The first mirror-less camera was introduced over 5 years ago, and since taken the camera market by storm. Initially, Canon appeared hesitant to enter this new market, which features small point size cameras, but with DSLR like features. Is it possible Canon entered the mirror-less camera race too late? Can its first mirror-less camera stand up to competitors who have more experience in the market? Or will the already successful cameras by Fuji, Sony, and Olympus overshadow the Canon? To find out, I’ve taken the Canon M along with me to Europe for one month. I recently put the Canon M through its paces during a trip to Madrid, Spain.
The newly introduced Canon M series features an 18 mega-pixel APS-C sensor that allows for above average low light capabilities with a maximum expanded ISO of 25600. The Canon M comes kitted with either the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 or f/2.0 22mm lens and a small external flash. When shooting in burst mode the new 14-bit DIGIC5 processor yields a respectable 4.3 frames per second, with optional subject tracking. If one desires to take video the Canon M will not disappoint, as it's capable of recording full HD 1080p video at 30 frames per second, but of course with a 30-minute clip limit. Videographers or amateur cinematographers will also appreciate the external microphone socket and adjustable sound recording levels. As like many other mirror-less cameras the Canon M comes in a variety of colors ranging from the standard black, red, white, and slate grey. Ergonomically, the first noticeable difference, when the Canon M is being compared to others on the market, is the size of the camera. The camera is very light and compact even when it’s mounted with the larger 18-55mm lens. Since the camera has few buttons because of its' touch screen capabilities, it appears very sleek and visually appealing. Some might argue that the Canon M has as a design that is boring because of its simplicity and lack of buttons, but I personally enjoy the more refined design. The camera is also reasonably solid and comfortable to hold due to its magnesium alloy body. The overall external design is impressive and visually stands out amongst competitors. In fact, the camera more closely resembles one of Canon’s small point and shoot camera’s than a DSLR.
The first thing I noticed was when using the Canon M was its incredibly intuitive interface. Originally, I was skeptical of navigating my way through the options via touchscreen. With other camera companies failing to provide touchscreen interfaces that worked properly, my first thought was that this was Canon's first mistake. However, after only a few minutes I quickly realized the menu system was efficient and designed properly. Changing between aperture, and shutter priority modes was done with ease and manipulating functions like white balance, color balance or other manual functions was also easy. The touch screen auto focus was useful and worked well, although I found it wasn’t accurate when trying to focus on something small from a distance. I did find the autofocus a little slow as well, especially when something was moving across the frame. The other downfall I quickly noticed was the sub-par battery life. It was difficult to get through an entire day on one charge, and if your shooting video be prepared to carry at least one extra battery. After reviewing some of the pictures taken on the first day I was impressed with the overall image quality. The camera handled the nighttime, daytime, and macro shots well with all images looking very sharp. I took a lot of landscape photos in Madrid and most came out crystal clear. The colors looked both vivid and balanced. For the most part they came out as they appeared on the camera screen. However, I did find it difficult at times to correctly gage the exposure on a sunny day without a proper viewfinder. As a result, a few of my images came out under and over exposed. Thankfully, this was nothing that couldn’t be fixed in Photoshop with a few minor adjustments. On my last day in Madrid, I went to botanical garden and then to a popular market where I put the macro settings to the test. Even with shooting just with the standard 18-55mm lens it performed well. I have to admit, after using the camera for 5 days straight it grew on me the more I used it. At first, navigating through all options via touchscreen was tricky, but after two days of use I became very comfortable with the touchscreen interface.
After using the Canon M I felt as though I’ve come away with a new understanding of why mirror-less cameras are such an attractive option for consumers. For me, the quality of the images seemed on par with what I’d expect form a mid-range DSLR. This paired with the convenience of having all this in such a small compact camera, made for an overall positive experience. I don’t believe Canon has appeared in the mirror-less camera market too late. However, I do wish Canon were more innovative with the camera. Other camera companies in this market like Fuji and Sony have used it to showcase new technology and design. Canon has seemed to enter the market with a solid first mirror-less camera, but played it safe. It’s also possible they entered the mirror-less market simply to maintain some form of relevancy before it’s to late. In the future Canon needs to embrace this new market with a different approach. I feel as though they reluctantly entered the market because it could potentially eat away at their entry-level DSLR sales. Canon should know better than anyone that the camera market is changing more rapidly than ever before, and to stay competitive in all areas it sometimes means creating things that hurt other current products sales. Despite these notions, Canon has delivered a good camera with the Canon M series. It’s my hope Canon realizes the mirror-less camera market is here to stay, because with their innovation and technology they could potentially put a serious dent into mirror-less camera market, or even better create something that changes the landscape of the camera industry once again.
Displayed below are few images I’ve taken in Madrid, Spain at various locations throughout the city. Along with these images is a video sample taken of a firework show that represented the start of Carnival.
Market San MiguelParque del Retiro