I will start all of my gear reviews with a disclaimer:
I primarily do landscapes, travel and architecture shots. I am not looking for speed demon cameras, lightning fast autofocus, or high aperture lenses. As a result, I’m just going to talk about pros and cons about the camera in terms of the features I use and what I use it for. Also, I almost never record video.
- Extremely small size and lightweight
- Pretty much the same performance and image quality of much larger DSLRs
- Lenses are nice and light, and affordable
- Optional viewfinder keeps the size down
- Improved autofocus (dual-pixel AF system) over the M3
- Just a bit nicer to use in almost every way compared to the M3
- Newer sensor tech than the M3
- Faster burst shooting rate than the M3
- Tilt/touch screen (I don’t really use the touch screen, but some people like them)
- Flash built in and tiltable
- Zoom lenses get good reviews for image quality (when stopped down)
- Solid build quality
- Custom menu (add the menu features you want, all in one place)
- Menus are simple to use
- Adapted EF and EF-S lenses work great
- Bulb mode includes a timer on the rear screen
- Screen isn’t fully articulated, so vertical images are difficult when shooting low to the ground
- Touch screen, both a pro/con, I prefer buttons
- Viewfinder attachment is very expensive
- Occasionally misses focus
- The 1.6x crop of the Canon’s APS-C cameras isn’t great for wide angle shooters
- Stabilizer options are only “off” or “continuous” (kills the battery)
- Lots of hot pixels after taking a few long exposures
- No new lenses released for many years
- No good “walking-around” lens focal length (no 24-105mm equivalent)
- Widest lens available is only 17.6mm
- The filter sizes on the lenses are different, super inconvenient
- Not the newest model so no eye autofocus available
Followers of the blog may note that a lot of the pros and cons are similar to the M3. They fixed a lot of little things over the M3 in terms of ergonomics, and made improvements to major components such as autofocus, burst rate, and sensor tech. But to be honest, for my type of shooting, the M3 was sufficient. The M3 autofocus was fast enough for me, I don’t use a fast burst rate, and the ability to lift shadow detail out of RAW image files from the M6 didn’t blow away the M3 files.
Originally when choosing the M system, I had a huge dilemma between EOS M and the Sony A6000. In the end, I was swayed by the great reviews for the EF-M lenses (when stopped down) and by the high price of the Sony lenses; at the time, the Sony 16-70mm lens was $1400 Canadian! The 16-50mm got bad reviews so I would have had to have purchased the 16-70mm (even though the 16-70mm is not overly great). But for the price of that one little Sony lens, I got the M3 and three lenses! But, since that time, there haven’t been many new lenses released. There is no 24-105mm equivalent, and no ultra-wide lense; the 11-22mm is a great lens, but it’s only a 17.7mm equivalent at the wide end, while all other systems have a 15mm equivalent option. I got the Laowa 9mm but have yet to use it much. There are rumours that the M system will be killed off and the R system will take over. But, the M cameras are some of Canon’s best sellers and they recently said that they would continue supporting it. Time will tell.
I’m really happy with what they’ve done with the system. Super light, great image quality, and really light and compact lenses. There aren’t many large aperture lenses, but that’s not the point of the system. I’m not happy with how they’re releasing 18mm lenses at the wide end; with Canon’s size of APS-C sensor this is 28.8mm at the wide end, which is not wide enough at all. So for now I’m stuck with the 15-45mm, not quite a good enough range for a “walking-around” lens.
Overall, this is a really solid camera, and if you’re an APS-C shooter and want something light, this is a great option, and you can pick up a used copy at a very reasonable price. However, Canon’s R system APS-C cameras and lenses are just starting to be released, and it’s unclear what will happen to the M system. Regarding other options, Fuji has a much more complete line of lenses available, Sony just released some APS-C lenses but ignored the system for a while, and Nikon’s mirrorless APS-C system is still in its infancy. They’re all competitive options, although I really like the small size of the M cameras and lenses, and the price. I still mainly shoot with a full frame camera, but I took this camera on a Japan trip and was really happy with the images I came back with (examples below and above). Every time I pick it up I love how light weight it is, so I’m really on the fence if I should just stick with this camera for everything rather than lugging around my full frame set-up.
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