The M100 is Canon’s entry-level APS-C sized mirrorless camera. Initially released fall 2017, it’s an interchangeable lens camera that replaces the two-year-old M10. Unlike Canon’s M5 and M6 cameras, they aim this camera squarely at the entry-level market and beginning photographers looking for an upgrade in image quality than what their phones alone can provide. Canon has implemented several vital improvements with this new model, namely an upgraded sensor and a high-end autofocus system. These changes have now allowed them to position the camera to rival Sony’s a5100. However, are these changes enough to test Sony’s ongoing dominance in the mirrorless world? Today we answer that question. We’ll also address the strengths, weaknesses, and help uncover whether this should be a consideration in your search for a new camera.
What are some of the goods, bads, and uglies of the Canon M100?
It has a 24.2MP CMOS sensor, the same sensor as the M6 as well as several other recent cameras, and the DIGIC 7 image processor. It’s quite surprising to find such a large sensor that packs this amount of resolution in such a small camera. For comparison, this is the same sensor placed in the much more expensive 7D Mark II camera. Nevertheless, this sensor delivers quality and the images it produces are simply superb. The colors are accurate. And overall, this camera easily rivals several mid-range DSLRs in image quality, many of which twice its price. It’s easily far superior to what a smartphone or compact camera alone can provide. If you’re stepping up from these, expect an enormous improvement in image quality, fine detail, and low light performance.
It’s important to note, however, that its dynamic range is reasonable, though not brilliant. Take caution when shooting not to over or underexpose images more than 2 stops, as recovering images will cause noise to occur.
It has a continuous burst rate of 6.1 fps without autofocus or 4 fps with continuous autofocus. Sure, while not blazingly fast, it does provide enough speed for some fast action shooting. The camera also supplies a relatively heft buffer. In this case, when shooting RAW + JPEG, it delivers 20 images before buffering or 90 images if shooting JPEG alone. These kinds of results are quite impressive considering its size.
It shoots 1080p full HD video up to 60 fps, allowing for slow-motion capture. Like the photos it takes, the videos, too, are colorful and vibrant.
As with most Canon cameras, recording time for 1080p video at 30 fps maxes out at industry-standard 29 minutes and 59 seconds per clip.
The camera supplies electronic stabilization, which removes some handshake caused when filming handheld. However, using this feature causes an additional crop into the frame, resulting in a 10% reduction in the field of view. And while helpful, it’s not as effective as an optically stabilized lens or built-in 5-axis stabilization.
Low Light Performance
It has a native ISO range of ISO 100 to 25,600 in photos and ISO 100 to 6,400 in videos. Users can expect usable images and videos up to ISO 3,200. Going above ISO 3,200, however, requires post-production noise reduction.
Autofocusing has improved dramatically over the predecessor. And, so much so that it’s now, in many respects, as capable as Sony’s a5100. It features a 49-point AF system along with Canon’s acclaimed Dual Pixel CMOS AF, albeit an older version of the system in today’s age. Nevertheless, the system delivers excellent subject tracking, even when subjects erratically move across the frame. And for an entry-level camera, it performs quite admirably. It also inherits face-detection, particularly useful for tracking faces, ensuring portraits or selfies are perfectly sharp. Overall, performance for both stills and videos is accurate and responsive.
For those who prefer manual control, however, it features both magnification and peaking. These are helpful when using manual focus to ensure precise focus in both photo and video modes.
Display & Viewfinder
Considering its small size, it surprisingly features a relatively large 3.0-inch TFT articulating touchscreen display with an excellent resolution of 1.04M dots. This screen tilts 180° for front-facing selfies or vlogging and is quite handy for low angle shooting as well. The screen itself is quite sharp and very bright, even outdoors in bright sunlight, with excellent viewing angles. It’s more responsive than expected as well, and its touch response feels comparable to a smartphone.
The user interface on this camera is excellent and incredibly intuitive, even more than Canon’s traditional SLRs menus. Canon has made it easy to master and ideally suited for beginning photographers who are entirely foreign to digital cameras. Even if you’re an existing shooter, you will feel immediately comfortable with this camera’s menus within a few moments. It uses a fully touch-enabled interface, where all of the onscreen buttons are large, responsive, and easy to operate. The addition of a touchscreen simplifies and removes any frustrations caused by navigating using buttons alone. And the interface is well optimized for this style of input, making it easy to navigate without a steep learning curve.
It features a redesigned version of Canon’s Q (Quick) Menu, which hosts a wide selection of the available camera options on a single contextual menu.
The screen supports pinch to zoom when reviewing images in the playback mode, allowing for quick image review to check for details or focus.
Physical Layout & Ergonomics
Being a mirrorless camera, it provides the distinct advantage of compact size. It’s an incredibly small and portable camera, surprisingly not much larger than most compacts. With that, it can easily fit into tight or small spaces, making it an ideal travel companion. The caveat is that the physical control interface is quite bare, as much of these functions have moved to the touchscreen interface instead. And, for most users, this isn’t a problem. Otherwise, the design here is largely identical to the predecessor. And its layout provides the standard set of controls you’d expect to find on any camera. At first glance, it may appear to lack any advanced manual controls. But it does. It houses a single control dial, surrounding the shutter release, allowing users to adjust both Aperture or Shutter Speed. And it also includes a full manual shooting mode, found in the menu, giving users complete freedom over the camera’s operation in both photo and video modes.
Surprisingly, it even features a customizable function button, which you can customize to a variety of different programmable features. The most notable being autofocus.
It provides a dedicated movie start/stop button, which offers convenient access to movie recording with a single button click, regardless of the selected mode.
And, thankfully, the camera houses the memory card and battery in separate compartments. Typically, most camera houses both in the same compartment underneath the camera, which is quite inconvenient when using the camera on a tripod. With this positioning, you can easily swap memory cards without first dismounting from the tripod and removing the plate. Subtle, but it’s quite helpful.
It features Wi-Fi, NFC, and Bluetooth, which allows the camera to wirelessly pair to a smartphone device via Canon’s Camera to Connect app. Once connected, you can wirelessly transfer images and remotely control the camera, though limited in capabilities compared to the higher-end M50. The camera also offers a dedicated Wi-Fi button as well, which provides direct access to these features. And the addition of low powered Bluetooth allows it to send images automatically to the phone, even without taking the camera out of a bag or powering it on. Plus, it syncs GPS coordinates automatically as well. Overall, the connectivity offered here is fantastic.
It has a built-in pop-up flash.
It provides an extensive selection of customizable filters, which translate to both photos and videos.
It offers a time-lapse movie mode, removing the need for any post-processing, saving time in the process.
Like several other recent Canon cameras, it too lacks 4K recording altogether. But, in this case, they can be forgiven as the target audience for this camera may not likely need 4K recording. And if they had it, they very well may not have the editing rig necessary to process and edit this type of footage.
The camera’s 1080p video, however, is slightly soft and lacks the sharpness found in the competition. And it’s also worthwhile to note that Cannon caps 1080p 60 fps videos to 10-minute recordings. Beware of this limitation if you find yourself shooting at this frame rate often.
It uses the LP-E12 battery, which Canon rates for 410 shots per charge and 80 minutes of video recording. The caveat is that it only delivers this lifespan when used in the Eco mode. Otherwise, it only offers 295 shots per charge. Rough. Considering the industry-standard expected for compact cameras of this size is 350 shots per charge, battery life is poor.
Like the M50, the Aperture priority mode on this camera doesn’t offer a minimum shutter speed setting, so take caution when shooting in this mode. Ensure the shutter speed correctly matches the medium you are shooting to avoid any unwanted motion blur.
It doesn’t offer the standard Mode wheel. Canon stripped down the included wheel, relegating much of the settings typically found on this dial to the user menus instead. By doing so, changing the scene selection modes is now quite a bit slower, though not deal-breaking by any means.
The wireless button lands directly on a critical gripping point on the camera’s body, which increases the likelihood of accidentally stopping a video and taking you into the wireless configuration menu.
The camera doesn’t offer much in regards to grip. And overall, the gripping contact points are relatively minimal, making the camera a bit uncomfortable during prolonged use. If this is a problem for you, consider purchasing the secondary face jack, which adds much-needed bulk to the body. However, once installed, you will lose access to the SD card and battery compartments.
It lacks an electronic viewfinder, and Canon doesn’t offer the possibility of adding an external one either. Thus, all operations occur solely through the rear screen alone.
It lacks a hot shoe, removing the possibility of attaching an external microphone, flash, or other accessories.
It lacks a microphone input, which means high-quality audio capture will require external recorders and post-production syncing. That is unless you’re close enough to the camera to use the internal microphone, which is surprisingly good.
It lacks a headphone input.
The camera lacks USB charging. Instead, you have to use the included battery charger.
It lacks weather sealing.
Canon’s EOS M lens selection is quite limited, even considering how much time has passed since its initial creation. At the writing of this post, only eight lenses are available. And sadly, the majority of which are slow variable aperture lenses, which don’t have the best low light performance. If you want greater flexibility in your lens selection, consider purchasing the EF-M to EF lens adapter.
Is this a good beginner camera?
Yes. It is an excellent, low-cost, compact camera that offers a slim profile matching that of a point & shoot camera, but with the added benefit of interchangeable lenses. And being able to change lenses opens a world of new possibilities. While it’s small with a simplistic design, underneath sits much of the core technologies Canon employs in the majority of its more expensive mirrorless cameras. The results create a capable platform that, matched with its large sensor and strong autofocusing, delivers a versatile option. And one that’s well suited towards beginners looking to shoot any style of photography around. Arguably, it’s an even better alternative to the M50 mirrorless camera for users looking for a simple to use, easily mastered, feature-packed camera. And with its stripped-down design, it’s an even better option for first-timers over traditional DSLRs, which provide too many controls that it becomes quite daunting in comparison. If you’re looking for a camera matching an SLR in performance without the bulk, this is it.
Is the Canon M100 a good camera for you?
It makes an excellent choice for vloggers and YouTube content creators who film alone, looking for an easy all-in-one option. Granted, you’ll have to use an external microphone if you desire better audio capture. If that turns out to be a deal-breaker, consider Canon’s M5, M6, or M50 cameras instead.
If you’re a videographer looking for a capable backup camera or second angle, look elsewhere. That is unless you don’t find the lack of 4K video a deal-breaker. Otherwise, this makes an excellent second camera. And one that’s undoubtedly capable, yet easy to use. The inclusion of the articulating screen will add immense value when checking the frame of shots too, a bonus.
For experienced photographers or current DSLR shooters looking for an upgrade, there’s a good chance this camera isn’t for you. It’s main drawbacks come in the form of lacking physical controls and poor ergonomics compared to fully-featured DSLRs. Sure it features similar technology as several other Canon cameras. However, in operation, you may find it frustratingly basic and too simple for your liking, as there’s little at hand to press to change settings quickly. In all, while it has a good number of standard features in an appealing small body, the lack of physical controls makes the M5 and M6 cameras better options.
If you’re a beginning photographer upgrading to your first camera from other compact cameras or smartphones, this is an excellent choice. Particularly so if you’re looking for a camera that’s small with much better photo quality, range of useful features, and greater versatility than what these other cameras alone can provide. If you’re thinking of getting this as your first step into photography, you’ll do so while getting the same performance as Canons much pricier DSLR cameras. All the while, in a package that’s slim enough for easy storing into pockets and small bags. Although it lacks 4K, it remains a useful, intuitive, and quickly mastered camera that makes it an all-round excellent value for money.
The Canon M100 is a simplistic camera that provides a streamlined design that’s easily mastered by even the newest photographers. Although simple, it’s far from a basic. It delivers a feature set that rivals Canon’s pricer DSLRs, all the while ditching their bulk. It’s a well-rounded little camera and provides excellent value for money.