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Canon EOS M hands-on: First Look

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First Look: Canon EOS M hands-on

2:32 /

While it provides one of the best touch-screen experiences in its class and the compact body is quite comfortable to shoot with, the Canon EOS M's disappointing performance and blah feature set make it less attractive than competitors.

I liked the Canon EOS M more than I expected, but less than I should have. The design of Canon's first and only interchangeable lens compact stands out. It's got a nice well-built and well-conceived metal body that's compact and comfortable to grip single-handed. While I wish it were tiltable or articulated, the touch-screen's quite responsive with the streamlined interface, and the hard controls are simple but effective. The camera also delivers excellent photo quality, though not more excellent than competitors like the NEX-5R. You can comfortably shoot JPEGs up through ISO 1600. But at all ISO sensitivities, I could get better results in some way or another by processing the raw files. In part, that's because none of the camera's color presets deliver really accurate color. And I find a lot of hue shifts that I don't like. However, I suspect a lot of people will find the colors pleasing enough. And while the video's fine for typical vacation clips, the autofocus in video doesn't pulse annoyingly. There's a lot more moiré and aliasing than I think there really should be. Plus, the low-light video is fairly noisy-looking. You do have complete manual controls in video, which is nice. But the camera lacks peaking to help with manual focus for both stills and video. And feature set's otherwise fairly blah. It's got a handful of special effects. It doesn't really render them with any novelty. It's got a hot shoe but there's no option for an electronic view finder. And the only flash is optional and bulky. But the real Achilles' heel of the camera is performance. Even with the hybrid face and contrast detection autofocus system, it's really slow to focus and shoot in a lot of circumstances. It's great for capturing kids and animals if you want them half-added frame. And while it can maintain a pretty fast burst, that's not with autofocus-enabled. The fact that there are only two native lenses for this system, an 18 to 55 millimeter standard kit and the 22 millimeter f2 pancake, makes it less attractive than more established systems. Sure, you can pay about 200 bucks for an adaptor just for other Canon lenses but it shoots nice photos and it feels good in your hands. But unfortunately, it doesn't out-do most of the competition. I'm Lori Grunin, and this is the Canon EOS M.

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