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Canon EOS M review

Sabyasachi Biswas January 23 | Updated on January 22, 2013

Canon EOS M   -  BUSINESS LINE

Canon EOS M   -  BUSINESS LINE

Images taken at ISO 6400 showed only moderate noise levels   -  BUSINESS LINE

HDR images showed good colour reproduction. This image also shows use of inbuilt filters.   -  BUSINESS LINE

Consider this situation – I want a camera that can support interchangeable lenses, including those big focal length constant aperture ones, has a sensor big enough to minimise high ISO noise, has a decent burst rate and gives me enough manual control over my imaging. Duh, get a DSLR, you would say.

And get a DSLR I would, but here’s the twist – I want it to be small. Tiny. Compact. Light. Also, I want it to be fun. Yes, I want to do some really creative work, but I also want one of those fun filters and just whip it out of my pocket and start clicking at parties. I also don’t want the resounding “cluck” of the mirror flipping over and back.

So what do I do? I go for a mirrorless compact camera system. And what are my options? I have the Nikon 1 series, Olympus’s PEN and Sony’s NEX among others. And now, Canon’s in the small pro-imaging machine game joining the other big boys with the EOS M. The hiatus between the first mirrorless ones and this is noticeable, but is it worth it? We at Smartbuy find out.

Overview

It’s quite queer, this camera. The EOS M, if you look at the specs, is nothing but the EOS 650 D in a very compact body. It’s got the same 18 megapixel APS-C sensor, the DIGIC 5 processor, the same ISO range, and even the same 3-inch TFT capacitive touch display. That said, the EOS M comes in a very unpretentious compact package.

If you look at it from the back, it’s got very minimal controls, like say, something that a basic PowerShot would have. But it gives the complete manual creative control that I was ranting on about through a very effective touch interface. Everything that needs to be controlled on the camera can be controlled. The menu is straight out of the big Canons, and does not lack in options for customisation.

And the more closely you look at it; you understand how serious this camera is. There’s no inbuilt flash, but what you get is a full-size hot shoe accessory port. The camera is bundled with a small 90EX flash unit, which was quite effective in our test runs, but you can also use the 430EX II or the 600EX-RT Speedlites or a combination of master and slave flash units.

The EOS M uses the new EF-M mount lenses. There are only two lenses for the EF-M mount right now, the 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 and the 22mm f2 ‘pancake’ lens. But this is absolutely no reason to worry because the ‘Mount Adapter EF-EOS M’ can accommodate every EF and EF-S lens, including the legendary L-lenses.

Not serious enough? There are two microphones for stereo audio recording to augment the 1080p HD video recording. There’s even an external microphone input available.

The build is magnesium alloy, so it’s slightly heavy for a compact body, but hey, you get that sturdiness – you can’t ask for more than this on even a mid-range DSLR.

Performance and results

Although the EOS M is very similar to the EOS 650D on the spec table, there still are quite a few differences, which arise out of the difference in the form factor. For instance, the EOS M lacks a viewfinder, but a 100 per cent coverage area on the LCD screen makes up for it.

The EOS M offers 31 AF points as opposed to the 650D’s 9, and adds face detection and tracking features too. While the face detection works well even in low lighting conditions, the same cannot be said about tracking. Also, the AF system is on the slower side as compared to the conventional EOS systems, and also when compared to the Nikon 1 V1.

An AF assist lamp makes the AF work satisfactorily in darker conditions, but while using the movie mode, the AF works like a dog that has lost his scent trail in dense foliage.

The image quality, however, is quite good. Apart from producing crisp images in sunlight, with no loss in colour reproduction and sharpness, the EOS M also produced good images in low light. Even up to ISO 3200, there was very little noise. Only after ISO 6400, did the noise start becoming noticeable. The ISO is expandable up to 12,800 (and a boost up to 25,600 too), but I would recommend usage up to 6400 only. This is quite remarkable, as the sensor is laid almost back to back with a TFT touchscreen that is fixed (not articulated like the 60D, 600D and the 650D) – this is the one part that produces most heat in a camera, and more heat usually leads to more noise.

The EOS M offers a burst rate of 4.3 frames per second (fps), which is lower than the 650D’s 5fps, and the continuous AF and tracking works well in daylight. What I really loved was the HDR shooting mode, which delivered very balanced results and I had fun playing around with the creative filters I first saw in the EOS 60D.

We say

Canon might have been quite late to join this particular party, but what it has produced in the form of the EOS M is a very balanced product. For its size, this camera produces images that uphold the EOS legacy. Of course, the price is a little steep, but it offers the power of a mid-range DSLR in a very compact body. Moreover, the full size lens adapter for the EOS M costs Rs 7,495, while the Nikon counterpart for the V1 costs Rs 11,950. So the cost of lens compatibility is lesser, and it also has more filters and the evident bump in resolution. In my opinion, it wouldn’t be a bad buy for those who want super-portability and the quality of a DSLR in one package, or existing EOS users who want a smaller body for say multi-cam video production or even for stills.

Rs 49,990 (with 18-55mm EF-M lens and 90EX Speedlite)

Love – Low light imaging, HDR results

Hate – Slow AF, pricey

>sabyasachi.b@thehindu.co.in

Published on January 22, 2013

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