Canon eos-m (1 of 6)

I think the Canon EOS-M might be my new recommendation for filmmakers on a tight budget. I used to recommend the Canon t2i, but the price of the EOS-M makes it very attractive. You get a much smaller form factor, more lens options thanks to the flange distance, and you no longer have to deal with a 12 minute recording limit which makes it great for events and interviews. Basically it’s a camera with improved features over the t2i that sells for around $100 less.

If you want to use this for photography the EOS-M will be a big disappointment when shooting subjects that move at anything faster than a walk. The auto focus speeds are horribly slow on this camera and you’d be better served with the Canon t2i. However for video, this camera has pretty much everything you’ll need to get you started.

Canon eos-m (2 of 6)

I picked up the EOS-M with the kit 18-55mm lens for just over $300. The kit lens isn’t anything amazing and f3.5-5.6 is about what you’d get out of a consumer handy cam. There aren’t really any controls on the lens and it requires some menu browsing in order to enable/disable IS. In the limited testing i’ve done so far, the IS does seem to make a difference and if you set the aperture to f5.6 you won’t have to deal with any image darkening as you zoom in and out. For the price of the lens, it’s worth having around, but you could always sell it for $140 and get something more useful if it doesn’t fit your needs

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When you set the Canon t2i and EOS-M side by side, it’s a little easier to see how small the EOS-M actually is. The back of the camera is almost all screen and that screen looks nice. The t2i’s slightly smaller display isn’t bad, but the upgraded screen on the EOS-M does make a difference.

I always disliked the idea of using a touch screen, but after playing around with the EOS-M I’ve warmed up to the idea. Touch screen operation is fast and snappy and most commonly used functions like ISO, F-stop, and shutter speed can be assigned to buttons if needed which allows you to avoid the touch screen all together. Navigation is a lot better than I originally expected and menus are easy to use with the scroll wheel or touch screen.

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One thing that made the t2i so popular was Magic Lantern. There is an alpha of Magic Lantern available for the Canon EOS-M and you can find the latest builds here. Just remember you’ll need to download a copy of Magic lantern 2.3 as well as the latest alpha build and put everything in the same folder on your memory card in order to get ML working on the EOS-M. You’ll also need to prep your memory card in the same manner as any other Magic Lantern install.

Once you have ML installed you can access the menu by touching the screen with 2 fingers. This brings up the basic ML menu system which has been touch enabled for the EOS-M. You’ll also notice “Headphone Mon.” displayed on my screen. I haven’t had a chance to test this yet, but it appears headphone monitoring might actually be working on the EOS-M. I’ll let you know what I find out once I find my adapter cable.

On screen audio level meters seem to work fine when recording but don’t seem to register when recording has stopped, focus peaking works well, as does most of the advanced photography controls like the built in intervalometer. The touch screen implementation ML isn’t as polished as Canon’s menu system but everything is still very usable.

Canon eos-m (5 of 6)

You can pick up a generic EF to EF-M adapter on Amazon for around $60.  This allows you to get the same functionality out of any EF lens as you would out of any other crop sensor body. Above I’ve attached the Sigma 30mm f1.4 with the EF to EF-M adapter. The Sigma 30mm f1.4 is a fairly small lens on a normal body, but it looks like a giant when attached to the EOS-M. The camera body is much smaller than I expected and takes up very little space. This could make it ideal as a backup or second camera for filmmakers.

I have an FD to EF-M adapter on it’s way and I’ll be posting some low price lens recommendations once I’ve had a chance to test a few FD lenses out. There are a lot of very affordable FD lenses on the market that could be great when combined with the EOS-M body.

So far I’ve been using the Canon 85mm f1.8 and Sigma 30mm f1.4 and both have performed nicely with the EOS-M adapter. Focus speeds in live view mode are actually slightly faster on the EOS-M than live view mode on the t2i. Often it’s easier to focus a shot using a half press of the shutter before you press recorder, if you use this method for quick focus checks the EOS-M actually does a decent job. I’ll post some more info once I’ve had a chance to spend some more time with the EOS-M.

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