Canon has announced the first mirrorless system camera, the EOS M, available for around US$ 800 RRP.
:: APS-C sensor (from the EOS 650D)
:: 18 MegaPixel
:: Single DIGIC-5 processor
:: Full manual exposure control possible
:: 31 focus points to support the autofocus
:: 4 images per second
:: ISO 100-12.800 (25.600 when expanded)
:: Touchscreen with 1 MegaPixel resolution
:: Video shooting up to 1080p (24/25/30 fps)
:: EF and EF-S lens support (with optional adapter)
While I have not yet seen any images from this camera, I assume that image quality will be comparable to the EOS 650D which is already very good. The small size and weight and the rather quiet shutter, however, will make the camera very useful for us wedding photographers. Especially the fact that you can easily attach your lenses to this new body is very appealing as it protects the (sometimes huge!) investment in glass. While four images per second appears somewhat slow today, we should not forget that the 1Ds mark II had four images per second at 16 MegaPixels seven years ago. And that was a beautiful camera.
The official specs do not mention whether it is possible to retrieve a clean video signal via the HDMI port (i.e. without any display information), which would be fantastic news for video production companies. You could then simply attach a Atomos Ninja-2 as field recorder (for 10 bit recordings with superior image quality). Personally, I doubt that Canon would do this as it might harm their efforts to establish a new “cinematic camera line” with the EOS 1D C (which is basically just a 1D X with improved film functions) and the EOS C300. Having said that, both the 1D C and the C300 address professional video filmers, so there may be little overlap with the customer segment addressed with the EOS M system.
Sony’s NEX system cameras have been around for a while, so Canon is rather late to the mirrorless party. Then again, the current EOS M is probably just their entry to this market, and Canon would be stupid to not develop a APS-H or FullFrame body that is slightly faster. Maybe they develop a EOS M body that can take EF lenses directly (without converter)? Many Canon photographers are waiting for such a camera.
In any case, this is big news for Canon and is yet another indication that traditional DSLRs are now entering the final stage of their lifecycle. (The other indication was the recent merger of 1Ds and 1D product lines into the 1D X.) It is clear now that traditional DSLRs will be a thing of the past in ten, fifteen years time. This is somehow sad, but just for irrational, nostalgic reasons. In the end, the camera itself really does not matter as long as it allows the photographer to capture the images I want in a quality I need.