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The Canon EOS-M

  Type  Digital mirrorless
Shutter Range 1/4000 to 30 seconds
Shutter Type Vertical Travel, Electronically Timed Focal Plane
Meter Type CMOS
Meter Range EV1 - EV20 (ASA-100)
Exposure System 31 zone TTL
Lens Mount Canon EF-M Autofocus
Battery LP-E12
Digital Specs
Sensor Type CMOS  
LCD Display 3" - 1 Mpx resolution
Sensor Size 22.5x15 mm Recording Media SD
Sensor Resolution 18 MP File Size 6.4 MB/330mb per minute
Focal Length Compensation 1.6 Film Speed Equiv. 100 - 12,800
Manual Impressions Details Camcorder
EOS-M lenses EF adapter and lenses FD adapter and Lenses Links

        I love this camera. It really makes me want to go out and take pictures. It's been a long time since I was this excited or anxious about a new camera. Despite several very bad reviews and a poor start in the market, as well as some excellent competing models from other companies, there is something special about the Canon EOS-M. It is a very easy camera to like - once you accept it for what it is. So what is it?
        The concept was inspired, even if the execution was not perfect. The Canon EOS-M has a bit of an identity crises, which has caused some misunderstandings and bad reviews, only partly deserved. The Canon EOS-M is a mirror-less interchangeable lens digital camera. It is a small camera that in many ways provides the quality (though not all the features) of a large camera. What makes it an EOS, besides its lens mount, is its Digic 5 image processor, the same kind found in Canon's full sized cameras. It also has the same imager as the full sized DSLR Canon cameras (aps-c size).
        The EOS-M diverges from the rest of the EOS line in a few ways. The most significant is in the modification of the EOS lens mount. The EOS-M mount puts the lens much closer to the imager, and is a physically smaller mount, though it is electronically identical to the standard EOS mount. It can do this because the EOS-M has no mirror box, and no pentaprism, making it a much smaller camera. The EOS-M uses SDHC memory cards, instead of the CF cards used by most of the rest of the line. The most obvious difference is that there is no optical viewfinder. Finally, it uses a LP-E12 battery.
        I will get the bad out of the way first, so I can concentrate on why I like this camera so much. The most notable and commented upon issue with the EOS-M is the slow auto focus. As introduced, in poor light the autofocus is almost unusable. In good light, it can take a second or more to focus. In scenes lacking contrast, it can take longer.
        Many photographers learned their craft back before auto focus and auto exposure, and most of us would hardly worry over poor autofocus performance except that nearly all modern cameras have no manual focus aids. Additionally, quick manual focus is not really an option on the EOS-M due to another issue - the camera has no viewfinder.
        Instead of a viewfinder, the EOS-M has a large (3") LCD on the back. This is a tremendous handicap to shooting quickly, or to attempting to focus manually. It is even worse in bright light, which can wash out the LCD. While the LCD is one of the best, has over a  million pixels of resolution, and gives access to a number of controls and features, it would be better used as an enhancement to a viewfinder, rather than a replacement. The camera must also be held at arms length, or at some point between, in order to view the screen properly, which is distracting at the very least, and does not help in stabilizing the camera for maximum image sharpness.
        Another unfortunate aspect of this camera is in the lack of really good physical controls. Focus, and exposure are controlled automatically, or by using the touch screen LCD, which is slow, unintuitive, and requires a deliberation not supportive of fast or casual shooting. The photographer feels more like a computer operator than a camera operator. The only control on the front of the camera is the lens release. The only controls on the top are the power switch, shutter release, and a collar which selects between video, auto still, and manual still. On the back of the camera is a shutter button for shooting video, an info button, a menu button, and a multifunction button used for controlling features in the LCD menus. Even the focus is servo controlled. Turning the focus ring on the lens does not move the lens elements. Instead it sends a signal to the camera which then sends signals to the little servo motors in the lens.
        Some photographers lament the absence of a built in flash, which should be a non-issue. A hot shoe resides on top of the camera, which is fully compatible with TTL flash units. I have little use for the tiny flash units built into most cameras out there, and if I need to shoot with flash, I mount a full feature flash unit.
        Part of the disappointment of many may have been due to the high initial price of around $800. Though the quality is certainly there, for this kind of money many were expecting a pro grade camera with creative controls. The price is right up there with a lot of DSLR's, including some of Canon's own. So the basic complaints were high price, slow autofocus, no viewfinder, and limited creative control though a cumbersome user interface.
        I suspect the major reason for the widespread panning and criticism of this camera is that it is basically a very high quality point and shoot model, for an upscale entry level photographer that wants something first class. So Canon saw it as an upgrade of their Sure Shot line, taking interchangeable lenses, rather than utilizing the full potential of the design to enhance their EOS line. While I share some of the disappointment, I must say that sometimes people forget that we aren't all advanced photographers, and that even those who are, sometimes want something simple. Many also underestimate the real capability of this camera. So let's look at what is good about the camera.
        Whatever its shortcomings, the EOS-M does one thing that most of the smaller digital cameras do not do - it takes truly great photographs. The Digic 5 processor and 18 megapixel imager probably have a lot to do with it. This is essentially an EOS DSLR with the mirror box removed and an LCD taking on some of the viewfinder functions. The majority of the point and shoot cameras have smaller sensors, and less capable processors. They also do not have the build quality of this camera. Additionally, most can only use the lens with which they came from the factory. The capacity to use a number of different lenses in such a small package is worth a few sacrifices. Yet the EOS-M does not sacrifice as much as many have been led to believe.



The reason for my excitement over this camera is its size and relative simplicity. The EOS-M is about the size of an old style rangefinder, or the old Instamatic cameras many of us remember from long ago. The Instamatic was not a very capable camera; but it was handy, unobtrusive, and fun to use. Even better was the classic rangefinder camera, like the old Leica M3, or Canon's own Canonette. These cameras were effortless to use, did not intrude into the scene like the large, noisy, and heavy SLRs that were to follow, and gave the photographer complete control over what he was doing. The top end rangefinder cameras could mount a selection of lenses. These were great old cameras of what many consider to be the golden age of photography. Their only limitation was the inability to view or meter through the same lens with which the exposure was being made. The EOS-M, and other mirrorless cameras harken back to those great old classics.
        The EOS-M, particularly with the small flat 22mm pancake lens, seems hardly to be there at all. The camera will fit in a shirt pocket, and just as easily fit into a hand, and hardly be noticed. It is an especially great setup for night time, indoor, or low light photography. An F2 lens is considered fast by today's standards, and when combined with today's sensitive imagers means that most night photography and indoor photography will not require flash. The average kit lens today is a zoom with a maximum aperture around F 3.5. In low light situations, this two stop advantage is the difference between a usable picture without flash, and a motion blurred mess. Additionally, the 22mm F2 is so small that it allows the little EOS-M to remain unobtrusive.

Walking the street with this little 10.5 oz gem around my neck, the camera was almost unnoticed, by myself as well as anyone I might care to photograph. The black bodied, low profile camera is only about an inch thick, with the lens protruding perhaps an inch and a quarter from the front. The camera body is a diminutive 4.3" wide by 2.6" high. The spoiler here, for covert photography, is the blinking autofocus assist light, which flashes orange while the camera focuses. This can be turned off in one of the camera's many menus. In regards to the focus, I found that the almost universal criticism was quite exaggerated. I had no issues focusing, both outdoors at night, and inside with regular room lighting.

There appear to be two secrets to satisfactory autofocus with this camera. The first is to get the newest bios (version 2.02,as of this writing) from Canon, and install it. The second is to actually read the manual and learn how the camera works. One thing you absolutely want to do is turn off the continuous AF feature, which will cause the focus to hunt around a bit. Continuous AF is great for shooting sports and fast action; but requires lots of light to work properly. You also want to set the camera for single shot, rather than rapid fire, or it will attempt to anticipate focus. With the camera so set, I had no issues with auto focus. Another setting you may want to check is to turn off the Touch Shutter feature. This is the feature that allows you to release the shutter by tapping on the touch screen. This annoying feature will cause you to constantly be taking pictures accidentally when you touch the camera, adjust your grip, or allow it to fall back to your chest. While it may seem like a great feature to a software engineer, no one who knows anything about photography would have suggested such a thing.

The camera body has a great feel to it, and is finished off in a grain texture that gives a decent grip. The body is made of magnesium (not plastic, as some have claimed), and though it has its share of curved and beveled edges, the sides and base are flat for resting or steadying during exposures. In the base of the camera is a steel threaded tripod mount.  A small sliding door on the right hand side of the camera base holds the battery and the SD card. At highest resolution and best quality, an SD card will hold about 60 photos per GB. A battery will last for 200 - 300 shots per charge, so an extra battery or two is a must. A full charge takes about two hours. For video, at highest quality, 330 mb per minute of video is required, and a battery will last for about an hour and a half.
        As much as I love the feel and size of the camera, I found myself longing for an eye level viewfinder. The large LCD touch screen that serves as viewfinder, control panel, and editing station is wonderful; but seems to be more a technological exercise than the palette of an artist. You don't so much operate the camera as you give it orders, like taking photographs by remote control. You feel somehow isolated from the process. This is another reason I think so many advanced photographers panned the camera. The best way to use this camera is to let it adjust itself, rather than attempting to manually control things.
        What we are seeing here, may be the beginning of the end for the DSLR. With digital circuitry, electronic imagers, and new higher resolution displays, there really is no need for the complexity, size, weight, and cost of creating an SLR with a digital imager. The SLR and the new DSLR versions of the design, are heavy, expensive, noisy, obtrusive, and in some ways quite delicate. Photographers have learned to live with them, and hold them in high regard because they offer the advantage of being able to focus, meter, compose, and shoot all through the same lens - a capability now offered by the EOS-M without all the bulk. Previously, the only way to do such a thing was with one of the old fashioned bellows cameras, where you would focus and compose on a ground glass screen, and then remove the screen and replace it with a film plate.
        For portability sake, the old bellows cameras were superseded by viewfinder cameras, and then by rangefinder cameras. These old rangefinder cameras were what got everybody into photography. It was a marvelous design, and a pleasure to use. They were fun, handy, classic and the perfect size. Sadly, the rangefinders suffered from some parallax error, since the viewfinder did not use the same lens through which the photo was taken, and they were also largely limited to whatever lens was put on them in the factory. Though some models could take optional lenses, it was always a challenge to figure out exactly what field of view the optional lenses might produce. In answer to these limitation, the SLR was created.

For an old line or experienced photographer, most of the complaints leveled at the EOS-M camera are downright silly. When I first got serious about photography, these would not have been complaints. Slow autofocus would not have bothered us – there was no autofocus. You focused using the focusing ring of the lens, and after a bit of practice you did this quickly and automatically. No built in flash would also not have been a complaint – no serious cameras had a built in flash. Cameras had a hot shoe flash mount so that you could mount the flash of your choice. We also would not have complained that the LCD screen did not pivot or rotate – we had no LCD screens. Finally, the 230 shot estimate per battery charge would have seemed a luxury to those of use using 36 exposure film cartridges. The LP-E12 battery of the EOS-M is shown below with its charger, next to the BP-511 of the D series EOS DSLR, and the NB-2LH of the Rebel series.

        What we did have was an eye level viewfinder, something I really miss in this camera. We also had easy to find and manage controls for aperture, shutter speed, and focus – giving us complete control of the process without having to slog through a series of menus. The only computerized control we had was our brains – computer number one. This worked far better than any modern nine point, twelve point, thirty one point, or any other number of autofocus points. Also regarding focus, we had focusing aids in the viewfinder, usually a prism or microprism.

        What this camera does have is several selective metering modes including a great 11% semi spot, reminiscent of that of the beloved F-1 and FTb cameras of days long gone by. This is a great setting for strongly back lit or high contrast situations, such as stage lighting. Even better is a 2.8% spot meter. When using spot and semi spot, a small area in the middle of the screen turns slightly grey to indicate the metering area. The metered area can be moved around through use of the touch screen.

        Exposure modes will be familiar to long time EOS users. Using the collar around the shutter button to select the A+ setting puts you in full auto mode. You point and shoot. With apologies to camera snobs, this setting actually works pretty good most of the time for most things. It helps that the LCD shows what the picture will look like, so you can hunt around to find the best focus and exposure. For those that don't like to hunt around, there is the middle setting, called the still photo setting.

        The still photo setting has Canon's  various types of auto exposure selected according to scene type. These are called the basic modes. So there is the portrait, landscape, close-up, sports, backlit, and night portrait styles. They are selected from the touch screen and then left alone to determine exposure according to a series of parameters programmed into each mode. Also available are the classic aperture priority, shutter priority, and manual modes. These are called the creative modes. With shutter and aperture priority, the photographer sets the shutter or aperture on the touch screen, and the camera does the rest. In manual mode, you tap on the shutter speed indication in the touch screen and then use the setting dial to adjust. You then tap on the shutter speed and repeat. An exposure scale shows you how your settings compare to what the camera says they should be.

        While using the touch screen and moving to the dial is a bit cumbersome, compared to the classic controls of the old manual cameras, it does allow full control of exposure. When used along with the spot or semi spot metering. This is my favorite way to use this camera. Autofocus works great during the day and in most situations indoors and at night. Yet there are still some times I prefer manual focus. This is an issue with the new EOS-M lenses, which do not have any mechanical focus control at all. Turning the focus ring on one of these lenses engages the focus motor. It is less precise than I like, and I actually find manual focus better with one of the old FD lenses, when using the FD adapter.

        The best way to manual focus is to use either an older FD lens, or use an EF lens with the focus switch set to manual. You then hit the little magnifier icon on the touch screen to get a 10x zoom of the center, and focus carefully. You then recompose, if required, set exposure, if you haven't already, and shoot. If you are also shooting stopped down, you must meter and set exposure first, and then open up to focus. Like many things with the EOS-M, it can be done very well, and give great pictures; but it doesn't always happen quickly.

The ultimate compact video camera/camcorder?

This may be the ultimate amateur video camera, for its size and price. It records in full 1080 high definition, has a metal body, is fairly compact - smaller than any decent quality camcorder of which I am aware, and takes the full Canon series of M, EF (With adapter), and FD (with adapter) lenses, as well as lenses from many other manufactures. Compare this to most of the plastic bodied camcorders, with their built in zooms. Then consider that the EOS-M can be had for around $300. I am not aware of any reasonably priced video gear that has the ability to change lenses. So imagine being able to shoot nature videos using a 300mm lens (a magnification of about 10x) at full high def. This could turn me into a videographer - to a certain extent it already has. The photo above shows it with some of the lenses I have for it, next to a pair of standard size camcorders.
        Even if you are a die hard still photographer (as I am) it is nice to have video capability, along with the full use of all of your lenses in such a small package. A pair of microphones built into the top of the camera provide stereo recording for videos, though without much separation. For better results, or more discriminating videographers, there is a connection for an external stereo microphone. There is also a connection for a monitor, and of course a connection to load files into your computer. These are all hidden under a cover snapped into the left hand side of the camera.
        In my own case, I have Canon lenses going from 18mm, all the way up to 500mm, including several zooms. I also have a number of very fast lenses, including a 50mm F 1.4, and an 85mm F 1.8, and 28mm F 1.8. This gives this camera a flexibility when recording videos, that rivals some pro equipment. I also happen to have some excellent stereo microphones which I use for some other projects. The versatility of this camera, along with the competence and the small size make this a great high quality video camera.
        At full high def, and a frame rate of 24 FPS, every minute of video will use 330 MB. Various frame rates and resolutions can be selected to give more running time. File size is limited to 4 GB, basically 12 minutes. Longer videos will be seamlessly saved as a series of 4 Gb files. Various frame rates and resolutions can be chosen and will give different record times. Frankly, I might consider this worth buying as a video camera, even without its still photo capabilities.

As is the case with taking still photos, videos may be shot in manual or automatic modes, with either manual or autofocus. This gives a lot more creative control than most of us are used to having with today's crop of little camcorders. Also, in common with its use as a still camera, the EOS-M has great low light performance. It shoots in 720 or full 1080 hidef. I have not explored this side of the camera to any extent yet; but will update this site after some experience. In particular, I am looking forward to being able to put some videos on this site.





I am presently able to use three different types of lens mounts on this camera. There is the standard EF-M mount, native to the EOS-M, the regular full sized EF native to the standard EOS DSLR cameras, and the old style FD lenses, standard on Canon cameras until the eighties. Technically, I can also use the special EF-S mount lenses as well, so it is like being able to use three and a half mounts. I am going to dedicate a considerable amount of space here to these mounts, and to the practice of using the different types of lenses on the EOD-M, because it is one of the most exciting things about this camera.

The design of this camera makes it superbly adaptable to the use of various lens mounts. With a live view from the sensor, no bulky pentaprism assembly is required to view, compose, and focus through the shooting lens. This permits the lens to be mounted very close to the image plane. Distance from the rear of the lens to the image plane is 18mm. For a standard EOS camera, this distance is 44mm. The small lens mount, and the very close distance from the mount to the image plane (called the flange distance) makes it possible to use just about any lens from any manufacturer on this camera. There area a lot of great old lenses out there, including lenses from old screw mount rangefinders, professional video cameras, CCTV units, and old SLR's, that have been gathering dust, are great optically, and are available very inexpensively. Combine this with the fact that this camera is capable of shooting full high definition video, and things start to get pretty interesting. I have so far stuck with Canon lenses; but who knows what the future may hold?

EOS-M mount lenses

In order to keep the camera small, the length from the rear lens element to the image plan was shortened. This required a new lens mount. The EOS-M lens mount is electronically the same as the standard EOS mount, yet it is housed in a smaller package scaled to the size of the smaller camera. The wide angle lenses are actually superior to the same lenses produced in the standard mount, due to the difference in distance between the mount and the image plane. A traditional SLR, with its mirror and pentaprism actually position a wide angle lens artificially further from the image plane than the actual focal length of the lens. This requires some optical lengthening of the focus point, without changing the characteristic perspective of the focal length - a very difficult trick. The EOS-M mount removes or reduces the need for this. On longer lenses the effect is not as noticeable, but on a short lens, like the new Canon 22mm F2, the lens can be very small, quite simple, and exceptionally sharp. The actual distance between the rear element and the image plane on an EF lens is 44mm. The distance on an EF-M lens is 18mm.

There are two excellent quality lenses available for the EOS-M in the United States, and a third available off shore. This particular example has the standard fixed focal length 22mm F 2.0. This tiny lens has the smallest front element I have ever seen on a standard size camera, yet at F 2.0 it is faster than the standard zoom lenses used as primes on most point and shoot cameras, and many SLR's. A photo of this lens, next to a similar EF lens (a 28mm F1.8) shows just how much of a different this can make. Also notable in the photo is the similar layout of the electrical contacts, and the slightly smaller diameter of the new M mount lens.

I also have the standard kit zoom, the 18 - 55 F 3.5 - F 5.6. This is a pretty standard lens, and appears to be optically a mate for the standard EOS-S kit lens of the same focal length and aperture.  The two differ in the size of their EOS lens mount, and in the closer image distance of the EOS-M version, which also does not need extra optical elements to set the image further out and to correct for further aberration. What this means is that the EOS-M version is sharper, and transmits more light. It is an optically superior lens.

There are also some great EOS-M lenses by Tokina, with perhaps others coming from other manufacturers - if the format takes hold. If it does not, an adapter allows the use of the entire line of Canon EF lenses, and there is another adapter which will allow the mounting of the old FD/FL series of lenses. Presumably, due to the close proximity of the lens mount to the imager, just about any lens could be physically coupled to this camera, though most would likely lose some functionality.

Even so, with only a few lenses available, and many photographers having a substantial stock of older mount lenses, It would be a good thing to be able to use other lens mounts. Canon and a number of aftermarket companies make this possible. It is particularly easy with the EOS-M, because of the camera's small size and thin profile. This opens the possibility of not only using older Canon lenses, but of using lenses from just about any manufacture, as long as the EOS-M owner understands that on non EF lenses autofocus will be lost, as well as full aperture metering.

In the meantime, the two available lenses are well built, optically excellent, and very compact. It is a good start, and I don't see this mount or camera style going away any time soon.


Canon EF Adapter

       The first and most obvious lens mount adapter would be that for Canon's current EF series of lenses. Canon wisely offered an EF lens adapter at the same time it introduced the EOS-M. This greatly increases the lens selection, though the standard EF lenses can look pretty ungainly on the little EOS-M body.
        Producing such an adapter is simple. Physically, the EOS-M is smaller than the standard EOS, so the adapter acts as an extension tube to hold the lens out at the correct distance from the image plane. It also physically couples the slightly larger standard EOS lens to the smaller EOS-M mount, and extends the electrical contacts from the camera mount to the contacts of the lens. Metering, aperture control, and auto focus all work perfectly. So a Canon EF or EF-S lens will work on the EOS-M exactly as they would work on any EOS camera, with no loss of function.
        Unfortunately, despite its simplicity, the Canon adapter retails at around $200. Though it is a first class unit, and has the quality you would expect from Canon, $200 is a bit surprising. Due to the slow market for these cameras, normal street price on the adapter has fallen to about half of retail, and I managed to get mine for around $50, including shipping. I could have probably shaved another ten dollars off of that if I had shopped carefully. Right now, if you have an EOS-M camera, you have to get one of these, they will open up the entire universe of Canon EF lenses. This is particularly vital if you already own an EOS, and have a collection of EF lenses. This is a no brainer.
        Additionally, when Canon introduces its promised follow up EOS-M model (sometime in 2015), street price on these adapters may very well go back up to the full $200 level - or more. Aftermarket companies make something similar for around $30. I have not used the aftermarket versions; but I have little doubt they work. The Canon adapter works flawlessly, though it does tend to make the camera a bit front heavy, even with a normal lens. Right now this ability to use the full line of Canon lenses with their full feature set enabled is a huge selling point. It makes this a natural back up, or kit camera for anyone already invested in the EOS system.
        Physically, the standard EOS lens mount holds the lens at a distance of 44mm from the image plane. The newer S mount EOS lenses, designed for the APS-C imagers, allow the rear of the lens of protrude slightly into the camera body, putting them slightly closer to the image plane. The EF-M mount places the rear of the lens 18mm from the image plane. As the EOS-M uses an APS-C imager, it can use the standard and S mount EOS lenses with this adapter. All lenses retain full function, with no vignetting or other issues.
        The Canon adapter is nicely built, heavy in construction, and allows for full use of all lens function in either EF or EF-S style lenses. The mounts are of metal construction, though the exterior body and parts of the interior appear to have plastic construction. The inside is baffled for light protection, and the outside mount has index marks for both styles of lenses, having a red mark for EF indexing, and a white mark for the indexing of EF-S lenses. The mount locks to the camera body using the body's own lock mechanism, and is released by depressing the lens release on the camera body. EF and EF-S lenses lock to the adapter, which has its own lever release mechanism, similar to that found on a standard EOS DSLR body. The adapter also has a built in tripod mount, to prevent hanging a long lens on the camera body. The tripod mount is removable via a large knurled knob.
        The unit came with body caps and instructions, though use is intuitive enough. Performance was flawless. I was easily able to focus to infinity, the ultimate test of an adapter. There was no jiggle or play on either end of the mount, and everything locked together with a reassuring series of clicks. As would be expected, a telephoto dwarfs this little camera. Shown in the photo below is the Canon 70-210, which gives this camera approximately the same magnification as a good set of binoculars. Another good choice is a standard EF 50mm lens, with an F 1.8 aperture. This is a relatively fast lens by today's standards, and is not particularly expensive. The 50mm focal length gives a short telephoto effect with this camera.
        Your best bet is still to use the EF-M lenses designed for these cameras, as these are truly excellent lenses; but with only a pair of lenses available (so far) in the U.S., the current choice is limited. I suspect that the EF-M mount will eventually supersede the current EF mount, as mirrorless cameras are refined and begin to dominate the market.
        For the photographer with a large kit of EF lenses, the adapter can be left on the camera indefinitely. It is strongly constructed and at least as sturdy as the camera itself. Though the size and weight of the camera increases somewhat, it remains small and light when compared to a standard EOS DSLR.

        With the Adapter in place, the EOS-M suddenly sheds its mild mannered persona, like Clark Kent becoming Superman, and turns into SUPERCAMERA, able to take tall lenses in a single bound. This is the equal of any full sized EOS DSLR as far as image quality is concerned. It is also equal optically when using the adapter. The one disadvantage is the rather low battery life of the EOS-M.

        Other than the obvious, what this adapter offers is the advantage of being able to have this very small and easily pocketed camera available for use as a back up or auxiliary to supplement a photographer with an extensive EOS DSLR kit. It takes little room in a camera bag or pouch, and can be used with its own small EF-M lenses as a more personal and intimate camera for candids or test shots.
        These units were initially made to be bundled with the cameras in kit form. This was back when the list price of an EOS-M was around $800. So for just under a thousand, you could get a small camera with a zoom lens, a pancake lens, and an adapter for the full range of Canon EF lenses. This was to help initial acceptance of these cameras while new lenses were developed or the market became lucrative enough to encourage aftermarket production. While there are a couple of nibbles and an announcement by Tokina, Canon has only introduced one other lens, and it is not available in the U.S.
        I have a few standard EF lenses, and a pair of EF-S lenses as part of my EOS DSLR kit. All of these lenses work on this camera using the adapter, except for an aftermarket Sigma lens that would also not work properly on my Rebel, so this is no fault of the mount.

        As of this writing, the EOS-M and these adapters are discontinued; but both are still readily available. Even so, Canon has not given up on this line, and is selling the new EOS-M2 in Asia, where it is selling quite well.  Rumors are rife about new models being in the works. Canon had high hopes for this system, and produced quite a number of cameras and accessories for export into the United States and Europe, where the market for them never developed. So a number still sit in warehouses, waiting to be sold, in most cases at less than half of their original asking prices. 
        As desirable as the ability to use the full range of EF lenses is, the ability to use the old FD series of lenses is equally useful.


Canon FD Adapter

       Officially, there is no FD adapter from Canon; but several aftermarket camera makers produce them. I have one produced by Fotasy. It cost me far less than $20 shipped, which compares very favorably to what Canon is asking for its EOS adapter. The Fotasy is of reasonable quality, all metal in construction, and has worked perfectly. Really, there is nothing much that can go wrong with them, as they are quite simple. There are no optical components, and no mechanical linkages of any complexity. The single control, other than the lens mount itself, is a ring to stop the lens down. As long as the dimensions are precise enough to hold the rear of the lens reasonably close to 42mm, it is foolproof.
        The inside of the mount is grooved to prevent stray reflections. The standard canon FD and EF-M mounts are on either side of the barrel which acts as a spacer.
        When the original EOS film cameras were introduced back in the eighties, Canon came out with an FD lens adapter. It did not do well in the marketplace, due to some incompatibilities of the two systems, and was withdrawn from the market. Aftermarket companies still produce such adapters, but their performance leaves much to be desired.
        The main reason for the problem with using FD lenses on the original EOS cameras was two fold. The first issue was that the EOS is an electronically controlled lens system. The old FD series lenses were mechanically controlled. So putting an FD lens on an EOS camera meant that you lost autofocus. This was a huge problem because the EOS series of cameras have no focusing aids in the viewfinder. Though it is possible to get focus aids on some optional or aftermarket screens for certain of the EOS models, it is an expensive option. You also lost auto aperture, when using the FD lenses on the EOS mount, and had to meter with the lens stopped down, which made precise focus even more difficult, in addition to producing a dimmer viewfinder.
        The second big problem with using an FD lens on an EOS camera is that the FD mount cameras were slightly thinner, and had the lens mount closer to the image plane. The rear element of an old FD lens was 42mm from the image plane, while that of the newer EF lenses was 44mm. This makes it impossible for a physical adapter to permit focusing an FD lens at infinity or even at any relatively far distance on an EOS camera. The only solution was to put an optical component in the lens. Even the best optical component will introduce distortion, and reduced light transmission. Despite the high quality of the old FD lenses, the adapter was too expensive, and too problematic to make it worthwhile. Yet there are some mitigating factors when using these lenses with the EOS-M mount.
        The news for EOS-M owners is almost all good. The EOS-M mount, officially branded as the EF-M, puts the lens closer to the image pane, so that no optical correction is required, and thus no introduction of aberration or distortion. There is also no light loss, since there is no extra glass (or plastic) in the light path. The lens will need to be stopped down to meter, which was a common practice years ago, before auto diaphragm lenses were developed. The traditional process was, compose, focus, stop down and meter, then shoot. It takes longer to say than to do. One disadvantage to the process was that the viewfinder would go dim when stopping down, but with the electronic LCD self adjusting this does not happen on the EOS-M.
        Setting the exposure can be done manually, through these lenses, or simply by stopping down and letting the camera system set the shutter speed. In this way, the EOS-M with an FD lens is operationally similar to an aperture priority camera. With the camera being rather slow at auto focusing, manual focus with an FD lens may be faster and could be more accurate. This is particularly true with the high resolution 1MP LCD. Though manual focus is an option with the standard lenses on the EOS-M, the process is painful, and involves a focus ring which activates a focus servo motor. So the focus is indirect. With the FD lenses the mechanical system is much faster and more natural, with less of a tendency to overshoot the focus. In some ways, operation with the FD lenses is better than with the EF or the EOS-M mount lenses.
        With the FD adapter, the EOS-M becomes a whole new camera. With a standard EF-M lens, the camera is remarkably small, light, and handy - ideal for casual shooting and street photographer use.  Even so, with availability of an EF/EF-M adapter from Canon, why bother with an adapter for the old style FD lenses? Basically there are two reasons, the first is that you may already have some old FD style lenses laying around, and they have always been optically great lenses. The second reason is that the old FD lenses are available at bargain prices.

        Mounting the adapter is similar to the process of mounting the EF/EF-M unit, though operation is slightly different. With the FD adapter, the camera has no control over the lens, so you must focus and set the aperture manually. You control aperture by setting the aperture ring on the lens, and then turning a stop down ring on the mount. The camera will automatically set the shutter speed to the correct exposure. When you first stop down, the viewfinder dims briefly, but quickly returns to full brightness.

        The photo to the right shows the stop down ring, with the markings Lock - Open.  Turning the ring to the left, stops down. The aperture scale can be seen above the stop down ring, and indicates an aperture of F 1.8 - full open. The system, is easy, and faster than it sounds. It is far easier and faster than trying to trick your camera's auto-exposure system.

        Manual focus has become a lost art; but it is not difficult to learn. It is best to focus with the lens at full aperture, where focusing errors are much more apparent. Once focus has been set, turn the stop down ring, and shoot. This is a process familiar to old time photographers who had to use this method well into the sixties or early seventies.

        What is difficult is that there are no focusing aids in the viewfinder. the best solution to this is to zoom in the digital magnifier while focusing. The neatest solution I have seen comes from Magic Lantern, a free bios upgrade. The Magic Lantern firmware allows the center of the viewfinder to zoom in at about 10x, for focusing, while the rest of the frame is at normal size for composition.

        While manual focus is a requirement for the use of the old FD lenses, manual exposure is not.  Using the camera's auto exposure system, you can either stop the lens down and shoot, or leave it wide open, always shooting at full aperture. You can also set the camera to manual, and stop down manually, while also manually setting the shutter speed. The camera will show you, on a sliding scale, how far off your exposure is from what the camera thinks it should be. This is great for strongly back lit or front lit scenes, or subjects that are especially bright or dark. This is made even better by the ability of the camera Live View system to show you the scene as the camera sees it.

        The Fotasy mounts securely, has a  sturdy feel, and no play at all on either of its lens mounts. I was easily able to focus at infinity, and was not able to focus past infinity, indicating that the dimensions were just where they should be. All surfaces were parallel, so that I noticed no focus shift from top to bottom. The relatively low price of the unit made me look extra carefully for flaws; but I found none.

        With the whole range of FD lenses now available, it might be tempting to pick up some bargains, and get a nice collection of manual lenses. Yet some care should be taken in making selections. Not all of the old FD lenses are such bargains, and in some cases, you might be better off and even cheaper off buying something newer.

        Here's why. 

        Canon FD lenses were made for full frame 35mm film cameras. There were no digital consumer cameras when these lenses were being made. As such, they project a full frame image onto the image plane, and were designed for a 42mm flange distance, in a film format where 50mm was a normal lens.

        When photographers talk about a normal lens, they mean a lens whose focal length is the same as the diagonal measurement of the film (or imager) frame.  This is important because focal length affects proportion. A long lens (telephoto) will tend to flatten perspective and make everything look closer together. A short lens (wide angle) will tend to distort and emphasize features and distances. A normal lens will have the same perspective as the human eye.

        Additionally, wide angle lenses, those with a shorter focal length and a wider field of view, are rather difficult to make, and require some optical tricks in order to have an image that will cover the full image field. This is because the smaller focal length wants to make an image about the same size as its focal length. So a 50mm lens will want to make a 50mm image circle.  This is a problem with a wide angle lens, because to make a short focal length cover a wider field, the image must be stretched. This tends to make the image dim, distorted, and fuzzy. Such lenses must be carefully designed, and are very complex.

        The EOS-M, and most of the EOS cameras have an APS-C sized sensor, which does not require as large a projected image as a standard 35mm. This sensor  has a 1.6 focal length factor, because the image diagonal, and normal lens focal length, are around 30mm. So a 50mm normal lens for a standard camera, would be like an 80mm lens when it is used on an APS-C. This is great for telephoto lenses, and increases their magnification. It is not so good on wide angles though. Where a 35mm lens on a standard camera will need to be stretched somewhat to fill the frame, the same is not true on an APS-C camera.

        So a 35mm lens for an APS-C camera can be made smaller, lighter, and cheaper than the same lens designed to cover a full frame 35mm image. The standard 22mm F 2, EF-M lens of the EOS-M is a great example. It is tiny, has a small primary element, and is relatively cheap at around $100 (Though I have seen them for as little as $80). It is also, at F 2, fairly fast. The same thing, in full frame, will cost several times as much and be several times larger and heavier. Similarly, a standard 18-55 EF-S series lens goes for around $100, and is reasonably light and small. The same thing in full frame is $600 at least, and will be large and heavy.

        For the reasons given above, I do not search for or use FD lenses shorter than 50mm. There's just no point when smaller, lighter lenses can be had for less money at these focal lengths, in modern mounts. What you are losing, with the newer lenses, is a larger image field that your camera can not see or make use of. What you are gaining in return, is the capacity to use the full features of auto exposure, auto focus, and diaphragm control. As far as costs, I go into a bit more detail in the section below.

A Bargain?
        At its introduction, the EOS-M was somewhat overpriced, at $800, and this along with its amazingly slow autofocus system were the major reasons it was so seriously panned. Yet a couple of things have changed, making the camera quite a bit more desirable. The first is that the price has been more than cut in half. Street price on the EOS-M is around $300 as of this writing. I got m mine for around $245. Canon has also released a firmware upgrade that improves the autofocus, though this is still a weak point. Really, the camera has a lot going for it. The all metal body is durable, light, and feels solid. It can function as an interchangeable lens full HD video camera. It can use the full capacity of the entire series of Canon EF lenses, and FD lenses as well, though at reduced functionality. It is also capable of great picture quality, and is quite compact.
        When compared to the Nikon mirrorless, which now sells for about the same price, the EOS-M really shines. Both cameras are of similar size, and function similarly, yet the larger and higher resolution imager of the EOS-M takes better photos. The Nikon does have the edge in autofocus performance, yet the EOS-M is good enough under most circumstances. The final factor, for me, was that the EOS-M will use all of my current EF lenses with no loss of functionality. If I did not have a collection of Canon lenses, the decision might have been more difficult; but I very well may have gone with the EOS-M anyway, due to its better imager.
        I have listed the recent cost of some of these items, for the budget conscious photographer. The system is particularly cost efficient if you use some manual aperture FD lenses. To the left is a photo of the EOS-M with an FD adapter and an 85mm F 1.8 lens. An 85mm lens gives a magnification of about 3x on this camera, about the same as a 135mm on a standard format. F 1.8 is very fast - faster than anything on the EF-M mount, and faster than most of today's prime lenses. You are better off with telephotos or normal lenses when purchasing FD equipment, since the newer EF-S and EOS-M wide angle/normal lenses are not for full frame and can be made a bit smaller and cheaper than a lens designed to cover the whole 35mm frame size. So I would stick with FD lenses of 50mm and above. Prices are subject to change, and sometimes people get bargains - still, this is what I spotted on ebay (buy it now prices) in December 2014.

Cost of System (Late 2014) Some recent lens prices on FD lenses
Camera (W 22mm F 2)        $245
18 - 55mm F 3.5                  $90
EF adapter                           $50
FD adapter                           $15
50mm F 1.8                            $19
85mm F 1.8                            $89
70 - 210 F 4                           $40
400mm F2.8                           $160

The Future?
        There is no reason this should not be a very popular line of cameras, and perhaps that is part of the reason Canon hamstrung the model and is not pushing it as hard as it could. With a good, eyelevel electronic viewfinder, and an improved autofocus system - both well within the reach of Canon, this camera could have been a breakthrough model. So it is not as bad as many think, but not as good as it should be. It is hard not to think that Canon is not protecting its higher end and higher priced EOS DSLR's from internal competition; but this is a risky gamble to take.
        Presently, for someone already invested in Canon lenses, the EOS-M is good enough. Yet Canon needs to get seriously on the ball. Nikon, Olympus, Fuji, and even Sony and Samsung all have good mirrorless cameras, in a variety of formats, including full frame 35. Canon was the breakthrough company when it came to professional digital camera systems for the mass market; but they have been resting on their laurels. If I did not already have a collection of Canon bodies, and an investment in Canon lenses, I would have gone with the Nikon, Fuji, or Olympus systems. I like this camera, and really enjoy its compact dimensions and handling qualities; but it would be true love if it had an eye level viewfinder, and better focusing system, with some better manual controls and less reliance upon the LCD.
        I believe, along with many other serious photographers, that the mirrorless camera is the wave of the future, and will eventually replace the DSLR, as the model of choice for professional and serious amateur photographers. This camera is fun, easy to use, compact, and unobtrusive enough to almost be considered a stealth camera. The street photography role of a semi-stealth camera can not be overstated. I love to shoot street scenes and candids; but people are getting rather paranoid these days. I have had the police called, on three separate occasions, for simply shooting busy street scenes, or scenes in public buildings or shopping malls. My large and bulky DSLR's may have seemed somewhat threatening to people. The little EOS-M is a very unobtrusive little gem of a camera.
        Canon has been hinting around (This is being written in late 2014), that it will be making vast improvements on its EOS-M series cameras in the coming year. This is great news, if true. I would hate to have my camera become an orphan, like the old Pentax 110 series SLR's. I would also hate to see Canon fall from a leadership position into obscurity.

EOS-M Links
EOS-M World Canon official Magic Lantern Imaging Resource
Luminous Landscape Photigy DVCreators DSLRfilmno