The small body of the EOS M3 is lavishly packed with new technologies and features. In the following article, the developers tell us how an unparalleled level of performance is achieved on this camera compared to other models in the same class. (Edited by: Camera Biyori, Photos by: Toru Matsushima)
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Planner: Takenari Kawano
Designer: Hironori Oishi
Engineer: Jiro Yamamoto
Engineer: Shinobu Watanabe
Engineer: Takaaki Fukui
Engineer: Hiroyuki Ogino
A newly-developed CMOS sensor with improved image quality
- This is the first model in the EOS M series to come with a built-in flash. Is there any part of its design you were particular about?
Yamamoto To prevent the flash light from being blocked by the body of the lens, we adopted a mechanism that allows the flash unit to protrude higher and further forward. There are two rotating shafts at the hinge that allow the flash to move further to the front than usual.
- Indeed, although the hinge is small, it extends out considerably and conveys a sense of functional beauty. Next, I would like to know more about the image quality. Is the CMOS sensor on the EOS M3 newly developed?
Watanabe Yes. The pixel count is about 30% higher compared to the EOS M. If we are able to raise the pixel count successfully, apparent resolution will also be enhanced. However, as the pixel size also becomes smaller at the same time, this makes it more difficult for the pixels to capture light. In this sense, simply raising the pixel count alone will lead to more significant noise. On the EOS M3, enhancements have been made to the noise resistance of the CMOS sensor, while noise is also suppressed through image processing by the new image processor. As a result, the camera delivers a higher level of apparent resolution while maintaining noise at the same level as previous models.
- The opinion among students of the photography school run by the Camera Biyori editorial department is that Canon products have excellent image quality. Not only so, there have also been comments that the camera can take good quality pictures without disrupting the white balance, regardless of where the shoot takes place.
Fukui Comments like these make us feel that our development efforts were worthwhile. Image quality is subject to human perception, and may therefore vary considerably due to individual preferences. It isn't "development" if you make decisions based on perception. We conduct careful research to find out the statistical aspects that will make an image seem beautiful to even more people. We hope our users will enjoy the outstanding image quality of the EOS M3.
Tilting LCD (touchscreen) monitor that can be rotated to about 180 degrees upward and 45 degrees downward. To prevent the LCD display from being blocked by the camera body when it is flipped up, the display is structured such that it slides upward when you rotate it.
The camera includes a built-in flash. The pop-up position of this flash is high, which allows it to light up a wide area. Adopting a pantograph mechanism, the hinge is beautiful with no redundancy in the design.
The EOS M3 is also compatible with an external EVF. There is no need to worry anymore about issues such as poor visibility of the LCD monitor display when photographing outdoors on a clear day. Yet another advantage of the external EVF is that it allows the camera to be supported at three points, namely the face and the two hands, therefore reducing the likelihood of camera shake even when a heavy lens is attached to the camera.
- How does the camera determine the type of image to produce?
Fukui The main method adopted is called light source estimation. The camera estimates the light source based on factors such as the colour and brightness to automatically produce the optimal image. Next, it detects the face of the subject, and sometimes performs corrections so that the subject's face would look nicer in the image.
- Technology is advancing rapidly, and it seems that images can now be captured easily even in the auto setting.
Kawano Occasionally, I get better results with the auto settings than with my own manual settings, and that makes me feel a little discouraged at times.
Fukui Besides, as our development policy, we aim to enable users to enjoy operating the camera as well as take beautiful photos easily in auto mode.
AF performance with both precision and speed
- What is your favourite feature on the EOS M3?
Watanabe It has to be the newly-enhanced AF feature. I have a child who just turned two years old, and I think the EOS M3 is ideal for photographing kids moving around quickly. It doesn't go out of focus easily.
- Is the high-speed AF the most salient feature?
Ogino The AF of the EOS M series uses a hybrid of the contrast detection and the phase-difference detection methods. By increasing the horizontal density of the pixels for phase-difference detection on the CMOS sensor, we succeeded in enhancing both AF precision and AF speed for the EOS M3. It was a big challenge trying to achieve both precision and speed, which are two opposing elements. The most difficult task was to raise the AF speed without compromising the AF accuracy.
The camera includes a new Creative Assist mode, which displays settings for adjusting effects on the image using simple terms such as "Brightness" and "Colour tone". You can register up to six sets of your favourite settings.
You can load the settings for shots taken in the Creative Assist mode, and apply the same settings to capture a different image. You can also switch the display terminology to show the technical terms for each setting, which helps users improve their understanding of cameras.
The GUI is also improved. Tabs are reorganised by genre (shooting settings, basic settings etc.) for greater clarity. Graphic movement is also smoother.
- In terms of function, is "Creative Assist" evolved from the previous "Creative Auto" mode?
Kawano The concept is slightly different. Although the "Creative Auto" mode uses easy-to-understand expressions such as "Blurred" and "Brighten/Darken", it does not tell you what goes on inside the camera. "Creative Assist", in contrast, displays the five settings including "aperture" and "exposure compensation" in simple terms, and replaces them with the appropriate terminology on the playback screen. Our aim is to facilitate users' understanding of the different settings.
- This is very good indeed. I think they are easy to understand, and will help users improve their skills more quickly.
Kawano Simply by choosing a well-taken photo, you can apply the same settings to capture another shot.
Kawano For those who are familiar with the photography techniques, the EOS M3 enables them to enjoy the shooting process fully. As for those who are just beginning to pick up photography, I believe this camera is very easy to handle. When using the EOS M3 for the first time, users can learn about settings in the "Creative Assist" mode. After they have become familiar with the camera terminology, and subsequently with the camera operation, users can step up to manual adjustment using the dials. The EOS M3 allows even beginners to advance further simply by keeping up with their photography. Therefore I hope everyone can feel free to make use of the camera for an enjoyable photography experience.
Camera Biyori is a Japanese photography magazine introducing charming photos and daily joy with cameras. Suggesting fun activities relating to cameras and photography, Camera Biyori editorial department also offer the "Camera Biyori Photography School" to recommend its readers to engage in photography and have fun.
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