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So, after spending the last 10 days playing around with an EOS M, I have a few conclusions to draw…

Firstly, if you’re looking for a compact, mirrorless camera that offers great image quality along with interchangable lenses, good build quality, proper manual controls & good-enough performance; stop reading here and go buy one.

If however you need blazingly fast autofocus or are looking for dSLR response speeds, look elsewhere – go buy a “proper” dSLR; something full frame with a real shutter, mirror, bucket loads of pixels – maybe an EOS 5D MkIII or 1DX.

Following on from my last post, I’ve been looking for a small camera that could deliver dSLR style images (to essentially fill the gulf between phone cameras & my full frame 5Ds) without being a full-size camera system.

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So far, the EOS M has been a brilliant surprise.

Sure, it’s never going to win any awards if you compare it to a proper camera system with full frame sensors, bullet-proof multi-point AF, instant shutter releases & ridiciously high noise-free ISO capabilties.. but for a compact camera system, with reasonable performance, great image quality and surprising lenses – it’s really not bad at all.

I bought the EOS M body “kit” from Jessops including the camera body, an EF-M 18-55 STM lens, EX90 flash & EF-M to EF lens adapter and picked up a new EF-M 22mm lens from eBay. Both lenses have Canon’s new STM stepper motors – giving near silent autofocus, and are great for video. First impressions are positive. As soon as you unpack it, the camera, lenses & flash all feel solid and the camera’s controls are immediately familiar if you’re comfortable with full-size Canon cameras.

From reading reviews, I had pretty low expectations around autofocus – but so far am quite surprised with how good (and reliable) it is for most situations. It’s a whole different world if you compare it to an EOS 5DMk3, but it’s also a £270 camera kit compared to a £2,999 full frame dSLR body. If you work with the AF system, switching to the most appropriate mode or using its face-recognition AF and touching the screen to tell it what you want to focus on… it’s fine.

Don’t expect it to instantly lock-on to a moving subject or to track things moving around without issues – it’s no pro multi-point AF with sophisticated tracking systems. It does work however, and if you use a bit of patience seem to be good enough for the vast majority of situations.

Little Ellie - getting very used to the idea of being on a swing!

The AF can be told what you want it to lock onto by touching the subject on the screen, or just put it into single / multi-point modes and let it use contrast detection to work out where to focus. Squeeze the shutter half way (just like the full size cameras) and see if it focuses on what you want.. if not, reframe slightly; touch the item on the screen; or try again. Chances are it’ll be fine on the second attempt!

With the fantastic 22mm EF-M f2 lens, you can shoot it wide-open with lovely shallow depth of field and great low-light performace; or stop it down a little for crisp focus.

It’s a cracking lens, and I’m slightly astounded that it can deliver such brilliant image performance in such a tiny package. It’s quickly become my lens of choice on the M as it adds so little in terms of size or weight to the camera.

If you need something with a zoom or more reach than the 22mm, the EFM 18-55 is a great option. It has the same solid build quality as the EOS M & 22mm lens, and again is very compact in form. While it would benefit from a fixed aperture throughout its range (I suppose I’m too used to my f2.8 EF24-70 & EF70-200), the lens delivers sharp images throughout with plenty of detail & contrast. It’s a great walk-around lens with enough reach to be useful, opening up to a helpful 18mm if you need something wider.

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I’ve not yet tried the EOS M with a regular EF lens – primarily as I’m still waiting for Jessops to deliver the bundled EF-M to EF adapter…!

All in all, I’m pleased with the M. It’s not perfect, and it’s never going to replace my 5D Mk2 / Mk3 bodies or L lenses. It has however replaced my phone as a go-to camera for random photos – and is something you can chuck into a bag or large-ish pocket without any impact to have a fantastic camera with you whereever you go.

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