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Canon EOS M review

Verdict

Image quality as strong as you’ll find from a DSLR, but dithering autofocus and awkward ergonomics spoil the venture

Review Date: 15 Feb 2013

Reviewed By: Barry Collins

Price when reviewed: £441 (£529 inc VAT)

Buy it now for: £337
(see more store prices)

Overall Rating
4 stars out of 6

Features & Design
4 stars out of 6

Value for Money
4 stars out of 6

Performance
4 stars out of 6

Image Quality
5 stars out of 6

The shooting modes include all those you’d expect to find on a consumer-grade DSLR, including aperture/shutter-speed priority, full manual and a range of presets for portraits, landscapes and so on. Yet, whatever mode you’re shooting in, autofocus performance is patchy. With the kit lens, the autofocus often failed to lock to subjects, especially in low light conditions; with an 18-200mm EF zoom lens latched onto the lens adapter, it really struggled.

A hybrid auto/manual focus mode mitigates this irritation to some extent, allowing you to fine-tune if the autofocus gets close. However, it’s too erratic for our liking, especially when using Touch AF mode, which allows you to dab the touchscreen to focus before firing the shutter when it thinks it’s locked on.

That’s a travesty, because, when the focus is sharp, the pictures captured on the EOS M’s 18-megapixel APS-C sensor are every bit as good as those produced by Canon’s consumer DSLRs – though that’s hardly surprising, given this is the same sensor you’ll find in the EOS 650D.

Detail is immaculately preserved, especially when using the 22mm pancake lens at close range. Colours are accurate and well balanced, and the EOS M exposes high-contrast scenes especially well, picking out people from bright backgrounds and coping adeptly with sun bursting through clouds. In automatic mode, the camera has a tendency to ratchet up the ISO level to worryingly noisy levels (6400 and beyond) rather than slow the shutter speed, although the photos are salvageable as long as you shoot in RAW mode and have decent photo editing software to hand.

Canon EOS M

The EOS M is much more at home in daylight, but there’s no electronic viewfinder – nor even an option to attach one to the hotshoe – which means you’re relying on the screen in bright sunlight. That means it can be tricky to see if a photo is properly focused. The hotshoe can be used for the supplied Speedlite 901EX flash, a mini-flash powered by two AA batteries that offers emergency-only performance similar to any integrated flash.

The EOS M also captures video at up to Full HD resolution, and it’s hard to find fault with the footage. Although the autofocus does occasionally falter, the new lenses don’t generate any noise to mar footage. Exposures are excellent once more, with the option to take full manual control via the touchscreen. There’s also a 3.5mm socket to attach an external mic. The stabilisation in the 18-55mm kit lens doesn’t counter shaky hands very well, though, so keep a tripod close by if you want professional-grade footage.

We’re torn by the EOS M. If you’re looking for a pocketable camera that will deliver images a cut above what you can expect from a regular compact, the EOS M is worthy of serious consideration. Yet, its autofocus struggles and awkward handling leave it short of a Recommended Award. Canon took its time before entering this market – we suspect another bite of the cherry will be enough to place it among the A-List contenders.

Canon EOS M sample pictures:


Canon EOS M
Shot at f/2.8, 1/60s, ISO 125. Click this link for the full resolution version

Canon EOS M
Shot at f/5, 1/25s, ISO 6400. Click this link for the full resolution version

Canon EOS M
Shot at f/6.3, 1/80s, ISO 100. Click this link for the full resolution version

Canon EOS M
Shot at f/13, 1/250s, ISO 100. Click this link for the full resolution version

Canon EOS M
Shot at f/9, 1/125s, ISO 100. Click this link for the full resolution version

Canon EOS M
Shot at f/2.8, 1/30s, ISO 800. Click this link for the full resolution version

Author: Barry Collins

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User comments

illogical

It's half the Price of the Fuji XE-1,has a similar size sensor, and also has interchangeable lens's...so why is it, after looking at both camera's, that I would still buy the XE-1 over it ?

By Jaberwocky on 18 Feb 2013

Autofocus

Worth pointing out that a recent firmware update has fixed the sluggish autofocus performance.

By PaulOckenden on 9 Jul 2013

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