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Canon EOS M: 10 things you need to know

Up until now, Canon was the only major manufacturer to have declined to enter the CSC market. Panasonic started the craze back in 2008, with major Canon rival, Nikon, introducing the Nikon 1 in September last year.

But how does this latest offering differ from all the other cameras already on the market?

Canon EOS M sensor

One of the biggest areas for debate has been what size sensor Canon would use for its CSC. Well, now the Canon M is here and it comes with the exact same sensor as found in the Canon EOS 650D DSLR. That is, it’s an 18.1 million pixel APS-C format device.

This makes it the same physical size as those found in Sony and Samsung compact system cameras, and it is larger than Panasonic and Olympus Micro Four Thirds sensors. It’s also noticeably bigger than those found in the Nikon 1 V1/J1, which only use one inch devices.

It’s likely that Canon wants to differentiate itself as much as possible from its main rival, Nikon, and so has chosen the larger sensor. It’s also interesting to note that this is not the same sensor as found in the Canon G1X premium compact, as many suspected it may be.

Canon EOS M lens mount and range

As compact system cameras don’t use a mirror, the flange back of the camera can be shallower. This means that Canon’s existing optics aren’t directly compatible new system, so Canon has devised a new mount, the ‘M’ mount.

For the moment, just two lenses will be available for the new mount, an 18-55mm kit lens, and a 22mm pancake optic. The 22mm has an equivalent focal length of 35mm, making it an excellent choice for street photography. It also means the Canon M could be a rival for the Fuji X100, a premium compact with an APS-C sized sensor and fixed, 35mm equivalent lens.

Anybody with existing Canon lenses can use them with the M system via an optional mount adapter. Both EF and EF-S lenses can be attached.

Canon EOS M processor

In many respects, the EOS M is just a miniaturised version of the 650D, so the processor is also the same.

The Digic 5 processor found on the M is also the same as found in Canon’s most advanced cameras, such as the EOS 1DX and EOS 5D Mark III. This processor promises low noise performance at high sensitivities and means the camera is capable of delivering full HD video recording.

Canon EOS M Hybrid AF

As on the 650D in Live View and video mode, the Canon EOS M uses the new hybrid autofocusing system. This means that it enjoys the benefits of both phase detection and contrast detection autofocusing.

Dedicated pixels on the sensor itself are deployed to help with autofocusing in live view (which the camera always uses since it doesn’t have a viewfinder). This hybrid autofocusing also allows focusing to be much faster than on conventional Live View systems.

Canon EOS M Ergonomics

Debate about how the Canon CSC would look seems to have been endless. Some expected a retro styled camera, while others felt that it would be more akin to the look of a Sony NEX system.

Most of the operation of the M can be conducted via the touchscreen on the back of the camera. Full manual control is available, with a “mode dial” within the menu to access options such as aperture priority and shutter priority.

The EOS M has 35% fewer buttons than its nearest equivalent DSLR, which Canon says is to help keep the overall size down.

Canon EOS M Screen

The M uses the same capacitive touchscreen as on the 650D, with access to key controls found from the Quick Menu and the ability to set the focus point or activate touch shutter via the screen. It’s also a 3 inch Clear View LCD II with 1040k dot resolution, which should mean it provides a good, detailed view.

Canon EOS M Flash

In order to keep the overall size down, there’s no inbuilt flash on the body of the EOS M. Canon says it believes that flash is less commonly used nowadays, while the high ISO capability of the camera should be adequate in most conditions.

However, an external flash, a Speedlite EX90 will be included in the box free of charge. Coming with a guide number of nine, it’s not as powerful as units found on DSLRs. A hotshoe on top of the camera does also mean that any other compatible flashgun can be attached to the system.

Canon EOS M Sensitivity

The Canon M has a native sensitivity range stretching from ISO 100 – ISO 6400, but this is expandable up to 12800 and 25600.

Thanks to the Digic 5 processor, Canon promises good noise performance at high sensitivities, but it will be one of the key features that we will be keen to put through its paces when a review sample becomes available.

Canon EOS M creative filters

More cameras than ever are coming pre-loaded with digital filters for adding creativity to standard shots. Perhaps a result of the Instagram effect, the Canon EOS M is no different, offering seven filters including Fish Eye and Toy Camera.

Unlike rivals from Panasonic and Olympus, filters cannot be deployed when shooting in raw format, meaning that once a filter’s on, it’s not coming off.

Canon EOS M price and release date

Initially, it looks as if the M won’t be a cheap option, with an RRP of £769.99 (approx $1,200) for the body and 18-55mm kit lens.

Other kit variations will also be available, including an EOS M, 22mm and EF-M converter for £879.99 (around $1,375) and an EOS M twin kit, with both the 18-55mm and 22mm lens for £949.99 ($1,484).

Availability looks set to start from around September. The most commonly available colour will be black, though silver, red and white versions will also be manufactured.

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