Small frame cameras with a large imaging sensor took the Japanese markets by storm. Canon and Nikon were caught flat-footed as Sony and others carved out a niche for themselves. In responding to the new mirrorless cameras, Nikon rushed the J1 to market last year handicapped with a smaller sensor.
Panasonic and Olympus handicapped their mirrorless offerings by relying on the micro 4/3 sensor size, even as it was apparent that one of the compelling features for buyers of mirrorless cameras were the larger chips found in full-size DSLRs. Canon has avoided the major mistakes with its mirrorless offering, the EOS M.
The EOS M was worth the wait and Canon made only a couple minor missteps in the design; while just short of a home run the camera is still a solid contender in the mirrorless market space.
Canon built the EOS M around the same 18-megapixel APS-C size sensor found in the Rebel T4i. Behind that Canon backed up the sensor with the same DIGIC V image processor and autofocus found in full size DSLR cameras. The EOS M doesn’t have an internal flash, but it comes with an external flash in the box.
The top view of the EOS M shows a fully functional hot shoe – by Canon
Canon also maintained their fidelity to video shooters with the EOS M by offering full frame 1080 HD video at 24, 25 and 30 fps with continuous autofocus and allows for full manual control of video exposure. You can shift focus in video mode just by tapping the touch screen.
Along with the video specs the EOS M has built-in stereo mics and an external audio jack along manual audio controls.
While the EOS M has its own line of lenses, Canon also announced a $200 adapter to make the EOS M compatible with EF and EF-S lenses Canon shooters might already own. The good news about the Canon adapter is it preserves full AF coupling.
Even with the add-on adapter, the EOS M comes in at around $1,000, just between the Sony Nex-5N and the Nex-7.
Still, the extra $200 is just enough to make those looking for a grab cam or camera for wide shots hesitate. Had the EOS M been engineered to be compatible with EF/EF-S lenses out of the box, every Canon video shooter in the country would have one in their vest pocket and this would have been a home run camera for Canon.
Even at that I expect to see the EOS M cropping up in press conferences and street interviews because of its convenient form factor and superior audio capabilities.
Another minor niggle is no optical viewfinder, a feature that’s equally important to still photographers and video shooters. All the framing for the EOS M has to be done through the 3 inch touch screen viewer on the back.
Despite its shortcomings, the EOS M is a solid entrant for Canon into the mirrorless camera space and I expect it to bleed sales away from the Sony Nex line, particularly for video shooters.