Canon EOS M First Impressions Review
Lens Mount & Sensor
The Canon EOS M marks Canon's first new lens mount since the launch of the EF lens mount more than 20 years ago. The EF-M mount will accommodate APS-C image sensors in these small bodies, with two lenses available at launch. The lens choices aren't substantial (a standard 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 and an 22mm f/2.0 lens, both with stepping motors for smooth video autofocus) as of yet, but the camera will launch alongside an optional lens adapter that will let you attach any modern Canon lens to the EOS M.
The lens adapter will retail for $199.99 at launch and we were able to get some hands-on time with it during our time with the EOS M. While Canon didn't bring any larger lenses (nor us), we did get to shoot with the new 40mm f/2.8 lens on the EOS M by way of the adapter. It's hardly a coincidence that Canon has just released a small prime and a camera that, even with the adapter, seems made for a collection of small primes. We found the combination to be quite good, with the lens adapter allowing for full autofocus compatibility. We found the connection to be snappy, with the lens adapter of an extremely high quality.
While we have our reservations about the camera's grip standing up to longer session of shooting with larger, heavier lenses, we don't have much concern about the lens mount or adapter. The mount itself is all metal, as are both sides of the lens adapter. The small adapter also has an optional screw-in tripod mount that will let you mount heaver glass on the EOS M on a tripod without the whole thing necessarily tipping forward. This is a moot point for extremely long lenses that already have tripod mounts placed off-camera, but it'll come in handy if you throw some of the heavier mid-range L-series glass on an EOS M in the near future.
The image sensor itself deserves some recognition, as well. It's a full APS-C sensor, designed by Canon and borrowed directly from the Canon Rebel T4i, along with its DIGIC V processor. It is an 18-megapixel CMOS image sensor, and it's the same size as you'll see on any Canon Rebel or other mid-range DSLR. Short of a professional full-frame DSLR and Canon's underused APS-H size sensors, it's one of the biggest sensors you could find on the market.
The sensor includes autofocus points that are built directly into it, with 9 cross-type sensitive points on the sensor. These are clustered around the center of the frame and are better used for moving subjects. For still subjects in all but the most extreme environments contrast detection AF is faster and more accurate, as a rule.
LCD & Viewfinder
The EOS M also borrows the Rebel T4i's rear LCD, which is a 3-inch, 1.04-million dot display. It doesn't have the vari-angle hinge like the T4i's LCD, however. While it is fixed, we found it had a very good viewing angle both horizontally and vertically, and the LCD's touch panel was quite sensitive. It's a capacity touch display, but we found it fairly accurate and useful in select situations (mostly focus and playback modes).
The EOS M lacks any sort of viewfinder option and it doesn't seem like there's one in the camera's future, either. The camera's top plate includes a standard EOS hot shoe, which does not have the data throughput to output a video signal to a viewfinder. The camera does have mini-HDMI output, so an external monitor could be used if you're dead set on getting video out of the thing, but we weren't able to test this functionality to any degree.
The EOS M also ships without a built-in flash, instead requiring those needing a little extra light or a strobe to go with the Speedlight 90EX. The 90EX has a guide number of 9 meters at ISO 100, with a 24mm wide angle spread. It is a fixed flash, though, without any bounce for less direct light.
Jacks, Ports & Plugs
The EOS M includes mini-USB, mini-HDMI, and a 3.5mm microphone port behind a flap on the left side of the body. We weren't able to test much more about the connectivity, but the inclusion of a mic port will be a big plus to those who want to use the EOS M for serious video.
According to those we spoke to, the EOS M includes a new battery from Canon, though its life may be a little short for some people. It has a capacity of 875 mAh and is rated to 220 shots. We didn't receive word on if that's a CIPA rating (following their strict, if somewhat odd, protocols) or a Canon rating, however.
The EOS M has just a single memory card slot. It's compatible with SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards. That also includes the higher speed UHS-1 class of memory cards. A 16GB card would be enough to record just 44 minutes of full HD video (still the sub-30minute restriction though), so video shooters will want some backup memory.