Canon announces EF-M series mirrorless interchangeable lens compact

An interesting piece of news I picked up today was the introduction of the Canon EF-M lens mount and the MILC it was designed to be a part of. The camera is called the EOS M and is quite similar to the Sony Alpha NEX series. Canon has taken a long time to get around to addressing this segment of the market but they have done a good job of it. Here is the preview from DPreview’s website. Although it is a nice piece of work I won’t be buying one because the optical viewfinder on the standard EOS is much prized for taking photos in low light conditions which is the main reason I would be buying a DSLR in the first place. Canon is pretty much the last DSLR manufacturer to produce a MILC showing how much they don’t want to threaten their traditional digital SLR market at all, but since Micro Four Thirds was created just about everyone else has produced cameras so they have no choice but to go with it. The EOS M is not going to be the cheapest model in their range that’s for sure.
There are two EOS-M lenses being offered, a 18-55 mm zoom and a 22 mm prime. The EF-M mount is developed exclusively for the EOS M, but the EF/EF-S lenses can also be fitted with a very expensive adapter; Canon seems to want to discourage anyone from using the standard D-SLR lenses with this camera. Just like the high price of the camera itself (769 pounds in the UK); the excuse for there being only one model of camera of this type is that they aren’t actually that popular anyway. I think this is nonsense, the Sony NEX and some of the others like the Olympus models are pretty popular. The camera has a fairly minimalist design with most features accessed through a touchscreen instead of the usual controls. There is a GPS receiver available as an accessory that mounts on the hotshoe and geotags pictures automatically. As far as the touchscreen goes, it will be nice if you like them, as I do, but I think I would still prefer the controls on the standard EOS like the dual wheels to adjust aperture and shutter separately in manual mode – rather than doing everything by touchscreen – the other problem is while you can turn the standard camera’s LCD off to save power there’s no way you can do that with the M because there is no alternative.
One thing Canon have absolutely no excuse for is the glaring failure to provide USB based charging and get us away from the tyranny of their expensive proprietary battery formats with very limited charging options. You will recall I mentioned this when I reviewed my Powershot SX260. Here was a golden opportunity to be dragged kicking and screaming into the real world where I want to be able to plug in my JuiceStation to top up the camera’s battery if through some oversight I run out of charged batteries. I can do this with my smartphone so why this is not an option for a brand new camera design in 2012 is completely inexcusable. The European Commission needs to start heavying camera manufacturers like they did with smartphones a few years ago. I can’t even get a car charger for the SX260’s batteries. Who would want to spend $2000 probably on this camera then find you are so limited in power options for it. Oh, and it uses a new proprietary battery design, too. At least I could buy a battery grip for a standard EOS. And it still uses Mini-USB instead of Micro-USB connector. Ridiculous.
There is one area where Canon have the jump on their rivals – this camera uses an APS-C sensor (the usual DSLR size) while standard Four Thirds sensors are smaller. Part of the reason for this is that APS-C like film has a 3:2 aspect ratio rather than 4:3 and therefore is wider. Still, it’s known that Canon has been most disdainful of the MILC concept in the past, and this explains why it has taken them so long to produce this camera. OK now that I say it – what is the advantage of MILCs? Generally they are offering DSLR image quality and interchangeable DSLR quality lenses while the body is smaller and lighter than the DSLR, they should also be cheaper as well. The big downside is no optical viewfinder, in low light conditions that would be significant. I know that the optical finder is the main reason I would want to use a DSLR in the first place, because it is so much easier to use for the types of photography where the DSLR’s technological superiority really matters – like fast moving subjects in the dark. The MILC is best seen as a high end compact – typically these have not had interchangeable lenses.