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Canon EOS M Mirrorless Camera Review

We test the brand new Canon EOS M Mirrorless Camera - Canon's entry into the mirrorless camera market with an APS-C sized 18 megapixel sensor.

| Canon EOS-M in Mirrorless Cameras

Canon EOS M Mirrorless Camera Review: Canon Eos M (2)

The EOS M is Canon's first mirrorless camera, introduced in 2012. Canon are one of the last big camera companies to enter the mirrorless camera market, a market that has been seeing an increased growth in popularity since first introduced in 2008. With it, Canon has introduced a new lens mount called EOS EF-M which allows the lens to be much closer to the APS-C sized sensor, and therefore gives a much more compact camera, particularly with the 22mm f/2 pancake lens.

Canon EOS M Features

Canon EOS M Mirrorless Camera Review: Canon Eos M (3)
In addition to the 22mm f/2 lens, Canon has also introduced a standard kit zoom lens, the 18-55mm with optical image stabilisation, and STM motor. The compact body doesn't feature a built in flash, and instead Canon has provided a flash that fits the top flash hot-shoe, although as it's quite large this adds to the overall size of the camera if you need to bring the flash with you.

The top of the camera features a shutter release surrounded by a small mode dial with options for video, photo mode and Scene Intelligent Auto mode. Additional modes such as Program, Scene modes, and manual settings can be selected on the rear touch screen. Although the camera has a touch screen, there are a number of buttons on the back that can be used for quick access to settings.

Canon EOS M Mirrorless Camera Review: Canon Eos M (1)

Key Features

  • 18 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
  • Canon EOS EF-M Mount
  • 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens, equivalent to 29-88mm (in 35mm equivalent terms)
  • 22mm f/2 STM lens, equivalent to 35mm (in 35mm equivalent terms)
  • 3inch touch screen, 1040k dots
  • Flash hot-shoe
  • Full HD video, stereo sound, mic socket
  • ISO100 - ISO12800, expands to ISO25600
  • Hybrid CMOS AF system
  • 4.3fps continuous shooting
  • Available in black, silver, red and white
Canon EOS M Mirrorless Camera Review: Canon Eos M Speedlite (2)

Canon EOS M Handling

Canon EOS M Mirrorless Camera Review: Canon Eos M (4)

Handling - Despite the small size, the handling is quite good with a front and rear rubber grip and the camera feels well built with a solid metal body. The zoom lens feels good with a textured grip surrounding the zoom and focus rings. Manual Focus improves performance as you don't have to wait for focus, and there are 5x and 10x views available to aid focus, however there isn't focus peaking. The provided flash uses 2 x AAA batteries, and adds considerable bulk to the camera.
Canon EOS M Mirrorless Camera Review: Canon Eos M (6)

Menus – The touch screen provides quick access to options, in combination with the Q button. The menu system is the familiar Canon EOS menus, with colour coded areas for photo, playback, setup etc. making it easy to navigate for anyone who's used Canon EOS cameras previously. There are custom options available, to enable additional settings such as expanding the ISO, however, these options are quite well hidden.

Canon EOS M Mirrorless Camera Review: Canon Eos M Battery

Battery life - Battery life is rated at 230 shots according to Canon / CIPA test results, we were able to take just over 230 shots, as well as a number of videos before the battery went flat. There was very little warning that the battery was almost flat, with the on screen display going quickly from being full to showing a red (near empty) battery.

Canon EOS M Mirrorless Camera Review: Canon Eos M Eos Lens Adapter (3)
Canon EOS M EF Lens Adapter

Speed - We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.

  Canon EOS M Sony RX100
Shutter Response <0.05 0.0
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 1.6 / 1.2* 0.3
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response 1.65 / 1.6* 0.3
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 4.1 2.2
Shot to Shot without Flash 1.8 (MF) 0.9
Shot to Shot with Flash 2.9 (MF) 2.1
Continuous Shooting - JPEG
(shots before slow down)
4fps (9 shots) 7fps (speed priority mode, 15 shots)
Continuous Shooting - Flash 0.6s 1.6s
Continuous Shooting - RAW 4fps (6 shots) 4fps (13 shots)
* When successful, switching to Servo AF improves focus speed.

Focus can be hit and miss, with the camera sometimes spending a long time hunting for focus, only for it to fail to focus on anything. It can then get stuck doing this every time you try and take a shot, with correct focus being acheived when you use the touch-focus by pressing the screen. Once focus is successful the shutter response speed is excalled, and continuous shooting is also quick at 4fps.

Canon EOS M Performance

Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

Canon EOS-M Sample Photos

Sample Photos - The camera has excellent colour as you would expect from a Canon EOS camera, and with the same APS-C sized CMOS sensor as the Canon EOS 650D results and colours are very similar to the 650D and other Canon EOS cameras. Skin tones are excellent, and detail is very good in the portrait shots taken in our studio. Using the camera in auto mode or program mode also produces excellent photos with reliable colour, white balance and exposure.

Canon EOS-M Lens test images

Lens Performance - The camera produces images with plenty of detail with either lens, with good dynamic range and reliable exposure. Images are detailed to the corners, although chromatic aberation becomes visible nearer the edges. Distortion was not a noticeable problem in the majority of shots, although the camera does feature built in correction if required. Macro performance is average from the kit lens, and similar from the 22mm. We used manual focus as auto focus struggled to focus on subjects too close to the camera.

Canon EOS-M ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - The camera features ISO100-12800, which is expandable to ISO50-25600. ISO100 results, as expected, are very smooth, with very low levels of noise. ISO800 results are good although slight grain becomes visible. ISO1600 is when noise becomes slightly more noticeable. At ISO3200 the noise increases. ISO6400 noise becomes more dominant with more noticeable colour loss, although  the camera gives usable results. Above this, at ISO12800 noise increases again, however images may still be usable with further processing as detail is still reasonable. As expected ISO25600 images contain the most noise, and due to the loss of detail this setting is best avoided.

Canon EOS-M White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - Auto White Balance (AWB) performs reasonably well under tungsten lighting with a slightly warm result, and using the tungsten preset gives very similar performance. AWB performs better under fluorescent lighting with much more neutral colours and using the fluorescent preset gives very similar results.

Canon EOS-M Other sample images

Canon's Auto Lighting Optimiser (ALO) promises to helps to boost detail in dark areas of the image, without causing clipping in the highlights. Four strength levels can be set in-camera, from off to strong.

Canon EOS-M Digital filters

Digital Filters - Creative Auto (CA) lets you choose a number of different effects as shown above, as well as set the background blur easily. The effects are available in playback mode as well. HDR Backlight mode is available.

Video - The Canon EOS M features a full HD video mode, with a dedicated video record button on the body. Manual exposure is possible and ISO can be set up to ISO6400, or ISO12800 with expansion enabled. Quality is good and focus during videos seemed better than expected, additional videos can be viewed on the ePHOTOzine YouTube channel.

Value For Money

The Canon EOS M is available for £519 with 18-55mm lens and 90EX flash. The 22mm lens is available for £174, and the EOS lens adapter is available for £104.

Alternatives include, from the Micro Four Thirds system, the following models, with the most extensive range of lenses: Olympus PEN Mini E-PM2 - available for £475, Panasonic Lumix GX1 - available for £444 with lens. The Nikon 1 series has a growing number of lenses and models, with the Nikon 1 J2 - available for £459 with lens. The Samsung NX210 features a 20.3 megapixel APS-C sensor and Wi-Fi, available for £500 with lens, with a number of lenses available. From Sony, you have the choice of a number of lenses and bodies, with the Sony NEX-5R with Wi-Fi, the most similar in price to the Canon, available for £459 with lens.

Canon EOS M Mirrorless Camera Review: Canon EOS M Mirrorless Camera Review: Canon EOS M Mirrorless Camera Review: Canon EOS M Mirrorless Camera Review: Canon EOS M Mirrorless Camera Review:
Olympus PEN E-PM2 Panasonic GX1 Nikon 1 J2 Samsung NX210 Sony NEX-5R
£475 £444 £459 £500 £459

You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.

Canon EOS M Verdict

There are cheaper competitors available than the Canon EOS M, with quicker focus, a larger choice of lenses, as well as features including Wi-Fi. In addition, the other systems available either feature a built in pop-up flash or smaller external flashes.

The Canon EOS M has a small well designed body with an easy to use 3 inch touch screen, however the limited number of lenses, as well as the extremely slow focus and short battery life are rather frustrating limitations holding the camera system back. It would be nice to see some of these issues resolved either with a firmware update or a following model and releases, however, until then, other mirrorless cameras offer a much better range of lenses, focus speeds, as well as generally better battery life. However, if you can bear with some of these weaknesses, then the camera has good noise performance, and is cable of taking excellent photos.

  Canon EOS M Mirrorless Camera Review:
  The Canon EOS M is capable of taking pleasing photos with an extremely compact body, although there are some issues worth noting.


Canon EOS M Pros

Excellent noise performance up to ISO3200+
Excellent image quality
Excellent colour reproduction
Excellent touch screen
Solid body with good handling, despite size
Mic socket

Canon EOS M Cons

Little warning that the battery is going flat
Struggles to focus in low light
Extremely Slow focus
No built in Panoramic mode
Limited number of lenses
Short battery life


Canon EOS-M Specifications

Image Sensor
Pixels18Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)5184
Pixels (H)3456
Sensor TypeCMOS
Sensor SizeAPS-C
Sensor Size (width)22.3mm
Sensor Size (height)14.9mm
Aspect Ratio
  • 3:2
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution1,040,000 dots
Touch ScreenYes
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Face Detection
  • AF Tracking
  • Manual
  • Touch AF
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/4000sec
Shutter speeds longest30sec
Bulb modeYes
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • Scene modes
  • Program Variable
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • ESP Light Metering
  • Centre Spot
ISO sensitivity100 - 25600
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Shade
  • Flash
Exposure Comp+/-3
Viewfinder ResolutionNo Data
MagnificationNo Data
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting4.3fps
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
Video FPS30, 25,24
Stereo SoundYes
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationNo
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • RAW
  • JPG
  • RAW + JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeLP-E12 Lithium Ion
Battery Life (CIPA rating)230shots
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data

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Photographs taken using the Canon EOS-M

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4 Feb 2013 2:33PM
Why oh why do the manufacturers not put a viewfinder on these cameras?
josa 11 25 Czech Republic
4 Feb 2013 4:42PM
To me it's a half baked product no one really needs...
lemmy 16 2.9k United Kingdom
5 Feb 2013 10:38AM
This model shows how worried DSLR makers are by M43 cameras. I went over entirely to M43 a couple of years ago and miss very little about my DSLR, an APS-C model.

Full frame DSLRs will always have their place for but I think that the size and weight advantages of M43 lenses (rather than the bodies) and the unrelenting improvements in their sensor performance are making APS-C look like a blind alley.

Compare this to a Panasonic GF or Olympus EPL - what does this do better? Look at the range of lenses for the M43 cameras? What more does this Canon offer?

It must be difficult for the traditional camera makers right now - technology is eating into their advantages.
franken Plus
20 5.7k 4 United Kingdom
5 Feb 2013 11:45AM
Choosing a M43 over this is a no brainier really.

"Little warning that the battery is going flat
Struggles to focus in low light
Extremely Slow focus"
Is not what you get with M43 cameras

I think that Canon, Nikon and Pentax underestimated the rise of the M43 system big time and they could have problems in the future?
Dlees78 17 26 United Kingdom
5 Feb 2013 12:49PM
That really didn't read like a 4 out of 5 star review.
Dannecus 10 3 United Kingdom
6 Feb 2013 2:06PM
Read the review, a reasonable trashing of a poor camera. Then look at the 4 star, recommended badge... Come on ePhotozine, dare to actually upset Canon for once. This is a fairly dreadful effort to compete with M43. It does not deserve 4 stars and you are certainly not recommending it in the text.
A Booth 21 11 4 United Kingdom
6 Feb 2013 3:53PM
The leading retailers have dropped the price ( Park Cameras under £600) as noone is buying this badly thought out and designed camera. Back to the drawing board Canon.
ElSid 15 11 United Kingdom
6 Feb 2013 4:48PM
I'm a bit surprised about the slow focus comment. I had a play with one at my local dealer recently and as far as I could tell the focus speed seemed pretty close to my EOS SLRs. OK I didn't have the chance to play with it as long as, presumably, ePhotozines reviewers did but if it is as bad as they say I'd surely have seen some issue.

I was actually quite impressed with it in the flesh with it which surprised me as I felt it was a little to much a 'me too' product when it was launched.

Must agree with the comments about the rating - four stars and 'Recommended' does seem a bit generous in light of the negative comments.
lemmy 16 2.9k United Kingdom
6 Feb 2013 4:52PM

Quote:if it is as bad as they say I'd surely have seen some issue.

They may have been comparing it to other mirrorless cameras like the GH3 and OMD which have lightning fast focusing these days.
ElSid 15 11 United Kingdom
6 Feb 2013 5:05PM
Never tried some of the latest CSCs but the comment is 'extremely slow autofocus' and honestly I really couldn't describe the AF I experienced as extremely slow. Maybe the camera supplied just had problems and they should request a replacment to cross check.
Dannecus 10 3 United Kingdom
6 Feb 2013 5:08PM
ElSid: interesting to hear your comments, I've not heard much from real users about the EOS-M, but the universal view from all the 'professional' reviews is that the focus speed is a real problem, it's not just ePhotozine saying that. Could be just down to the lab tests they do and less of a real world problem. Or may be your EOS is slow too! Wink

The CDAF systems in M43 cameras are fairly rubbish at continuous follow focus, but when it comes to grabbing first focus on the subject they are, as lemmy said, lighting fast. So may be that was the comparison they were making.
ltj22 14 4 United Kingdom
6 Feb 2013 7:50PM
"ElSid: interesting to hear your comments, I've not heard much from real users about the EOS-M, but the universal view from all the 'professional' reviews is that the focus speed is a real problem, it's not just ePhotozine saying that. Could be just down to the lab tests they do and less of a real world problem. Or may be your EOS is slow too!"

Here is some info

I have just got the EOS M with 18-55mm is standard lens, adaptor and flash. I can confirm that the focus is really slow and hit and miss. Yes the review should have been a 3...on this one. Also you can not use this camera with an adaptor say to use your FD Lenses tubes there is no shooting without lens. Strange that fleEbay is full of adaptors.

I have been on to Canon about the slow focus and shooting without lens, I got a reply to my slow focus but nothing on the latter. I have now asked the question again.

There reply was and I quote "Thank you for your request and for contacting Canon.

Please try to reset all the settings within the menu of the camera as there are no issues with the focussing.
We have tried it with different lenses and do not experience any issues with the camera.

We suspect that it is a setting in your case which makes the focussing slower. This could me the focus method, being flexizone. The camera then searches for multiple subjects to focus on, and will obviously take a little longer."

No....Still the same focus problems I am not very happy with this camera, I am thinking of returning..Sad

Sorry should have said I also agree with the battery runs down very quick.

Dannecus 10 3 United Kingdom
7 Feb 2013 8:55AM
ltj22: thanks for your post, really good to see some real world experience rather than official reviews. Hope you manage to send it back and have another chance to choose.

The lack of a no lens option is another heavy blow for this camera. One of the joys of mirrorless is adapting old legaccy lenses. I have an Oly E-PL2 and use both an ancient M42 screw mount Vivtiar macro lens and a Praktica mount Sigma 400mm on it. Both were cheap EBay buys. Can't believe Canon missed this feature off the EOS-M. Guess they want people to buy Canon lenses, if there were any for the EOS-M.
ltj22 14 4 United Kingdom
7 Feb 2013 3:05PM
Here is an update from Canon re shooting without lens, probably the wrong term to use.

Thank you for your request and for contacting Canon.

Please note that it is not possible to use the camera without a lens. There always needs to be a lens attached to be able to take the pictures.

Also, FD lens mounts are NOT compatible. So it is not possible to use your old FD mount lenses. It is possible to use the EF lenses in combination with the EF lens adapter, available for the EOS-M.
So there are also no lens settings that you refer to on the camera.
So everything you are asking of us is not possible and is stated in the product specifications and manual, please see below link.

Once again, thank you for contacting Canon Support. We hope the above information is of use to you. If you have any remaining questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Yours sincerely,

I did have another play today changed focusing setting like they said and it 's still very slow to focus and as I said hit and miss some locked on and way out of focus.

So I think even more reason for me to dump this camera. Why they can't update the firmware to use other lenses with an adaptor I don't know, so not very happy. I am wondering if this is possible in the States, as I said there are loads of adaptors on Fleebay for the EOS M. In my link above it says this is a shrunk Eos 650 so it must be in the firmware somewhere. Sorry not liking this camera at all!!

ltj22 14 4 United Kingdom
9 Feb 2013 5:22PM

Apart from Canon reps not knowing anything, I was looking on the Magic Lantern site, who do firmware updates for Canon cameras I came across this information.

Cracked it! It's in the Custom Functions (C.Fn) menu...the 4th wrench. C.FN IV (#7), the 'take picture without lens' setting. It's inside another menu so not seen straight away.

(Shooting without lens, take a picture without lens same thing in my book)

Tried a lens with the Canon adaptor and all works well, and with tubes, so why did Canon not tell me this?? This really works well, so a tad more happy. So get them FD lenses out!!!!Smile

Glypnir 10
28 Apr 2013 2:57PM
How can they say the number of lenses is limited? I can use my thousands of dollars worth of EOS lenses. I can buy smaller and cheaper wide angle and normal lenses and keep my telephotos.

I won't buy one til it has an electronic viewfinder. But since I've got all those Canon lenses, I'm delighted that Canon is going this way.

I would love to know how long the display goes blank after you take a photo. I've got a high end point and shoot with an electronic viewfinder, and you can't follow anything that is moving quickly or erratically, because the viewfinder blanks for so long.
ltj22 14 4 United Kingdom
28 Apr 2013 8:20PM
I donít know who is saying the number of lenses is limited for this camera, because it will take all the Eos EF range of lenses with the M adaptor.

And yes, it does need a viewfinder in bright sunlight the LCD screen is hard to see.

You can't follow anything that is moving quickly or erratically with this camera either, the focusing is very painfully slow, I nearly through this camera in the river on Friday, I put my Canon 300mm on it to try some flying duck shots, never got any!! It would not focus on them, I donít know if I got a duff one here, but in MHO not of use for fast moving subjects.

In hindsight, I now wish I had taken this camera back for a refund, it does not do what it says on the tin!!!! Very disappointed with this one.

However, if you ONLY want to take still or macro photos, this camera is OK, and also works well with extension tubes on, picture quality is very good. But still not an alround camera.
ianrobinson 13 1.2k 8 United Kingdom
24 Nov 2013 8:57PM
frenchie44 17 342 United Kingdom
22 Dec 2013 9:06AM
I was playing with the canon M yesterday, with the new update there is nothing to moan about, the picture quality in real life is good as a mid range SLR, in the store it never failed to focus and was about average speed. I was able to use the camera and had my own memory card with me as well as my 7D, when I got back home I could not see any difference in the sharpness or contrast between to two , the only difference was slightly a difference in the colour rendition. this was JPEG only, I always shoot Raw otherwise. its lovely to hold, it has that quality feel about it.
I really liked it, so I bought one £289.00 I think at that price its a unbelievable bargain, I pick it up on Tuesday, I will have fun over the holiday testing it, I want it to take with me as a second camera when I take the 7D out with the 500mm lens on it, it will be much lighter than taking the 60D along to take landscape and general scenes.

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