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Canon EOS M: hands-on preview of Canon's first mirrorless EOS

By dpreview staff on Jul 23, 2012 at 04:00 GMT
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Canon has, as expected, announced the EOS M - its first mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. Based around the same 18MP APS-C sensor as the recent EOS 650D/T4i, the EOS M is the first model to use a new, smaller 'EF-M' lens mount. It is launched alongside two EF-M lenses that use STM stepper motors optimized for use with the camera's hybrid AF system. As we've seen before in the mirrorless sector, the EOS M is predominantly aimed at the point-and-shoot upgrader market looking for DSLR quality and makes greater use of a 650D-style touch-screen interface. We've been using the EOS M for a little while and have prepared a preview, looking in more detail at Canon's first mirrorless EOS camera and how it handles.

UPDATE. We've recently updated this preview with our own images of the camera, having initially used those provided by Canon. We've also added more information about the camera and screenshots of its touch interface, so if you read our initial preview shortly after publication it's worth having another look. 

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Press Release:

DSLR-quality images at your fingertips: Canon launches the small and simple EOS M

London, UK, 23 July 2012 – Canon today expands its award-winning EOS range with the launch of the new EOS M. The company’s first ever compact system camera (CSC), the EOS M is designed for those who use photography to share their everyday passions – from food, to fashion and culture, music and art. Offering DSLR-quality imaging, creative features and Full HD movie creation in a compact and easy-to-use model, the EOS M is the perfect, take-anywhere partner for a new breed of enthusiasts who chronicle their lives through images, without necessarily considering themselves to be ‘photographers’.

The EOS M is available in sleek black, glossy white, stylish silver or bold red colours, and condenses Canon’s renowned EOS imaging heritage into a stylish, compact design. The model launches alongside two new lenses, the EF-M 22mm f/2 STM pancake and the EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM standard zoom, as well as a new compact EX Speedlite – the Speedlite 90EX – providing everything you need to capture stunning images every day. For those who want to push their images even further, the EOS M can also utilise Canon’s extensive range of EF lenses with the new Mount Adapter EF-EOS M, for even more creative freedom.

The quality of a Canon DSLR

Print your favourite moments in poster-size or crop your image for maximum impact – whether shooting the atmosphere of your favourite club or the intricate stitching of the latest must-have handbag – thanks to the EOS M’s high-resolution, 18 megapixel APS-C hybrid CMOS sensor. The large sensor also allows you to artistically blur the background for beautiful portraits, or for close-ups with impact.

With the inclusion of Canon’s DIGIC 5 processor, colours ‘pop’ and skin tones are beautifully natural, whilst a super-fast shutter allows you to capture split-second action. The atmosphere of evening shoots and challenging night-time scenes are also easily recorded in stunning detail thanks to the EOS M’s sensitive native ISO range of 100- 12,800 (extendable to 25,600).

For pin-sharp shots and professional-looking footage, this new design features a Hybrid AF System that supports super-fast, accurate AF when shooting stills and movies – allowing you to record any moment with confidence.

Shoot what you see and easily express your creative vision

Every aspect of the EOS M has been designed to make it simple to capture beautiful, creative, high-quality images. From the very first swipe across the bright, high- resolution, 7.7cm (3.0”), Clear View LCD II Touch screen, the EOS M gives you as much or as little control over your photos as desired. Simply select different shooting modes and settings via the on-screen icons, or let Scene Intelligent Auto adjust the camera settings according to the subject and shooting conditions, leaving you free to focus on composition and selecting the perfect moment to hit the shutter release button.

EOS M users can shoot with the confidence that comes from having the world's most comprehensive photographic system behind them. Whether you want to capture every detail of a close-up or zoom in to frame a subject in the far distance, any one of Canon’s extensive range of EF lenses can be connected via the new

Mount Adapter EF-EOS M for photographic flexibility.

With one of Canon’s Speedlite flash units, you can also explore creative lighting techniques to add an extra level of interest to your shots. Alternatively, create unique images with a range of Creative Filters like Toy Camera effect, Grainy B&W or even a filter that mimics the distortion of a fish-eye lens. The filters can be applied before the shot is captured, with the result previewed in Live View, allowing you to experiment with different effects before selecting the perfect treatment for your final image.

Turn film-maker with EOS Movie and Video Snapshot

When a moment calls for more than a still image, the EOS M lets you switch easily to Full HD video with stereo sound for superb results. Video Snapshot mode also helps family and friends avoid long home movie viewing sessions, guiding you to create exciting movies in-camera, with a professionally edited feel.

Extending the EOS System with dedicated accessories

In addition to compatibility with Canon’s existing EF lenses1, accessories and Speedlites, the EOS M launches with its own bespoke range of compact accessories. Two new EF-M lenses offer portability and high performance when using the new model – the EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM standard zoom and the
EF-M 22mm f/2 STM pancake lens. Both feature new Stepper Motor technology for exceptionally smooth AF performance, as well as precision Canon optics, while their compact designs offer the perfect form-factor to complement the camera’s pocket-sized body.

Additionally, the EOS M will ship with the new Speedlite 90EX flash unit as standard. Lightweight and highly-compact, it offers a maximum guide number of nine and supports wide-angle lenses, making it an ideal general-purpose flash for everyday use. A wireless master function also allows the control of multiple flash guns wirelessly, allowing more advanced users to experiment with a range of creative lighting effects.

EOS M – key features

  •  The quality of a digital SLR in a compact body

  •  Scene Intelligent Auto

  •  Be versatile with interchangeable lenses

  •  Create out-of-focus backgrounds for high impact

  •  Easy-to-use touch-screen

  •  Atmospheric photos in low light

  •  Full-HD video with Video Snapshot Mode

1 Via Mount Adaptor EF-EOS M

Canon EOS M specifications

MSRP$799.99 with 22mm lens, €849/£769 with 18-55mm lens, €1049/£949 with 18-55mm + 22mm lenses, €979/£879 with 22mm lens + EF adapter
Body type
Body typeRangefinder-style mirrorless
Max resolution5184 x 3456
Other resolutions3456 x 2304, 2592 x 1728, 1920 x 1280, 720 x 480
Effective pixels18 megapixels
Sensor photo detectors19 megapixels
Sensor sizeAPS-C (22.3 x 14.9 mm)
Sensor typeCMOS
ProcessorDigic 5
Color spacesRGB,Adobe RGB
ISOAuto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400, 12800 (25600 with boost)
White balance presets6
Custom white balanceYes (1)
Image stabilizationNo
Uncompressed formatRAW
JPEG quality levelsFine, Normal
File format
  • JPEG: Fine, Normal (Exif 2.3 compliant)
  • Design rule for Camera File system (2.0),
  • RAW: 14bit RAW
  • Digital Print Order Format [DPOF] Version 1.1 compliant
Optics & Focus
  • Contrast Detect (sensor)
  • Phase Detect
  • Multi-area
  • Selective single-point
  • Single
  • Continuous
  • Face Detection
  • Live View
Digital zoomNo
Manual focusYes
Number of focus points31
Lens mountCanon EF-M
Focal length multiplier1.6×
Screen / viewfinder
Articulated LCDFixed
Screen size3
Screen dots1,040,000
Touch screenYes
Screen typeClear View II TFT LCD
Live viewYes
Viewfinder typeNone
Photography features
Minimum shutter speed60 sec
Maximum shutter speed1/4000 sec
Exposure modes
  • Program AE
  • Shutter priority AE
  • Aperture priority AE
  • Manual
Scene modes
  • Creative Auto
  • Portrait
  • Landscape
  • Close-up
  • Sports
  • Night Portrait
  • Handheld Night
  • HDR Backlight Control mode
Built-in flashNo
External flashYes (via Hot-shoe)
Flash modesAuto, On, Off, Red-eye
Flash X sync speed1/200 sec
Drive modes
  • Single
  • Continuous
  • Self timer
Continuous drive4 fps
Self-timerYes (2 or 10 sec)
Metering modes
  • Multi
  • Center-weighted
  • Spot
  • Partial
Exposure compensation±3 (at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)
AE Bracketing±2 (3 frames at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)
WB BracketingYes (3 frames in either blue/amber or magenta/green axis)
Videography features
Resolutions1920 x 1080 (30, 25, 24 fps), 1280 x 720 (60, 50 fps), 640 x 480 (60, 50 fps)
FormatMPEG-4, H.264
Storage typesSD/SDHC/SDXC
Storage includedNone
USB USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
HDMIYes (HDMI mini)
WirelessEye-Fi Connected
Environmentally sealedNo
BatteryBattery Pack
Battery descriptionLithium-Ion LP-E12 rechargeable battery & charger
Battery Life (CIPA)230
Weight (inc. batteries)298 g (0.66 lb / 10.51 oz)
Dimensions109 x 66 x 32 mm (4.29 x 2.6 x 1.26)
Other features
Orientation sensorYes
GPS notesvia GPE2

Additional images

Top-down view of the Canon EOS-M with 22mm F2.0 'pancake' prime lens.

Rear view of the Canon EOS-M (Silver)
Canon EOS-M with Speedlite EX-90 (included with the camera in most markets) Canon EOS-M shown wih EF 70-200mm F2.8 IS lens, using optional EF-EOS M mount adapter
I own it
I want it
I had it
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Canon EOS M


Total comments: 1229
By Thsoft (Jul 23, 2012)

Sensor Size equal to 650D Wow

By limlh (Jul 23, 2012)

Canon has lost the plot. Conservatism will be the final nail in its coffin.

By Joesiv (Jul 23, 2012)

I hope the autofocus is quick!

By EsVeeFoto (Jul 23, 2012)

Canon has a new definition for 'quick'. Check out the hands on video on Youtube to figure out how quick the autofocus is.

1 upvote
By Essai (Jul 23, 2012)

sorry, its not. Its even terribly slow. (Hands-on on Youtube already)

Kim Seng
By Kim Seng (Jul 23, 2012)

Oh so slow aah! Continuous shooting also slow. Lens also bigger. I may missed a lot of children shots. At least the Nikon 1 and OMD are far better in Autofocus, continuous shooting.

By pc168 (Jul 23, 2012)

Might be it's an almost 'must buy' for Canon DSLR fans with a bunch of glasses.

DotCom Editor
By DotCom Editor (Jul 23, 2012)

"It wasn't possible to take images of the EOS M when we first used it..."

That's good. At last, we see a camera without DPReview's incompetent photography that shows the full umbrella reflection in the lens. How about taking a course?

1 upvote
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Jul 23, 2012)

People are so rude for the silliest of reasons....

The umbrella reflection is deliberate. It adds colour to the front of the (usually) black camera, and proves that unlike a lot of 'review' sites, we've actually seen, used, and photographed the product, not just skimmed its spec sheet and relied upon manufacturers' blurbs for our assessment, and manufacturer-supplied pictures for illustration.

But thanks for noticing, I guess.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 4 minutes after posting
By howardroark (Jul 23, 2012)

It's actually almost a trademark detail you don't really notice until you see bland photos on other websites.

1 upvote
By tkbslc (Jul 23, 2012)

Wow, you are a dbag, dotcom.

Simon Joinson
By Simon Joinson (Jul 23, 2012)

it's also proved very useful for keeping track of how many people steal our images

Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Jul 23, 2012)

Don't be silly Simon - this is the Internet. No-one steals stuff on the internet. Pffft... what a low opinion you have of people.

By EsVeeFoto (Jul 23, 2012) is slow to load. Maybe you guys should focus on site reliability issues rather than finding out who is stealing your images.

1 upvote
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Jul 23, 2012)

We are capable of doing more than one thing at once. Especially since site development/maintenance is completely separate to editorial...

Simon Joinson
By Simon Joinson (Jul 23, 2012)

if you spent less time __ maybe you could do more __ (fill in your own blanks in either section from: writing reviews, adding pointless features, fixing the server, writing previews, talking about iphones, replying to comments)

By NetMage (Jul 23, 2012)

Well, you would think Amazon could slide you a few more virtual CPUs...

By EsVeeFoto (Jul 23, 2012)

No bulb mode? What about the price?

1 upvote
By Essai (Jul 23, 2012)

$799.99 with 22mm lens, €849 with 18-55mm lens, €1049 with 18-55mm + 22mm lenses, €979 with 22mm lens + EF adapter

By Jogger (Jul 23, 2012)

the biggest draw that i can tell is the compatibility with the EOS lenses and PDAF. otherwise, i dont see that much innovation from existing products.. it doesnt even have a flip LCD.

Comment edited 12 seconds after posting
1 upvote
By EsVeeFoto (Jul 23, 2012)

Agreed. There is no reason to buy this camera over other mirrorless offerings unless you are a Canon DSLR user and have tons of Canon glass.

By howardroark (Jul 23, 2012)

There's also no reason to buy other mirrorless offerings. This looks like another companion piece like the G1 X. Canon has a line of amateur cameras and they know there is a huge market for point and shoots. This is another camera that can be used by amateurs but is still a serious camera without a bunch of nonsense cluttering it up.

By westcoastmatt (Jul 23, 2012)

@howardroark, I mean absolutely no disrespect but you're starting to come across like a desperate Canon sales rep with your posts in this thread. Most of the comments have been reasonable critiques, not unjustified bashing.

There's no reason to buy other mirrorless offerings? That doesn't make any sense. I own a Canon S95. Love it. Great little camera. My next upgrade? The most compact but still sensible ILC *system* available. I emphasize "system" because having a small ILC camera with comparatively huge lenses doesn't make any sense! And it looks ridiculous. Sony is no better in this respect with the NEX but nonetheless this EOS-M camera looks like a boardroom compromise, not a "from the ground up" attempt to design a better compact ILC system.

By howardroark (Jul 23, 2012)

You're entitled to your opinion and I'm glad to express mine. I know that anyone who actually believes in a product around here is seen as mindless when disagreeing with those who don't care for it, but the reason many purchase Canon products is because they are a maker of solid *systems*. There will always be good competing products with different sizes and features that will appeal to consumers. I recently recommended Panasonic to a friend looking for the best ultrazoom money could buy. I also pointed him to the Nikon 1 if he wanted the smallest ILC he could get. He ended up going with the Canon SX230 because of its size, feature set, and image quality. I don't blame him. Canon, like Apple, is about ease of use and balance. And like Apple, there are people who hate them for it. They don't have the latest gimmicks and they make decisions about their product lines that are good for built in GPS eating batteries, for example.

Comment edited 46 seconds after posting
shigzeo ?
By shigzeo ? (Jul 23, 2012)

So, every large manufacturer have a mirrorless camera, or in the case of Sony, dozens of them. I have a feeling Canon will develop their lens series just fine.

By Essai (Jul 23, 2012)

The AF is slooooowwww. Shame on you Canon

By Rudix (Jul 23, 2012)

And how do you know this?????

By Essai (Jul 23, 2012)

there is an Italian Hands-on on Youtube.

By onlooker (Jul 23, 2012)


1 upvote
By bloodycape (Jul 23, 2012)

@tkbslc Oly also had the Panasonic lenses that they also first introduced(14-45 is a much better lens than the 14-42 oly and panasonic), plus all the legacy 4/3 lenses via adapter too. Okay selection, but not as good as Canon as others have pointed out.

By ZAnton (Jul 23, 2012)

Don't worry. Canon will put 1Dx AF on it. It will cost 2500 Euros then, but it's Okay. Canon is not shy enough to make such pricing.

Chaitanya S
By Chaitanya S (Jul 23, 2012)

not best looking mirrorless camera but certainly a decent one.

By howardroark (Jul 23, 2012)

Great! As one should expect from Canon, this is a solid camera that doesn't tread heavily on the G1 X nor the DSLR lines. It fills in a gap that people have been wanting filled for a long time and allows you to use the rest of your Canon kit. Canon knows they've got most of their bases covered and they have no reason to come up with gimmicks that they would pass off as "innovations". This is basically a small 650D, probably produces the same image quality, and it will be interesting to see the new line of lenses in action.

Comment edited 10 minutes after posting
By Mousehound (Jul 23, 2012)

I agree. For the money it looks pretty good to me. The f2 lens will push me toward it regardless and the fact I can put my quite large collection of L series lenses with it be a big factor in my getting one. Sure - I don't like touch screens,n cameras without viewfingers and would much prefer ring adiustment as well as hinged screen but as a back up and a travel body it has a lot going for it. I have a 5D2 and a 7D but my most used camera is the 60D and yet it attracted pages of neagative comments at the time.

By naturalefineartcom (Jul 23, 2012)

I'll wait for the Full-Frame Prosumer mirrorless version. Canon has to mature in the mirrorless market.

By howardroark (Jul 23, 2012)

Don't hold your breath.

By 93octane (Jul 23, 2012)

I'm a sony nex 5n owner and love that camera. The only turn down for me is that I can't use my canon EF glass on it. It doesn't have a hot shoe mount either. So to me if the EOS-M has the image quality of the NEX 5 its a no brainer for me to switch. I'll be able to use all my Canon EF glass on it with the adapter, I will also be able to use wireless triggers with it since it has a hot shoe flash. Then only use the 22mm F2 lens when I want to travel light and use the EF lenses and wireless triggers when I want to be creative with this little camera. If you are Sony user and have tons of Sony lenses the NEX makes more sense since you can use sony lenses on the NEX with the adapter not counting manual lenses I'm talking about Autofocus here. But if you are like me that most of my gear is Canon. Canon is the best mirror less solution for me at least for now.

By Plastek (Jul 24, 2012)

There's an adapter for EF glass on NEX too. Just google. :)

Total comments: 1229