Thinking Outside the Maker's Box

I've been writing about the large sensor compact cameras lately. Currently in testing I've got several, and I've already reviewed the Nikon Coolpix A

It's tempting to think of cameras in established categories, such as smartphones, small sensor compacts, large sensor compacts, mirrorless, and DSLR. Photographically speaking, there's a lot of overlap in some of these categories, and thus you have to be careful about thinking "inside the box." 

Case in point: let's say that you like the idea of the Coolpix A or Ricoh GR (large sensor compacts), but think that 28mm equivalent is too wide a lens for that kind of one-lens camera. Guess what, I've got a solution for you, and it's outside the large sensor compact box: the Canon EOS M with the 22mm pancake (36mm equivalent). 

Right now B&H (and others) are running a special on the Canon EOS M (advertiser link). You can pick up a Canon EOS M with the pancake for US$300. Wait, that's US$500 cheaper than the Ricoh and a whopping US$800 cheaper than the Coolpix A. Huh? What's the downside here?

Surprisingly little. The EOS M is a bit larger than the Coolpix A and is less pocketable as even the pancake sticks out enough to rule out shirt pockets, but it's still a pretty small camera with that lens. Small enough to be considered "compact." With the recent firmware update, I wouldn't say the EOS M's focusing is really worse than the Coolpix A or GR. The EOS M is a relatively hardy body build, too. If you want my full opinion, see my review of the EOS M on sansmirror (written before the firmware update and mostly comparing it to other mirrorless cameras, so keep that in mind while reading).

Now, let's see, what do we get for our US$300? A darned good large sensor compact. One that can actually change lenses in the future should you wish. Indeed, the money you saved over a Coolpix A or GR would allow you to buy an additional lens, or an optical viewfinder for the hot shoe, or even a couple of years of Photoshop CC ;~). Ouch. 

In my EOS M review I was critical of Canon's thinking. The G1x, G15, EOS M, and Rebel T3i are considerably different and were originally offered in basically the same price range. Now we have the EOS M being liquidated at a price range that's more accustomed to lower-end, small sensor compacts. 

As with Nikon's liquidation of the early Nikon 1 models, Canon's current pricing on the EOS M is a photographic bargain. Where else are you going to find an 18mp camera with a 36mm (equivalent) lens that takes anywhere near as good of images as the EOS M for US$300? No, it doesn't focus as fast as a DSLR. No it doesn't have an EVF. But neither do the much more expensive Coopix A and Ricoh GR. I think it's highly tempting to pick up this camera and just think of it as your large sensor compact. Too bad there aren't some other Canon pancake lenses that would be appropriate on it.   

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