Are mirrorless cameras in Canon’s future? Taking a look at the EOS M system

Canon was relatively late to the mirrorless camera game when it introduced its EOS M system back in July 2012, and its initial offering was more of a point-and-shoot with interchangeable lenses than a camera that customers would get excited about. To make things even worse, only two lenses have been launched for the U.S. market since then: the 22mm f/2 pancake prime lens, and the 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 kit zoom. A wide-angle zoom lens was released only for the Japanese market, just like the EOS M2 camera model that was introduced in late 2013.

But Canon has also made it clear in the past that it doesn’t really think mirrorless is the right way to go, and that DSLRs are still superior and preferred by many. While this might be the case for Western markets, it is definitely not true for Asian markets as statistics clearly show. Also, the worldwide trend shows that in the midst of an overall shrinking camera market, while DSLRs manage to maintain their presence, mirrorless cameras are gaining ground as we speak. (Reports are definitely conflicted at this point, as we are seeing claims that point in either direction.)

This makes you wonder where Canon is headed with its EOS M system. There are a couple of possible scenarios. One is that the EOS M system is going to stay a niche product that sells only in limited numbers, while the focus stays on the DSLR market. Another is that, seeing the pressure from smartphones eating into compact camera sales, Canon will cut parts of it compact camera line and tout the EOS M system as an option for the smartphone step-upper. A third possibility is that Canon is already working on extending and diversifying its EOS M system, so as to bring it up to par with the other mirrorless offerings.

Seeing that mirrorless cameras are already eating into the sales of DSLRs, it is only logical to assume Canon might want a piece of that cake for themselves. Recent reports hinting at two new EOS M camera models to appear later this year point in that direction; it also speculates that Canon still seems committed to its underdog mirrorless system. Only recently, a new EF-M lens patent has been unearthed, though the 22-46mm f/3.5-5.6 lens it depicted doesn’t look like its going to be a Micro Four Thirds (or Sony Alpha E-mount) killer. Before that, Canon patented a series of pancake zoom lenses, including an 18-40mm standard zoom and a 9-18mm wide angle zoom.

From whichever perspective you see it, it would make a lot of sense for Canon to continue building its EOS M system with new bodies and lenses. Whether the company will pitch the system more toward the entry-level or the enthusiast crowd remains to be seen. Our bet is on Canon going to establish the EOS M system as an alternative to high-end compact cameras (like Samsung’s new NX Mini), and not bringing a model advanced enough to be serious business for its DSLR cameras, but we may be wrong. Only time will tell, and until Canon actually announces new products, there is no way of knowing where the EOS M system is headed.

There’s no question that the EOS M was a highly anticipated product; the question now is, are people still enthusiastic for any mirrorless camera from Canon?

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