-megapixel JPEGs were extremely sharp, picking out lots of fine texture. Digital correction for chromatic aberrations and vignetting is built in, and although we still spotted a little chromatic aberration at times, focus was generally excellent into the corners of frames.

VIDEO

Its video clips were crisp and vibrant, with barely any noise in low light. There's a choice of 24, 25 or 30fps shooting at 1080p, plus 50 or 60fps at 720p. High-bit-rate AVC encoding minimises compression artefacts, and it can span multiple 4GB files to record for up to 30 minutes per clip. Full manual exposure control is available, with settings adjusted via the touchscreen to avoid button clicks permeating the soundtrack. It's also possible to move the autofocus point on the touchscreen while recording. The camera's small size and low weight and the lack of optical stabilisation in the pancake lens meant that handheld shots were quite shaky, especially when prodding the screen.

Video autofocus was smooth but it was often slow to keep up with the action. The autofocus motor was only just detectable on the soundtrack in quiet scenes, but the microphone position meant that we often accidentally covered it with a finger. The camera boosted the volume to compensate, which made the whirrs from the focus motor much louder.

CONCLUSION

The most surprising thing about the EOS M is that there aren't really any surprises. Image and video quality are exactly what we'd expect from an EOS-branded camera, but autofocus speed is a big concern, just as it is on the Canon G1 X and in live view mode on the 650D. There's a notable lack of extras, too – no optional viewfinder, GPS or Wi-Fi. We wouldn't expect Canon to launch a dozen EF-M lenses all at once, but having just two currently available doesn't compare well with rival CSCs.

It's not cheap, either. It has already been discounted from its initial launch price, but £530 for the 18-55mm kit or £600 for the 22mm lens and EF adapter kit is more than current prices for the Sony NEX-5R or Panasonic GX1.

We hope that Canon can resolve the slow autofocus in the next generation, as in most other respects the EOS M shows a huge amount of promise. As it stands, it's not sufficiently better than its rivals in any particular area to make us want to overlook its performance issues.

Source: http://www.expertreviews.co.uk/digital-cameras/1298092/canon-eos-m

Title Post: Canon EOS M Review - A Smart Design
Rating: 100% based on 99998 ratings. 5 user reviews.
Author: hadhie s

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