Canon has made great strides to bring industry-defining video performance to DSLR cameras, but until recently it has all but ignored the mirrorless SLR world. Micro Four-Thirds cameras have become the speculative next big thing in photography. Many of them feature the same basic functions and similar performance as their larger DSLR cousins, but video thus far has been a difficult sell.
When I started using the Olympus Pen Mini (E-PM1), I noted the lackluster video performance, rolling shutter, and noisy mechanics as being major drawbacks to using the camera for video recording. On the surface, it appeared as though these smaller cameras just didn’t have the power it took to record decent video.
When Canon finally unveiled the EOS M mirrorless camera, I became immediately interested. Just as the Canon 5D Mark II introduced video to the world of DSLR cameras, the EOS M promises to deliver similar performance to video in the mirrorless DSLR world.
In addition to a smaller size, the benefits of a Canon-branded mirrorless DSLR include the ability to use EF-S and EF lenses. This means the same quality lenses you’re already using on larger DSLRs will work with the EOS M with an adapter.
According to reports, rolling shutter is almost non-existent during normal use, video is crisp, and performance mimicks that of the T4i (650D). That’s a bold statement, though a pleasant one to hear after so many disappointing attempts by other mirrorless DSLR manufacturers.
The EOS M may be a small camera, but it packs a lot of features into the tiny frame. A hotshoe mount allows you to easily attach a professional flash or external shotgun microphone, a touchscreen allows for easy adjustments during shooting and/or filming. You also get the benefit of a number of interesting artistic overlays that look rather pleasing to the eye.
Another advantage is the inclusion of STM motorized lenses in the kit. That means you won’t have to pay extra to find a lens with a stepping motor which reduces autofocus noise significantly. One note made by reviewers at DigitalRev (video above) was that the autofocus is notably slower on the Canon EOS M than other similarly priced mirrorless DSLRs.
Drawbacks to the EOS M include difficulty to grip. This is brought on by the thin body and lack of texturing on the white model. The black model has a little added texture, but is still awkward to use if you’re used to handling a standard DSLR.
Canon EOS M Vs. T4i (Specs Sheet)
What’s more interesting to me as a videographer is just how powerful the compact EOS M is when compared to the larger Canon T4i (650D). Their prices are very similar, but the specs are even more alike than one might imagine.
Both of these cameras share built-in HDR, continuous autofocus, touch screen, 12,800 ISO, and an external mic jack. In addition, both of these cameras have the same APS-C 22.3×14.9mm sensor. That means the same basic image quality should be found on the EOS M as the T4i.
The major advantage of the T4i is a faster autofocus thanks to the implementation of phase detection over contrast detection. Even with over 30 autofocus points (compared to nine on the T4i), the EOS M is a snail compared to the T4i when it comes to focusing.
The continuous shooting speed of the EOS M is also slightly less (4.3 FPS vs. 5 FPS). You also lose out on battery life (220 shots vs. 440). The EOS M doesn’t have a built-in flash, though you can add one using the hotshoe mount.
Everywhere else on the specs sheet, the two are neck and neck in terms of capability and performance.
One thing is for sure: Canon is working hard to maintain its dominant presence in the world of video. This camera might be a pass to anyone who just wants to take photos. There are many less expensive options out there with plenty of quality lens options.