Canon EOS M10: Canon Vs Canon?

 
Canon EOS M10

Canon EOS M10

The Canon EOS M10 is sleek and stylish, but in terms of quality does the company have competition from within? Raj Lalwani ponders.

The M10, despite its nomenclature, sits somewhere between the M2 and the M3. Sadly though, it’s a lot closer in terms of features and technology to the M2, than to the more expensive M3. At the heart of the camera is an 18MP sensor similar to the one in the M2. One would have hoped that the company would have stopped using this sensor, especially as the new 24MP sensor is so much better!

Features
The kit lens is an interesting change. Unlike the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 that is packed with the M3, this camera has a 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 lens. The sacrifice in focal length has been done to make the lens even smaller. I wish that the maximum aperture wasn’t this slow though… despite the three and a half stops of optical stabilisation, one needs to remember that this particular sensor is not very good at high ISO settings.

I was intrigued by the Hybrid Auto mode, which allows you to capture a few moments of video at the same time as a still image. I was reminded of GIFs, moving paintings in Harry Potter’s world or the similar feature in the latest iPhones.

The autofocus module is not the same as the M3… it’s the Hybrid CMOS AF II system with 49 autofocus points (the predecessor had 31), covering almost 75- 80% of the frame area. 4.6fps is not as fast as some other mirrorless cameras, but as long as you get the focus right, it is fast enough for all regular use.

The camera produces excellent colours, straight out of the box, though one needs to use -0.7EV at most times. Exposure: 1/125sec at f/10 (ISO 400). Photograph/Raj Lalwani

The camera produces excellent colours, straight out of the box, though one needs to use -0.7EV at most times. Exposure: 1/125sec at f/10 (ISO 400). Photograph/Raj Lalwani

Video functionality is limited to Full HD video at 25fps and 30fps. Most of the competition has moved towards 60p video, while some have even made a move towards 4k. There is no focus peaking, nor is there a hot shoe or an EVF. Instead, the camera has an in-built pop-up flash unlike its predecessor where it wasn’t a part of the body.WiFi and NFC are welcome additions and would be attractive for selfie enthusiasts, for whom there’s also a screen that articulates backwards.

Handling
I actually quite like the size of the M10, it makes a great stealth camera and women would appreciate that it would easily fit in a small purse. I was reminded of some of the smaller cameras in the Panasonic G series of cameras.

The lack of a mode dial, a problem that similarly plagues Nikon J cameras, is quite an oversight, even if the intended audience is a casual user. The button layout being even more sparse than the original M, this is a camera that forces you to use the touchscreen.

Which is not a bad thing at all, since the touchscreen functionality is excellent! It improves AF acquisition and allows you to access settings far faster than the buttonpress approach (since there are no dials). Other companies ought to take a lesson or two from Canon as to how to integrate touchscreen functionality so seamlessly, and with grace.

Performance
The M3 produced excellent quality photographs, but the M10 has the old 18MP sensor, whose age has started to show for quite some time now. Noise swiftly increases after ISO 800, and RAW shooters will be reminded of the older Rebel cameras that are nowhere near the league of the modern-day 750D, 760D and M3. The JPEG engine is where Canon gets things right, courtesy the new Digic 6 processor… the colours are very pleasing, and the new imaging processor does a good job in getting a decent amount of detail in low light.Colour rendition is excellent, even in difficult lighting conditions like sodium vapour or dingy tubelights.

The quality of the kit lens is disappointing, but the JPEG engine and colour rendition of the camera is excellent, ideal for its casual target audience. Exposure: 1/30sec at f/6.3 (ISO 800). Photograph/Raj Lalwani

The quality of the kit lens is disappointing, but the JPEG engine and colour rendition of the camera is excellent, ideal for its casual target audience. Exposure: 1/30sec at f/6.3 (ISO 800). Photograph/Raj Lalwani

The 15–45mm lens, in keeping its size down, has a rather slow maximum aperture, aside from the truncated zoom, as opposed to the 18–55mm that’s a part of the M3 kit. The sharpness is average, and sadly, not as good as the 18–55mm. Autofocus is extremely disappointing. It is certainly better than the first EOS M, but definitely not as good as the M3. I faced problems even in good light when low-contrast subjects would fool the AF, but touchscreen autofocus does set things right, and works quite well.

The video features are sparse, but the quality is excellent for a casual user. Battery life is inefficient, with barely around 200 shots on a single charge.

Conclusion
The Canon M3, which we reviewed in the last issue, was a step in the right direction for the company’s mirrorless lineup, but in simplifying the M10, they seem to have watered down the experience, a little too much, especially considering its price of nearly Rs. 40,000. Maybe, the camera wouldn’t have been so underwhelming if it was priced at Rs. 25,000. For that’s largely the kind of camera it is. Needless to say, from a technological point of view, the M cameras are still a few generations behind the competition. The Sony Alpha 5100 is around Rs. 5000 more expensive than the M10, but it is significantly better, in terms of image quality, video and autofocus.

That said, the more disenchanted I grew with the M10, the more I was reminded of a camera that belongs to the same family. It is the Canon PowerShot G7 X, a 1-inch sensor compact that is actually the M10’s greatest competitor. The G7 X, despite having a smaller sensor, has a much faster lens, and thus negates any potential low light advantage that the APS-C sensor may have. It focuses faster, handles a lot better, and is not only simple enough for a casual user, but is also a delight to use for the discerning pro. It also produces sharper images, courtesy a far superior lens, and actually matches (and beats) all its competitors from other manufacturers. All this, while being pocketable! Most users that the M10 targets would never wish to go beyond the kit lens anyway, and in such cases, a finely crafted 1-inch sensor camera like the G7 X is actually a better all-round tool.

The camera took many attempts to focus on this low-contrast, but brightly lit patch of road. Exposure: 1/40sec at f/9 (ISO 400). Photograph/Raj Lalwani

The camera took many attempts to focus on this low-contrast, but brightly lit patch of road. Exposure: 1/40sec at f/9 (ISO 400). Photograph/Raj Lalwani

The M10 feels like an overpriced attempt, but does well in reminding you that Canon now has fantastic products in the small-camera segment. Personally, I’m waiting to see how they’d incorporate the G X series philosophy and finesse, in an interchangeable-lens M series body.

FINAL RATINGS
Features
Tilting LCD, Wifi, no 60p video, slow kit lens
14/20
Performance
Nice colours, sensor not as good as competition, sluggish AF, poor battery
25/35
Build Quality
Sturdy plastic body, sleek
23/25
Ergonomics
No mode dial, excellent touchscreen
10/15
Warranty & Support
Wide service network
4/5
MRP Rs. 39,995
OVERALL 76%
VALUE FOR MONEY 2/5
Who should buy it? Only diehard Canon DSLR owners who would want a budget mirrorless camera that has a similar colour palette.
Why? Others would want to look at cameras like the Sony Alpha 5100 and the Canon G7 X.
Tags: canon cameras, Canon EOS M10 review, Canon M10 price India, March 2016, Raj Lalwani