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Mirrorless vs DSLR: Small and Smart or Big and Serious? The Canon M and Canon 7D compared

Mirrorless vs DSLR: Canon 7D VS Canon M in Studio Test

Mirrorless vs DSLR: Canon-M vs Canon 7D in Studio Review

This is my final review on the two cameras I had for one month to play with (many thanks to BHphotovideo.com for the loaners), which falls in Mirrorless vs DSLR war.
In general, I was interested in finding the best “Point and Shoot” camera for everyday use with the following features: compact, but with interchangeable lenses, RAW shooting, Full HD video, and easy operation for a photographer’s wife.

We had tested the Fuji X100 and the Leica X1 (read the first round and the¬†second in studio), and found that both were not able to focus fast enough to be called a “daily point and shoot camera of the Koloskov family” :-)

This time I was mainly interested to check out the first Canon mirrorless camera, EOS M. The Canon 7D was selected as a top model crop sensor Canon DSLR, we were thinking of getting it as a secondary camera before looking at the mirrorless guys.

I have already posted an On-Going Review of Canon M, check it out to see more sample shots. Plus, some cool low light performance shots from our Fox Theatre visit: the beauty of live music and a popcorn.


Below are my final thoughts on both cameras Canon EOS M vs Canon 7D :

Watch this video Canon EOS M vs Canon 7D on YouTube



Canon EOS M pixel piper tests: studio performance

All shots were done at ISO 100, and I’ve used ¬†the Canon Telephoto EF 180mm f/3.5L Macro lens¬†on both cameras:

Mirrorless vs DSLR: Canon EOS M In-depth Studio Test


Images were converted using Adobe Camera Raw version and all settings (where applicable) were left to ACR camera raw defaults. No additional sharpening or WB adjustments were made.


So, let’s see what we got here. I shot still life subjects with Einstein Studio strobes set on color mode with a¬†manual¬†exposure of 1/200 and F11 on both cameras. I did correctly exposed shots, underexposed and overexposed by adjusting the strobe output power for several F-stops, same for each camera.

Correctly exposed shots.


Canon 7D is before, Canon M is after



100% crop. Canon 7D is the before, Canon M is the after




Pretty much have the same performance, I do not see any difference in details and image quality between both cameras.
Most likely they have the same sensors and the Canon M has better (newer) algorithms of processing the sensor’s RAW data. I hope so:-)


Underexposed shots.


Both Canon 7D: “as-is” before, recovered (+2Ev exposure fix in ACR) is after



100% crops, both Canon 7: “as-is” before, recovered (+2Ev exposure fix in ACR) is after



Both Canon M: “as-is” before, recovered (+2Ev exposure fix in ACR) is after



100% crops, both Canon M: “as-is” before, recovered (+2Ev exposure fix in ACR) is after




Close to each other, with slightly better noise handling on the Canon 7D’s recovered shots. Both cameras delivered good amount of details.



Overexposed shots.


Both Canon 7D: “as-is” before, recovered (-3Ev exposure fix in ACR) is the after



100% Crops, both Canon 7D: “as-is” before, recovered (-3Ev exposure fix in ACR) is the after



Both Canon M: “as-is” before, recovered (-3Ev exposure fix in ACR) is the after



100% Crops, both Canon M: “as-is” the before, recovered (-3Ev exposure fix in ACR) is the after




Impressive results from both cameras, pulling details from such heavily overexposed shots. The Canon 7D produced slightly more contrast image after the recovery, the Canon M managed to deliver same details as it’s twice as expensive DSLR brother.

Portraits with Canon M & 7D with Canon 100mm F2.8L IS Macro lens


Canon 7D, full and 100% crops


Canon M, full and 100% crop


Full Crop, Canon M (before) VS Canon 7D (after)




Great performance on both cameras, and it looks like the Canon M is slightly more sensitive at ISO 100 than the Canon 7D.
Of course there is no way anyone will use the Canon M with studio strobes for shooting portraits (watch my video to see why), but we clearly see that the little and smart can match the big and serious. They match in image quality, but not in ease of controls and operations, especially in focusing performance.
The Canon M has serious problems with its focusing system, and I can only hope that Canon will address them soon. However, it will be too late for us: we have made our choice and went with the Sony Nex 7 (see my blog post: Sony Nex 7, first impressions)

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4 responses on "Mirrorless vs DSLR: Small and Smart or Big and Serious? The Canon M and Canon 7D compared"

  1. hello..

    Yesterday I bought a camera eos teleh M

    after my update. focus speed to be fast.

    I have tried to shoot some more. I think the quality if fairly.
    but. lcd its like its not good.
    The following is an example of my shots …

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/9365776856/

    Thanks and regards from Indonesia


  2. Hi Alex,

    Thank you this comparison. This Helms me a Lot.
    Just a Short Quention…. Was the M allready equiped with the Firmware 2.0.2?
    If no this could be the reason for the AF issues.

    I am not fully clear in my decision, to buy the M. But your work give me a good understanding.

    Thanks and regards from Germany


  3. Hi Alex,

    I’ve been asking myself if you could do something like this comparison with many different lenses, cameras and especially brands.
    Why? In photography, especially when learning a new kind of photography, there’s always the question “Which is the right camera for me? Do I need a better one or would I get way better pictures when buying a new lens?”
    I guess it would be a huge bargain for the whole community if a pro-photographer like you, tested entry- or mid-level cameras and reviews how good they’re for tabletop photography.
    One example: I’m a Pentax-shooter and pretty happy with my K-5, though I still have to work (A LOT:D) to get very good pictures steadily. But yesterday I tried a Canon 7D, took a quick test-shot of a nearby lens and was absolutely stunned by the imagequality. Unfortunately I forgot to check which lens was mounted, as I thought that the full-frame sensor was responsible for that great outcome. This morning I found out that the 7D has a cropsensor and a crop-ratio of 1.6, while my K-5 has a crop-rate of 1.5 (which I WOULD consider slightly better – but I have no idea, as you see). A comparison would help me insanely and other community-members would see what their cameras are capable of as well :)

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