By Amin Sabet
My initial reaction to the new Canon EOS-M: It's a very strong first move from the world #1: A simple body with the touch controls that NEX was begging for, bound to appeal to point-and-shoot upgraders who make up the biggest market for this class of camera. Even the photo dawgs will take a second and third look at that modern classic design which takes us down memory lane from the S90/95/100, via the G series, back to the Sure Shot, A35F, and Canonet.
But it's that lens that really gets our attention. Forget about that kludge that lets you stick big old lenses on the new little camera. How many modern systems have a 35mm equivalent ƒ/2 or faster compact autofocus prime for under $300? Or even under $500? None of the mirrorless compact system cameras. None of the APS-C DSLRs. Only 35mm format offers such lenses, and they aren't very small, plus they only work on big honking cameras. How the other companies could uniformly fail to bring out such a lens is beyond me, but they have, and here is the cool kid, Canon, ready to show us how it's done.
My delayed reaction to EOS-M: All preliminary reports suggest that the 22mm lens is dog slow to focus, which reminds me how mature our Micro Four Thirds system has become. Fast AF is one of many niceties we take for granted. As a result of a recent Gold Box deal on the GX1 and low eBay prices on the 14mm pancake, I bought both of the following kits for the price of two EOS-M/22mm kits:
On the left: My all-business, 28mm equivalent street combo: Panasonic GX1, Panasonic 14mm, and Ricoh GV-2 viewfinder. The lens is tiny even compared to the Canon 22mm, focuses like lightning, and delivers outstanding image quality. The GX1 a pleasure, offering brisk performance, firm, positive controls, and premium build. In some ways, I prefer the GX1 and 14mm even to my other combo...
On the right: As sweet a portrait maker as you can imagine: Olympus E-M5 and Olympus 45mm. The lens rendering is pure class, and the body stabilization means than my dad, despite his Parkinson's and 73 years, can hold this combo as steady today as he held his Nikon FM2 at my age. Again, the controls fall nicely to the hand, AF speed is excellent, and the combination of flip OLED and EVF lend great flexibility.
The GX1/14mm/GV-2 is my razor, simple and direct, while the OM-D/45mm is more sublime. Each one is a fully mature realization of its purpose. And, in contrast to the new EOS-M, neither leaves me wondering what the manufacturer would do with someone like me specifically in mind.
Now, don't get me wrong. Canon has nothing to prove. It has the money, the retail channels, the marketing machine, the fans, and a track record that speaks for itself. In due time, we'll see its high-end EOS-M. Its NEX-7. The camera that 7D users and 5D users will want to carry.
Still, let's not lose track of the fact that Canon has a lot of ground to make up here, all the while devoting significant resources to their DSLR system. Canon is the cool kid late to the party—but it's been a long time since it has been an upstart. Despite a promising entrace, Canon's ultimate success at this party is not assured.
Amin is the founder of Mu-43.com, a leading Micro 4/3 site.
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Original contents copyright 2012 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.