Review: Canon M100 with 22mm f2 lens is Light, Fast and Fun to Photograph With

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Let’s cut to the chase, the Canon EOS M100 coupled with their EF-M 22mm f/2 STM Pancake Lens is a brilliant team. This is the most enjoyable camera and lens combination I’ve photographed with for several years. It’s affordable, light, easy to use, has a big sensor, provides great image quality and amazing colour.

Winter Garden, Auckland domain - New Zealand

Disclaimer: It should be noted that Canon lent me the M100 camera, EF-M 22mm f/2 STM Pancake lens and standard EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM kit lens during my recent road trip through New Zealand’s picturesque North Island and I have sent it back via courier today. That aside my track record as a technology journalist shows that if I hadn’t liked it I would say so.

On first look you might think that the M100 is only suitable for use in AUTO mode. This is quite incorrect, while the camera takes perfectly good shots in AUTO mode, the touchscreen menu allows more experienced photographers to easily switch between and customise the camera functions using more traditional P, Manual, Exposure and Shutter Priority modes.

I took the majority of my photos using Creative Assist mode set to +2 Contrast and +4 Saturation.

After trying both lenses for a few days each I took almost all my M100 photos afterwards using the f2 22mm lens. I found it perfect whether for blurring out a nature photo background using a shallow f stop or quickly grabbing a sharp colourful urban photo while walking about.

Botanic garden - Wellington New Zealand

Old and new buildings, Queen Street Auckland - New Zealand

The Canon EOSM100 can shoot photos in RAW and JPG simultaneously or just either. I prefer JPG L highest level 6000×4000.

To access the SD card you need to flip up the view screen. Same to access USB port and HDMI port which I used to view photos on hotel TV’s.

What It’s Good At

The large 24.2 megapixel APS-C size sensor is 13-15 times larger than modern camera phones like the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and Google Pixel 2. This means the M100 takes vastly better quality photos in all light conditions especially low light and at night.

Pigeons and Gulls in flight at Aotea, Auckland - New Zealand

At only 302 grams (excluding lens) the M100 is amazingly light and the small dimensions (108.2mm x 67.1mm x 35.1mm) mean you can use the camera in situations like street photography without upsetting people because it doesn’t look like a big imposing “serious” DSLR camera. My preferred f2 22mm lens is also tiny and adds only an additional 105 grams (for a total of 407 grams).

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The touchscreen allows you to touch to focus as well as easily controlling all camera settings, keeping physical camera knobs and buttons to a minimum. The touchscreen also rotates up 180 degrees so you can turn the M100 around and point it at you to take a selfie.

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Fast and reliable focusing are very important so it’s great that Canon has used Dual Pixel CMOS AF, Canon’s most advanced auto focus system to provide fast and accurate auto focus when taking photos including smart subject tracking of moving objects.

Camera to phone/tablet transfer for social media sharing worked very well using the Canon Connect Android app. During my holiday I didn’t need use a laptop or need to take the SD card out of the camera at all.

While the M100 doesn’t support 4K videos it can be used to take 1080P Full HD videos at up to 60fps.

The f2 22mm pan cake lens was a joy to use on the M100, fast, sharp and light. The M100 turns on quickly to be ready for use. The f2 22mm lens focuses quickly on the M100, I’m told it didn’t focus as fast on older model EOS Mirrorless cameras.

The menu option to Create a Folder daily on the SD card helped a lot in storing photos for organising and later storage to Dropbox once I returned home.

The M100 has a popup flash available but I didn’t use the flash at all, preferring natural light.

Macro close up photos worked well as you can see by the butterfly photo below.

Butterfly on flower at Botanic garden - Wellington New Zealand

What’s Not Great

While I loved the Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM Pancake Lens the EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM kit lens bundled with the M100 was occasionally good but also disappointing due to the slow f stop range.

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To be fair the most recent camera I’ve bought was a Canon 6D with several L lenses so a “normal” mum and dad camera buyer would be much less frustrated with the kit lens compared to me.

The kit lens need to manually twist a mechanism to open and close the lens would feel clunky to a smartphone user and increases the time to take a photo from a lens closed situation. I agree with DPreview that the 22mm prime f2.0 lens is much smaller and more practical for quickly taking a photo.

Unfortunately you can’t recharge the M100 via USB which is a big shame. That being the case I strongly recommend buying a second camera battery.

The M100 doesn’t have a built-in panorama mode which is an odd thing to leave out in a camera targeted at people who want to take a step up from smartphone photography. Even a basic $100 Android smartphone includes a camera panorama mode.

In the example thermal pool photo below I used the “old school” approach of taking multiple overlapping photos pivoting from a single point and stitched the photos together later on my computer.

Panorama (stitched) Champagne pool Waiotapu thermal area - New Zealand

In their quest to make the camera small and light Canon decided to leave out the electronic viewfinder (EVF) in the M100. In an ideal world I would have liked to have an EVF for use during very bright days when it’s harder to see the touchscreen, however it’s a trade off I am OK with because it’s still possible to view the touchscreen if you increase brightness to Maximum. More expensive Canon mirrorless cameras do include an EVF.

Should You Buy the Canon M100 & With Which Lens?

Yes if you want an affordable easy to use camera with a big sensor. I say buy it with the EF-M 22mm f/2 STM Pancake Lens. Depending on which camera retailers are available to you you might have to buy the camera with the slower kit lens and then the f2 22mm lens as well. Personally I’m saving up to buy it.

LOVE - Te Papa museum - Wellington New Zealand

Don’t just think I like this camera and lens combination.

Industry standard camera sensor analysis site DXOMark says the M100same (or very similar) sensor as we’ve seen in the larger and slightly more expensive Canon EOS M5 and M6 hybrid cameras delivers comparable results for image quality. In fact, the EOS M100 just nudges out its predecessors to become the top-ranked Canon hybrid sensor we’ve tested, offering color sensitivity, dynamic range, and noise performance that’s very close to that of recent Canon APS-C DSLRs, too.

Respected camera industry site DPReview awarded the Canon M100 and f2 lens combination their Gold Award stating that “because the M100 is such an enjoyable camera to use at a competitive price, that it encourages you to bring it with you rather than letting it languish on a shelf, and that it makes taking pictures genuinely fun, it earns our highest award“.

Veteran straight talking camera reviewer Ken Rockwell says the Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STMis a tiny lens with superb optical performance. This tiny thing isn’t much bigger than a lens cap, and has fantastic optics.”

Last but not least very thorough camera reviewer Bryan Carnathan @ The Digital Picture says in his review of the M100 that “the large, high resolution APS-C format imaging sensor in the M100 will, especially in low light, far surpass the abilities of any mobile phone in existence.

At time of writing the best price I’ve seen for the Canon M100 and kit lens is at the Sydney based George’s Cameras for $628. Georges also sell the Canon F2 22mm lens for $229 at present.

Full technical specifications for the M100, f2 22mm and f3.5-6.3 15-45mm can be viewed at DPreview.

Silver fern war art near Te Papa - Wellington New Zealand


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