Canon EOS M, first impressions

Canon EOS M

Canon EOS M

New Flash: Canon EOS M with the 22mm pancake lens for $299. Is it worth it? Here is my analysis.

I finally saw the Canon EOS M in person. Precision Camera had their mini vendor fair on Friday and Saturday and I got to play with the latest Olympus, Fujifilm and Canon cameras. I spent most of my time with the Olympus E-PM2 and E-PL5 but I still checked out the other vendors. Right next to the Olympus table, Canon displayed their wares, dominated by all things DSLR. The small EOS M was there too, mostly overshadowed by its bigger mirror totting brothers.

While it wasn’t particularly exciting design wise, the EOS M has a no-nonsense and simple design. The dark metallic body is solid, built like the prosumer 7D or 5D series. Its small but chunky design seemes more dense and solid than the Olympus or Sony mirrorless cameras. The 22mm prime lens, with its metal design, resembles the Sony NEX lenses but with a darker, gun-metal color. It has a more premium feel than the plastic shelled EOS lenses. Overall it has the feel of a larger, pumped up PowerShot point and shoot. The camera has almost no external controls. Most settings are adjusted via touch screen.

I turned it on and it started to autofocus, slowly. The image on the back LCD went from blurry to sharp like a transition effect you might see in a movie. It seemed like it worked in slow motion. I would focus on objects near and far the image would gradually come into focus. So surprised by its performance, I asked the Canon rep if this is working properly. Yup, it is. Did I change a setting by mistake (to make it focus slower)? Nope, he didn’t think so. Was this a final, production version? Yes. The EOS M focused shockingly slow. It made the Fujifilm X-Pro 1 (without the newest firmware upgrade) seem like a sports shooting DSLR.

So slow was that camera that, if this is the normal speed, I call it dead on arrival. There is almost no reason to buy this camera. Perhaps if all you shoot is still lifes, it can be usable. But for anything else, forget about it. The Canon rep confirmed that it was slower focusing than the DSLRs, the ultimate in understatement. I asked if he had the 18-55mm lens, perhaps that one focused faster? Nope, he didn’t have it. The camera left such a bad impression that I didn’t bother playing with it anymore. Yes, the camera has a APS-C size sensor and should have the same image quality as the Rebel T4i. But so what. Now I know how Canon is protecting its DSLR sales. Just make a mirrorless camera that is so slow, it is virtually unusable.

I’m still in disbelief as I write this. I truly hope that this unit wasn’t functioning normally, because if it was, the EOS M is an insult to Canon’s customers. Why bother making a camera that is so functionally neutered? Perhaps Canon felt the mirrorless sales pressure and decided to release something, anything. If so, you have just soiled your good name. It would be more honest to just continue making only DSLRs. Too bad really, as a Canon 7D owner with 7 or so lenses, a small EOS compatible mirrorless camera would have been useful.

I’ve written a few more posts on the Canon EOS M, if you are interested.

12 thoughts on “Canon EOS M, first impressions

  1. Wow some surprising comments here. The focus almost sounds like my old Oly C5050 (circa 2002). I have seen some nasty samples from the camera using EF lenses and the adapter. Wonder if this camera will see a massive price drop 5 months in like some of the brands have had. Even with a price drop though what you’re saying isn’t good.

    And your phrase

    “chunky design seemes more dense and solid”

    Whenever I hear “chunky” in tandem with what is supposed to be a small camera that’s not good. I don’t need (or even want) tiny, tiny stuff, but weight and density needs to fit the form factor. I have a Nikon D3 and I can one-hand that camera very well even with some weight on the lens end. And I also love the weight feel to my little Canon Elph – the little thing feels so good in the hand. But this M seems just so out of step with smart design – like a nondescript box that doesn’t do much. A camera needs to feel good and be responsive if it’s going to be used on a regular and varied basis.

    1. Libby, I actually was not using “chunky” as a negative. It is a well made camera and I like a camera that has a dense feel. It’s not heavy for it size but it has a nice heft to it.

      I too am expecting it to drop in price but unless they can speed the focusing via firmware, I won’t be interested in the camera even at a highly discounted price.

      There are too many good, small cameras out there.

  2. Lousy to hear. a lousy camera, no matter how one looks at it.
    It seems these days it’s about price, on “PRESTIGE”, up and away like Superman..Leica M9,ME (keep thinking Pentax) Lenses at prices only Banksters and Drug Cartels can afford(One and same)Truth rules.
    Bought a compact Samsung for Milady. It many pix out of focus. The colors are similar to Pentax, really nice. It makes me mad that something like this on sale..
    My Canon 1200 point and shooter really fast and nice..$70 with taxes, everything.

  3. Its a wonder how can Canon jeopardize their reputation by launching such a camera. Comments on the dpreview forum were leaning your way.

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