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Canon EOS M review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £599
inc VAT

A smart design and superb photos, but autofocus performance isn't up to scratch


22.3×14.9mm 18.0-megapixel sensor, 1.0x zoom (35mm equivalent), 405g


Image quality is in line with the 650D too, and that gives absolutely no cause for concern. Whereas most CSCs use slightly – or significantly – smaller sensors than those found in SLRs, the fact that the EOS M uses the same APS-C sensor size really pays off. Details in its 18-megapixel JPEGs were extremely sharp, picking out lots of fine texture. Digital correction for chromatic aberrations and vignetting is built in, and although we still spotted a little chromatic aberration at times, focus was generally excellent into the corners of frames.

Canon EOS M sample shot
There’s a little chromatic aberration visible along the left swan’s neck, but details in this shot are generally excellent, with plenty of definition in the grass

Canon EOS M sample shot
With its 15cm macro focusing distance, the 22mm pancake lens has a decent stab at macro photography

Noise at high ISO speeds was impressively low, although not quite as low as from the 16-megapixel APS-C sensors in Sony’s NEX range of CSCs. The less aggressive noise reduction retained more detail at fast ISO speeds, though

Canon EOS M sample shot
Shaded skin tones are a harsh test for noise levels at fast ISO speeds, but this ISO 6400 shot is good enough for sharing at small sizes

Automatic settings could be better. We’ve no concerns over the metering, which produced balanced exposures. The fully automatic mode, dubbed Scene Intelligent Auto, appears to use spot metering linked to the autofocus point – an unusual approach, but it worked well in practice. However, Scene Intelligent Auto mode failed to exploit the light-gathering abilities of the f/2 lens. It routinely used f/2.8 and f/3.2 apertures in low light, resulting in needlessly noisy shots. Switching to Program mode proved an easy remedy, but a camera that’s designed for point-and-shoot operation really should be more reliable on fully automatic settings.

Canon EOS M
There’s a predictable, but rather good range of colours on offer


Its video clips were crisp and vibrant, with barely any noise in low light. There’s a choice of 24, 25 or 30fps shooting at 1080p, plus 50 or 60fps at 720p. High-bit-rate AVC encoding minimises compression artefacts, and it can span multiple 4GB files to record for up to 30 minutes per clip. Full manual exposure control is available, with settings adjusted via the touchscreen to avoid button clicks permeating the soundtrack. It’s also possible to move the autofocus point on the touchscreen while recording. The camera’s small size and low weight and the lack of optical stabilisation in the pancake lens meant that handheld shots were quite shaky, especially when prodding the screen.

Video autofocus was smooth but it was often slow to keep up with the action. The autofocus motor was only just detectable on the soundtrack in quiet scenes, but the microphone position meant that we often accidentally covered it with a finger. The camera boosted the volume to compensate, which made the whirrs from the focus motor much louder.


The most surprising thing about the EOS M is that there aren’t really any surprises. Image and video quality are exactly what we’d expect from an EOS-branded camera, but autofocus speed is a big concern, just as it is on the Canon G1 X and in live view mode on the 650D. There’s a notable lack of extras, too – no optional viewfinder, GPS or Wi-Fi. We wouldn’t expect Canon to launch a dozen EF-M lenses all at once, but having just two currently available doesn’t compare well with rival CSCs.

It’s not cheap, either. It has already been discounted from its initial launch price, but £530 for the 18-55mm kit or £600 for the 22mm lens and EF adapter kit is more than current prices for the Sony NEX-5R or Panasonic GX1.

We hope that Canon can resolve the slow autofocus in the next generation, as in most other respects the EOS M shows a huge amount of promise. As it stands, it’s not sufficiently better than its rivals in any particular area to make us want to overlook its performance issues.

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Basic Specifications

CCD effective megapixels18.0 megapixels
CCD size22.3×14.9mm
Viewfinder magnification, coverageN/A
LCD screen size3.0in
LCD screen resolution1,040,000 pixels
Articulated screenNo
Live viewYes
Optical zoom1.0x
Zoom 35mm equivalent35mm
Image stabilisationAvailable in lenses
Maximum image resolution5,184×3,456
File formatsJPEG, RAW; QuickTime (AVC)


Memory slotSDXC
Mermory suppliednone
Battery typeLi-ion
Battery Life (tested)230 shots
ConnectivityUSB, AV, mini HDMI, microphone
Body materialMagnesium alloy
Lens mountCanon EF-M
Focal length multiplier1.6x
Kit lens model nameCanon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM
AccessoriesUSB cable, neck strap

Buying Information

Warrantyone year RTB

Camera Controls

Exposure modesprogram, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual
Shutter speed30 to 1/4,000 seconds
Aperture rangef/2 to 22
ISO range (at full resolution)100 to 25600
Exposure compensation+/-3 EV
White balanceauto, 6 presets with fine tuning, manual
Additional image controlscontrast, saturation, sharpness, colour tone, Auto Lighting Optimizer, noise reduction, chromatic aberration correction, peripheral illumination correction
Manual focusYes
Closest macro focus15cm
Auto-focus modesmulti, flexible spot, face detect, tracking
Metering modesmulti, centre-weighted, partial, spot, face detect
Drive modessingle, continuous, self-timer, AE bracket, WB bracket, HDR