There have been plenty of false alarms in recent months, but Canon's first mirrorless interchangeable lens camera (ILC) is finally here -- in fact, we're holding it in our hands. The EOS M is clearly reminiscent of a point-and-shoot, such as the company's high-end PowerShot S100. Sure, Canon could have added some of the dedicated controls that its professional user base would demand, but photojournalists aren't the target here, for a few reasons. Canon's primary motivation, at least from an official perspective, was to create a camera that serves to bridge the gap between pocketable compacts and full-size DSLRs with a simple user interface designed to educate, not intimidate. Also key, however, was avoiding cannibalization of the company's low-end and mid-range Digital SLR models, which clearly still have a place in the lineup one tier above this ILC.
Consumers willing to sacrifice hardware controls for a touchscreen-driven UI won't be missing out on much else -- functionally, the EOS M is a near-clone of Rebel T4i with the same 18-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, DIGIC 5 processor and 3-inch touchscreen. Even the advanced two-stage focusing system has made its way from the T4i, which utilizes both phase-difference and contrast AF in order to achieve focus more efficiently when capturing video. The housing design and lens mount are unlike any other that Canon has produced, however, combining features from other models without completely eliminating the need for a DSLR, or a compact for that matter. If you can get by without granular controls, you'll do just fine here -- the design really is spectacular. With an $800 price tag, the EOS M falls within the upper tier of the mirrorless category, and it remains to be seen whether it will be an obvious pick when it finally hits stores in October, a month after competitors tease their own products at the massive Photokina expo in Germany. How does it fare today? You'll find our impressions just past the break.