First Hands On: The new Canon EOS M. Is it cool?

Canon just announced their new Canon EOS M, a mirrorless DSLR camera with video functionality that introduces a new (& very interesting) mounting system.

cinema5D was invited by Canon for a preliminary hands on last week so we could test and touch it and share what we think about the video side of this pretty little camera. Read on to find out if the EOS M is cool on the HDSLR side or not.

So what is it?
It’s a mirrorless large sensor camera by Canon that has video functionality just like all other Canon EOS cameras released in the past 4 years.

Sony has been introducing four such mirrorless, interchangeable-lens cameras before, the latter two (NEX5n & 7n) being widely used for video applications and we’ve recently seen Olympus come out with a similar design too.

Is it any good for video?
Let’s get straight to the point: It’s cool & also not that cool for video.
At its core the EOS M is mostly a Canon EOS 650D at a much smaller scale (See our 650D review here: LINK) 
and what’s cool about that is that the EOS M’s really low weight of 298 grams makes this camera awesome for steadycam or other applications that go well with light weight & autofocus functionality.

Most significant for HDSLR people is the fact that the EOS M incorporates the same sensor the Canon EOS 7D & 650D also share. Yes the EOS M has the 7D sensor again meaning it also has the same aliasing & moiré issues.

This is unfortunate as many other new HD capable large sensor cameras are able to avoid the nasty line-skipping errors a non aliasing free sensor produces. While I personally still like to use my 7D for some low end HD video productions aliasing has become something proven to be avoidable.
During our hands-on we could confirm that the camera has manual video controls, a similar or the same nice 3” touchscreen as the 650D, the 7D APS-C sized sensor, mic-in with manual audio controls and it supports STM lenses & autofocus just like introduced with the EOS 650D, but with a new set of specialized lenses.

Canon EOS M lensmountCanon EOS MWhat is that EF-M lensmount?
Since the EOS M has no mirror box the lenses move very close to the image sensor thus requiring a different type of lens or an EF-M to EF adapter to make that sensor-lens distance right again.

Sony’s E-mount is very similar in terms of the lenses’ distance to the sensor and it has proven to be a very versatile and practical solution as you can very easily mount any lens type with the correct set of usually very affordable adapters.

Canon provides an EF-M to EF adapter right within their EOS M package. With this adapter you can very easily use the full functionality of all your Canon lenses with the EOS M camera.

Due to its versatility this mounting system will be very interesting for cinema applications and we hope Canon will incorporate this design in their future cinema cameras.

The weight is stunning
The EOS M really uncovers its strengths with its EF-M lenses. They are extremely lightweight and small and it’s truly amazing to get Canon HDSLR images out of a package that weighs so little. The EF-M 22mm f/2 STM pancake lens weighs almost nothing on top of those 298 grams of the EOS M, but still felt like a good quality lens and produced very nice images at f 2.0. It had ok autofocus functionality in video mode, just like we’ve seen on the 650D or Sony FS700. AF was very silent. I’d like to see this on a steadycam. And because of its weight and price I think this could prove to be an extremely useful B-camera for Canon HDSLR shooters.

The image stabilizer is not ideal for video
The image stabilization of the EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM standard zoom lens is not ideal for video. During the little time of testing we had the stabilization seemed to not smooth enough and shift the image too quickly. That might be good for photography, but we’ve seen a lot smoother IS before. I can recommend IS for video, but I wouldn’t use the EF-M 18-55mm for that.

Overall feel
Of course the EOS M feels different than your average HDSLR. A lot of the controls had to be simplified to fit the smaller body and the video side suffered a little.
Personally I’m not fond of touch screens for video, but this is probably a thing of individual taste. What took most of my attention though was that I couldn’t figure out a way to easily zoom in to judge focus as per the quickzoom button on other Canon HDSLRs. I had to go into the menu to switch to a zoomed-in view, set my focus and then go into the menu again to zoom out.

The EOS M has new snap-on neck strap that makes it easy to remove it when doing video and attach it when taking stills images if that’s something you do. And on a side-note, for a camera of this size it takes beautiful 18MP pictures and will certainly stir up the photo world, even if this time the product does not stir up the HDSLR world so much.

If you’ve got any questions ask in the comments.
Talk about this camera in our Forum for small HD cameras here: LINK

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