Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Review: My Eos M at Work - Part four

Well I have had my Eos M for more than a month now doing lots of tests and things....but at some stage one should stop testing and see how it works!

Read part four of my review:


Testing a camera on a paid job is different to testing it at leisure...on a commercial assignment there is a bit more pressure and also time constraints...so I thought I would see how the Eos M performs under these conditions.

My other Eos M reviews can be found here:

Part One - http://thelazytravelphotographer.blogspot.com/2013/04/my-canon-eos-m-reviewpart-one.html

Part Two - http://thelazytravelphotographer.blogspot.com/2013/05/eos-m-reviewpart-two.html

Part Three - http://thelazytravelphotographer.blogspot.com/2013/05/eos-m-reviewhigh-iso-noise-tests.html


Last week I was contacted by an architecture and interior design firm to shoot new group photos of the team for their website. They wanted a 'Vanity Fair' look and when I got there they had already moved some furniture and cleared a space for me. 

I used the 40mm f2.8 pancake lens on my 5D2 and the 22mm f2 lens on the Eos M. These two lenses have almost the same viewpoint which made changing from one camera to the next easy. For groups and most of my professional photography I use a tripod because it gives me a lot of freedom to walk around and move stuff and lights and things without having to recompose every time. So it was a simple matter of just unclipping one camera and swapping it with another.

For this group I used only one flashlight a 580EX2 triggered by  'hahnel' slave and master units. In front of the flash was my large 1.4m diameter white translucent umbrella. I softened the flash by mounting a 'Gary Fong' copy  on the flashlight.

My exposure was 1/200th of a second at f8 at 800 iso. I needed 800 iso because the flash is relatively weak and I wanted to use an aperture of f8 to ensure everyone was in focus. The LCd screen of the Eos M is very bright and it is just so easy to move the AF point around merely by touching the screen on the spot where I wanted focus. In fact it's a lot easier than moving the AF point in live view on the 5D2...

With the new firmware update the AF is much faster and didnt hold me up at all. In the old days we used Polaroids to check exposure and composition but with the new high res camera screens its much easier and quicker than even tethered shooting to a PC/Mac. The Eos M is so small and light that it is really easy to unclip the camera from the tripod and walk over to the group and show everyone what they look like...

After the groups I made a few individual portraits swapping the 22mm f2 lens with the 40mm pancake. Lighting was the same, one flash and umbrella combination triggered by the 'hahnel' master and slave combo.

In the days of film I tried to photograph everything with my wooden 4x5 field camera. It was large, heavy and cumbersome but it was really easy to focus on the large groundglass, even though the image was upside down. Working with the Eos M reminded me a lot of those days, except it is a lot easier and faster

Ef 40mmm f2.8 lens and adapter, 1/200sec and F5.6 at f8.

All the controls are visible on the screen, but only when one needs them. All one has to do is turn the rear control dial and the shutter speed, aperture and iso becomes instantly visible and just touching any of these settings enables one to change them. A touch of the shutter button and the screen is cleared and the new settings are stored ready for the next exposure. What can be simpler than this? 

All the images were perfectly in focus and I did not even enlarge the image on the LCD to check focus. I trust the AF to be spot on everytime. I also know of course  that at f8 ,small little variations in AF will easily be covered.

I made approximately 24 x 16 inch prints with an image size 20 x13 inch,  on HP satin inkjet paper and even at 800iso there was plenty of fine detail and definition in the groups faces with visible but tight 'grain'. My clients reaction when he saw the images was 'friccin love it'!

Group photographs have added pressure and there is not a lot of time to faf around with exposures and lighting settings....my Eos M passed the test with flying colours.


I have used my Eos M on a couple of kitchens and bathrooms shoots and although the Eos 5D2 is preferable just because of its ability to record extra fine detail and lower noise because of its full frame sensor, I also use the Eos M because it gives me a few extra focal lengths. Thus my 24mm Tilt & shift becomes a 38mm TS lens on the Eos M. One would think that only wide angle lenses are used in interiors but a standard or short telephoto gives a totally different 'look' and the shift capability is very nice to have.

The Eos M does two jobs, one as a backup camera and another as a focal length multiplier. The price of the Eos M is less than half of the price of a Canon 45mm TS lens, and I actually prefer the slightly wider view of the 38mm 'converted' lens to the almost standard 45mm view. With a 24mm and 38mm lens I can cover most interiors and if I need even wider, I also have the 17-40mm....

Eos M and TS-E 24 mm f3.5 mk2  lens.

Eos M and TS-E 24 mm f3.5 mk2 lens.

Both the images above were made with the manual focus Canon Ef 24mm TS. For interiors I use iso100 for the best quality and usually set the aperture between f11 and f22 to get maximum depth of field. The images are very high quality and the only way to see the difference between the Eos M and the Eos 5d2 is to look in the shadows where some noise is visible. I have printed these images very large, up to size 24 x 20inches and they look very good. 

The 24mm TS is very easy to use and focus on the Eos M. I prefer to use aperture priority and dial in +1/2 exposure compensation. Precise MF is a simle operation and quick via the LCD screen of the Eos M. I move the focus spot with my finger to the area I want to focus on and then magnify it 10x. To achieve accurate manual focus is just so easy, similar to the live view focus on my 5D2, except that it is much quicker to move the focus spot where I want it.

For interiors the Eos M works very well and only using the Lcd to focus and compose with is much easier than one would think. My eyes don't get as sore as with normal viewfinder focusing...probably because my glasses are not constantly pressed against the rubber eye cup and because the enlarged view is so much more clear to focus on. I also use this method with my 5D2 but with the Eos M the screen is  more intuitive and as a result easier to use. My only gripe is that because the controls of the two camera are so different I can press the wrong buttons sometimes...Its time Canon standardizes these wonderful touch screens across the whole range!


The  photograph below is part of some publicity photographs for my daughters school play. They performed for four nights at the Grahamstown festival and it was written and directed by one of the pupils. The students had made a small set with the stage curtains as a backdrop. When I got there the existing stage lighting was a bit inadequate so I had to use a 1000w tungsten halogen light softened somewhat with a white translucent umbrella. I used my 24-105L zoom with the iso set at 1600 to stop subject movement.

Eos M and 24-105L lens and 1600iso.

The five images below were made during a jazz concert of Barbora Tellinger at the Musaion of the Unvercity of Pretoria. I sat in an isle seat with my 70-300L and used a tripod. We were asked not to move around during the performance because they were making a video. All these images were made at 3200iso and some are heavily cropped. Even though the camera was mounted on a tripod and I could only use live view to compose and focus with, I managed to capture all these images quite effortlessly, and this was before the firmware update that improved the AF. Sometimes the AF would hunt frustratingly for quite a long time but with patience and placing the AF square over something more ' contrasty,' AF was achieved a bit more quickly. I haven't tested the new 'improved' AF under similar conditions yet, but judging by some initial tests ,focusing on flat and low contrast subject matter as well as low light scenes the AF has been improved dramatically.

Eos M, EF 70-300 f4-5.6L at 3200iso

Eos M, EF 70-300 f4-5.6L at 3200iso
Eos M, EF 70-300 f4-5.6L at 3200iso

Eos M, EF 70-300 f4-5.6L at 3200iso

Eos M, EF 70-300 f4-5.6L at 3200iso

Eos M and EF 70-300 F4-5.6 L
                                                                           EF M 22mm F2 lens, 1/200sec at f8 and 800iso.


GAS means 'gear aquisition syndrome'. Most 'boys' love toys and are forever 'lusting' after the latest new electronic gadget or technological marvel. My son often comes and tells me how great the latest smartphone is and how he has 'just got to have it'. I suppose we are just 'wired' like that. I try hard to fight it mainly because I just don't have money to buy all the stuff I would like to have but also because some equipment 'grows' on me and even if there are newer and better versions available I am reluctant to part with my 'trusty old tools'. And that's both of the reasons I still use my 'old 5D2', and also why I keep hanging onto my cars. One car lasted for 14 years and almost 400 000 km's...and my Mamiya ZD digital medium format camera is a vintage 2006 model....

I place cameras in two categories, 'tools for work' and 'tools for my personal photography'. I am very pleased when that happens to be one and the same, and I think that the Eos M just might be the one of those lucky combinations. As much as I like the Canon Eos 5D2 it is large and bulky. The Eos M on the other hand is small and compact and to a large extend satisfies my occasional GAS. It has lots of little 'gadgets' like 'touchscreen', 'touch shutter'a 'lens adapter' so that I can use all my Canon EF lenses on it and the little EF M 22mm f2 lens is just so 'cute' not to mention sharp. But of course al these little 'nice to have ' features are meaningless unless the camera can produce high quality images with the minimum of effort.

For me the Eos M does that and in spades! Not only is it a good 'workhorse' camera I also like it as a tool to capture my 'personal' vision. Up until now the Leica X1 has been my 'personal' camera. For more than two years I used it almost exclusively for my personal work. I photographed the people and landscapes all over South Africa with it and I have been mostly  pleased with the results. It was great for close to medium scenes but I always felt that the sensor was just a little too 'small' to capture distant landscapes and large groups. The Eos M with 18mp as opposed to the 12mp of the Leica X1, definitely gives me that extra bit of detail that I felt was lacking with the Leica X1. The fact that it also integrates seamlessly with the rest of my Canon systems is a huge bonus, not to mention that it costs less than a quarter of the price of the Leica X1. With the new firmware update the AF is also much improved to the point where most of the time it is not something that I am aware of anymore. It is even smaller than the Leica X1, feels more solid and is a lot more responsive overall with a superb LCD screen. Sure it lacks a 'proper' viewfinder but I have solved that problem by simply attaching the Leica OVF. It has now replaced the Leica as my personal camera.

So far this little baby Eos has exceeded all my expectations and I really enjoy using it!

Regards, Ivan

BTW, I have a new photography website that can be viewed here at..http://ivanmuller.zenfolio.com/


Nate Wellem said...

Hi Ivan, Great review series. I picked up the EOS-M last week and agree with your conclusion. The only area I've had difficulty is using it in the studio with strobes. There doesn't seem to be a way to make the screen bright enough when shooting at say, iso 100 f/8. It does brighten when focusing, but that makes it tough to compose the shot. Any suggestions?

Ivan Muller said...

Thanks Nate. That is an inherent problem with liveview when flash is used and there is very little ambient light to brighten up the scene...I have not actually used mine in a studio setup but if I did I would turn up the ambient lights to enable the camera to focus better and also so that there is enough light to focus with. You could argue that when the ambient light is too bright it will overpower the strobes modelling lights but in practise I have found that it quick to see the effects after a test shot on the lcd and also with practise one knows what its going to look like without actually 'seeing' it. One can turn up the LCD brightness but I can't see it working when its very dark and then one has to remember to turn it down again...My studio lights have 250watt modelling lamps and, although I havent tested it, should be bright enough to compose on the LCD...

Nate Wellem said...

I'll try to add some more lights to try to brighten things up. Thanks for the tip.

Anonymous said...

Very good review ! I just received mine and so far I really like this camera, I just returned a Panny and with the price drop on the M and being able to use my L glass it only seemed right. Thanks for the insight !!

Still Life Oil Painting said...

The cameras is a tool for my personal photography..and i will have a EOS-M for brithday gift..

Ivan Muller said...

Anon, Thanks!. Yes its very versatile and works well with the Ef lenses.