Damn those smartphones and their pesky cameras! What with almost everyone nowadays having a decent snapper to hand, Canon is working harder than ever to give you a reason to upgrade to a ‘real’ camera.
While its name might sound like it belongs above an exit ramp somewhere off the N1 to Cape Town, the EOS M100 is a genuinely exciting prospect. An entry level camera that cuts out a lot of the faff, with a pared back design and lots of on-screen swiping opportunities.
We were treated to a hands-on with this mirrorless affair before its official launch in October. Read on to find out whether it’s worth the upgrade from your iPhone.
DESIGN: VERY PETITE
The M100 is one of Canon’s smallest system cameras. It’s almost identical in size to the M10 from two years ago, but with way more power. It feels solid, light and not too plastic-y with a body that’s clad in textured rubbers. Stick a sizeable lens on, and you do get something that looks like Popeye’s arm, post spinach fix.
Its ideal appendage is a neat pancake lens, but the EF-M 15-45mm kit lens will do just fine too. Especially for street photography. We don’t all have the gutsy approach of Bruce Gilden, so having a camera that can slide into your jacket pocket is a real boon.
Up at the top there’s the main dial, allowing you to switch between auto, manual, and video. At the back things are kept very simple again with a playback button, and a four-way controller to navigate menus and switch between images. This can all be done on screen too. There’s a switch on the side to release the flash. Quite an abrupt manoeuvre, it startled us in all honesty.
The one obvious downside? There’s no viewfinder whatsoever, and no hot shoe option to add one on. The M100 is very much a point-and-shoot sort. Its sturdy 3in screen can flip a whole 180 degrees, making it ideal for shooting HD video on a tripod, whilst just tilting the screen so you can see the action. And go a full flip for taking timed group shots, and of course… selfies.
You can even make yourself look airbrushed with the camera’s Smooth Skin mode, which happily takes note from Huawei’s P10. Oh, the profound vanity!
USABILITY: JUST LIKE YOUR SMARTPHONE. STAY IN TOUCH
Wondering what the F..stop you’re supposed to do in low light? With Canon’s UI creative assistant, you’ll never be left in the dark. The M100 will do most of the hard work for you, allowing you to breeze along without dial-fiddling induced frustration.
You can also alter things like brightness levels and add filters by touch. The array of creative filters: Grainy B/W, Soft Focus, Fish-eye, Art bold, Water painting, Toy camera, paired with the ability to zoom in and out on playback mode by pinching the screen all markedly point to smartphone-first gen needs.
With built-in WiFfi and Bluetooth, this is the camera to up your Instagram game in timely fashion.
PERFORMANCE: A SNAPPY LOW LIGHT LOVER
So Canon is after that sweet spot of the photography venn diagram here. The same effortlessness that makes snapping away with your smartphone a delight, but with an added sheen of professional finesse.
That’s why this camera serves up five settings for background blur. We’ve seen Samsung’s Galaxy S8 macro mode tap into this ethos too, but no Android can match the M100’s 24MP CMOS sensor and DIGIC 7 processor combo.
Trying it out for ourselves, the M100 performed really well in low light, producing some sweet pictures of tomatoes in a dimly lit restaurant. It also uses the Dual Pixel AF system meaning barely any hunting for focus, and you can go full manual as well if you want.
Canon might have history of being centre stage at something like the African Bird Fair where you’ll see R25,000 lenses sported by chaps aged 60+ called Norman, but it wants a slice of the online social image sharing pie too. How? By offering Insta addicts the easiest possible transition to a proper camera.
Veteran photographers will bemoan the lack of viewfinder, but anyone making the jump to using a camera from their phone won’t be used to using one anyway. What could be a greater issue is this camera’s price. It hasn’t been announced yet but its European brother will go for about R10k with the kit lens — a bit steep for a point-and-shoot with the innards of a DSLR. Still, we’re excited to get our hands on this cam for a full review.