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Canon EOS M Ongoing Review:

First Impressions and Sample Photos

I’ve spent a few days with my B&H loaner, Canon EOS M mirrorless camera (see “what I’ve got” video). I spent them not in a studio, but going around with family and for holiday shopping. This article is my first impressions “in pictures” from the camera.

The most strong likes/dislikes I have so far:

  • Like

— Size, look and feel.

— Shallow DOF.

— Low-light ISO performance


  • Dislike:

— Focus performance and focusing speed.

— HDR mode is close to what you can get with single RAW file in ACR

— Touchscreen activated by touching your shirt (when you wear a neck-strap)


Lets see the pictures via this little story…

Other day I came out and found pretty nice clouds covering the sky. Nice digital background! Grabbed Canon EOS M and tried to snap few shots (in RAW of course). Tried once, tried more.. Little beast was not able to focus on the sky. After few attempts to set focus manually I’ve got the shot:

No exposure compensations were made, so I’ve got it dark. Still, with lots of texture in the sky, why couldn’t it focus? Go figure…

When we were recording my HDR tutorial (it will be a part of “HDR Photography Essentials” pack), I tried to shoot HDR with built-in mode on Canon M.

The camera took rapid shots and produced this nice… HDR? I do not think so. There are lots of dark areas all around. And because it creates JPEG (not much room to improve it in ACR), and there is no option to adjust exposure (I dialed it +1 F-stop for a shot like this), the result is far from what I’d call “good HDR”

Below two more shots, one in HDR mode, and the second is a single RAW shot adjusted in ACR, where I tried to pull up shadows and reduce highlights to increase Dynamic range:




Canon EOS M Single shot

BTW, did you noticed that the Canon M crops the image when it creates HDR from 3 exposures? It needs room to align hand held shots, so a crop is necessary. BTW, I’ve used a Canon fisheye lens via EOS mount adapter here.

However, the Canon M does some dynamic range extension with it’s HDR mode, these two images below show a pure demonstration of single v.s HDR:


Canon M in a Shopping Mall Experience:

So the next day we went to do a little holiday shopping at a nearby mall. I got the Canon M with me, with its own 22mm, F2.0 lens, and drained its battery in about 3 hours. The best thing I liked about this Canon is its size; I was shooting a lot, sticking the camera’s nose everywhere and security did not pay any attention to me.

I made the same trip to this mall with the Canon 5D mark III few months ago, and I had a conversation with a security guy: he asked why I was shooting, and told me not to shoot construction in the mall. Like a roof or wall…

So, with the Canon M there were no issues, except one lady asked me not to shoot inside her store; they do not want to share their creative marketing ideas.
I stepped out and got my shot:


What I also liked is a crazy shallow DOF, even with quite wide 22mm F 2.0 lens.

Yes, the car needs some cleaning:-)


Some girly things in a kiosk:


Green color – hard to get right, especially when it is too bright?


Frozen yogurt serve-yourself place with nice constantly color-changing walls. The Canon M Auto white balance even did a good job here:


Then I went into Teavana store, one of my favorite places in the mall. They always greet me with warm tea to try and I spent a few minutes shooting there:


Then I tried to shoot nice red balls in the air, and this is the best (in terms of focusing) the Canon M could do:


Another example of failure of focus system in Canon EOS M camera:

The image below is in focus, I had to focus manually to show you what the Canon M was not able to set focus on. It looks like if there is any hi-reflective, glossy or bright pieces on a dark shooting area, autofocus fails.


BTW, this is how I wore the Canon M:

And I found one crazy thing:  The Canon M touchscreen stays active all the time when the camera is ON, and it reacts to touches from my shirt! I started hearing some beeps while walking with my camera on my neck, and then I realized that I was switching between shooting modes.. with my shirt:-)

After that I had to turn off the camera every time I was done with a few shots. Which was not a big deal, but not good when I was trying to shoot on the go…

Let’s continue through the shopping mall. Von Maur, expensive store for old and serious guys (not my style:)


The store is quite nice inside, and I made few close-up shots:


As well as not close-ups:


The Canon M was struggling a little to find a correct white balance, mix of fluorescent and tungsten light which is never a good lighting scenario for digital shooters:


Then I went out and tried to find my kids with Genia…


Instead, I found this poor faceless kid and I ran away from it:


The sun was slowly going down, as well as the battery level on my Canon M.

I passed by one of my favorite stores, they have best jeans and shirts in the world:-)

What I really liked on this tiny 22mm F2.0 lens is its distortion-free picture:


And ability to capture a million things at once:-)


Eventually I found my family. They were selecting a case for my wife’s iPhone 5:

I can tell you that you can forget about shooting moving targets with this camera.

Canon M simply won’t be able to shoot anything which moves faster than snail.

Actually, this camera can shoot very fast, but the lens won’t focus. So, I asked my kids to pose… do you think they did? Not much, but I was lucky to get a few portraits. I left white balance untouched for the sake of the review. AWB from Canon M (not bad actually):


Then we went into a phone case heaven store, Cellaris:

Hundreds of thousands of glass crystals on hundreds of cases, no issues with autofocus here:

It is hard to choose one for you:

Some of the cases are really pretty! How long will these toys will stay on them?

But we all got tired of this, and it was time to go to dinner. Let’s close this and move on!


We went to dinner, it was completely dark outside.

I switched to night shot mode on Canon M camera, and start shooting.

In night mode canon M takes 4 shots, aligns them (hand-held shots of course, who will use a tripod?), and subtracts the best pixels to get less noise in the final JPEG shot. And it does a great job!


Below are Canon M hand-held shots at ISO 12800

As you see, Canon M managed to fix ghosting, as nobody posed really still for me here:-)

BTW, iPhone 5 was quite good at low-light shots as well:-)


All these were captured at 12800 ISO, 4 exposure “night mode”.

For you to compare, below is a single RAW shot at ISO 3200:

Ok, enough:-)
Stay tuned, more stories of my experience with the Canon M are coming soon! Do not forget to take part of our Einstein E640 giveaway-> Photigy Holiday special


P.S If you want to get sample RAW and JPEG files from this test, subscribe to Photigy News (below) and I’ll send you a link to the archive to download.

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