Canon EOS M mirrorless camera

Canon's EOS M is finally upon us. $800 will get you the company's first mirrorless, interchangeable-lens camera, with a 22mm prime and a sales pitch centered firmly around its video capabilities.

At heart, the EOS M appears to be very similar to the recently-released Canon T4i/650D, the latest in its lineup of crop-sensor DSLRs: it shares the same 18 megapixel APS-C sensor, 1080p video at 24 frames per second, Digic 5 processor and touchscreen display. Without the mirror and viewfinder, however, much of the bulk is lost: it's just 1.2" thick and weighs less than a pound with the kit lens.

It has a new EF-M lens mount, with an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 image-stabilized zoom and a 22mm f/2.0 pancake available at launch—both with Canon's new stepping motor technology, useful for maintaining silent autofocus when shooting video. A mount adapter, to use standard EF and EF-S lenses, will be available at launch for $200.

It enters a battlefield already occupied by Olympus and Panasonic's Micro 4/3 system, Sony's NEX lineup, and a variety of other recent newcomers, such as Nikon's poorly-received Nikon 1.

Canon's given a few writers hands-on time with a prototype, and early reports are positive:

At The Verge, David Pierce reports that Canon plans to pitch the EOS M as a filmmaking gadget first and foremost, "designed to be something of a companion tool for videographers and cinematographers much the same way the G1 X is designed for pro shooters who want something smaller than their DSLR". Piece also created a useful comparison chart vs. other mirrorless models.

Andy Westlake, writing for DPReview, calls it a "well-judged offering" that puts the T4i/650D in an unthreatening compact form: "The really big question is how well the EOS M will fare against established competitors from the likes of Olympus, Panasonic and Sony".

TechRadar's Angela Nicholson says that it'll be great for people already invested in Canon glass: "The Canon EOS M impresses. It's a nice, solid-feeling camera that offers plenty of control to the enthusiast, without daunting its more novice target market. We think that Canon has made the right move by using an APS-C sized sensor, and inevitably this means creating a new lens mount if the camera is to reap the size benefits of being mirrorless."

Engadget's Zach Honig reports a "generally positive" experience marred by sluggish fpcusing performance: " it should be abundantly clear that the EOS M isn't going to replace your high-end digital SLR rig".

Gizmodo's Mario Aguilar: "Ooooh! Yes! Please! Thank! You!"


  1. Should this actually be called a DSLR, then? If there’s no mirror, the “reflex” bit is missing. Right?

    My mistake, the DSLR bit refers to a different camera.

    1. I’m having second thoughts about my beloved S90. The iPhone 4S camera has largely replaced my need for “snapshots” and project documentation, which is why I bought the S90. My 20D is still a reliable big DSLR for when I need full manual control, or for doing astro or time lapse work. What I would like is something closer to the DSLR than the S90, since if I’m going to take something other than my phone, I’d be happy taking something a hair larger than the S90 anyway.

        1. I’ve certainly considered it, but in general my timelapse work also includes something unique about the lenses, either macro, or wide angle, etc. and since I’m bringing a tripod, possibly lighting, anyway, the size benefit of the S90 is largely eliminated.

      1.  plus the thinking is that this might be a good astrophotography camera, primarily because it weighs less than a DSLR and the distance from the bayonet to the image plane is much less than in a DSLR. for newtonians that don’t have a lot of backfocus, this camera could allow a filter wheel in your imaging train which might be impossible with a DSLR.

        1.  I haven’t seen any word on manual focus yet and I’m not sure I’d fully trust their autofocus all that much either.  But I do like where you’re going with this.

  2. I’m a long-time Canon user, with a bunch of lenses including a couple of large and expensive L lenses. I haven’t upgraded my camera body since 2007 though, so I have a 40D (which is still a great camera). 

    The reason I haven’t upgraded is because I bought an Olympus EP-2 when it was new a couple years ago. There was speculation that Canon and Nikon would be coming out with similar cameras at the time, and I wanted to hold out for a Canon one, but I wanted/needed one right away so I went for the Olympus and got the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 lens. I needed it for the extensive traveling I was doing – carrying a large camera and large lenses is just really annoying and I ended up not using it that much.

    Now I almost only use the EP-2. I still use the 40D for some things, particularly because I have a wider selection of lenses for it, but the size and convenience of the EP-2 (without giving up picture quality) is ideal.

    My problem with this new Canon offering is that it doesn’t offer anything significantly better than what’s already on the market. The sensor is larger, yes, and that interests me (assuming it makes an appreciable difference). OK, so you can use your large EF lenses on it with an adapter… not only does that defeat the purpose of having a small camera, but there are adapters available (for much less than $200) to do the same thing – with Canon lenses – with Micro 4/3 cameras like the EP-2.

    So you’re going to need new lenses anyway, and several of the Micro 4/3 lenses already available are quite excellent (such as the aforementioned 20mm f/1.7). Canon’s got stiff competition. But I suspect that their new lenses will certainly be excellent, and they’ll get a lot of sales due to brand loyalty.

    And they’re touting it for use in video production… if you just need a cheap secondary camera, whatever the latest Rebel model is has the same sensor and video capabilities and will have more easily accessible manual controls. Doesn’t make sense (even though I rather enjoy shooting HD video at f/1.7 on my EP-2).

    All this is to say that I think they made some poor decisions here. It could have been a lot better than anything else – I don’t think the Olympus cameras are perfect – if they took a slightly different route.

    1. This has been (by and large) my experience with my Nikon DSLR, too. I have a D700 and a ton of fast lenses, but most of the time (and almost always when travelling) I reach for the Ep-2.  Like you, I mostly use the 17mm pancake. I recently bought a micro-four-thirds adaptor and have been using the Olympus with a Voigtlander 25mm Nokton. Which should be ridiculous, but is actually sublime.

      1. I’d love to have some old-school rangefinder lenses to use with my EP-2. Unfortunately, not too long after I bought it I ran out of money ;)

    2.  This is pretty much my general fear and why I’ve never looked at 4/3 cameras.  I’m afraid all that stuff I have for my DSLR would become irrelevant…  :)

      1. Yeah… I should really just sell most of my Canon stuff, I could use the money… but I just can’t. Having the EP-2 has been worth it though, honestly, even if I have a couple thousand dollars worth of Canon stuff collecting dust ;)

  3. So it DOES take EF lens mounts.

    The rumors I had been seeing were pretty insistent that it was going to be a different mounting system, which would effectively eliminate it from consideration for anyone who has far more money invested in lenses than in camera bodies.

    I may be in the minority, but I don’t mind the bulk of a DSLR, and use an extended battery pack to add even more. Mirrorless, though, sounds awesome to me.

    1. It is a different mount, but Canon ship an adapter to use EF(-S) lenses.

      It is a similar approach that Olympus had with m4/3 vs 4/3. The problem is that part of the mount, you have the flange distance that take the mirror box into account on the SLR. It is much shorter on “mirror less”

      1. So does that translate to an effective focal length similar to a full-frame sensor instead of the multiplier effect on a mirrored APS-C, using the same lens? Or am I thinking of it backwards and it makes it even more pronounced?

        1. No. This does not change anything. The field of view remain the same for a given focal length vs sensor size. EF and EF-S lens will provide the exact same FoV on either the EOS-M or the 650D/T4i (same sensor)

    2.  No, I don’t mind it either.  But then I also have been known to haul around a medium format at the same time…

      1. Hauling pro gear around would certainly be a different experience. I just have an EOS Xti, but when I try to use it without the battery pack, it feels too small in my paws, too light.

        I only use it without the battery pack when it’s mounted on a telescope and tethered to a laptop.

        1.  Ah, got it.  The Rebels always feel too light to me too, I can understand why you added the weight.

  4. How is the outlook for the various mount systems? I have not had an SLR since film (it is still in a closet somewhere) I did not want to buy and then have them decide to change everything. Also the point and shoot digitals have improved so much that it has been easier to put of until later date.

    1.  Depends on the system.  Minolta got picked up by Sony and you can still use Minolta lenses on Sony gear.  Nikon never made any changes.  Canon switched to EOS in the 80’s and hasn’t made any changes since then.

      Now, keep in mind that with older lenses you’ll lose any automated functions, since the camera can’t electronically set the  aperture,  shutter speed, or autofocus, but if you’re coming from film anyway you shouldn’t notice the difference. 

      There are enough makerspace-type guys out there with lathes or mills that you
      can pretty much find any adapter you need for relatively low prices.  I know a number of shooters who have adapters for older Nikon lenses for new Canon cameras or the like because the quality:cost ratio is so high and they don’t mind taking the extra time.

    2. When I bought my SLR, I didn’t buy lenses. I used the same one that I had on my film camera. Even using the camera was the same. And I could even use them on that EOS-M if I get the adapter.

      Same applies for Nikon, Pentax, Sony(-Minolta) SLR

  5. They’re going to have to fix a few things before this becomes popular. The focusing speed according to some videos I saw is HORRIBLE. Without an optical viewfinder, you really need either an articulating LCD to see things in sunlight, or an external EVF, which this doesn’t have. If you want to use non-AF lenses on this camera, you really need a good method of focusing, such as focus peaking, which this doesn’t have. The price is also around $200 too much. Maybe the next version will fix enough of these issues to justify that kind of price.

    1.  Agreed. And without the viewfinder, you have no choice but to use the back screen, which means it’s going to have a  hellishly short battery life.

    2. I don’t know if it’s somehow worse on this camera, but my Olympus EP-2 from a couple years ago does not really have the problems you describe. Focus speed is not DSLR-like but is fine for most situations (better than a P&S by far), and the screen is sunlight-visible with no problem. The EP-2 came with an EVF but I’ve literally never used it besides playing around with it to test it out (it’s detachable).

      And @boingboing-5cbdfd0dfa22a3fca7266376887f549b:disqus … again battery life is not an issue on the EP-2 and I have no reason to believe it would be worse on this newer camera.

      There are issues with this Canon and with other cameras of this type in general, but these issues you’re describing aren’t really the big deals. Of course there’s room for improvement especially with autofocus, but these aren’t show-stopping problems.

      Most importantly, a camera like this is much more of a niche item. If you push your DSLR to the limits regularly, you won’t be satisfied with this kind of camera. It’s for a different type of photographer.

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