The last major manufacturer to enter the mirrorless camera market, Canon is doing so with the EOS M Digital. It will be available in October. Contrary to rumours that it would use the moderately large (18.7 x 14mm) 14.3 MP sensor from the Powershot G1X, the EOS M employs a larger APS-C size (22.3 x 14.9mm) 18 MP Hybrid CMOS chip and the 14-bit DIGIC5 processor, both similar to the ones in the EOS Digital Rebel T4i. Although it's equipped with an entirely new EF-M lens mount, the very small camera is similar to the EOS T4i in many aspects and will produce the same photo and video quality, according to Canon.
This is one of the smaller mirrorless cameras with a full size sensor partly because it omits a viewfinder and a built-in flash. Since the EOS M targets point-and-shoot camera owners who would appreciate interchangeable-lenses and superior image quality, it features few external controls. Even the common mode selector dial has been omitted. Instead, the LCD allows for touch screen control on the multi touch-capable glass capacitive display.
In spite of the simplified exterior, the EOS M is loaded with EOS DSLR style amenities and provides comparable speed. The available colours differ from region to region, but in Canada, we'll get the black as well as the red and white versions. Full specs should be available soon at www.canon.ca but in the meantime, here's a summary of the technology and functions.
• The 3:2 touch-sensitive ClearView II LCD features very high 1.04 million dot resolution but is fixed so it cannot be tilted, presumably to minimize external size.
• The touch functions include focus point selection and shutter release, menu scrolling and item selection, image playback (including pinch-to-zoom), and video editing. A Q button activates a touch-sensitive sub-menu for quick access to many functions. Conventional controls, including a Function button, can be used instead if desired, but won't be as quick and convenient.
• The EOS hot shoe will accept external EX flash units, including the new very small 90EX (included in the kit), with a Guide Number of 9 in meters, at ISO 100. It will also accept Canon's GPS unit GPE-2 for geo-tagging images but neither an optical or electronic viewfinder will be available.
• The 31-point multi-mode autofocus system is the Hybrid CMOS type used by the EOS T4i in Live View. In both photo and movie mode, it combines phase detection and contrast detection AF when the subject is near the center of the frame and uses only contrast detection when the subject is far off centre.
• In Continuous Drive mode, the EOS M will fire at 4.3 frames per second with focus locked, or at 3 fps when continuous AF is required.
• In addition to P, Av, TV and M and Scene modes, plus the usual Picture Styles, overrides and ISO 100-25,600, the camera will offer Intelligent Auto scene selection, Multi-shot Noise Reduction (compositing several JPEGs for cleaner images at high ISO) and HDR Backlight Control modes.
• Seven Creative Filter options will also be available with a live preview of the special effect that each will provide on the LCD screen.
• Video capture at up to 1080p30 (MPEG-4) will be available, with overrides, continuous tracking AF and stereo sound with the built-in mics (with separate volume control for each and a wind-cut filter option) or with an optional external mic. A Video Snapshot mode will allow for recording a short series of clops in a single file; editing features will enable the user to delete, cut or re-order the clips as desired, using touch-screen controls.
• Based on the CIPA standard, the LP-E12 lithium-ion battery will provide 230 shots per charge
Lenses: Initially, two EF-M mount lenses will be available, a very slim 22mm f/2 STM pancake lens and an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM zoom, both using Canon's fast/quiet STM (stepping motor) autofocus system. An optional adapter will be available to allow for the use of 70 of the EF-S and EF- lenses from the DSLR system.
Prices: In Canada, the EOS M Digital will be available in two bundle configurations. A black camera with the 22mm lens and the Speedlite 90EX will retail for about $830, while a black, red or white camera with the flash unit and the 18-55mm lens will sell for about $880. The new EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens, EF-M 22mm f/2 STM, EF-EOS M Adapter and Speedlite 90EX will also be available separately in October at an estimated retail price of $299.99, $249.99, $199.99 and $129.99, respectively.