I’m not one to get into the whole brand war when it comes to “stuff”. I really do make educated guesses about the equipment I use for the specific jobs they perform. That said, every DSLR I’ve owned has been a Nikon. The reason has nothing to do with the quality of the system or anything like that. They just feel best in my hand. It’s the one “stuff” decision that has nothing to do with specs or functionality. It’s based purely on ergonomics and the way I use the camera.
I have been on the hunt for a “Family Camera” that suits my nerdier photography needs. I love my Nikon P7000, but when it comes to low-light conditions, its small sensor leaves a gaping whole in its functionality. The newer Nikon 1 system uses pretty much the same sensor. I’ve been lusting over the micro 4/3’s systems, but I’m weary that their small sensors will leave me wanting just a little more than they can deliver also. When Fuji came out with the x100 and put a APS-C sensor into it, I thought “That’s it”, but it’s just too expensive to justify as a family camera. Sony has a fantastic system with the NEX line as well, but unfortunately the interface on those is way too nutty for my liking. Being quite happy with my iPhone, I gave up on paying much attention to what’s been going on in the world of small mirror-less cameras. I didn’t even know that Canon tried and failed miserably with the EOS M earlier this year. Their failure = My gain!
So, why would I buy into a failed camera system? Short Answer: I got one with a lens for well under $300. This camera has the same sensor as the Canon 650D, and it costs a fraction of the price of anything even near it in it’s class. Why is it so cheap? Because reviewers panned the camera into submission. The camera sucks at autofocusing in comparison to other cameras in its class, but Canon recently upgraded the firmware to greatly improve the M’s performance. Now I can even focus on a honey bee’s ass!
I learned about the camera at this year’s BarCamp when fellow photog Phillip Guyton let me play around with his EOS M. As annoying as on-screen controls can be, the touch screen combined with some really smart layout of the controls make for a great compromise for those of us who’ve been using iPhones for many years. I was immediately obsessed. It’s almost everything I want from a walk-around family camera. Sure, the auto-focus issue can sometimes be a challenge, but I was able to hand the camera over to other people and got great results:
Also, it has a hot shoe! Yay for off-camera lighting. One of the first things I did was grab a remote trigger and use on of my Nikon flashes in manual mode to see how it works (It gets a 1/200 sync speed btw). Here’s one of the images I made while I tested it:
What other stuff can this camera do that my iPhone can’t? How about slow shutter speeds! I took this shot of a fountain inside the Polynesian resort in Disney World this past weekend:
The M also has much better dynamic range than other compact cameras. While not nearly as good as a full-frame Nikon, this little guy is pretty damn good in a tough lighting situation (that’s not noise in the 2nd shot – it’s foam flying around as simulated snow at the Osborne Family Christmas Lights in Epcot Center):
After spending the holiday weekend with the M, I’m happy to say that for the price of the camera, I definitely have found my “Walk-Around” system (and then some), and would happily recommend it to any photography enthusiast!