Sunday, March 2, 2014

The little basterd..

A child that nobody loves..



Canon's EOS-M was announced in July 2012.
It was a mirrorless camera and two lenses were introduced with the EOS-M body.
They were the 22mm F2.0 "pancake" lens and the 18-55mm F3.5 - 5.6 zoom lens which was also a standard kit lens.
And the immediate reaction from Canon fanboys was: "it's slow and sluggish.. bla-bla-bla.."
It carried a pricetag of RM2.79K for a full kit (body, two lenses and a flash)
In short, the photography community here had condemned this camera when comparisons were made with Nikon's 1 mirrorless cameras, including Sony's NEX and the Micro Four Thirds from Panasonic and Olympus.
I am talking about auto-focussing on the EOS-M which was really slow (firmware version 1.0) until an update was made (firmware 2.03) to "improvise" the focussing speed.

Taking the plunge..

An updated EOS-M2 was announced in Japan recently.
It has a smaller body, with WiFi image transfer capabilities.
But here in Malaysia, it will take a while until the EOS-M2 would arrive at the shelves.
Meanwhile, the existing EOS-M stocks had taken a plunge in pricing and it took a while for this little-big camera to find it's way into my daypack.
I scored an EOS-M kit (body, two lenses and a flash) from a local dealer for RM1.6K. This was a conservative price considering the fact that I get two lenses and the EX90 compact flash - which is more of a toy rather than a functional flash.
Some stalls at the Section 14 Digital Mall in Petaling Jaya are selling the EOS-M kit with all the bells and whistles at RM1.4K (this is the price to beat).

Performance

I have no issues with "slow AF" focussing.
And I have been working with the Canon Powershot G1X since 2012 and it's one of the "slowest" compact cameras around.
So, I knew the shortcomings and anticipated the same with the EOS-M.
When I received my kit, the first thing I did was download Firmware 2.03 which significantly increases the AF tracking speed on the camera.
As far as quality, fit and finish are concerned, the EOS-M lenses really takes the cake.
It's solid and works really well the body.
I compare this with kit lenses from Samsung that felt like a toy.
Zooming on the 18-55 F3.5-5.6 M lens was really smooth and solid. 
And the images came out crisp and sharp.
I love the compact size of the camera and seriously, I don't see any reasons why this would not make a good travel photographic system.
The EOS-M has an APS-C sensor that is found on Canon's D-SLRs.
So, as far as image quality is concerned, its far more superior than the Nikon 1.
A special mount adapter allows the M to be used with Canon's EF-S and EF lenses.
This means you can mount an EF-L prime lens on this baby and get the best out of its optical quality.

Sample images





Conclusion..

I've been using the EOS-M for three months.
There are flaws and shortcomings, which I am not surprised.
Till today, my Powershot G1X is still at the service centre.
On image quality, it's one of the best mirrorless cameras around. It's paired with a set of great lenses.
The 22mm F2.0 pancake lens delivers sharp and crisp images even in low-lighting conditions and its ability to focus on near subjects made it an ideal lens for food photography.
For walkabouts, the 18-55mm zoom lens is just ideal. Its neither long or short.
To support the EOS-M platform, Canon also introduced another zoom lens: the wide angle 11-20mm zoom.
This one takes the cake if you want to capture landscape - especially tight interiors.
That makes three lenses in the EOS-M line-up and I heard that there are more to come.
As for the AF speed, I don't have major issues. But the EOS-M does have problems focussing in pitch darkness, so, you will have to override this by setting the focus to manual (done with the body's menu function) and enlarge the live view to get your focus lock.
With a full-time dependency on the camera's LCD screen, battery life is short.
That's why I carry a spare LP-E12 battery (very expensive original cell) for travel.
And when it comes to writing speed on your SD Card, be sure to use a class-10 (I learned this with my Powershot G1X) to record your images. Normal SD cards would really drag on before you can shoot your next frame.
Other than a few teething problems, the EOS-M is a nice camera to work with as it's flexible enough to allow users to add filters on the lenses as well as use larger EF-S and EF lenses.

What lies ahead...

Canon announced their G1XmkII recently with a shitload of improved features. 
I don't think the EOS-M3 is too far behind based on what Canon had come up with on the G1XmkII.
With the future lying ahead, I expect to see an articulated screen, an optional EVF mounted on the hotshoe to make the EOS-M system a versatile imaging tool..
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