Sony RX100 II (MKII) vs Canon Rebel T4i (EOS 650D) vs Canon EOS M

July 11, 2013

Canon EOS M, Rebel T4i and Sony RX100 II side by side

In this article I will be comparing three very popular digital cameras. The first one is Canon EOS M, which is a compact Mirrorless Interchangeable lens camera. The second one is Canon Rebel T4i / EOS 650D, an APS-C Digital SLR camera. The last one is Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II (RX100M2, MKII / MK2) which is a large-sensor compact zoom camera.

Each camera falls into a different category as you can see and each one is aimed towards a different market segment, but those cameras have a few things in common. All of those cameras employ relatively large image sensors, with the EOS M and 650D featuring the same 18MP APS-C size sensor (22.3 x 14.9 mm) and the RX100 MKII, which uses a 20.2MP 1″ (13.2 x 8.8 mm) sensor size.  This what makes those three cameras so popular among enthusiast photographers worldwide.

Those three cameras are very popular, with the Canon EOS M grabbing the top first position on Amazon’s Best Sellers in the ‘Compact System Cameras category’ for quite some time. The EOS M sells for a very attractive price of $300 (as of the time of writing, via Amazon | 7.11.2013) with the EF-M 22mm STM kit lens, or $349 for the EF-M 18-55mm IS STM Kit lens. The price of the camera was dropped from approx. $699-$650 by almost 50% since it was first launched.  Just for comparison, the Canon EOS Rebel SL1 entry-level DSLR costs $650 for body only and the T3i / 600D, which was announced on February 7 2011, sells for $389 for the body without a Kit lens.

So for around $350 you can get a compact system camera with a large APS-C sensor and its own line of high-quality EF-M interchangeable lenses – sound like a great deal to me.   The EOS M was criticized for its sluggish AF performance, not so friendly menu system, lack of pop up flash, limited physical buttons and the lack of electronic viewfinder. In this comparison will put the EOS M to the test against a DSLR and Large-sensor compact camera, and see whether or not the Canon EOS M can hold its ground against those cameras. We’ll discuss about the cons and pros of each one and compare the specs and analyze their High ISO performance, to see which camera comes on top.

I will start with a short introduction to each camera and then we’ll continue with the comparison itself.  This will give you a better understanding about each camera key features and the comparison table will help you clearly see the advantages and disadvantages of each camera compared to the other ones. OK, without further ado, let’s begin!

Canon EOS M

The EOS M was announced on July 23 2012, and this is Canon’s first Compact system camera. A bold attempt to make the first steps into this very competitive market, and Canon this time was fashionably late, some say a bit too late. Nevertheless, a mirrorless camera with a Canon brand name will sell good no matter what, unless Canon makes a big mistake, but that’s unlikely to happen, and as we can see from the sales, this is completely the opposite.

The Canon EOS M utilizes the same sensor as the T4i / T5i, a 18-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor and DIGIC 5 image processor.  This innovative sensor employs on-chip phase-detection sensors, and therefore the EOS M uses what is called, a Hybrid AF system which utilizes the advantages of both contrast-detect and phase-detect autofocus for fast and accurate AF performance for both stills and video recording alike.

With the announcement of this camera, Canon also revealed its EF-M lens lineup. Unfortunately, there are only three lenses currently available, the EF-M 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 IS STM lens, EF-M 11-22 F4-5.6 IS STM and the EF-M 22mm F2 STM lens. Both are sold as part of the Kit offering.  The Micro Four This system offers a much wider selection of interchangeable lenses, even Sony now has more than 15 E-mount lenses available for its NEX mirrorless cameras. Canon will catch up, but as of the time of writing, you are limited for those two lenses only.

You do have the option to attach EF and EF-M lenses to the EOS M camera using the Canon EOS M mount adapter, but I believe that most people who buy this camera don’t want to do that. This can save you money, because you can buy the body without a lens and use your own EF or EF-S lenses, but you lose the compactness advantage. If you, for example, decide to mount the Canon EF-S 18-55 mm STM IS lens on the EOS M, you’ll see that there is a big difference in size between the two (see image below).

Canon EOS M EF-M 18-55mm vs EF-EOS M adapter and EF-S 18-55mm lens

Canon EOS M + EF-M 18-55mm vs EF-EOS M + adapter + EF-S 18-55mm lens (via camerasize.com)

So as you can see, this kind of ruins the advantage that Compact System Cameras have in the first place. The lack of a reflex mirror (like in DSLRs) allows lens manufacturers to create smaller and lighter lenses, and that’s why the EF-M version is 25mm shorter in length. Add the EOS M mount adapter, and you get a quite bulky camera – who wants to have that with a CSC?

The camera lacks an electronic viewfinder, a feature that many amateur and enthusiast photographers want to have. However, the EOS M does employ a gorgeous 3-inch Clea View LCD monitor II fixed (non-rotating) display with 1040K-dots resolution, with smudge-resistant, coating and above all that, you get a touch-sensitive display with support for multi-touch gestures (e.g. pinch to zoom). This is a great feature to have. You’ll appreciate it if you are coming from Point-and-shoot or use to capture images using your mobile phone camera.

The EOS M can record Full HD videos at 30p and 24p frame rate with stereo sound.  The camera 31-point autofocus system, 1/4000 sec maximum shutter speed, hot-shoe and 4.3 fps burst shooting. The Canon EOS M lacks a built-in pop-up flash, but you can attach an external flash, like the  Speedlite 90EX flash. This is a very lightweight (1.76 oz) flash that can be attached to the EOS M top hot-shoe mount. It supports Canon’s E-TTL II flash metering, FE lock and flash exposure compensation. It has an optical wireless mater function built-in and it’s compatible with all EOS SLR cameras.

 

Canon Speedlite 90EX flash mounted on Canon EOS M

Canon Speedlite 90EX flash mounted on Canon EOS M camera

This is a far better solution got lighting your subject/scene, however it does take quite a lot of space at the top of the camera. Use it when you need it, take it away when you don’t use it. It’s small, lightweight and portable, so it shouldn’t be a burden to carry.

Other features include Multi-shot noise reduction, Night scene mode, HDR backlight control mode and seen creative filters. The EOS M also features manual audio level adjustment and Video snapshot function which allows you to capture short video clips (2, 4 or 8 seconds) and combine them into one video file.

*video by thenikonguy YouTube user

All in all, a well designed small form factor camera, large sensor and  excellent image quality. The EOS M lacks a pop-up flash, it’s menu system is a bit sluggish,  it has below average battery life (230 shots CIPA), AF performance is average, only three lenses currently available (EF-M mount), it lacks an articulating display and more physical buttons for fast access to favorite camera settings.

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II (Mark 2)

Continuing the success of the RX100, the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II (RX100M2) is Sony’s latest large-sensor compact camera. The RX100 MKII was designed from the ground up to impress enthusiast photographers, but also attract amateur photographers who are moving from point-and-shoot to a more advanced camera system.

At the heart of the RX100 II there is a 20.2MP 1-inch Exmor CMOS Sensor. This is the world’s first 1-inch back-illuminated CMOS sensor.  This sensor is much larger when you compare it to a 1/2.3″ conventional point-and-shoot camera sensor and it has 3:2 aspect ratio, like  DSLR sensors. The size of the sensor is 13.2 by 8.8 mm and has a 2.7x focal length conversion factor (crop factor). You shouldn’t worry about that because the RX100 II is not a compact system camera, you can’t mount interchangeable lenses on it. It comes with a fixed 28-100 mm F1.8-4.9 3.6x  Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* optical zoom lens with Optical SteadShot image stabilization and 3-way Active Mode stabilization to counter clockwise and anti-clockwise rotation digitally. You get beautiful sharp images and steady videos.

The RX100 II sensor is the same size as the Nikon CX sensor found on Nikon 1 compact system cameras. It’s much larger than 1/2.3-inch sensors, but much smaller than Micro Four Thirds and APS-C sensors (See diagram below).

RX100 II sensor size comparison

RX100 II sensor size comparison versus 1/2.3-inch, Micro Four Thirsd and APS-C (via cameraimagesensor.com)

The RX100 II sensor offers several improvements over the one in its predecessor to deliver better low-light images, 40-percent increase in noise performance and doubles the light sensitivity compare to non-BSI sensor (as the one found on the previous model), so we can expect better low-light performance (less noise in high ISO). For the list of all the differences between RX100 II and RX100, I recommend reading my Sony RX100 II vs RX100 comparison review.

After analyzing many sample images of both the RX100 II and RX100, I can say with quite a confident that the RX100 II low-light advantage is visible starting at ISO 400 and continue from there across all the ISO speed range. ISO 3200 was really impressive. I remember the first time I saw the RX100 II sample images on dpreview and I was amazed by the image quality. I just didn’t expect a 1-inch sensor to perform so well, and Sony really did a great job with this sensor.

Sony RX100 2 also features Wi-Fi and NFC wireless connectivity. This makes it very easy and convenient to transfer images to your Android smartphone or tablet device. You’ll need to install PlayMemories Mobile app first, but after that you just need to touch the two devices to bond the two devices together, and everything else from that point on is easy by just tapping on the screen to transfer the images.  You can also control the camera’s shutter release from your mobile device and instantly get the captured image to your device via Wi-Fi connectivity.

As with the Canon EOS M, the RX100 2 doesn’t employ an electronic viewfinder. Quite understandable, as Sony wants to keep the camera’s small size factor and the price relatively low. You do have the option to attach an optional electronic viewfinder accessory to the Multi interface Shoe, as well as other accessories that are compatible with Sony multi interface shoe (e.g. Stereo microphone, external flash unit). If you want to connect a remote control, you can do so via the Multi Terminal connector on the side of the camera, that wasn’t available in the previous model.

The good news is that the RX100 II features an amazing 3-inch 1229K-dot Xtra Fine tilting monitor. The screen can tilt upward to 84-degrees and downward by 84-degrees. The screen employs Sony’s WhiteMagic technology that uses white and RGB pixels to enhance the screen brightness and visibility when shooting in bright daylight. Believe me, this is an AMAZING display!

The Sony Cybershot RX100 II offers full manual control over the exposure and can also shoot in RAW file format. This gives the photographer complete control over the exposure, allowing him to be more creative with his camera.

RX100 II can record Full HD videos in either 60p, 60i or 24p. Yes, 60p progressive frames! – You can expect gorgeous looking videos, and in fact, this was one of the strongest features of the RX100, and it was just improved in the new version. Another cool feature is called ‘Auto Object Framing’ that utilizes face-detection and tracking focus to automatically crop the image when shooting portraits, make the photo looks more appealing to the viewer to focus on the faces in the photo.

*video by imaging resource

To sum things up, Sony made the RX100 Mark II even better than the RX100. A portable and fully featured large-sensor compact camera with superb low-light performance and video capabilities, designed for both novice and more experienced photographers.

Any downsides? — Well, I was disappointed with the fact that Sony didn’t improve the lens’ speed, doesn’t have a fully articulating display, f/4.9 at the telephoto end and its relatively high price tag. Other than that, there is a little to complain about this little gem, and this is most probably, The best compact camera on the market right now, and probably continue to be through 2013. I also liked the fact that has improved the screen visibility, which was an issue with the RX100, especially when shooting in sunny weather.

Canon Rebel T4i / EOS 650D (also T5i / 700D)

Last but not least is the Canon Rebel T4i / EOS 650D APS-C digital SLR camera. The T4i along with the T3i are the most popular Canon upper-entry level DSLR cameras. Those cameras convinced many people to buy a DSLR over point-and-shoot and over using their smartphone camera.  The T4i is almost identical to the T5i  (see comparison table) so this comparison is also applicable when choosing between the T5i and the RX100 II and EOS M. Having said that, the older model Rebel T3i is still in the 1st position on Amazon Best Selling DSLR camera’s list, and there for quite a long time.

Canon EOS 650D is a great entry-level DSLR camera for the hobbyist photographer. It features the same 18MP APS-C Hybrid AF CMOS sensor as the EOS M, allowing fast and accurate continuous AF in movies and superb low-light performance at high ISO.

The 650D is much larger than the EOS M and have a different lens mount (EF vs EF-M). Both the T4i and T5i have a wide range of physical buttons that offer fast access to popular camera settings. This includes a dedicated ISO button at the top, WB, AF and Burst dedicated button at the back, as well as a top camera mode dial wheel at the top, which also allows you to switch between various scene modes.

Canon EOS M vs Rebel T4i 650D size comparison

Canon EOS M vs Rebel T4i 650D size comparison (via camerasize.com)

At the back you can see one of the reasons why so many people buy a DSLR camera in the first place, and this is of course the optical viewfinder. The T4i / T5i uses a Pentamirror (mirrors, not a pentamirror which is a single piece of glass) 0.85x magnification optical viewfinder. The viewfinder also displays information camera settings and AF information to help you change the camera settings without taking your eyes of the subject. Shooting with an optical viewfinder gives a much better experience, as you can get more connected to the subject and gain much better visibility when shooting outdoors in bright daylight.

At the back of the camera you have a gorgeous 3-inch Clear View LCD II Vari-angle Touch screen. Not everyone is a fond of that feature, but you’ll surely appreciate it if you move from point-and-shoot and making your first steps into the world of DSLR photography.

Beginners will also enjoy Canon’s Basic+ function, A+ Scene Intelligent Auto and Feature Guide, which makes it easier to choose the best suitable scene mode from a smaller selection based on the scene, and a useful guide that draws a short description of each function and settings as you play with the camera’s features in order to learn how it works.

The T4i / T5i employs Canon’s latest 63-zone Dual-Layer metering system.  An accurate an reliable light metering sensor that will give you an accurate exposure even when shooting in complex lighting conditions.

650D can shoot at 5 fps in burst mode, has 9-point AF system (all cross-type), Integrated Speedlite transmitter (control other flashes remotely using your camera) and many creative filters to play and experiment with.

The camera can record Full HD videos in 30p and 24p with stereo sound. Video quality is great and the tilting display and Hybrid AF just strengthen the EOS 650D as an H-DSLR camera.

* video by the verge.  T4i is not the latest, the T5i is, but the video from the Verge was published before the T5i was announced.

To sum things up, the Canon Rebel T4i will appeal to those who are making their first steps into the DSLR world, as well as experienced photographers who want to deepen their photography skills. You have a very wide selection of lenses to choose from, and this is probably one of the main reasons why many people buy a DSLR in the first place. I would buy the T4i due to its eye-level optical viewfinder, lens selection (e.g. Ultra wide angle, 1:1 macro, telephoto-zoom, etc.), fast access to popular camera settings, ergonomics (perfectly fits my large hands), fast AF when shooting via the OVF (you’ll also need a good lens that focuses quickly), excellent video quality, superb image quality and excellent high ISO performance.

Canon EOS M vs Canon Rebel T4i / EOS 650D vs Sony RX100 II

Now that you got a good understanding about the features of each camera, you are ready for the comparison. In this section you see a side by side specs comparison table alongside with side notes. This will give you a very good understanding of the differences between the EOS M, T4i and RX100 II. You’ll see whether or not you should buy a large-sensor fix-lens compact camera, DSLR or buy a Mirrorless Interchangeable lens camera.

Look for features that you find most useful for your specific shooting style. If you are a hobbyist photographer and making your first steps into the Interchangeable lens camera world, don’t forget that with the T4i and EOS M you also need to purchase an interchangeable lens, at least one to attach to the camera. So consider that when also comparing prices of other cameras against the T4i and EOS M body-only price.

[table "109" not found /]

Sony RX100 II Cons and Pros

  • The Smallest camera – pocketable!
  • Highest resolution sensor
  • BSI CMOS sensor
  • Highest resolution sensor
  • Carl Zeiss optics
  • Built-in SteadyShot image stabilization with video stabilization
  • Fastest continuous shooting speed (10 fps)
  • Tiltable Built-in Flash (EOS M lacks this feature)
  • Multi Interface Shoe (can attach various accessories)
  • Highest AF sensitivity range (0 – 20 EV)
  • Super fast AF performance
  • The Only one that offers 1080p60 (progressive) video recording as well as 1080i60 (interlaced)
  • The only one to offer built-in Wi-Fi transmitter
  • NFC (Near Field Communication)
  • Built-in Sweep Panorama
  • LCD with White Pixels for improved brightness and visibility in daylight
  • Can sync up to 1/2000 sec (S mode)
  • Native ISO 12800 (same as the other cameras)
  • Durable body, less than the other two but still very solid and well built
  • 25 points AF (second highest in the comparison)
  • Tilting display (not fully articulated as the 650D nor touch screen as the EOS M)
  • In-camera HDR
  • Second best battery life
  • Slowest maximum shutter speed in the group (1/2000 sec)
  • No Touchscreen
  • No electronic viewfinder
  • No WB Bracketing
  • No top mode wheel and lack of more physical button that allow faster access to popular used functions
  • Starts from ISO 160 not ISO 100 (although available in expandable mode, but not native)
  • The most expensive (can be relatively cheaper if you account a specific lens price for the other cameras)

 

 Canon EOS M Cons and Pros

  • ISO 100 (not available natively on the RX100 II
  • Superb build quality
  • Fast maximum shutter speed (faster than the RX100 II 1/2000 sec, same as the T4i /605D)
  • WB bracketing (same as the EOS 650D)
  • 1080p30 (30 frames per second), not available on the RX100 2)
  • Can attach interchangeable lenses
  • The most affordable (depends on the lens)
  • Native ISO 12800 (same as the other cameras)
  • Second smallest camera in the comparison after RX100 II, much smaller than T4i / 650D
  • In-camera HDR
  • Touch sensitive display (Same as 650D, N/A on the RX100 II)
  • Wide selection of interchangeable lenses available, including special lenses (1:1 macro, ultra-wide, fast prime lenses, etc.)
  • Fixed screen
  • No electronic viewfinder
  • No top mode wheel and lack of more physical button that allow faster access to popular used functions
  • Slow AF performance
  • Slowest continuous shooting speed in the group
  • No built-in Wi-Fi and no NFC
  • Least powerful battery life in the comparison
  • No Sweep Panorama
  • A small selection of interchangeable lenses available
  • Very small plastic grip

 

Canon Rebel T4i / EOS 650D Cons and Pros

  • Can attach interchangeable lenses
  • Great ergonomics for people with large hands
  • Very good build quality
  • Fast 1/4000 sec maximum shutter speed
  • Lots of physical buttons, offer fast access to popular used camera settings
  • Advanced modern light metering system (can shoot at-0.5 EV, lowest in the group)
  • Best monitor in the group – touch-sensitive, fully articulated, high-res
  • Only one with built-in optical viewfinder
  • Native ISO 12800
  • WB Bracketing
  • 1080p30 (not available on the RX100 II)
  • Best battery life in the group
  • Top mode dial
  • Comfortable hand grip
  • Can attach battery grip to double the battery life
  • Large selection of professional accessories
  • Very good AF performance
  • Second fastest burst (not much faster than the EOS M)
  • In-camera HDR
  • Only 9 AF points
  • No Sweep Panorama function
  • No built-in Wi-Fi
  • No NFC

 

We’ll finish our comparison with some sample videos and the conclusion section.

Sample videos

Sony RX100 II official sample video shot at 24p

Canon Rebel T4i sample video

Canon EOS M sample video

 

Conclusion

The comparison draws an accurate view of the cons and pros of each camera. The EOS M is the least expensive one, but you can see that you actually get much less in return. The RX100 II has the smallest sensor, but in return you get a pocketable camera – but the RX100 II is the more expensive one (not accounting for the a specific lens that you purchase with the EOS M or the T4i – this can make the overall purchase much more expensive).

It really comes to personal preference and the specific use that you intend to do with the camera. I personally love the RX100 II because I can take it everywhere I go, much more portable than the other cameras. The EOS M is relatively small, but that goes until you attach a lens to the camera. Both the EOS M and Canon Rebel T4i / 650D have a large APS-C sensor, allowing photographer for more prominent shallow depth of field (also depends on the lens) and great high ISO performance.

Having said that, I used imaging resource comparometer tool and I was just blown away by the RX100 II high ISO performance that just put the T4i to shame. The RX100 II uses stronger NR, the T4i is much more conservative. That in mind, the RX100 II image is just smoother overall, but the T4i result in sharper image (probably shot with a 50mm prime lens).  Even the Carl-Zeiss optics couldn’t match the sharpness of a high quality prime lens, and the T4i was better in that respect.

The RX100 II does such an amazing job in suppressing noise, that this is ridiculous how clean the sample images are at high ISO. Let’s not forget that we are talking about a 1-inch sensor, not APS-C one.  So this is an amazing performance!

Having said that, I would miss the viewfinder for sure, but that’s a price that I would gladly pay to have a pocketable camera that I can take with me wherever I go.

I make up my mind, not it’s your turn to make yours. As you can see, there are big differences between the three cameras, choosing one shouldn’t be so hard after all. Just make sure that you fully understand your needs and cross those against the available features of each camera to find the camera that is right for you. As I said before, and you should remember that when you buy either the EOS M or the T4i / 650D, you buy into a camera system, and you’ll also need to decide which lenses to purchase. If you are just starting out, just get the 18-55 mm and later decide on which lens to buy next.

I hope you enjoy reading this article. Please feel free to share and post your comments and feedback below and share your thoughts about those three cameras.

Don’t forget to LIKE if you find this article useful – thanks!



Amazon Ads