Operation and controls

The EOS M is distinctly stripped-down in terms of physical controls compared to Canons SLRs - deliberately so, as it's designed to appeal to a different type of user. But it still allows you to control many of the main photographic functions without having to use the touchscreen.

Top of camera controls

The top-plate controls are sparse indeed - there's just the three position mode switch surrounding the shutter button, with the power switch on the top plate behind it. On the camera's shoulder is the red movie record button, which is only active when the top-plate dial is set to movie mode.

Rear of camera controls

Again, there's not a huge amount here, but it's sufficient to set all the key exposure parameters while you're shooting. The rear dial behaves much like it does on an EOS SLR - it's used to set exposure parameters and change settings. While small rear dials like this can often be fiddly and unresponsive, the one on the EOS M is actually pretty good; it's relatively resistant to accidental settings changes, with clear click-points providing tactile feedback that you've moved it a notch.

In the P, Av, Tv and M modes the EOS M behaves rather like an entry-level SLR. The rear dial is used to control program shift, aperture or shutter speed by default - pressing the +/- button toggles it to operate exposure compensation, or change the aperture in Manual. The 'Left' key provides autoexposure lock, while the 'Up' key sets the drive mode; single, continuous or self-timer. The 'Down' key can be customized; by default it returns the AF point to the centre of the screen, but can alternatively be set for Depth-of-field preview, ISO, Flash exposure compensation, or to temporarily increase the LCD brightness. So if you set it to control ISO, you have direct access to all the key exposure parameters without having to use the touchscreen.

The 'Q' button activates the onscreen Quick Control menu, and it's entirely possible to navigate around this and change settings using the direction keys and SET button. But this is the point where it just makes more sense to embrace the touchscreen interface, as it'll often be quicker. Indeed the EOS M's touch controls are often quicker and more direct than the button-operated onscreen interfaces found on simple entry-level SLRs such as the Nikon D3200.

Around the controller are three buttons that are used to access the camera's menus, enter playback mode, and change the amount of information displayed onscreen. In typical Canon fashion the menus are context sensitive, and are simpler and have fewer options when the camera is set to full Auto mode.