Canon Unveils EOS M Compact System Camera; We Get a Hands-on Look


JULY 23, 2012

By Dan Havlik

Canon became the last of the major imaging manufacturers to enter the “mirrorless” compact system camera category this morning by introducing the new EOS M, a portable camera with a digital SLR-size imaging sensor that uses small interchangeable lenses.

According to officials from Canon USA who we met with last week, the Canon EOS M uses the same 18-megapixel APS-C CMOS image sensor as the one in the recently released Canon T4i digital SLR.

Those officials emphasized, however, that the Canon EOS M is aimed at a different customer than the Canon T4i. Where the quick-on-the-draw T4i with its five frames per second shooting speed is for aspiring prosumers who might use it to capture amateur sports, the EOS M is designed for “the creative videographer.”

Here are some of the EOS M specs.

• EOS Full 1080p HD Movie mode with Movie Servo AF for continuous focus tracking of moving subjects also includes:
- Manual exposure control
- Multiple resolution frame rates (30p, 25p, 24p etc.)
- Built-in stereo microphone
- Manual audio level adjustment
- Video Snapshot mode with touch-screen editing

• 18.0-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
• ISO 100–6400 (expandable to 12800 in H mode) for video recording, ISO 100 – 12800 (expandable to 25600 in H mode)
• DIGIC 5 image processor
• Hybrid CMOS AF for video and photos
• Touch Screen 3.0-inch Clear View LCD monitor II (approximately 1,040,000 dots) with smudge-resistant coating features multi-touch operation allowing “pinch-to-zoom” and “swiping” to scroll between pictures and Touch AF for an easy and intuitive video capture experience
• Scene Intelligent Auto mode
• Handheld Night Scene mode, HDR Backlight Control mode, and seven Creative Filters provide added versatility
• Multi-shot Noise Reduction at high ISO speeds
• Compatible with SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards, including new Ultra High Speed (UHS-I) cards
• Compatible with all Canon Speedlite accessories including the new Speedlite 600EX and Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT
• Compatible with Canon’s GPS Receiver GP-E2

The EOS M will go on sale in October bundled with the new EF-M 22mm f/2.0 STM kit lens for $799. It will be available in black in photo specialty stores and in a Star Wars-style “Stormtrooper” white version, direct from the Canon store.

Hands On
Where the compact system camera (CSC) category — i.e. interchangeable lens-based small cameras that forgo the traditional mirror box of a DSLR so they can be more compact — are popular in Asia, CSCs have struggled to gain marketshare in North America.

According to some recent estimates, CSCs comprise 40% of the market in Asia but only 13% here in the United States. While that’s part of the reason Canon is targeting the EOS M towards a specific niche — i.e. family videographers — the other reason is performance based.

In a nutshell, the EOS M and its Hybrid CMOS AF system is simply much slower to focus and capture images than even Canon’s entry-level DSLRs, which use faster 9-point-based autofocus systems and have optical viewfinders.

That was evident during our meeting with Canon last week where we got to try out an early prototype of the Canon EOS M. While the EOS M we shot with was far from a finished, production camera (and it was powered by a battery that was running out of juice), it definitely became clear to us that this was not a camera for serious photographers, let alone professionals.

We were not permitted to take photos of the EOS M prototype because of its early-generation status.

Solid Body; Takes SLR Lenses
That Canon has targeted the EOS M more towards beginners than advanced photographers is actually sort of a shame because of how well built the camera is. In fact, the magnesium alloy chassis and smooth and stylish ergonomics of the EOS M, made it feel like one of the best designed CSCs on the market.

As has been leaked on some Internet rumor sites, Canon is also selling an optional Mount Adapter EF-EOS M ($199) that will allow you to mount any Canon SLR lens on this small but solid EOS M camera. For instance, check out the image to the right of the 70-200mm f/2.8, “white” professional lens attached to the EOS M.

While the combination may look absurd, pros who own a lot of high-end Canon glass might be attracted to the EOS M as a second, throw-in-the-bag portable camera. Based on our brief time with the EOS M though (and on what Canon has told us about the camera), we would not recommend it.

In addition to being slow to autofocus and capture images, the Canon EOS M has very few external buttons and controls for making adjustments on the fly. Basic settings — such as ISO and exposure — must be made via the 3-inch touchscreen menu.

While the touch sensitivity of the fixed, non-articulating LCD screen seemed fairly responsive during our time with the EOS M prototype, serious photographers who like to make changes to settings quickly might find the experience frustratingly slow.

Overall, while the EOS M seems like an appealing camera in terms of build quality and the ability, with the help of an adapter, to use any Canon SLR lens with it, pros might want to consider the 14.3-megapixel Canon PowerShot G1 X all-in-one advanced compact camera or other comparable models from competing manufacturers rather than this beginner-focused CSC.

But if you’re intrigued by the possibility of attaching your 400mm f2.8 telephoto to a camera with an APS-C size image sensor and chassis that's not much much bigger than a smart phone, then the Canon EOS M might be worth a look.

More images and the official Canon press release on the EOS M digital camera below.

PRESS RELEASE

Put Your Creativity Into Motion With The New EOS M Digital Camera

The Newest Camera in Canon’s Lineup Delivers Exceptional EOS Full HD Video Quality with Continuous Autofocus and an Expansive Selection of Lenses

LAKE SUCCESS, N.Y., July 23, 2012 – Combing the perfect blend of advanced video features and excellent still image quality in a convenient size, Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions, today announced the EOS M Digital Camera. Canon has made significant advancements in the realm of professional-quality HD video capture, from advanced CMOS sensor technology to smooth, quiet continuous autofocus. Inspired by EOS technology, the EOS M Digital Camera leverages these core technologies and distills them down to provide outstanding video capture capabilities while retaining high-quality still image capture. When shooting still images, the EOS M camera’s 18-megapixel APS-C-sized CMOS image sensor provides a shallow depth of field, incredible low-light image quality and a wide dynamic range to capture rich gradation and detail. This new addition to the EOS family offers a great solution to videographers and photographers of all levels, with two new lenses designed specifically for Canon’s new camera format – the EF-M 22mm f/2.0 STM kit lens and the optional EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens– and the ability to use the full line of Canon EF and EF-S lenses through the optional Mount Adapter EF-EOS M.

“The EOS M includes a unique feature set making it an ideal movie-making tool while offering incredible still image quality on its APS-C-sized CMOS sensor. The camera’s size, image quality, advanced video capabilities and the versatility of Canon’s full lineup of lenses make the EOS M another great option to help our customers record and capture their creative vision,” said Yuichi Ishizuka, executive vice president and general manager, Imaging Technologies & Communications Group, Canon U.S.A.

Product Specifications and Features:
• EOS Full HD Movie mode with Movie Servo AF for continuous focus tracking of moving subjects also includes:
• Manual exposure control
• Multiple resolution frame rates
• Built-in stereo microphone
• Manual audio level adjustment
• Video Snapshot mode with touch-screen editing
• 18.0-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
• ISO 100–6400 (expandable to 12800 in H mode) for video recording, ISO 100 – 12800 (expandable to 25600 in H mode) for still image shooting from bright to dim light and high performance Powerful DIGIC 5 Image Processor for exceptional image quality video and photos
• Hybrid CMOS AF delivers fast autofocus speed for video and photos
• Touch Screen 3.0-inch Clear View LCD monitor II (approximately 1,040,000 dots) with smudge-resistant coating features multi-touch operation allowing photographers to use familiar gestures such as “pinch-to-zoom” and “swiping” to scroll between pictures and Touch AF for an easy and intuitive video capture experience
• Scene Intelligent Auto mode delivers expertly optimized photos and scene detection for amazing results even when shooting at night
• Advanced imaging features like Handheld Night Scene mode, HDR Backlight Control mode, and seven Creative Filters provide added versatility
• Multi-shot Noise Reduction helps preserve precious detail in photos at high ISO speeds
• Compatible with SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards, including new Ultra High Speed (UHS-I) cards
• Compatible with all Canon Speedlite accessories including the new Speedlite 600EX and Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT
• Compatible with Canon’s GPS Receiver GP-E2

The EOS M utilizes Canon’s Hybrid CMOS AF system to deliver fast autofocus speed for both video and photos. The Hybrid CMOS AF system truly shines when shooting video with EOS Full HD Movie mode including Movie Servo AF for continuous autofocus and tracking of moving subjects. The Hybrid CMOS AF system is located on the CMOS sensor itself and combines phase-difference AF and contrast AF to achieve operational stability, speed and precision. The Movie Servo AF function on the EOS M is enabled by default which keeps images on the rear screen in constant focus, even before the shutter is pressed. This continual focus makes for sharp video capture in a snap or to help reduce shutter lag due to focusing when still images want to be shot. The camera employs three AF methods for video and photos, Face Detection & Tracking AF, Multi-Point AF for automatics selection and Single-Point AF, where users select one of 31 AF points. Through the camera’s touch-panel operation, subject recognition and tracking is engaged at the touch of a finger, allowing users to track subjects accurately and focus on intended subjects with ease. In addition to subject tracking, the touch-panel LCD allows for simple, intuitive operation, menu navigation and touch features making it easy to shoot video and photos.

Thanks to Canon’s new Stepping Motor (STM) technology, when using either of the newly announced M-series lenses – the EF-M 22mm f/2.0 STM kit lens or the optional EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens – the AF system remains silent, helping ensure users only capture the sound of the scene being recorded. The EOS M also features manual audio level control to 64 levels, a built-in stereo microphone, which includes a wind filter and an attenuator function to reduce audio distortion in extra loud situations. The EOS M records MPEG-4 AVC H.264 video as an .MOV file in a range of NTSC and PAL professional frame rates, including 1080p Full HD video at 30p (29.97), 24p (23.976) and 25p, 720p HD video at 60p (59.94) or 50p and Standard Definition video at 30p (29.97) or 25p.

In addition to the creativity afforded by over 70 compatible lenses, the EOS M also includes Picture Style settings – including custom Picture Styles – when shooting video, allowing users to adjust color settings the same as when shooting still images. The camera also includes Canon’s Video Snapshot mode for an easy way to record and create a fun highlight reel that can be easily shared. Video Snapshot mode combines a series of short video clips into a single file, all in-camera. Through the camera’s touch-screen controls users can delete, cut or re-order the clips in-camera for quick and easy editing.

Optical Diversity: New M-Series Lenses and Accessories

Along with the EOS M, Canon is also introducing two new M-series lenses – with new EOS M mounts –that include STM technology allowing for smooth and silent focusing when paired with Hybrid CMOS AF.

The EF-M 22mm f/2.0 STM kit lens is ideal for shooting video and still images. The fixed focal length lens has a great capacity for gathering light with an incredible aperture of f/2.0 and when combined with the camera’s APS-C image sensor, provide beautiful bright images and background blur for both video and stills. For more focal range versatility, Canon is also introducing the new EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM, which provides videographers and photographers with a variable zoom range for general use with video recording or photographing. Both lenses are designed specifically for use with the EOS M digital camera.

In addition to the two lenses, any of Canon’s EF and EF-S lenses can be used with the EOS M with the optional Mount Adapter EF-EOS M. The EOS M camera’s strong magnesium and stainless steel frame provide the durability and rigidity to support the full line of EF and EF-S Lenses in a lightweight convenient design. Using the adapter allows the camera to be fully integrated into the EOS ecosystem of lenses, adding creative options and versatility to this powerful camera.

Ideal for use with the EOS M, Canon is also announcing a new compact and lightweight flash unit, the Speedlite 90EX, designed for the photographer on the go. The Speedlite 90EX is capable of coverage for 24mm wide angle lenses (35mm equivalent) with maximum guide numbers of 30 feet (9 meters) at ISO 100. The flash unit can be controlled wirelessly for creative multiple flash shoots and uses the standard Canon EOS hot shoe mount for compatibility with all EOS DSLR cameras and PowerShot digital cameras that include a hot shoe.

Availability
The EOS M Digital Camera bundled with the new EF-M 22mm f/2.0 STM kit lens will be available in October for an estimated retail price of $799.99. Also a white version of the EOS M Digital Camera bundled with the new EF-M 22mm f/2.0 STM kit lens will be exclusively available through the Canon Online store, shop.usa.canon.com.

The new EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens, Mount Adapter EF-EOS M and Speedlite 90EX will all be available in October at an estimated retail price of $299.99, $199.99 and $149.99 respectively.

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