Came back a week ago from my trip and now I’m working through the pictures in Lightroom. To understand my opinion about the M I night to feed you some background Information:
I went on the trip with my EOS 60d as my primary camera and the EOS M as a back up. I used a (for me complete new mix of lenses) For the 60D I packed as much as I got into the Tamrac 4 which was the EF 70-200 2.8 L IS USM, the new Sigma 17-35 1.8, The EF 135 L 2.0 and the Canon 1.4 x extender
The Eos M got a third party EF-EFM adapter, the new 11-22mm and the 17-55 KIT lens
I use the M since about 6 month mainly as a fun camera or a substitute for the 60D when size and weight matters.
To summarize already in the beginning: I made maybe 400-500 pictures on this trip which I could not have done without the M at all. So I’m happy and grateful to have bought it but compared to the reliability and usability of the 60D the M is a piece of “insert any desired 4 letter word here”.
But now let’s start with the details.
I used once the 135mm L and once the 70-200mm L on the M both lenses performed very well but in the end the handling of the 70-200mm on the M is to awkward. However walking around in an amusement park with a red M on the white L creates raised brows at the Canonistas you meet. In China that means either the wealthy amateur with his 5DII and the 24-105 Kit lens or the more dedicated guy carrying 2 full frames with usually the 24-70mm L and the 50-500mm BIGMA attached. Plenty of nice gear talk started because of me wearing the 70-200 with the M in the white /red colour combination over the shoulder, so it at least pleased the hedonist in me.
The absolute surprise was the usage of the 11-22mm on the M. To be honest I do not know how I survived before without it. I did not mount the 17-55 Kit anymore on the M once the 11-22mm was attached. Street photography par excellence and in a tight space with 11mm you can shoot without even looking and still have everything covered. The 11-22mm mounted on the M uses less weight and real estate in my camera bag than my Tokina 11-16mm 2.8 as a lens alone. OK the Tokina is faster but with the better ISO of the M compared to the 60D and especially the optical stabilisation the 11-22mm is much more versatile and because the of the STM technology and thanks to the new M firmware achieving focus is faster with the 11-22mm on the M than with the Tokina on the 60D.
Further advantages? Yes, the 8mm more than the Tokina helped a lot and coming home I was more than satisfied that Lightroom 5 already fully supports the proper lens correction for the 11-22mm while sadly it doesn’t do so far for the Sigma 17-35mm 1.8
Disadvantages of the 11-22mm? It is delivered typical Canon style without a lens shade and the only dealer I could find who sold one wanted a fortune for it so I spent my time under the Asian August sun without one.
If you unlock the 11-22mm in a hurry you almost automactly have your hands in the wrong position. This means either the hand gliding in the Zoom position is now to high blocking the AF assist beam or the thumb of your hand slid to far up and is now blocking both microphone positions.
Now the downfall of the M:
I do not own Canon original Batteries for the M just the substitutes from Patona (which on Paper are as strong as the Canon counterparts) With the M as a secondary camera taking just 30% of the work and the 60D having to power the heavy lenses and the M just driving the 11-22mm I still ate through 3 EOS M batteries per day.
I always travel with a minimum of three to four batteries per camera as a minimum but coming after a long day into a hotel room and than being forced to make a rigid time planning to allow loading 3 batteries over the span of a short night with just one loader was annoying.
The killing issue was however a different one:
I never managed to find a proper balance for the settings of the camera. I would like to be informed about the settings of the camera so I switched a lot of this settings to be visible on the touchscreen. I also prefer to see a picture for a few seconds right after the shot so I configured the camera to display the picture for a short while. During this time the camera is active and sensitive. Being used to almost never realy switching the 60d off Me and my family tretead the M the same way... bad idea
The first few days would go like this: Me or my wife would take a picture than have the camera hanging around the shoulder or neck which would touch the body plenty of times and put random settings in place each time. Having the focus placed in the wrong corner can be corrected fast through pressing the delete button but ISO from Auto to 12,000 without recognizing it or AV 3.5 changed to TV 1/20 and very often correction set to 3+ made us loose good opportunities or taking bad pictures.
I tried to counteract this by making any setting information disappear from screen (reducing my interference to using a point and shoot in green mode) and reducing the screen on time after a shot to mere seconds. My routine was to have a short fly though the menus every so and so to either choose AV set to 3.5 or TV set to 1/250 and let the AUTO ISO do the rest. Before every shot than I pressed the delete button to have the focus centred. The camera counteracted this impertinence behaviour of mine by still displaying a small area on the touchscreen which would enable the shutter release through the touch screen. This small area is maybe 1 % of the touchscreen and the chance of touching it should be small but it happened way to often exactly like this.
Climbing a the steps of a temple in Thailand, the M around the neck of my wife. Climbing down the stairs sitting in a boat leaving the temple when suddenly the evening sun breaks through the clouds painting my family and the temple far behind us in red and gold. The shot of a lifetime. The M flies into my hand. The full exercise explained above plus a few seconds to unlock the 11-22mm out of its retracted position and “Memory full” suddenly in the display. The red golden moment slips away while I dumbfounded wonder how a hundred pictures can fill up a 32 GIG memory card. Looking at the picture counter the camera says 2500 pictures taken. Yep it had happened again a few hundred picture of stone steps and a few hundred pictures of backs and bottoms surrounding the few pictures we really wanted to take and keep. This happened several times and I later changed to 8Gig cards just to be able to delete all unnecessary picture within a coffee break.
Way smaller thing:
I put the ML Beta on the M but removed it shortly afterwards again. While I loved the HDR feature, the lack of buttons and the overlay of menues makes the M not the perfect taret for ML
To end on a high note..
IQ of the pictures: at least as good as the IQ of pictures taken with the 60D. At low light situations way better than the one better ISO stop would suggest.
Once you get used to the fancy continous shooting behaviour of the shutter release button than the Ms continous shooting is behaviour is very nice. That is focus like with any DSLR, pressing the shutter button through to take the shot but afterwards releasing it just half like if to achieve focus again. This results in the first picture being taken, screen going black but instead of now showing the taken picture instantly the camera will now continue taking pictures. (Still don't know if this is a feature or a bug)