EOS-M2. The works. (long, LONG post).

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PhotoKhan
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EOS-M2. The works. (long, LONG post).
7 months ago

So, I've received my EOS-M2 in the adapter plus 90EX flash plus 3 lenses kit format (EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM, EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM and EF-M 22mm f/2 STM) and just finished my first week testing the little critter.

For those without patience to read what will certainly be a long post, I'll declare it right away: I love this camera and it does in a very apt way what it is designed to do and what I bought it for.
(Now you can jump to the gallery right away, right away. )

Approaching Nice.

For those taking in a big breath and joining in for the ride, two preliminary important considerations:

First, I never owned or even put my hands an EOS-M before. My conclusion that the "M" line was an worthy one was based solely on the consistent image quality from the photos you guys posted here, a quality that I systemically confirmed with other online resources. As such, it is probable that I will have some positive things to say about the camera about which you guys will just go "Well, I knew that".

Secondly, there are no OOC jpegs to be referenced to. My photography is strictly RAW based (very rarely RAW+L) and, since I wanted to discover how the RAW output from the camera would behave under my (adapted) normal work flow, I shot only RAW. The only exception was to test the "Hand Held Night Scene" mode, where 4 shots are fired in a row to generate a composite and which only works in Jpeg. I was trying to figure out if this was an advantage for impromptu night photography. I came to the conclusion that it can be somewhat useful but it is not the killer solution I imagined it could be.

Now, first things first: The body.

It is an extremely well constructed little block, one that felt sturdy and well crafted (like a small roughed brick) right from the very first moment I took it out of the box.

It also felt "right", to me. I have large hands and was wondering if a product that is so openly target to women (as shown here) would turn out to be an operational problem. In this regard, no, it is not. Everything is well placed and I feel that for a touch-screen operated camera, in has the required controls, in the appropriate places.

The only exception, one that is not specific-camera related, is the renewal of this complaint I have (and that was so aptly catered for in the 5DMKIII) about Canon really having to understand that fully customizable cameras that feature such encompassing sets of shooting parameters and configurations should always be designed with, at least, a couple of direct-access customizable buttons so that a photographer can change a set of parameters from one shooting situation to another, almost instantly, with just a button.

Under this spirit, it would also be useful if the "Info" buttons on Canon cameras would allow for 2 types of usage, to be selected in the Cf.n menus: (1) The manufactured chosen "Info" page structure and cycling and (2) an user-selectable number of pages and the ability to toggle "On/Off" individual parameters present in those pages.

For instance, I only have need for the first (blank screen, only focus box displayed) and third (minimal overlaid parameters) screens of the "Info" pages cycle. However, I would love to be able to display live histogram on the very first page, something that is only available on the fourth one. In this 4th page it just adds to the mess of superimposed info, a mess that actually severe hampers the ability to frame and compose.

The camera screen is very, very good and the touch functionality (something that I was also afraid of, given the my big fingers and general clumsiness) is very precise and easy to use.

The fact that it is a touch screen presents an operational problem whereas things get randomly selected whenever the camera is resting between shots, be it against our own body or another (pocket) surface.

Setting a short time for LCD auto shut-off partially solves the problem (and spares power) but does not solve it completely. In this regard it is puzzling why Canon chose to put the selection of the screen shutter activation in the actual screen, creating kind of operational loophole where it is constantly alternating between "On" and "Off" just by accidentally being touched on the screen. In my view, it should have been buried in a "Menu".

The camera presents an ergonomic problem when used with the adapter and EF lenses as, quite simply, there's no way it can be made steady while hand-holding it. The amount of jitter in the display when using even a moderate FL lens, like the 24-105, is very significant (...at least in my case).

If I try it to support it at waist level the fact that the camera does not feature a tilting screen becomes a serious operational problem. If I bring the combo to eye level, the awkward grasp of both camera and lens makes it excruciating to hold it for long periods of time. Mid-way between waist and chest is the "natural" position but it does not do much about the wobbling. I must work further on this to find a long-term solution.

...But the only real drawback with this camera is the battery.

I can't understand what Canon was thinking when they elected such a low capacity battery for this camera. The LCD is an huge power consumer (I have kept the brightness just one tick above the standard setting during this tests) and, as per design, they should have realized that it would be almost constantly be turned "On" and that this would put an already significant demand on the battery. Add the fact that one of the selling points of the format is to be compatible by via of the adapter, with EF and EF-S lenses and consider those powerful AF motors and IS system placing heavy demand on the battery and it becomes obvious why the running times just become plain ridiculous.

I already suspected this from online accounts, so I ordered a couple more 3rd-party batteries (Wasabi) right from the time a ordered the kit. But, after just the second day of testing it became pretty clear that this supplement would also not be enough, so I now have 4 (!) more in transit, including a couple of Opteka ones ...Is it me, or is there a very significant market for a very-high LP-E12 format battery?

About the AF.

It is not the fastest blazing gun in the west, that's true but, given all the negative comments I have read on it, I was pleasantly surprised.

I can tell you guys that, amidst all excitement, I did not even think about AF speed until well into the test runs, when I went "Oh!... and what about AF Servo/Continuous drive?".

The AF is quite OK for what is this camera proposal. It surely comes short for action photography but that is kind of a given (check the unsuccessful cars drive-by sequence in the gallery, taken, on purpose, with my 70-200 f/2.8 II - I will make further testing with moving targets, just to find out what settings might barely work)

...But what about Single Shot?

To give some perspective numbers to the subject, I set out an intentional difficult scenario. I took out my 100-400, mounted it on the adapter and tested the AF on an interior shot in our living room, with fairly dim daylight (f/4.5, 1/15, 1600ISO, about 8EV). I set the AF to a point at about the minimal lens focus distance (1.8 meters) and then timed the AF until it focused on another item, at about 5 meters away. It consistently took about 1.7 to 1.8 seconds to lock the new focus. Now, mind you, this is a 16-years-old lens design. It is a tiny battery driving an old USM motor on a quite heavy lens, through an adapter. To me, those numbers are quite OK.

An actual AF limitation, because of the CDAF: It needs contrast (duh!). This means that shooting with the 22 f/2 through my very thick, contrast-killing flight deck side windows will have the AF hunting and be unable to focus in situations where my 1DMKIV PDAF (albeit the low-light design problem it has) still can lock effectively (i.e the horizon line, at dusk).

The sun has set on western Europe.

Image quality and low-ISO performance on this camera confirmed the excellent feeling that I had been building over time, by observation of randomized output from the "M". It surely can't measure up to my 1DMKIV, much less full-format sensor cameras and it does have that "APS-C look" to it, in what regards to limited PP allowable latitude. But it does output very workable neutral RAW files and the final result slightly exceeds my expectations. Color balance, as per applicable profiles, rendering and PP treatment definitely has that sweet Canon quality to it, the only thing I feel some other users might be missing, when it comes to the otherwise pointless brands/formats discussions.

High-ISO is not brilliant, just OK. A long time ago I have started adopting this practical approach to ISO performance when I became tired of the endless tests and discussions going on here and in other photography sites: I now only focus on what I like to call "No Worries ISO" (NWI). This is, for each camera I use, the upper limit of ISO that, through early testing like the one I have now undertook with the M", I set up has a "I don't have to worry" limit.

This evaluated individual limit for each camera allows me to use it without thinking about how things will turn out in PP. If I miss an exposure by 1/3, 1/2 or even 1EV I know still will have wiggling room, without concerns about raising the level of perceivable noise.

In my 1DMKIII that limit was 1600 ISO. In my 1DMKVI it was, initially, 2000 ISO and now (courtesy of the most recent de-noise tools in LR) 3200 ISO. For the moment, I am assessed this NWI for the EOS-M to be 1600ISO.

The office.

The lenses.

2 good surprises and, most probably, a costly bad one here.

The EF-M 22mm f/2 STM is quite a curious lens one that renders extremely interesting photos in low light. I see myself using it a lot on late afternoon, night interiors night situations, just putting it on the M2 and bringing this very nifty package along wherever I might be going.

Check out these samples (my colleague's one is quite bad, since I always become nervous before beauty and forgot to pump-up the ISO - just imagine what the lens could do if the operator was competent enough to have actually gotten a shaken-free shot

The very first "real" photo (3200 ISO). It showed me, right there, that the EOS-M2 would be up for the task.

Cascais is always ready to model for these tests.

Fishermen's lockers

The 22 f/2.0 true spirit.

They deserved a photographer that was in better terms with the equipment...Hey, maybe I'll set up a full session!

To Nice, in style.

Back to Germany, most probably.

The EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM is also a very apt lens. It reminds me of the much beloved EF-S 10-22. I sold it, together with the 30D, when I migrated to the APS-H format.

I love the way it renders the blue in skies and feel that I certainly will not have to carry my EF 16-35mm f/2.8 II along whenever I go on trip where just the M2 comes along. The wide side of things will then be well catered for with this little apt performer.

Cape Raso lighthouse.

Smallest in the fleet.

Egyptair at Casablanca.

Care to guess his name?...Achmed !

Guincho Beach, after some stormy days.

A cozy atmosphere shop.

Now for the bad news. I am afraid the EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM is a lens that can only be relied upon for the odd, occasional shot. It simply does not cut it as a general purpose walkaround lens. It is lackluster in general resolution and contrast is nothing to write home about. Put this together with the relatively slow apertures (even with IS considered) and I quickly dismissed it as something to always be on the camera.

Meh...!

Of course, as with any modern lens, in good light, it can shine. (The second shot is even taken through the 3-layer thick front flight deck glass, while we were waiting for the "mastodontic", slow-paced A340 to cross our departure runway).

Emirates Sultan.

Big as an albatross.

Oshkosh, b'gosh.

This meh!-performance of the 18-55 presents a problem, because my excellent walkaround lens for the 1DMKIV, the EF 24-105 f/4 IS, becomes a 38-168 on the M2 and, although the long end is perfectly OK, the wide one is just not wide enough (...the overall bulk is off-putting, also).

I have decided to get an EF-S 15-85 for this purpose, preferably an used one in good condition, at a decent price.

The single most significant reason to consider the EOS-M as opposed to a Sony A7, which I lusted for on account of the full-frame sensor (hint, hint for M3, Canon!) was its "natural" adaptative nature as far my EF lens line-up is concerned. I was pretty apprehensive things wouldn't go smoothly in this regard but I am extremely happy to inform that every single one works to perfection with the added bonus of not having to fiddle with AMFAs, courtesy of the CDAF (the only drawback is the already mentioned heavy power drainage).

You can check some samples with my 35 f/1.4, the 24-105 f/4 and the 135 f/2.

How may I help you? (35mm)

Preparing dinner (35mm, through glass)

Eco-warnings (24-105)

A view of beautiful, beautiful Guincho and Cabo da Roca. (24-105)

Guincho dune (135mm)

Foam-frolicking couple (135mm)

Echoes of a storm. (135mm)

When it comes to lenses, my "precious" is the 70-200 f/2.8 IS II and it might appear odd that there only the samples from the Servo AF/Continuous drive first test and another one with this lens. The reason for this shortage is that I intend to do a full test/practice session dedicated to this lens plus the M2 combo.

She spotted me.

About the flash.

I briefly experimented with the flash. It is a puny little thing, only usable for the occasional very short-range, fill-flash. BUT, it does indeed, work as advertised as a master optical trigger for remote EOS, including the claimed ETTL capability.

90EX controlling 580EXII

The first test seems to show the ETTL can be flaky and inconsistent, as shown below. This will require further in-depth, dedicated testing.

Now...

Is the an M2 worth the upgrade over an M?

I can't really answer this question because, again, I've never even touched an M, much less used one for any significant amount of time. Digital Shutterbug, in this very same forum, is bound to be a much better help with that question, not only because he has experience with both models but because he is also a very worthy, helpful contributor.

My take on what are the published improvements on the M2 are as follow:

1. It seems the AF speed is not that much improved. For my needs, I find it OK as it is.

2. The enlarged screen AF area is pretty important as it helps with the need to frame-focus-and-recompose.

3. The Wi-Fi is functionality is awesome in that it now brings to me in a single, same-brand provided solution, the two functionalities I had to struggle to get in my 1DMKIII and 1DMKIV: Wireless remote control and photo transfer (with the added bonus, in this solution, like photo viewing from the camera).

If you think this is just gadgetry, think again. The remote live-view/control capability is extremely important for night photography. It also is an effective (although set-up-time-needed) solution for the lack of a tilt/swivel LCD display.

With the 1DX dropping the SD card slot in favor of dual CF slots, I feared for my Eye-Fi based solution for wireless photos transfer. But with the 6D first introducing this wireless functionality in a EOS camera and seeing how perfectly it works on the M2, I now believe that I will have no further worries with this in the future, as all Canon DSLR offers are bound to offer this very well-implemented solution in the interactions.

Again, here is the link to the gallery for the full output of 5 days of fiddling and testing with this new camera.

If you survived this long, long post, I hope you, at least, have found it somehow useful.

All the best.

PK

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“Loose praise may feed my ego but constructive criticism advances my skills”
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