The Canon EOS-M is being cleared out right now to make way for its successor, and is selling for $249 for the body only or $329 WITH A LENS. This is a camera that was $900 a year ago, and is so undervalued at these prices you should seriously consider picking one up. I couldn’t resist it, and bought one a week ago. Here’s why I love it.
So, What is the EOS-M
The Canon EOS-M is a mirror-less camera that takes its own changeable lenses called EF-M lenses, like an SLR, or can also use EF-S or EF lenses from Canon and third-parties with an adaptor. The main thing that sets the EOS-M apart from most other mirror-less cameras is the sensor – the EOS-M doesn’t use a smaller point and shoot sensor, it uses the same APS-C size sensor as a typical DSLR, in 18MP. This means you get the image quality of a DSLR out of a very small, pocketable camera, and retain the flexibility to use whatever lens the situation requires. This allows you to all the great stuff like blurry backgrounds and low light photos that just aren’t possible with your phone or a point-and-shoot camera.
If it’s so great, why’s it so cheap?
The EOS-M got a bad reputation for slow autofocus when it came out, and it took Canon 6 months(!) to fix this issue with a firmware patch, which is freely downloadable here. During that time, many early adoptors wrote off the camera, demand for it plummeted, and sales suffered. With the firmware fix, autofocus is now 2.3x faster than before, and the camera is far better than its reputation would suggest. Personally, I also think a lot of traditional SLR users did not adjust well to the new touch-screen interface, and failed to realize you can very quickly and accurately focus the camera by simply touching the screen on your focus point, and clicking the shutter button, even before the firmware update.
Here are the things I love about the EOS-M, aside from the obvious like the sensor size:
1) Tap to focus, as mentioned above. Super useful for critical focus situations, such as using a very fast long lens.
2) Pinch to zoom – When reviewing your photos on the camera, you can simply pinch to zoom in and check your picture. Works very well.
3) ISO / F-stop / Shutterspeed tap and drag – you can change any of these by simply clicking them on the screen.
4) Built to last – The body is almost entirely metal and feels very solid.
5) Pocketable Powerhouse. With the EF-M 22MM f2.0 prime, it is a very small, very pocketable SLR-equivalent.
And, of course it does full 1080P video, servo autofocus DURING VIDEO SHOOTING, bracketed photos, a cool new high-ISO multishot exposure stitching for noise reduction, and a bunch of other great stuff; the full specs are here on Canon’s site.
A Very Unfair Comparison
I got my hot little hands on the EOS-M just after Christmas, and I did a ton of shooting with it right away. I had just published this nutcracker photo, which was shot with my Canon 5D MkIII, and decided to do a comparison test with the 5D MkIII to see how different the shot would be on the EOS-M. These blurred background lights are a tough test for the EOS-M, as this effect is created through the combination of a short focal plane with a large sensor size, so the EOS-M is at a disadvantage to the full-frame 5D MkIII. Naturally, that’s what I decided to use for my comparison.
Click on any photo below to bring up the comparison.
As you can see, there is more noise in the EOS-M shots, and the background blur is better on the 5D MkIII, as expected, but detail is close between the two, and considering that the 5D MkIII sells USED for 10X what the EOS-M is selling for new right now…the EOS-M is an incredible bargain. Also, consider that for these shots, I used the most equivalent lenses I had while still equalizing focal lengths (to make up for the EOS-M’s crop factor), and the “inexpensive for an L-lens” EF 17-40L lens alone that’s on the 5D sells for 2X what the entire EOS-M camera + EF-M 18-55 lens cost.
And, of course, if you want to compensate for that lesser background blur, all you’ve got to do is throw a fast lens on there with an EF Adaptor and adjust your position a bit.
You can see why I’m so excited about this little cam with the big sensor at today’s prices. The compact size makes it great for everyday carrying and street photography, while the big sensor gives it image quality rarely seen in a package this size, and certainly nothing near this price. While 5D Mk III definitely outperforms it in every measure, is that 15% improvement in quality worth 10x the cost? That’s the question I’m asking myself now. I’m seriously considering selling the 5D, and going purely to the EOS-M. I’ve even ordered a second EOS-M kit today, this one with the very well reviewed EF-M 22 F2. I may even keep the second camera body, because at these prices, it’s just so hard for me to pass up.
The following gallery has more sample shots with various lenses mounted on the EOS-M. Lens and exposure info should display in your lower right corner of the slideshow once you click on a photo, and is also embedded on the copyright line of each image.