I Bought an M3 at the Last PhotoFair

Originally posted on ‘Couv’ Camera, November 10, 2015 by rodsager, slightly modified for PhotoFair 
m3 (1 of 3)
My M3 with a vintage Olympus Pen 38mm f/1.8 lens

No not a BMW, silly! I bought an EOS M3! I wrote about this camera in the spring here, “…not for North America”. Well, I was at PhotoFairlast weekend, I am after all co-owner, so I always go 🙂 We had a dealer at the show that brought a couple of EOS M3 cameras. These can now be purchased from Canon USA as the bean counters at Canon apparently projected high enough sales numbers to justify it coming to North America. I get it, Sony, Olympus, and Panasonic have cornered the American market on mirror-less bodies. But seriously, Canon is a juggernaut, they have a damn good piece of gear here, what the hell were they afraid of?

This is a solid camera, my friends, very solid. If you read this blog regularly, you already know that I had the original EOS M and even blogged about it here. I am selling it on EBAY right now.  This third generation camera takes all of the goodness from the original, adds some of the features the competitors had, and elevates the already excellent build quality to match the best of the best.

Canon also addressed two of the three biggest problems with the EOS M series. First, focusing speed. Even with a proprietary mount system the original M was dubiously slow to acquire focus. The M2 improved it a little, but it still lagged behind competitors offerings. Weird, Canon building slow focus cameras, huh? Yep, they did. Unlike the DSLR market where Canon is the king of speed, that little M camera was not. Good news, they really sped up the focus acquisition with this 3rd entry to the field.  The second problem was the stupid short battery life. That original EOS M sucked down juice like vampire at a blood bank. I had three batteries for it. Canon is now using the same battery that the 6D and current gen Rebel DSLRs are using. The battery life has been outstanding on this new camera! The third big problem has gone largely ignored. There are just too few lenses for this system. Canon is falling back on the fact that all EF lenses will work on any M body via the Canon EF adapter. Full electronic connection is maintained. That is fine and well but EF lenses on this camera is akin to mounting truck tires on a Smart car. And for some reason the EF lenses that snap right into focus faster than your brain works, fall asleep when they are mounted to the EOS M. So Canon, get crackin’ and make some more dedicated lenses for this camera. I love to see a prime portrait lens, say a 55mm f/1.4 and maybe a prime ultra-wide angle like a 10mm f/2.8?

Currently Canon offers these EOS-M mount lenses.

  • 11-22mm f/4-5.6 STM IS: now available in North America 😀
  • 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 STM IS: seriously, f6.3?
  • 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6  STM IS
  • 22mm f/2.0 STM: outstanding lens, I mean really sharp and contrasty!
  • 55-200 f/4.5-6.3 STM IS: there it is again with that f/6.3 😦

I really like the focus peaking feature. This is by no means a novel idea. I was introduced to it when considering the Sony A7. Focus peaking is a feature in which the camera highlights the areas of the image that are sharp, it literally works like a hi-liter pen on the image. This greatly aids in manual focusing. I like to use vintage lenses so this feature is awesome. Magic Lantern has focus peaking for the EOS M which I used but it was nowhere near as good as the factory version in this new camera.

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Focus peaking bright yellow against monochrome scree

Graham Law has had a few variations of the A7 and he has a great tip for using focus peaking. If you shoot, RAW, and why wouldn’t you, seriously? Set the camera to monochrome. RAW files will still collect all the color data so you still get a color image, but the screens are black and white. The focus peaking remains in color so it really pops against the grayscale image on the screen or in the viewfinder. Excellent tip Mr. Law! Beware J-Pegs created via this system will in fact be monochromatic. (Black and White)

The new EOS M3 has grown a little bit in size, but still is as small or even smaller than many micro 4/3 chip cameras. The camera has an excellent built-in grip. it is using a larger 24 MP APS/C sensor. Canon upped the ante in tech by utilizing the latest chip, the very same chip used in the new EOS 7D Mk II and the camera features DIGIC 6 processing and the improved Wi-Fi features from the 70d and 7D Mk II. You can remotely control this camera via your smart phone, which is very cool indeed!

I am a bit bummed that the electronic viewfinder, which is optional and a bit spendy, only comes in black. So it looks a bit silly on the white version of the camera, like I have. I wanted a black one but I waited too long and somebody bought the dealer’s black body version 😦 The viewfinder would have been better if it were built-in; but at least canon made it articulating so you can use it like a waist level finder which is great for shooting low height subjects like pets or children. Although you can articulate the LCD screen to waist level it may be bright out and thus render the screen difficult to see, in which case the view finder works great. The viewfinder is set up to sense your eye and turns off the LCD screen when you place your eye to the viewfinder.

I am most pleased with this camera. This is everything the original should have been. Canon has nailed it and watch out Sony and Panasonic, the juggernaut is on the move. Here are some more pics of the camera.

m3 (2 of 2)m3 (2 of 3)m3 (1 of 2)

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