When I was in graduate school in the mid-90’s, I got an unexpected bonus from one of my internships and I bought my first SLR, a Canon Rebel, and got hooked on photography. I’ve shot with nothing but Canon ever since until today, as the Sony A6500 mirrorless camera I ordered just arrived, along with a handful of lenses and some other accessories. I’m not saying goodbye to Canon in general, I’m still going to keep my 7D Mark II for wildlife shooting with my telephoto lenses. What it is replacing, in addition to many of the 7D’s tasks, is my little EOS M, Canon’s flawed yet charming entry into the mirrorless world a handful of years ago.
I bought my M four years ago when Canon had a fire sale due to slow sales, we had just adopted Boo and he was so timid I wanted a small, quiet camera to photograph him. I used it quite a bit for the next few years and always loved its quiet nature, useful for example for this picture of Trixie when she had been with us a few weeks. She was starting to feel at home and we were letting her explore ours, but also still giving her time in isolation, partly because she seemed to appreciate the chance to relax without the other cats around, but mostly because brother Boo was still coming to terms with her arrival. The tiny kitten makes my legs seem enormous, I love that you can put mirrorless cameras wherever you want and use the screen to frame the picture, in this case with my head on the pillow I stretched out my arms to put the camera at her eye level instead of mine.
I’ve posted the picture of Emma below before but it seems fitting to repost it now, it’s one of my favorites of her and also taken with the M and the delightful little 22mm pancake lens. For all its limitations it’s staggering how much more capable it was than my first film camera, this was shot at ISO 3200 in low light, in the film days my only hope would have been to fire off a flash and risk disturbing her. I never dreamed she’d only be with us for another year and a half, I’ve thought of this picture so many times since she died that it almost feels like the M was worth it for this picture alone.
I haven’t liked what Canon did with the newer M models in the years since, which is why I’ve finally switched after thinking about it for a long time, I’m not sure they ever understood what they got so right (and so wrong) with the original M. As excited as I am by the new Sony, I wanted to take a moment to say thanks for the old, I had a lot of fun with the M and I treasure the many images I took with it.
It cost me little but its rewards were great.