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Canon EOS-M: Worst Design Ever? (for handheld use at least)

Back on July 3 I wrote about the $299 deal on the Canon EOS-M, which represented a new low price for an APS-C compact with lens, indeed a stunning price for the “spec list”. Problem is, specifications have nothing to do with feel and usability.

The EOS-M arrived today (I ordered one to check out).

Now I know why the price was so low.

I was taken aback: compared to the Ricoh GR (242g), the Canon EOS-M (403g) feels like a brick. Because the camera is truncated on the right side and there is nothing but a nominal stub for fingernails to claw at (so to speak), there is nothing to hold onto and at 403g this makes for a terribly unbalanced feel. It is the most awkward camera I’ve hefted in years. Well, perhaps the worst ever.

The EOS-M 22mm f/2 lens is HUGE compared to the Ricoh. And its 36mm (equiv) is not wide enough for my all around use (a 28mm is far more useful for my needs, particularly for cycling, scenics, interiors, etc). The EOS-M lens has a large diameter barrel, and also protrudes enough to make a nuisance of itself— for a cycling jersey pocket it’s far inferior to the Ricoh GR. The GR lens protrudes barely more than the grip (when off).

The lack of a grip and the placement of controls means that it’s really a two handed deal to work the controls, or risk dropping the camera. Sure, one can contort fingers and do it with one hand: that’s why the video button is placed *exactly* in the spot my thumb wants to hold onto!

  Ricoh GR 28/2.8 lens built-in Canon EOS + 22mm lens
Weight as weighed
(w/ battery +lens caps, no strap)
242g
(feels light and comfy)
403g
(feels like a dense brick)
Grip Excellent, confidence inspiring. Nominal stub grip, unbalanced feel, afraid I’ll drop it
Controls Among the best I’ve used in a compact Two handed operation almost essential. Video button right where I want to grab the camera with my thumb.
Size about 1cm wider, but not wide
Much shallower profile even with the far superior grip
Narrower by about 1cm, but thick body and protruding lens; feels chunky and exceptionally awkward in the hand.
Strap lugs Nicely inset holes for wrist strap (included) or similar. Protruding metal lugs that require special strap attachment (included).

Seriously, I don’t think it’s possible to make a worse design than the EOS-M. Just holding it feels like wearing a hair shirt. Back it goes.

Reader comments

As Martin D observes succinctly:

It's a "me too" product rushed to market. Probably has no “owner” at Canon, at least nobody who gives a damn.

Just to show that every camera can fit a specific need (and the danger of blanket statements), reader Ron L writes:

Thanks for your recommendation on the EOS M, got the great deal at B&H. I got the FotoDiox Nikon adapter and have done some tests with my older Olympus Zuiko Lenses on it and WOW! nice!

This was with the 250mm F2 big beige Zuiko, on tripod, shot raw. I'm hoping to test the camera soon for astrophotography.

Just too bad there is no cable release available for it, that would have made a big difference for me.

DIGLLOYD: [not shown is a wildlife image shot by Ron L].

Indeed, I stand corrected in one way: although the handheld ergonomics were a real turn-off for me, the EOS-M or similar small camera might well be an ideal “rear end” for long telephoto lenses; with the lens mounted on a tripod via its lens foot, the camera hardly changes the balance of the lens.

In this case, the APS-C sensor means that a 200mm f/2 is equivalent to a 300mm f/2.8 on a full-frame sensor in terms of field of view and depth of field.

Canon EOS M
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