Casual snapshooters and family documentarians take note: The Canon EOS M100 ($599 with 15-45mm lens) is a mirrorless camera that gets a lot right. It corrects the missteps that Canon made with its first mirrorless releases, delivering speedy autofocus and solid image quality. Its one of the smaller mirrorless models on the market, and has a big touch LCD that will appeal to smartphone photographers. It's not our absolute favorite affordable mirrorless option—that's the Sony a6000—but it's a fine alternative for casual shooters who don't mind the absence of an EVF.
The M100 is one of the smaller mirrorless cameras out there. It measures 2.6 by 4.3 by 1.4 inches (HWD) without a lens and weighs about 10.7 ounces. The included 15-45mm zoom is well matched, coming in at 1.8 by 2.4 inches (HD) and adding just 4.6 ounces. The entire package weighs less than a pound and, while it won't fit in your pocket, it also won't take up that much room in a bag.
You can get the M100 in black or white. The black version ships with a matching lens, while the white body is paired with a silver lens. The 15-45mm is a collapsible design, about an inch shorter when retracted than when extended and ready to shoot. You'll have to fiddle with a lock-and-twist mechanism to extend it, which can be an inconvenience. But it's something you'll get used to pretty quickly.
Canon keeps it minimal when it comes to on-body controls. If you're serious about photography and want functions at your fingertips, the pricier EOS M5 is a better fit within the EOS M system. It also includes a hot shoe and integrated EVF, two premium features missing from the M100.
The top plate houses the pop-up flash—it hides within the body when not in use—as well as the integrated power button and Mode switch, the shutter release and control dial, and the Record button.
The Mode switch only has three positions—Scene Intelligent Auto is marked by a green A and puts the M100 in complete control over exposure and focus. A middle option, marked by a still camera icon, is there if you want to adjust settings; it gives access to Program, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, and Manual shooting modes. The final position is indicated by a movie camera icon and switches things over for video recording. You can start and stop a movie from any mode, however, using the Record button.>
Rear controls are nestled in the bottom right corner, to the right of the LCD and below the thumb rest. You get Menu, Play, and Wi-Fi buttons, as well as a four-way control pad with Q/Set at its center and AE-L, EV, Flash, and Info mapped to its directional presses. On-screen controls supplement the limited physical control buttons. Tap Q and an overlay menu appears to adjust focus, drive, metering, image quality, and other commonly adjusted settings via touch. You can also tap the screen to set the focus point or identify a subject for tracking.
The LCD itself is 3 inches in size, packing 1,040k dots into its frame. It's bright and sharp, which is important as it's the only tool you have to frame and review shots. It's also mounted on a hinge. It's the style that can flip up and face all the way forward, so you can shoot selfies just as easily as shots from the hip. But it doesn't tilt down, so if you want to frame a shot with the camera over your head, you'll have to resort to holding the contraption upside-down.
Physical connections include micro HDMI and mini USB ports, and an SD card slot, all on the left side of the body. The battery lives by itself, accessible via a bottom door, and is rated for 295 images or 80 minutes of video per CIPA standards. The M100 does not support in-camera charging, so you'll need to replenish it using the included wall charger. It's compact and has a folding, integrated plug.
The Canon EOS M system isn't as well established as other mirrorless systems, so it's important to consider what lenses are available. The included EF-M 15-45mm covers a solid range, wide angle to short telephoto, but at a narrow aperture. Canon also sells a compact telezoom, the 55-200mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM, and an ultra-wide zoom, the EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM. The lenses are all quite small, and match well with the M100 body, but none are ideal for shooting in dim conditions.>
There is one wide aperture prime, the EF-M 22mm f/2, which is small, sharp, and bright—it's the one you want for blurring backgrounds and shooting in tough light. Canon also has the EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro for close-up shots.
An all-in-one 18-150mm zoom and an 18-55mm round out the available glass. That's a pretty paltry selection when compared with what you can get for a Fujifilm, Micro Four Thirds, or Sony mirrorless camera. Yes, you can use Canon SLR lenses via an adapter, but doing so makes the M100 a larger camera.>
Canon's approach to its mirrorless lens line has some drawbacks—you don't see any wide aperture zooms, and just a couple of prime lenses. On the other hand, Canon has kept the size down to a reasonable level for every lens release to this point. The lack of pro-grade options isn't a big deal for most shoppers in the market for an entry-level camera. But if you want high-end lenses, another system is probably a better way to go.
The M100 has the standard cocktail of wireless protocols built-in, with support for Bluetooth, NFC, and Wi-Fi. Bluetooth is used to set the time and date, speed up the Wi-Fi connection process, and allows your phone to serve as a basic remote shutter release (without live view). NFC is included to automate pairing with Android devices.>
For everything else—file transfer, geotagging, and full remote control—you'll need to connect your phone to the M100's Wi-Fi network. It's an easy step, and everything works well. Transfers are speedy and remote control works as expected, with exposure adjustments available if the camera is set to a mode that supports them. I would have liked to see Bluetooth file transfers available as an option, as it is with Nikon SnapBridge cameras. We'll see if Canon adds that feature in future models.
>Early Canon mirrorless cameras were plagued by slow autofocus. That's been fixed. The M100 locks focus in about 0.05-second in bright light and 0.7-second in very dim conditions. There's a bit of a lag starting up—the camera requires 1.3 seconds to power on, focus, and fire—but that's not an obscene figure for a mirrorless model. Others, like the Olympus PEN E-PL8, are quicker, but only by about a half-second.>
Burst shooting is available at 6.2fps. The M100 keeps that pace for 20 Raw or Raw+JPG shots, or 100 JPGs. The buffer clears to a SanDisk 95MBps memory card quickly, in 8 seconds or less depending on the format.
The 6.2fps speed is with focus locked. If you enable continuous focus—Canon calls it AI Servo—the speed slows to 3.8fps. The drop in speed is because the camera is adjusting focus between every image. The M100 did well in our moving target test, getting almost every shot in crisp focus.>
There are a few different focus area options available. You can let the camera pick a focus point, tapping on the rear screen to identify subjects for tracking. This is a good option for photographing people, as the M100 supports face detection. You can also opt to select a focus point, tapping on the screen to change its position, if you want more control over where the M100 focuses.
Image and Video Quality
The M100 uses the same 24MP APS-C image sensor we've seen in other Canon SLRs and mirrorless cameras, dating back to the 80D. It's a good sensor, with on-sensor phase focus (Canon calls it Dual Pixel AF), which is why the M100 focuses faster than older models.
And because we've seen the sensor before, we know how the M100 should perform, and it meets those expectations. When shooting JPG images noise is kept under 1.5 percent through ISO 3200, and increases to just 1.6 percent at ISO 6400. Cameras apply noise reduction to remove grain from JPG images, and the M100 is no exception. The ISO will range upward in dim light, especially with the kit lens, but it can go all the way to ISO 1600 without sacrificing image quality. At ISO 3200, a setting the camera is likely to use in moderately lit interiors along with the kit lens, there is some smudging of fine lines. Smudging is slightly more noticeable at ISO 6400, which is how far the camera needs to go for more dimly lit home interiors.>
Beyond that, at ISO 12800 and 25600, the image output is a bit blurred. It's advisable to use the pop-up flash in really dark situations, or add the 22mm f/2 lens to your kit. If you're a fan of shooting in bars or a foodie who likes to snap shots in restaurants, it's a worthy add-on to step up image quality.
If you move past shooting in JPG format, you'll be happy to know that Raw format is also available. Raw images can be edited more flexibly, more than what a simple Instagram filter can manage, but do require you to spend time editing photos, and invest in software to do the job. To give you an idea about how much you can do with a Raw image, take a look at the comparison below, with an out-of-camera JPG at the left and a processed Raw image at the right.>
For lab tests, I converted our Raw shots using Adobe Lightroom Classic CC with default develop settings enabled. Raw images do a fine job preserving detail through ISO 6400, without looking too grainy. At ISO 12800 grain is strong, but it's not blurry like a JPG. The top ISO setting, 25600, is a bit much for the M100, even in Raw format. We've seen competing cameras with 24MP Sony-made sensors, like the Nikon D3400 and Sony's own a6300, net images at ISO 25600 that are as good as the M100's ISO 12800 output. You aren't getting a class-leading sensor here, but you are getting a very good, capable one.
Video quality is good, although you're limited to 1080p—there's no 4K option. You can shoot at 24, 30, or 60fps, giving you the option of the cinematic aesthetic (24fps), traditional video (30fps), or a high-speed look (60fps). There's also a time-lapse option. The camera does a good job with autofocus when recording, and the internal mic picks up voices clearly, as long as they're fairly close to the camera. But it also picks up background noise, and there's now way to use an external mic. In short, the M100 is a solid choice for casual video clips, but don't expect to use it for anything more serious.
Canon has done a good job with the EOS M100. It doesn't sacrifice any image quality or focus speed compared with the higher-end models in the line. Instead, it focuses on making things easy and making the camera portable enough so that you won't mind taking it with you to events or on vacation.>
The M100's strengths as an entry-level model do point out some of the shortcomings of the EOS M system for more serious photographers. Canon's decision to keep lenses small means that apertures are narrow. If you want f/1.4 primes or f/2.8 zooms, you need to adapt SLR lenses. If you want a system you can grow with as your interest in photography matures, there are better options.
But for families and casual snappers who want SLR image quality, without the bulk, the EOS M100 is an excellent way to go. It focuses quickly, has a brisk burst shooting rate, and has Wi-Fi so you can beam images to your phone. It doesn't quite earn Editors' Choice marks—that stays with the Sony a6000, a more robust mirrorless camera with 11.1fps burst shooting and an integrated EVF. The Sony is a better choice if you love photography; the M100 is for folks who don't give a lick about f-stops and ISO settings, but want a camera that preserves family memories in ways that smartphones can't manage.> excellent > at
Bottom Line: The mirrorless Canon EOS M100 delivers SLR image quality and fast autofocus in a compact build with a touch LCD that makes it easy for anyone to use.