Tuesday 12 November 2019

Tech review: Canon M200

Price:€569 with 15-45mm lens from Conns Cameras

Bare-bones quality camera for those on a budget

Canon M200
Canon M200
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

If you want a bare-bones 'quality' camera with different lenses to mostly shoot on automatic mode, this may be the one to get.

Canon's new M200 has a big, high-quality APS-C sensor and connects to lenses that generally beat smartphones' efforts.

It's pitched as an entry-level mirrorless camera and this is evident from the moment you pick it up: there are less than half the buttons, dials and knobs you usually find on an interchangeable-lens camera. There are only three 'modes': automatic, manual and video. I'd confidently bet the first of these modes is the camera's main utility.

In doing this, it succeeds pretty well. Point it at something, squeeze the shutter button and you generally get a good-quality photo.

It has a flip-up touchscreen, which means you can hold it up for decent selfies or videos of yourself.

The M200 has a neat trick of letting you video in vertical mode, like a smartphone. However, you have to go through Canon's smartphone app to do this - it won't transfer right off your memory card.

It also does a very good job at face detection and eye autofocus, especially during video, for a camera at this price. The camera isn't stabilised (like high-end smartphones), but quite a few of the lenses are. Its best shooting mode is full HD, as 4K has a 1.6x crop, which means you lose the outer rims of the shot.

Canon has kept the size of the camera body very slim and compact. It's a bit ironic, as this goes out the window the second you attach a lens.

For example, the kit version I got was Canon's 15-45mm (f3.5-6.3) which is twice the width of the actual camera body. So while you can easily fit the body itself into any pocket, you'll need a sturdy coat pocket to fit it with a lens on.

This girth on the lens is necessary, though, to give it some quality.

In general, Canon's 'M' lenses are decent and quite sharp but not as good as bigger DSLR lenses.

Then again, they're much more compact than larger lenses for Canon EF and EFS DSLR cameras.

There are eight Eos M lenses, ranging from ultra-wide to telephoto zooms (up to 250mm).

There are a few Tokina and Samyang lenses that also fit the mount, while an adaptor lets you use larger Canon EF and EFS lenses if you want.

There's a built-in flash but no viewfinder. That's what you'd expect on something at this price and specification.

I did like the tactile feel of the camera. It's a brushed, matte finish that doesn't feel cheap. The lenses have this same pleasing handling.

One of the most obvious questions here has to be: if this isn't quite as good as a DSLR, is it considerably better than your smartphone?

The short answer is a qualified yes - this can do things your smartphone can't, in particular creating proper depth of field. I've compared it with my iPhone 11 Pro Max on a number of shots and the M200 gives much more pleasing blurry bokeh than the smartphone. It also has much more varied focal lengths because of the different lenses available.

Having said that, the iPhone beats it on one or two counts, especially in dealing with light and dark parts of a photo in automatic mode.

So a photo taken with any sunshine in it usually turns out much more evenly balanced on the iPhone (or any new smartphone) than the M200. But that's not an optical issue; it's because of the huge processing power advantage that the smartphone has over Canon ('computational photography').

The iPhone also beats it hands down for video stabilisation. If you're moving and trying to video something, the M200 is a little shaky and juddery, whereas the iPhone is really smooth.

The two categories of people I'd recommend this for are those travelling and who just want a simple camera that takes quality photos at zoomed-in focal lengths their phone can't match, or those who are really on a tight budget and want something with a decent minimum level of quality from a large sensor. That's probably a fair whack of camera buyers.

But if you want to get into photography, you'd be better off getting Canon's slightly pricier Eos M50 (€700 with the same lens), a Panasonic GX9 (€620 up), a Fujifilm X-E3 (€700 up), or one of Sony's A6000 range (from €600 up).

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