As cameras get better, they get smaller, more pocketable and they offer better quality as well. The big recent change in cameras came in the form of micro four-thirds and mirrorless designs. These cameras were designed to offer all of the goodness of a full-sized DSLR but with the ease and convenience of a point-and-shoot. Major player Nikon recently launched their lineup of mirrorless cameras and Canon, one of the largest camera manufacturers not to be outdone in this segment, did the same a few days back, with their EOS M line of mirrorless cameras. Canon visited our office and we were able to take a quick look at what the product looks and feels like. The product we used wasn’t the absolute final one, so there are likely to be tweaks and changes made. 


A massive 18-135mm Canon EF-S lens on the EOS M

The first thing to notice is its shape, size and weight, which is very commendable. Just the body with the battery in it weighs under 300 grams. In terms of size, it’s thicker than the typical IXUS line of cameras from Canon, but not by much. But it is noticeably heavier than an IXUS camera. 


The very simple, point-and-shoot design – but it has a rugged built

The size doesn’t mean that Canon has adopted a small sensor design either. The sensor on the EOS M is actually the same as the EOS 650D, that was launched recently. This means, an APS-C size sensor on a body the same size as a conventional point and shoot camera. It’s rated at 18 Megapixels and has an ISO range that extends from 100 to 6400. We weren’t able to view the photos on a PC to verify but we’ll leave that to our review, when we do it sometime in September, which is when the product is expected to launch. If the claims on the quality are true, then this is one of the biggest advantages of this product. Shutter speeds are as expected in most cameras – ranging from 1/4000 of a second to 30 seconds, including a bulb mode. Burst mode speeds go up to 4.3 frames per second which is very good, and close to the EOS 650D.


The lens mount adaptor

The lens mount being used on the EOS M is being called the EF-M mount, but Canon will have adaptors in the market, that let you use pretty much any Canon EF or EF-S lens, which makes this a very versatile product to use. This means you can choose one of the many lenses from Canon and also third-party manufacturers, which means you won’t have to upgrade your lens lineup for this camera. This isn’t the case so much with some of the products based on the other mirrorless designs. 


Simple, basic controls but a large 3-inch touchscreen to play with

The EOS M uses a 3-inch screen, the same that you’d find on most point and shoot and DSLR cameras. It’s got a resolution of more than 1 million dots on paper, but it’s also very good in practice, as we noticed while playing around with the cameras. The party piece of course, is that this screen is touch enabled and is gesture-capable.

All of the parameters and settings can be modified completely on the touchscreen and Canon has made the necessary tweaks to the user interface to enable this. For example, there’s no need to scroll and the pages of the menus are lined up horizontally, one after another.


Very conventional Canon UI, but tweaked for the touchscreen

The user interface is intuitive and it’s very similar to the ones found on the Canon’s recent DSLRs. It’s extremely quick and the gestures used to zoom into the preview images works really well. From what we could make out, it’s a very usable touchscreen and product. Of course, this is one of the early sample units we were using so it’s hard to comment on its performance. But from what we could see, focussing took hardly any time.


Flash adaptor mounted and a 50mm lens in place

The EOS M has no optical viewfinder, and this is going to annoy some serious photographers. Thankfully, the screen is clear, it’s vibrant and we noticed no lag that you normally see when you try and bump ISO levels. There’s no built-in flash either, which means you need to use some of the accessories that Canon has to offer. There’s a regular flash mount but Canon also has specific flash units designed for this, but you should be able to use any of the other Canon compatible lenses as well. Canon wants to target a number of categories to cater to everyone from enthusiasts to professionals who want a second, portable camera to even lifestyle users. For this, there’s also an add-on grip that fits into the tripod mount.


The stock kit lens, an 18-55mm IS enabled

There’s no official word on the pricing but if US dollar prices are to be calculated, one can expect the camera to end up selling at roughly Rs. 50,000 a piece. We’re eager, as you might be, to see what the EOS M can really do. We think the price of this particular model is high, but it’ll still have its customers. We inquired whether cheaper models were coming and we were told “We don’t know”. I guess we all know what that means.

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