Announced : The Canon EOS M

Well yes I know that it's been rumoured for quite some time, and yes I know that Canon has been conspicuously absent from the whole mirrorless interchangeable lens format marketplace. Well, now they aren't.  Mostly.

Mostly because while the camera, flash and a pair of lenses are announced they won't be available until October 2012, sort of classic Canon of late, announce today, deliver in the future.

So what is in this little monster?

First up is the 18MP APS-C sensor.  If that sounds even vaguely familiar to you, it should since Canon has 18MP sensors in a few cameras already such as the Rebel T2i, Rebel T3i, Rebel T4i, 60D and 7D.  Funny most all run ISO ranges of 100-12800.  Not a bad thing, it's a proven sensor that produces good images until you push into the higher ISOs in low light.  Processing is handled by Canon's current Digic 5 CPU.

Given that it is APS-C you can apply the usual multiplier of 1.6x to the focal length of lenses to get an approximate sense of what the field of view would compare to on a 35mm film camera.  I know lots of people love to talk about this but I wonder when we will just get to the point of talking right to field of view and lose all this crop sensor nonsense.

That said, the prime lens is an EF-M 22mm f/2.0  That is a new lens mount although an EF / EF-S adapter was announced today as well.  The field of view will be like a 35mm lens in the old world, very popular for family shots, groups and street shooting, wide without excessive perspective exaggeration.

It looks like there will be a kit zoom as well, an 18-55/3.5-5.6 image stabilized STM lens.  Canon recently announced STM lenses with the T4i with the benefit of continuous autofocus in video and smooth and quiet operation.  This compares consistently with the 18-55 range found in most DSLR kits and in the Sony NEX line.

Shutter speed range is from 30 seconds to 1/4000 of a second and the E-TTL accessory flash syncs at 1/200.  There is no built-in flash in the camera so no stalks to break or transformer like arms to shear off.  The body is similar in size to its brethren, most closely resembling the Sony NEX-5n in size.  It has a 1M dot LCD viewscreen and no optical viewfinder (BOO HISS), nor any visible connector for an accessory EVF (BOO squared).

The camera uses SD, SDHC and SDXC cards and while it has no built-in wireless, you could always go with one of those Eye-Fi cards if you need wireless connectivity.  With that fast processor, don't cheat yourself by stuffing your old cheap-ass SD card in this puppy.  Get something that will do at least 60MB/s continuous read and write.

The camera, wait for it, does HD video.  Enormous surprise.  All the usual video suspects are present.  The STM lenses will help a bit but the presence of "stereo microphones" on the top of the camera are unlikely to give the Dolby folks anything to worry about.

Like other cameras of its ilk, the EOS M has a number of enhancing technologies including noise reduction (it takes four shots and uses the best parts for the composite), handheld night scene mode, HDR backlight control mode, intelligent auto and seven creative filters.  So far no one has put in a creative filter called Instagram and called that one over.

The announced flash is the Speedlite 90EX.  It's small and pocketable with a Guide Number of 9m at ISO 100 so it's not going to reach great distances but will get the job done.  Canon was smart and used their standard shoe configuration so this flash will work on any Canon camera and other Canon E-TTL II flashes will work on the EOS-M.

The camera seems bereft of knobs and dials and this is due to it being driven by a 3" LCD touchscreen.  It is said to be smudge resistant.  Time will tell how well that works out.  The demographic of buyers will include those who live and breathe touchscreens and those who like real tactile response. Since there is no optical viewfinder and no EVF add-on the likelihood of it turning into a nose-operated device is minimized.  Personally I'd happily give up touchscreen for an optical viewfinder.  Canon is not known for easy to use menu systems so I hope this is better than the touchscreen layout on the current crop of point and shoot cameras they have.

Canon Canada is listing the lenses as individual skus, along with the EF/EF-S lens adapter and the flash.  As of this writing they are only showing the camera in kit form with the 18-55 and the flash all in one package, which if one were so inclined makes a lot of sense.  Vistek is listing two kits, one with the 22mm and flash and one (in black, red or white) with the 18-55 and flash.  Pricing is $829 and $879 respectively.  Note that these are preorders as the product is not expected until October.  Henry's website listed the lenses and the flash but the search did not turn up the body yet.

Will it sell?  Of course it will.  It says Canon on the front and the hype around it has been incredible.  Nikon didn't exactly knock the doors down with the Nikon 1 and despite customer satisfaction issues with the J1, since the price correction was applied they sell pretty well.  The Canon has a standard sensor which will give a higher probability of excellent images and Canon is well-respected in the point and shoot game so this is a natural step up for the P&S shooter who wants simple and quality.  And everyone will get to wait until October, unless the camera gets 1Dx syndrome and that becomes next June.