Canon has (finally) announced the EOS M system, it’s first mirrorless style camera body. Canon rumors has a good overview of the announcement and the product stats (for geeky goodness, try DPreview.com).
I’ve been looking at the various sites and taking in the overall reaction, which is mostly positive, although there are the usual suspects in the usual blog comment areas with the usual babble, which all boils down to variations of “haven’t touched it, haven’t used it, just read the press release (maybe), and here’s why it sucks and won’t replace my brand new [name your favorite camera]“. All great reminders why I try not to read comment sections on most of the popular blogs.
One of the stronger negative responses to the new release is from Kirk tuck at Visual Science Lab. I take this one fairly seriously, because he’s been working a lot with other forms of this camera style and is a strong supporter of this emerging form factor, so his comments can’t be easily ignored.
It is a $799 camera that’s effectively a repackaged T4i. It has a new mount, but there’s an adapter that allows existing EF and EF-S lenses to work with the body, which caught my attention as a Canon user.
My interest in the product? Unclear. But I have been thinking through a personal project with some complexity to it, one that involves a lot of field time including video and time lapsing, and this has me, god help me, thinking about adding some gear to the kit, including audio capture and a body I can use for “B roll” style environmental and behind the scenes video. One option I’ve been considering is the GoPro, which would be about $300. Another has been a T4i, which is in the $850-1000 range depending on lens options.
So this body fits somewhat in the middle between the low end option that has some interesting possibilities but is video only, or going with another full-sized, consumer-oriented DLSR body that have good video/audio capabilities.
I’ve been thinking this through this evening, and I’m leaning towards Kirk Tuck’s negative view, however. One of the first thoughts I had was “street kit!” but I don’t think the new lens for this mount (18-55) is what I want; I’d want to use it with my 24-105, and honestly, with that lens, the size advantage of the smaller body is mostly lost. Unless the 18-55 is incredibly sharp, I don’t see this body as a street kit addition to my existing kid.
There is only about a $50 difference between this body and a brand new T4i. If I’m only adding a body, it’s hard to see how this body would work better for my needs than a T4i. Just from not having to learn more new control system quirks, going with a T4i to supplement the 7d and T3i minimizes my chances of brain cramping on an image at a key time. Especially for a first generation, I think I’d want a bigger price difference for me to bring it on. If I decide to go video only, the GoPro is enough cheaper to definitely be worth it. Heck, the GoPro is almost down to “impulse buy” levels.
For me, I don’t think this camera is a good fit at this time. None of the mirrorless are, unless I choose to build a street only kit around a mirrorless body, and if I did that, it’d cost me enough for the right lens that I’ll likely stick with the DLSR and 24-105 and use the iPhone when I want maximum portability. I just haven’t seen any of the new mirrorless camera systems to make me squirm and start counting nickels. Having said that, I think this new form factor is the evolutional future of interchangeable lens cameras, and over time, the mirrored units will fade to a specialty niche. But this will take some time, and I’m in no hurry to jump in front of this parade.
I think this camera is a good camera, but I think it’s going to be most interesting to people upgrading into the interchangeable lens world from pure point and shoots. For those people, this is a nice upgrade. As a supplement to an existing Canon DLSR kit, I’m not convinced. And is it as good as or better than competing models like the sony or the fuji? I have no clue — go ask Kirk.
So I think it’ll do well, and I’m going to be watching as they expand the lens options and they grow this unit into future generations. I must admit I’m a little disappointed that the mount form factor prevents a sensor bigger than APS size, but I’m not surprised. I’m of mixed feelings whether the industry should be pushing towards lower cost full frame sensors, or whether the future is improving APS sensors until even the 5D bigots agree they’re okay. I’m guessing that down the road the market differentiator between mirrorless and DLSR will likely be sensor size, and DLSR will shift more towards the full frame (more expensive) offerings. The mirrorless platform seems to slide in nicely as a replacement to the existing Rebel-class APS sensor DLSRs — eventually.
We’ll see. It’s something I’m watching, but until I get my hands on one and see how it operates, I’m just speculating. I do know if/when I move forward on my project, the EOS M won’t be the addition to the kit. Maybe next generation, but not now. And if someone asks me for a recommendation, at least for now, my answer’s going to be the T4i, not the EOS M. At some point, we’ll see if that changes.