Canon EOS M review: Canon finally joins the mirrorless party

By Kevin Carter - Friday January 04 2013

Camera Review
Introduction | Canon EOS M sensor performance | Canon EOS M versus competition | Conclusion

Canon EOS M vs Canon 650D

Canon EOS M

When we compare the EOS-M and EOS 650D directly, the scores are very close. Canon states the cameras share the same sensor and we see no reason to doubt that. The EOS-M’s slightly higher Sports and slightly superior Color Depth scores will be barely noticeable in real world use.

Canon EOS M
Unsurprisingly the EOS M and EOS 650D sensors perform nigh identically, so we can verify Canon are using the same imaging unit in both

Sony NEX-6 VS Canon EOS M

 

The EOS-M is targeting compact camera users trading up, whereas the pricier NEX-6 with its manual controls and EVF is aimed at enthusiasts. However, in terms of sensors, the Canon adopts an 18MP imager, and the Sony a 16MP unit. Even with a lower pixel count the NEX-6 sensor performs similarly to the 24MP NEX-7, suggesting some sensor design differences between them but either of those two models’ sensors outperforms the Canon’s in each of our three Use Case Scores. The most revealing is the maximum 2Ev benefit in DR at base ISO, allowing users considerable leeway with exposure errors, but it’s fair to say the Canon sensor performs as well from ISO1600.

Canon EOS M
The Sony NEX-6 uses a different, lower resolution sensor to the firm’s NEX-7 but the difference in dynamic range over the Canon’s sensor remains largely the same.  By ISO1600, DR indistinguishable between them.

The Canon sensor in the EOS-M also has slightly higher chroma (colour) noise than the Sony chip in the NEX-6. Our Color Sensitivty tests indicate a maximum of 2 bits at low ISO in favor of the Sony, that’s close to a one-stop improvement at base ISO.

 
Canon EOS M
The Canon EOS-M can’t match the Sony NEX-6 for Color Depth (measured in bits) at any point in the ISO range except at ISO25600, meaning color noise levels are higher except at the maximum.

Nikon 1J2 vs Canon EOS M

In our third comparison, we’ve chosen the Nikon 1 J2, a camera that has been designed to appeal to a similar group of users. There’s a 10 point lead in the DxO Mark sensor scores to the EOS-M. But, when viewed in context, the Nikon 1 J2 adopts a 1-inch type BSI sensor that has a considerably smaller surface area than the Canon’s put it at a distinct disadvantage.

Canon EOS M
Given the Nikon I J2 has a much smaller sensor than the Canon EOS-M you would expect the dynamic range to be lower. It is, but there’s not as much difference as you might expect.

As a result, the EOS-M’s APS-C size CMOS sensor is a better performer; the smaller Nikon chip has both higher noise levels and a lower dynamic range. However, while the EOS-M has a one-stop advantage in our low-light ISO and color depth scores, the dynamic range of the Nikon is not far behind the Canon.

Canon EOS M
Throughout the sensitivity range, the Canon EOS-M has consistently lower color artifacts (color noise) than the 1-inch type sensor in the Nikon 1 J2 .