Review: Canon Eos M

Great shots, but the autofocus is crap. 3/5

Canon EOS M [Amazon]


  1. The big thing I will say in its defense is that this is the only compact that can do credible cinematic video at the moment: 24 fps with an Super35-sized (APS-C) sensor, and a flange distance that lets you put pretty much any lens on it.

    All that is changing this summer with the compact Blackmagic. But let’s just say that release dates and Blackmagic are not the best of friends.

    1. And you’d also want to mention the 3x crop factor on that new Blackmagic
      Pocket Cinema camera which means you will never get a wide angle shot.

      I’m planning on saving up for the Blackmagic Production Camera 4K, though.

      for the EOS M, yeah, that AF is a disgrace. I recently saw a deal on it
      with that 22mm lens for only $399, so if you don’t need good AF, that’s
      pretty much a steal. Hopefully Canon has learned their lesson and an M2
      will be forthcoming to fix the issue. Until you’ve seen one of these in
      person, it’s hard to grasp how truly TINY this camera is.

      1. “never get a wide angle shot”
        Nonsense, there’s plenty of good wide-angle glass out there for 16mm. Get yourself an Arri or C-mount adapter and you’re set. Don’t limit yourself to glass made for 8-perf 35mm, which was never a much of a moving picture format in the first place. (VistaVision never really took off)

    2. Oh, that Blackmagic Pocket Camera will be mine this fall, barring some spectacular design flaw. I already have some great 16mm glass that will work wonderfully on it.

      220 mbps ProRes out the camera? Greatest low budget B-roll camera ever. Just hope more LANC controllers work with it than the original BMCC…

    3.  Wait… what about the Xes and NXes and NEXes? I don’t know much about those video specs, so honest question: why don’t they fit the bill?

      1. The difference between the sensors is huge. The 13 stops of dynamic range on the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema camera blows away anything less, as does the bitrate, the RAW video file formats, etc. They are in a completely different class, despite the similarity in physical size. If you aren’t making professional video, you don’t need a Blackmagic camera, though the Pocket Cinema camera would be a very nice option if you already have a collection of m43 lenses.

        1.  I actually meant, in comparison to the EOS M, which Rob said was “the only true compact camera that can do credible cinematic video at the moment”. So, can the EOS M output RAW video, too? Or at least use a better encoding than those other cameras?

          That said, I believe the difference lies more in firmware and card writing speed than sensor, most APS-C sensors are nowadays capable of registering more than 13 steps of DR, and that capability is used for still images.

          1. Dynamic range (of still photos) on Canon APS-C cameras is generally, from what I understand, in the 10.something range. At least for JPEGs. Also, they have no RAW video format as far as I know.

            If you’d like to see a very nice comparison of the Blackmagic Cinema Camera (predecessor to their new cameras), to a Canon 5D Mk III (a much better camera to the Canon EOS M, check out this:

            If the BMCC is that much better than a 5D Mk III, just think how much better it is to an EOS M. The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema camera is supposedly in a par with the original BMCC as far as video capabilities go, though until it’s released and into the hands of independent reviewers, we’ve only got their word on that.

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  2. I don’t even know how a camera can get to production with crap autofocus these days.  I continue my Zatoichi-esque journey of daily amazement – it keeps me young.

    1. Ken Rockwell and others say that the EOS-M autofocuses about as fast as a DLSR in live view mode.

      The large sensor also means that the lenses have to move much further than the lenses in smaller cameras (Micro 4/3’s for instance). Either way, canon goofed.

      1. Ken Rockwell says a lot of things.  And he gets a lot of page views.  One may have something to do with another.

        And autofocus in live view is a horrible, horrible turd of a solution.  The 5DII has terrible lens focus noise in it’s video, I’m shocked they haven’t fixed that by now.

        Canon indeed goofed, Fuji is running away with this format right now.

    1. Sure, as long as you don’t ever need to focus.  The minute you do you’re going to hear the noise.  But if you have a static focus distance you’re good to go.  I just don’t know what that shot is.

      1. I came across this video, which goes on for some time, but essentially, there’s an autofocus for moving objects, and and an autofocus for static objects.

        Sure, as long as you don’t ever need to focus. The minute you do you’re going to hear the noise

        Are you taking photos, or are you just shooting video?

  3. Does anyone use autofocus for cinema or television production? Certainly not at the high end.

    I think autofocus or the lack thereof is a non issue for digital cinema, not that has anything to do with the commercial viability of this camera.

    1. I wouldn’t use the autofocus for video at all (and in fact the inexpensive cine lens I have is manual-only) But the utility of the EOS is that it’s (ostensibly) everything — stills, movies, compact — in one gadget.

      But it’s just not that great for stills, because of the AF.

      I might perma-install it in a cheapo shoulder rig or on a steadicam-type  weight setup. But then, of course, it’s not particularly compact — and I’ve never been a run n gun type.

  4. I have bought an EOS M and I love, love, love it! I’ve had
    it for a month now and the more I use it, the more I love it. This is my main
    camera right now and will hopefully  remain as such for a long time.

    Cameras I’ve owned before:

    Sony NEX-5N with all sorts of lenses and adapters.

    All sorts of Nikon and Canon DSLRs.

    All sorts of digital compacts.

    All sorts of film cameras, from rangefinders to
    SLRs to premium compacts.


    I own now:

    EOS M, which is my main camera.

    Nikon D700, which I use for extreme low light
    and sports photography.

    Leica film cameras and lenses.


    firm opinion is this:

    The AF in the EOS M is fast enough for anything
    except sports and comparable activities.  Yes, anything, if you learn how
    to use it. Also, EOS M has a “Sports” creative mode where the AF speed is significantly
    increased by (and that’s my guess) sacrificing reliability. In this mode, the
    AF moves the glass to the correct position and keeps it there without going
    back and forth at all. In all other modes, it double-checks and moves the glass
    back and forward a bit to make 100% sure that the AF is perfect. I’m wondering
    if other manufactures cheat like that in any mode? I’m perfectly happy with the
    double-checking approach  – the AF speed
    is still fast enough for anything and AF is always dead on.

    The picture quality is typical Canon with 7D’s
    sensor, but EOS M image quality is noticeably better  compared to older Canons with the same sensor (Digic
    5 is helping, I guess).

    controls are almost perfect (a few minor improvements would be nice, but no big
    deal). You don’t have to use the touch screen if you don’t want to. Everything,
    except the zooming in the manual focus mode and when you review the pictures
    can be controlled using buttons and menus. The menu organization is excellent.

    The shutter is not silent but not as loud as in Sony
    NEX. The shutter sound is quite pleasing.

    The camera is a joy to hold and to use. If used right, the
    pictures and the video are outstanding. I used to own Canon 550D and I own a
    Canon 60D. Right now, I love this little guy more than the DSLRs. I am absolutely
    happy with my EOS M and, based on my experience,  I truly believe that it’s the best ML camera
    on the market today. M43 and NEX are nice enough, but to me they don’t come
    close to what I get with the EOS M. All of the above is my personal opinion and
    not much more.

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