About six weeks ago, I bought the Canon EOS-M in a wonderful bundle that included both 22mm and 18-55mm lenses, and the little flash. I also opted to buy the adapter ring, so that I could try out my other Canon lenses as well.
It arrived in time for my annual holiday to the snow, and so I decided I’d put it through its paces on the slopes, and see how it fared.
I had read quite a few reviews before investing, but mostly they were based on the pre-release model, and I couldn’t find much written after about October last year. So, I knew that most of the reviews felt the focusing was prone to slowness. I also knew there were some new features like the touch screen. But I really needed to try it out and see how I got on with it.
First of all, I attempted some movie footage with the lovely large aperture 22mm lens. However, the lack of image stabilisation meant that when I was skiing behind friends videoing them, the footage came out jolty, and very distracting. Switching to the 18-55mm lens with stabilisation however was fantastic. The footage came out really well, and the size and weight of the camera made it incredibly easy to ski with, when it was attached to a minipod (http://www.calumetphoto.co.uk/eng/product/calumet_7101_minipod/ck7101). For the last couple of years, I have skied carrying my Canon 5DmkII attached to the Opteka x-grip (http://opteka.com/xgrip.aspx) which makes carrying the weight of the DSLR much easier. However, the footage from the EOS-M was much smoother, and it dealt very well with changing light – skiing between light and shadow was filmed smoothly and it didn’t take the camera long to adjust. It didn’t seem to mind the cold too much either. There was one worrying moment where it came up with an error message about the battery not being installed properly (despite having worked about an hour earlier) but I wasn’t sure if it was just a low charge issue, or a cold issue. So I changed to a battery I knew was fully charged and the error message went away. However, with the wind chill of around -20, the camera as a whole wasn’t overly happy. Mind you – neither was I! Here’s a little collection of the video I took with the camera. The first clip is with the shakey 22mm, then I go onto the 18-55mm image stabilised lens. (https://vimeo.com/63888803)
I took some lovely stills of the mountains. As with all cameras that have given up the viewfinder space in favour of a larger screen, it was hard sometimes to see exactly what shots I was capturing. That was a little frustrating. But the photos came out well in general.
I also used the camera indoors in the evenings. That’s where it’s not so performant, as all the reviews indicated. Even with auto ISO and the aperture as wide as possible, it was only “acceptable” when used with decent lighting, and then got very blurry when used in less than ideal lighting. The flash helped somewhat, although being so small, I will need to figure out what settings will give the best results, as initial findings are that it was a bit over bright. I guess that’s a shortcoming that I will live with.
Once home, I took it with me on an explore of London in daylight and it again performed really well. I changed from the kit lenses to using my 70-200mm f4, and 50mm f1.4 using the adapter ring. The shots that resulted were at least as good as the 5DMKII.
With the 70-200mm lens
And with the 50mm f1.4 lens
I am finding now that I carry the camera around with me all the time. I stopped carrying the DSLR as it was too heavy when carrying everything else for work. The EOS-M fits easily into my work bag adding very little weight. The only thing I need to remember is to ensure the battery is regularly charged as it has a fraction of the life of my 5DMKII battery.
The overall rating of the camera I would say is 4 out of 5 stars. If the battery life was longer, if it dealt with low light better, if the 22mm lens was stabilised, it would get 5 out of 5. But it’s pretty close. I have found that buying the EOS-M has encouraged me to get out and take more photos again. Sometimes you need inspiration to get your energy back into something … and a new camera has definitely re-engaged me in my passion of photography. I love that I can now have a lightweight back up camera body if I am going on a shoot with the 5DMKII – even if it does confuse people when they see L series lenses on a very small camera body! Although the general consensus is that Canon have come late into the Compact System market, I would say they have entered with a highly desirable product for any Canon DSLR user wanting a second lighter camera that can reuse their current kit! It has some fun features such as the touch screen. It has some “younger” features like filters applied in camera (e.g. fish eye, soft focus, bold colours, vignetting, etc) but it also allows you total manual control over ISO, aperture and exposure. All in all, it’s a great camera, and I am very pleased I made the investment.